Genealogy Search Tip: Expect Family History in Unexpected Places

One thing genealogists quickly learn is to expect the unexpected. Information about your ancestors may not be where you expected to find it—and may appear in places you never thought to look.

For example, obituaries appear in newspapers across the United States, not just in the area where the person died. Local newspapers carry marriage announcements from across the state, and sometimes from neighboring states.

The following old funeral sermon is an example of family history information turning up in a place you wouldn’t expect.

Lucinda Coleman, the first child of Mr. and Mrs. John B. Coleman of Georgia, died at age 5 on 28 August 1830.

What is unexpected about this?

The text of the funeral sermon for this Georgia girl was published in a Connecticut newspaper!

funeral sermon for Lucinda Coleman, Religious Inquirer newspaper article 8 January 1831

Religious Inquirer (Hartford, Connecticut), 8 January 1831, page 369

Genealogy Search Tip: Be flexible when searching for information about your ancestors. Expect the unexpected, and cast a wide net. You might find a treasured family story, like this funeral sermon, published by a newspaper in a part of the country you never would have thought to look.

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Written by Thomas Jay Kemp

Thomas Jay Kemp

Thomas Jay Kemp is the Director of Genealogy Products at GenealogyBank. Tom Kemp is an internationally known librarian and archivist – he is the author of over 35 genealogy books and hundreds of articles about genealogy and family history.

He previously served as the Chair of the National Council of Library & Information Associations (Washington, DC) and as Library Director of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and the New England Historic Genealogical Society.

An active genealogist, he has been working on his own family history for 47 years. With the rapidly growing online archives at GenealogyBank – it is a great day for genealogy!

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3 thoughts on “Genealogy Search Tip: Expect Family History in Unexpected Places

  1. I recently found the application my Brick Wall’s granddaughter submitted to the Nat Soc of Daughters of the War of 1812 had used the wrong service for my ancestor … two steps backwards. I need help!! I have been searching for 20 years information older than their marriage on 21 Dec 1810 in Windsor Co., VT … James WELLS and Persis EARLE. His headstone says his birth is 13 Mar 1792 and I can not find him after 1840 census (he deserted his family in Huron Co./ Erie Co., Ohio before 1850 census) until his death when he returned to Norwalk, Ohio and is buried there next to his wife who died in 1865. All of his children’s census records state their father was born in Connecticut which makes sense since I traced a ‘living male’ from one of his son’s and he agreed to a Y-chromosome DNA test under the Wells Surname DNA Study. It seems we have a ‘common ancestor’ with Gov Thomas WELLES of Warwickshire, England and Wethersfield, Connecticut. His headstone states he was a ‘soldier in 1812′ but he is NOT the one claimed onthe application who served in the 11th US infantry. I am at a loss as to where to go next. I have been unable to find them on the census prior to their moving to Ohio about 1828. Looking at the children’s birthplaces, they moved from Vermont about 1814 to New York, but then did return a few times. Looking at the EARLE lineage (father John, gf Esek) they did not appear to follow them. Looking at the children’s names: first daughter is Clarissa Marie, first son is Francis James “Frank” WELLS. I did attempt to research any Francis WELLS born around 1760s to see if they had a son James .. but, found ‘nada’. I am at a loss as to where to go next.

  2. Phantom: Yes – it is amazing how often we find breakthrough information – where we would never expect to find it. It’s all good. Tell us more about your find.
    Tom

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