Do You Have Relatives Named after Famous People?

I hear from distant cousins every week. This week I was contacted by a “new” Sawyer family cousin that wrote me to compare notes on our mutual family history.

Photo: Elbridge Gerry and Julia Clifford (Hanson) Sawyer

Photo: Elbridge Gerry and Julia Clifford (Hanson) Sawyer. Source: Kemp family papers.

We quickly realized that yes, we are related and in fact we were both descended from Elbridge Gerry and Julia Clifford (Hanson) Sawyer and – even more – she had a photograph of them, which she copied and sent to me.

Wow – how cool is that!

It got me to thinking of his name: Elbridge Gerry.
He was named for Elbridge Thomas Gerry (1744-1814) – signer of the Declaration of Independence & Articles of Confederation, vice president of the U.S. (serving with James Madison), and later a governor of Massachusetts.

What an impact Elbridge Gerry must have had.
My 2nd-Great-Grandfather, Elbridge Gerry Sawyer (1826-1918) was named for him and so were some of my other relatives:

  • Elbridge Gerry Copp (1860-1934)
  • Elbridge Gerry Fuller (1821-1887)
  • Elbridge Gerry Gage (1860-1925)
  • Elbridge Gerry Kemp (1834-1902)
  • Elbridge Gerry Marden (1864- )
  • Elbridge Gerry Scott (1862- )

At first the name “Elbridge Gerry” didn’t mean anything to me – but as I started to see it repeated again and again with so many of my relatives, on both sides of the family tree, I knew there must be more to the story.

It was easy to understand why plenty of my ancestors were named George Washington…Thomas Jefferson…James Madison…Benjamin Franklin…Andrew Jackson…Ulysses Grant/Ulysses S. Grant…Franklin Pierce…William McKinley and there is even a William Cullen Bryant Kemp (1850-1929).

I wonder how many of my relatives were named for Elbridge Gerry and other people famous in their day but not as well known today?

Do you have an “Elbridge Gerry” in your family?

Do you have other important people in history – though less well-known today – that are remembered as namesakes in your family tree?

Related Name Articles:

A Preview of RootsTech 2016

Introduction: Gena Philibert-Ortega is a genealogist and author of the book “From the Family Kitchen.” In this blog article, Gena previews some of the speakers, classes and events for the upcoming RootsTech 2016 genealogy conference.

Are you going to RootsTech 2016, the genealogy conference held in Salt Lake City, Utah, February 3-6? It can feel intimidating to go to a conference whose attendance last year included 23,000 people from 49 states and 39 countries. If this is your first time at the yearly genealogy conference, you may want to start making some plans now, before you step foot into the Salt Palace. With the crowds of people and all kinds of presentations, events, and activities planned, where do you start?

Photo: Expo Hall at RootsTech

Photo: Expo Hall at RootsTech. Credit: FamilySearch; RootsTech.

Keynote Presentations

Keynote presentations at conferences are different than classes or lectures. Keynotes are meant to start or end the conference. They are meant to provide inspiration and motivation. The overall idea is to take that energy and knowledge you’ve experienced at the conference and maintain it as you travel home and go back to the routine of everyday life.

Inspiration and motivation can be found in the seven keynote presentations provided during the three days of RootsTech. This year’s keynotes feature authors, innovators, and experts. You can look forward to presentations all three days by:

  • Steve Rockwood. Managing Director of the Family History Department and President/CEO of FamilySearch.
  • Paula Madison. Chairman and CEO of Madison Media Management, LLC in Los Angeles.
  • Bruce Feiler. Author of “This Life” column for the Sunday New York Times and six New York Times bestselling books.
  • Josh and Naomi Davis (Taza). Naomi Davis, also known as Taza, is the blogger behind “Love Taza” who shares information about her family’s New York City life and “life’s simple joys.”
  • David Isay. Broadcaster, author, and founder of StoryCorps, an “organization that provides people of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve their life stories.”
  • Michael O. Leavitt. Previous three-time elected governor of Utah and current founder and chairman of Leavitt Partners.
  • Doris Kearns Goodwin. Presidential historian and Pulitzer Prize winner. Her latest book is The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism.

When you are at a conference, it can be tempting to sleep in and miss the keynotes. These presentations set the tone for the day. Make plans to be in attendance – you’ll be glad you did.


During RootsTech 2016, 213 speakers will be presenting 288 sessions on a number of family history and technology topics. Sessions center on using websites such as FamilySearch and WorldCat, or they may focus on mobile technology and apps. Some sessions concentrate on genealogy methodology such as naming patterns, geography, and DNA.

Don’t forget to schedule some time to learn more about newspapers and genealogy from GenealogyBank. Come visit us at booth #523 to discuss genealogy in general, or any specific questions you have about your own family history research. Staff member Scott Spencer will be presenting on “Facts, Photos & Fugitives: Using Online Newspapers,” and staff member Ross Allred will present on “Researching Newspaper Obituaries.”

You can read more about these sessions and speaker bios on the RootsTech website at

Expo Hall

There are many reasons to attend a conference and invest in your genealogical education. Attending classes and networking with other researchers are just a few reasons. Visiting the Expo Hall during RootsTech 2016 is another. The Expo Hall is where exhibitors come together to promote new products, answer questions, and teach small classes. In the Expo Hall at RootsTech you can expect to see booths from familiar genealogy subscription websites, publishers, archives and libraries, booksellers, technology companies, and more. In addition to exhibitors’ booths you will also find a Demo Theatre, Cyber Café, Family Discovery Zone, and the new Innovation Alley where you can check out the latest technology and tools for genealogy.

Carve out some time to stroll the entire Expo Hall. (I recommend visiting the Hall at least several times during the conference.) If you own a smartphone or mobile device, consider using the camera to take photos of booths or information you want to check out later. In some cases you may also come across QR codes (short for Quick Response codes) at booths which you can scan with your device for more information (you will need to download a special QR reading app first from you device’s app store).


There’s more to RootsTech than just classes and learning experiences: there’s also fun. Several different events are scheduled featuring music by the groups Crescent Super Band and Lower Lights.

If you’re into the technology side of genealogy, don’t forget to check on Friday’s Innovators Summit Events. There’s the annual Innovator Showdown where 6 of 12 semi-finalists will take home a cash prize. This is a great opportunity to see what new creative products genealogists will be using in the not-so-distant future. On Wednesday you have the opportunity to take part in a new event. A hackathon sponsored by FamilySearch invites everyone to “Come participate in a unique social coding and brain-storming event where you will have the opportunity to discuss and solve industry problems as you network with the best entrepreneurial minds the genealogical industry has to offer.” You bring your laptop – and Wi-Fi, food and a meeting room are provided.

The Countdown Begins!

RootsTech is an excellent opportunity to energize your genealogy passion. The conference will be here before you know it and there’s a lot to look forward to. While you’re waiting, plan out your schedule, download the app, and start making plans.

GenealogyBank is helping to sponsor the upcoming RootsTech conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, 3-6 February, 2016. If you’re attending, come visit us at booth #523 to discuss genealogy in general, or any specific questions you have about your own family history research.

For more information about RootsTech, visit the website at:

We look forward to meeting you at RootsTech!

Connecticut Archives: 179 Newspapers for Genealogy Research

One of the original 13 British Colonies that formed the United States, Connecticut technically became the new nation’s 5th state on 9 January 1788. The southernmost state in the New England region, Connecticut is the 3rd smallest state in the country and the 29th most populous.

Photo: Connecticut state capitol, Hartford, Connecticut

Photo: Connecticut state capitol, Hartford, Connecticut. Credit: Ragesoss; Wikimedia Commons.

If you are researching your ancestry from Connecticut, you will want to use GenealogyBank’s online CT newspaper archives: 179 titles to help you search your family history in the “Constitution State,” providing coverage from 1755 to Today. There are more than 25.6 million articles and records in our online Connecticut newspaper archives!

Dig deep into our online archives and search for historical and recent obituaries and other news articles about your Connecticut ancestors in these CT newspapers. Our Connecticut newspapers are divided into two collections: Historical Newspapers (complete paper) and Recent Obituaries (obituaries only).

Search Connecticut Newspaper Archives (1755 – 2004)

Search Connecticut Recent Obituaries (1988 – Current)

Illustration: Connecticut state flag

Illustration: Connecticut state flag. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Here is a list of online Connecticut newspapers in the historical archives. Each newspaper title in this list is an active link that will take you directly to that paper’s search page, where you can begin searching for your ancestors by surnames, dates, keywords and more. The CT newspaper titles are listed alphabetically by city.

City Title Date Range * Collection
Ansonia, Derby, Seymour Valley Gazette 12/06/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Ansonia, Derby, Seymour Valley Gazette, The: Web Edition Articles 11/05/2012 – Current Recent Obituaries
Bethany, Orange, Woodbridge Amity Observer 12/06/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Bethany, Orange, Woodbridge Amity Observer: Web Edition Articles 11/05/2012 – Current Recent Obituaries
Bridgeport American Telegraphe 04/08/1795 – 06/06/1804 Newspaper Archives
Bridgeport Bridgeport News 03/15/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Bridgeport Bridgeport News, The: Web Edition Articles 03/14/2012 – Current Recent Obituaries
Bridgeport Bridgeport Advertiser 06/05/1806 – 01/05/1809 Newspaper Archives
Bridgeport Bridgeport Gazette 06/27/1810 – 01/09/1811 Newspaper Archives
Bridgeport Bridgeport Herald 03/07/1805 – 01/09/1806 Newspaper Archives
Bridgeport Connecticut Courier 08/03/1814 – 06/14/1826 Newspaper Archives
Bridgeport Connecticut Post 09/18/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Bridgeport Fairfield County Weekly 02/17/2000 – Current Recent Obituaries
Bridgeport Republican Farmer 04/25/1810 – 08/11/1876 Newspaper Archives
Bridgeport Spirit of the Times 10/06/1830 – 09/26/1832 Newspaper Archives
Bridgeport Connecticut Post 05/21/2001 – 06/30/2002 Newspaper Archives
Bridgeport Humming Bird, or Herald of Taste 04/14/1798 – 07/14/1798 Newspaper Archives
Bridgeport Connecticut Post: Web Edition Articles 11/28/2015 – Current Recent Obituaries
Bristol Bristol Press 12/28/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Brooklyn Independent Observer 12/18/1820 – 05/13/1822 Newspaper Archives
Cheshire Cheshire Herald 10/22/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Cheshire Cheshire Citizen 11/20/2012 – Current Recent Obituaries
Danbury Connecticut Intelligencer 01/31/1810 – 11/07/1810 Newspaper Archives
Danbury Danbury Gazette 08/03/1813 – 04/19/1814 Newspaper Archives
Danbury Day 05/19/1812 – 12/15/1812 Newspaper Archives
Danbury Republican Journal 10/03/1796 – 01/06/1800 Newspaper Archives
Danbury Republican Journal 07/01/1793 – 11/18/1793 Newspaper Archives
Danbury News-Times 02/02/1996 – Current Recent Obituaries
Danbury Republican Farmer 11/16/1803 – 12/25/1805 Newspaper Archives
Danbury Farmer’s Journal 03/18/1790 – 12/26/1791 Newspaper Archives
Danielson Windham County Transcript 07/02/1863 – 02/12/1890 Newspaper Archives
Darien Darien Daily Voice 05/28/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Darien Darien News-Review 10/15/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Darien Darien Times 06/19/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Easton Easton Courier 12/01/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Easton Easton Daily Voice 06/30/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Fairfield Fairfield Gazette 10/26/1786 – 09/23/1789 Newspaper Archives
Fairfield Fairfield Citizen News 01/17/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Fairfield Fairfield Daily Voice 05/03/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Fairfield Fairfield Sun 09/18/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Falls Village Housatonic Republican 01/10/1857 – 08/16/1862 Newspaper Archives
Glastonbury Rivereast News Bulletin 09/04/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Greenwich Greenwich Citizen 11/08/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Greenwich Greenwich Daily Voice 06/30/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Greenwich Greenwich Post 10/02/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Greenwich Greenwich Time 08/08/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Hamden Hamden Journal 12/07/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Hartford American Mercury 07/12/1784 – 06/25/1833 Newspaper Archives
Hartford Connecticut Courant 10/29/1764 – 12/28/1876 Newspaper Archives
Hartford Connecticut Mirror 07/10/1809 – 12/15/1832 Newspaper Archives
Hartford Connecticut Observer 01/11/1825 – 10/03/1831 Newspaper Archives
Hartford Commercial Record 01/25/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Hartford Hartford Daily Courant 02/03/1840 – 10/25/1914 Newspaper Archives
Hartford Hartford Gazette 01/13/1794 – 03/19/1795 Newspaper Archives
Hartford Hartford Times 02/06/1832 – 12/09/1833 Newspaper Archives
Hartford Hartford Times 08/10/1858 – 08/16/1864 Newspaper Archives
Hartford Hartford Advocate 11/07/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Hartford Hartford Courant 07/09/1991 – Current Recent Obituaries
Hartford Hartford News 04/04/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Hartford Patriot and Democrat 03/07/1835 – 12/30/1837 Newspaper Archives
Hartford Religious Inquirer 11/10/1821 – 11/07/1835 Newspaper Archives
Hartford Times 01/01/1817 – 09/02/1876 Newspaper Archives
Hartford Times and Weekly Advertiser 01/12/1829 – 12/28/1829 Newspaper Archives
Hartford Anti-Masonic Intelligencer 03/10/1829 – 12/18/1832 Newspaper Archives
Hartford Freeman’s Chronicle 09/01/1783 – 07/08/1784 Newspaper Archives
Hartford Independent Press 07/01/1833 – 09/22/1834 Newspaper Archives
Kensington Berlin Citizen 06/02/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Killingly Windham County Telegraph 03/08/1848 – 05/06/1858 Newspaper Archives
Litchfield Litchfield Gazette 03/16/1808 – 05/17/1809 Newspaper Archives
Litchfield Litchfield Journal 04/08/1818 – 10/20/1818 Newspaper Archives
Litchfield Litchfield Monitor 12/21/1784 – 07/01/1807 Newspaper Archives
Litchfield Litchfield Republican 05/19/1819 – 07/31/1822 Newspaper Archives
Litchfield Litchfield Republican 06/26/1847 – 06/13/1856 Newspaper Archives
Litchfield Sun 04/25/1835 – 04/13/1839 Newspaper Archives
Litchfield Witness 08/14/1805 – 06/24/1807 Newspaper Archives
Litchfield Litchfield Republican 09/24/1846 – 12/17/1846 Newspaper Archives
Manchester Journal Inquirer 03/08/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Meriden North Haven Citizen 03/18/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Meriden Record-Journal 12/08/1997 – Current Recent Obituaries
Middlefield Town Times 06/30/2000 – Current Recent Obituaries
Middletown Connecticut Spectator 04/20/1814 – 04/10/1816 Newspaper Archives
Middletown Constitution 12/29/1841 – 12/30/1879 Newspaper Archives
Middletown Daily Constitution 07/10/1872 – 08/05/1876 Newspaper Archives
Middletown Middlesex Gazette 11/08/1785 – 01/23/1834 Newspaper Archives
Middletown Sentinel & Witness 01/01/1823 – 08/07/1833 Newspaper Archives
Milford Milford Mirror 07/12/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Monroe Monroe Courier 03/08/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Mystic Mystic Pioneer 03/12/1859 – 03/02/1867 Newspaper Archives
Mystic Mystic River Press 01/11/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
New Britain Herald 12/01/2000 – Current Recent Obituaries
New Canaan New Canaan Advertiser 08/08/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
New Canaan New Canaan Daily Voice 05/28/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
New Canaan New Canaan News-Review 11/05/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
New Canaan New Canaan Messenger 01/02/1904 – 09/17/1915 Newspaper Archives
New Haven Black Coalition Weekly 03/06/1972 – 09/14/1972 Newspaper Archives
New Haven Columbian Register 01/05/1813 – 12/30/1876 Newspaper Archives
New Haven Connecticut Gazette 09/20/1755 – 01/12/1767 Newspaper Archives
New Haven Connecticut Herald 11/01/1803 – 03/30/1889 Newspaper Archives
New Haven Connecticut Journal 10/23/1767 – 02/24/1835 Newspaper Archives
New Haven Daily Herald 03/12/1836 – 06/29/1846 Newspaper Archives
New Haven New Haven Palladium 07/19/1861 – 12/31/1863 Newspaper Archives
New Haven New Haven Register 10/23/1878 – 12/31/1900 Newspaper Archives
New Haven New-Haven Chronicle 04/25/1786 – 09/11/1787 Newspaper Archives
New Haven New-Haven Gazette 05/13/1784 – 02/09/1786 Newspaper Archives
New Haven New-Haven Gazette, and Connecticut Magazine 02/15/1786 – 06/18/1789 Newspaper Archives
New Haven New Haven Advocate 11/05/1998 – Current Recent Obituaries
New Haven New Haven Register 01/03/1988 – Current Recent Obituaries
New Haven Visitor 10/30/1802 – 11/08/1804 Newspaper Archives
New Haven Federal Gazetteer 02/22/1791 – 04/05/1797 Newspaper Archives
New Haven Messenger 01/16/1800 – 08/09/1802 Newspaper Archives
New Haven New-Haven Gazette 01/05/1791 – 06/29/1791 Newspaper Archives
New Haven Sun of Liberty 08/26/1801 – 12/03/1801 Newspaper Archives
New London Bee 06/14/1797 – 06/23/1802 Newspaper Archives
New London Connecticut Gazette 11/18/1763 – 05/29/1844 Newspaper Archives
New London Day, The: Archive 07/24/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
New London Morning News 11/08/1844 – 04/25/1848 Newspaper Archives
New London New London Daily Chronicle 04/26/1848 – 12/31/1864 Newspaper Archives
New London New London Daily Star 01/05/1857 – 09/24/1866 Newspaper Archives
New London New London Democrat 03/21/1845 – 04/12/1873 Newspaper Archives
New London New-London Summary 09/29/1758 – 09/23/1763 Newspaper Archives
New London People’s Advocate 08/26/1840 – 04/26/1848 Newspaper Archives
New London Republican Advocate 01/02/1822 – 12/10/1828 Newspaper Archives
New London True Republican 07/01/1807 – 02/24/1808 Newspaper Archives
New London Weekly Oracle 10/22/1796 – 12/30/1799 Newspaper Archives
New London New London Weekly Chronicle 05/03/1848 – 02/25/1869 Newspaper Archives
New Milford New Milford Spectrum 10/10/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Newtown Newtown Bee 01/01/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Norwalk Independent Republican 06/17/1802 – 04/06/1803 Newspaper Archives
Norwalk Norwalk Citizen News 12/13/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Norwalk Norwalk Daily Voice 04/01/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Norwich Bulletin 01/28/1999 – Current Recent Obituaries
Norwich Canal of Intelligence 02/21/1827 – 10/28/1829 Newspaper Archives
Norwich Connecticut Centinel 02/16/1802 – 10/13/1807 Newspaper Archives
Norwich Native American 03/04/1812 – 06/23/1813 Newspaper Archives
Norwich Norwich Aurora 05/15/1839 – 09/29/1876 Newspaper Archives
Norwich Norwich Courier 11/30/1796 – 08/16/1876 Newspaper Archives
Norwich Norwich Morning Bulletin 10/16/1860 – 08/13/1887 Newspaper Archives
Norwich Norwich Packet 11/11/1773 – 02/09/1802 Newspaper Archives
Norwich Norwich Republican 10/01/1828 – 04/15/1835 Newspaper Archives
Norwich Religious Messenger 06/11/1831 – 09/08/1832 Newspaper Archives
Norwich True Republican 06/20/1804 – 11/05/1806 Newspaper Archives
Norwich Weekly Register 11/29/1791 – 08/19/1795 Newspaper Archives
Norwich Norwich Evening Courier 07/11/1846 – 01/18/1853 Newspaper Archives
Oxford Oxford Gazette 03/06/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Redding Redding Pilot 01/01/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Ridgefield Ridgefield Press 06/12/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Sharon Rural Gazette 06/09/1800 – 07/13/1801 Newspaper Archives
Shelton Shelton Extra 03/06/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Shelton Shelton Herald 12/06/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Southbury Voices 08/02/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Southington Plainville Citizen 08/27/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Southington Southington Citizen 05/14/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Stamford Advocate 01/17/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Stamford Stamford Advocate 04/05/1829 – 08/18/1904 Newspaper Archives
Stamford Stamford Daily Voice 06/30/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Stamford Daily Advocate 05/01/1979 – 12/31/2004 Newspaper Archives
Stamford Advocate, The: Web Edition Articles 12/01/2015 – Current Recent Obituaries
Stonington Impartial Journal 10/08/1799 – 03/06/1804 Newspaper Archives
Stonington Journal of the Times 10/10/1798 – 09/17/1799 Newspaper Archives
Stonington America’s Friend 07/29/1807 – 09/28/1808 Newspaper Archives
Stonington Yankee 02/16/1825 – 06/22/1825 Newspaper Archives
Stonington-Port Patriot 07/24/1801 – 02/11/1803 Newspaper Archives
Stratford Stratford Star 12/06/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Suffield Impartial Herald 06/14/1797 – 06/11/1799 Newspaper Archives
Torrington Register Citizen 10/25/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Trumbull Trumbull Times 12/06/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Waterbury Republican-American 06/25/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Watertown Town Times 08/31/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Weston Weston Forum 12/17/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Weston-Easton Weston-Easton Daily Voice 05/28/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Westport Westport Daily Voice 05/11/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Westport Westport News 09/18/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Willimantic Willimantic Journal 10/05/1865 – 12/13/1866 Newspaper Archives
Wilton Wilton Bulletin 05/22/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Wilton Wilton Daily Voice 05/28/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Windham Advertiser 05/07/1818 – 03/11/1819 Newspaper Archives
Windham Political Visitant 05/15/1820 – 05/15/1820 Newspaper Archives
Windham Register 03/13/1817 – 01/01/1818 Newspaper Archives
Windham Windham Herald 03/12/1791 – 12/31/1812 Newspaper Archives

*Date Ranges may have selected coverage unavailable.

You can either print or create a PDF version of this Blog post by simply clicking on the green “Print/PDF” button below. The PDF version makes it easy to save this post onto your desktop or portable device for quick reference – all the Connecticut newspaper links will be live.

Related Resource:

Genealogy Research: Newspapers Round Out the Story

I was looking at the 1919 marriage certificate of my cousin George Henry Kemp and his wife Augusta Betty Ehlers.

marriage certificate for George Henry Kemp and Augusta Betty Ehlers

Source: Kemp family papers

From earlier research, I already had the basic genealogical information about them – their birth, marriage and death information.
What more could I learn about them from their marriage certificate?

Looking at the information for George, I saw that he was living at 1581 Mayflower Avenue in the Bronx at the time of their marriage. I wondered if that home is still standing? That would be interesting to know. So, I looked at Google Street View, typing in that address – it brought me right to it.

Photo: 1581 Mayflower Avenue, Bronx, New York

Photo: 1581 Mayflower Avenue, Bronx, New York. Source: Google Street View.

According to that home was built about 1920.
So this was probably their home.

The online List of Enrolled Voters: Borough of the Bronx for 1918 shows that George was enrolled as a Democrat and living at that address. His father John Kemp and step-mother Emily (Mulholland) Kemp are also listed as enrolled voters living at that address – but with no party affiliation designated.

George and August’s marriage certificate says that the wedding was performed in New York by “H. C. Stemp, Clergyman.”
Stemp. You don’t hear that surname very often.

Since he was a minister in New York City, I decided to search for any mention of him in GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives.
So I searched for H.C. Stemp – and generated zero search results.

That’s odd.
He was a minister – but there were no references to him in the old newspapers?

So – I Googled him.
Looking for: Rv. H.C. Stemp church New York City, I found only one or two references for him there – but one of the Google search results linked him to St. John’s Lutheran Church in New York City.

OK – let’s see if that works.
A few more searches in GenealogyBank’s old newspapers – but still nothing.

There must be something wrong with the spelling of that surname.

So I searched GenealogyBank again using only his initials and the reference to the Lutheran Church in New York.

I limited my search to 1919, the year he performed the wedding of my cousin. Since I was searching on the initials “H. C.” I also limited the search results to just New York and the immediate bordering states Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut.

screenshot of GenealogyBank's search box showing a search for the Lutheran Church in New York City

Source: GenealogyBank

That generated a reasonable four search results – including this one.

article about H. C. Steup, Springfield Republican newspaper article 13 September 1919

Springfield Republican (Springfield, Massachusetts), 13 September 1919, page 6

Bingo – that’s him – and look at that, his surname is spelled Steup not Stemp. Searching again with the correct spelling, I found this newspaper article about him. It turns out that the Steups were a tribe of pastors.

article about the five members of the Steup family who were ministers, Springfield Daily News newspaper article 2 March 1918

Springfield Daily News (Springfield, Massachusetts), 2 March 1918, page 3

That article included this photo of the Steup ministers.

photo of the five men of the Steup family who were ministers, Springfield Daily News newspaper article 2 March 1918

Springfield Daily News (Springfield, Massachusetts), 2 March 1918, page 3

I then searched the Internet for more information about St. John’s Lutheran Church.

I quickly found these photographs of the church.

Photo: St. John’s Lutheran Church, New York, New York

Photo: St. John’s Lutheran Church, New York, New York. Source: New York City Chapter of the American Guild of Organists

Photo: the altar in St. John’s Lutheran Church, New York, New York

Photo: the altar in St. John’s Lutheran Church, New York, New York. Source: New York City Chapter of the American Guild of Organists

According to this website:

The Federal-style building with a domed cupola, built in 1821-22 for the Eighth Presbyterian Church, is one of the oldest religious buildings in Greenwich Village. In 1842, the property was sold to St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, who worshiped here until 1858 when it was purchased for $13,000 by the German Lutherans. Victorian features were added in 1886 by Berg & Clark, and the pediment was inscribed, “Deutsche Evangelish-Lutherische St. Johannes Kirche.”

These contemporary photos of the church, showing the altar area, are likely very similar to the way the church would have looked in 1919 when their wedding was performed.

A German Lutheran Church. That makes sense – Augusta’s family had lived in the Bronx but moved to Stamford, Connecticut, in 1890 when her father bought a butcher shop on the corner of East Main Street and Maple Avenue there.

article about Gustav Ehlers, Stamford Advocate newspaper article 19 September 1890

Stamford Advocate (Stamford, Connecticut), 19 September 1890, page 1

Looking at Google Street View, I found the building.

Photo: the corner of East Main Street and Maple Avenue, Stamford, Connecticut

Photo: the corner of East Main Street and Maple Avenue, Stamford, Connecticut. Source: Google Street View.

Their home and butcher shop was right next door to George’s uncle, William Kemp!

I also found this article, showing that George’s father John Kemp, “a New York [City] policeman” was “having a fine dwelling house erected on the corner of Main street and Myrtle avenue.” That is just to the right of the red “Service and Parts” awning pictured above.

article about John Kemp, Stamford Advocate newspaper article 4 December 1885

Stamford Advocate (Stamford, Connecticut), 4 December 1885, page 2

This week when I started this research, I already had George and Augusta’s wedding certificate and their basic genealogical facts.

Armed with the insights from GenealogyBank’s newspapers and the Internet, I really got the rest of their story.

He lived at home with his parents in the Bronx and she lived with her family above their butcher shop in Stamford, Connecticut. By identifying the correct spelling of the minister’s name, I was able to find the church where they were married – and that is likely the church her family attended when they lived in New York City before they moved to Stamford.

With these essential online tools and a little elbow grease you can build your family history from home. It’s amazing what you can find in newspapers.

It’s a Great Day for Genealogy!

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Explore Your Ancestors’ Lives in Old Newspapers

Introduction: Duncan Kuehn is a professional genealogist with over nine years of client experience. She has worked on several well-known projects, such as “Who Do You Think You Are?” In this blog post, Duncan shows how all the different types of articles found in old newspapers can be a great source of family history information.

Census and other government records are a good starting point for family history research – but to go beyond the names and dates, to learn more about your ancestors’ individual lives and find their stories, search an online newspaper collection like GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives.

montage of newspaper articles


Which life events can be discovered or verified in newspaper articles?

It is said that each person gets 15 minutes of fame in his or her lifetime. If fame is based on the appearance of a person’s name in the newspaper, I submit that our ancestors got much more than 15 minutes. Here are a few of the events in a person’s life that could have appeared in the newspapers.


Birth announcements were quickly discovered to be a financial benefit to newspapers. People loved to see their name in print and would buy the paper just to see it. Neighbors enjoyed reading the good news, which offset the daily shock and horror stories that often filled the newspaper. And birth announcements were quick and easy to report, which saved the newspaper from reporting expenses.


Local papers were quick to publish the good news of their inhabitants. Although discovered later, marriage announcements proved to be as beneficial for newspapers as birth announcements – and for all the same reasons. Besides the “feel good” side of marriage announcements, many jurisdictions required a publication of marriage to prevent marriage fraud (bigamy).


Articles relating to divorce can range from a full expose on the scandal to a simple line in the court case list. There may also appear articles announcing the cancellation of a wife’s line of credit under her husband’s name. While these cancellations don’t necessarily mean that a divorce occurred, they do provide a clue to look for one. In cases of abandonment, courts often required a posting in the newspaper so that the missing spouse might be located prior to judgment.


Several different types of articles could be generated at the expiration of a life. If it was a particularly tragic event, such as the result of an accident or crime, several articles may appear in the paper – initially, and as follow-ups. Obituaries or death notices would run to alert friends and family of the funeral. The settlement of the descendant’s estate would also include running a newspaper notice in order to alert creditors to collect their dues.

Name Changes

Many courts required those wishing to change their name legally to publish an announcement in the newspaper for several weeks in order to alert any potential creditors to the new identity.


Advertisements for the sale of work equipment can provide clues to an ancestor’s employment. In addition, ads for the individual’s business may have run in the local paper to drum up new business or alert shoppers to sales. Reporting on business was big business to the newspapers. A change in ownership or location, or an alteration of the articles of incorporation, was routinely reported in the papers. Business people were a major sector of newspaper readers. Farmers needed to know the weather forecasts and the going price of grain. Insurance salesmen would use a local tragedy to encourage the neighbors to purchase insurance before it happened to them.


Articles providing clues about the whereabouts of individuals can vary. Notices of uncollected letters at the post office or delinquent taxpayers can provide clues to your ancestors’ location. There are also ads for the sale and purchase of homes or land. Some newspapers would include farewell articles to well known residents when they moved out. Newspapers also ran ads promoting their own newspaper by listing the names of residents who moved away but still subscribed to the newspaper.

Significant Events

Even your (mostly) law abiding ancestors got speeding tickets, had things stolen from them, helped out in their neighbor’s barn fire, discovered missing livestock, etc. Of course for your less law-abiding ancestors, there were plenty of articles enumerating their crimes. All of these events and many more were reported in newspapers. Local events are the heart and soul of many newspapers.

Daily Life Events

Less significant events were also reported in newspapers, such as out-of-town visitors, church picnics, graduation parties, reorganization of the local Mason lodge, new officers in the PTA, and so on. Reporting on local events sold newspapers!

Court Cases

As mentioned with name changes, many court cases required notices to appear in the local newspapers. The court also functioned as a source of local entertainment during our ancestors’ time, and a list of that day’s hearings would run in the newspapers – much like TV listings did in the second half of the 1900s.


Many newspapers in port towns would reprint ships’ passenger lists. This was intended to alert the locals of the arrival of friends and acquaintances. Passengers from the old country brought in news from home in addition to letters and other items. Included on the passenger list would also be names of important arriving businessmen that shrewd locals might want to be introduced to for reasons of commerce. Of course, ships also carried freight that would be of interest to the locals. Therefore, the coming and going of ships and their passengers made for promising material to sell newspapers.

There is far more family history information to be found in old newspapers than you may initially realize. Not only can they provide the vital statistics of birth, marriage, and death, they often provide more color and context for your ancestors than you would otherwise know.

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You Know When They Married – Newspapers Give the Details of What Happened

I was searching for the marriage certificate for the wedding of Bessie M. Bryant and Henry L. Fitch – 23 November 1912, St. Albans, Vermont.

screenshot of a FamilySearch web page showing information for the wedding of Bessie M. Bryant and Henry L. Fitch

Source: FamilySearch

I went to FamilySearch and found confirmation of their marriage. That site does not have a copy of the actual wedding certificate – but does have a copy of the index card outlining the facts of the marriage. It gives me the essential who, what, when, where and how.

Could I find out more about their wedding – and about them?

Turning to GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives, I quickly found their wedding announcement and it brings these facts to life.

It was as if I were attending the wedding.

article about the wedding of Bessie M. Bryant and Henry L. Fitch, Saint Albans Daily Messenger newspaper article 25 November 1912

Saint Albans Daily Messenger (Saint Albans, Vermont), 25 November 1912, page 7

This newspaper article gives me more of the facts:

  • The middle names of the bride and groom
  • That the wedding took place at her father’s home on Congress Street
  • The wedding was at 8:30 p.m., in the parlor
  • About 35 guests attended – many of them are named along with the cities that they were from
  • The couple was going to live in Springfield, Massachusetts
  • The details of the wedding ceremony, how everyone was dressed, and the reception
  • The best man, maid of honor and others were named
  • The minister was named along with the name of his church

The article also provides these details:

…the bride and groom standing in the archway composed of asparagus ferns and white chrysanthemums.

The bride…was gowned in white chiffon with silver bead trimming, and made over white satin; she wore a veil, fastened with orange blossoms and jasmine, and carried a bouquet of bride roses and lilies-of-the-valley. Her ornament was a string of gold beads, the gift of the groom.

The details of the wedding go on and on in this article.

And so do the newspaper articles about them.

The bride Bessie was mentioned in dozens more newspaper articles that told of her activities or those of her family.

Only newspapers give these details. GenealogyBank is an essential tool in our search to document the lives of our ancestors.

Are you attending the RootsTech Genealogy Conference?

GenealogyBank is helping to sponsor the upcoming RootsTech conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, 3-6 February, 2016. If you’re attending, come visit us at booth #523 to discuss genealogy in general, or any specific questions you have about your own family history research.

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January Update: GenealogyBank Just Added 27 Million More Records!

Every day, GenealogyBank is working hard to digitize more newspapers and obituaries, expanding our collection to give you the largest newspaper archives for family history research available online. We just completed adding 27 million more U.S. genealogy records, vastly increasing our content coverage from coast to coast!

screenshot of GenealogyBank's home page showing the Monthly Update for January of 27 million new records

Here are some of the details about our most recent U.S. newspaper additions:

  • A total of 13 newspaper titles from 5 U.S. states
  • 9 of these titles are newspapers added to GenealogyBank for the first time
  • We’ve shown the newspaper issue date ranges so that you can determine if the newly added content is relevant to your personal genealogy research

To see our newspaper archives’ complete title lists, click here.

State City Title Coverage Added Collection
California Riverside Riverside Daily Press 01/01/1941 – 01/28/1941 Newspaper Archives
Louisiana New Orleans Louisiana Advertiser 08/18/1826 – 08/18/1826 Newspaper Archives
Louisiana New Orleans Times-Picayune 11/02/1850 – 03/28/1922 Newspaper Archives
Minnesota Faribault Faribault Daily News New! 07/10/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
New York Brooklyn Bay News & Brooklyn Graphic New! 05/02/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
New York Brooklyn Bay Ridge Courier New! 08/11/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
New York Brooklyn Brooklyn Courier New! 05/02/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
New York New York East Villager New! 12/16/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
New York Brooklyn Kings Courier New! 09/30/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
New York Brooklyn Mill-Marine Courier New! 05/02/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Wisconsin Milwaukee Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel 06/09/1964 – 07/15/1964 Newspaper Archives
Wisconsin Minocqua Lakeland Times New! 03/13/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Wisconsin Rhinelander Northwoods River News New! 11/15/2000 – Current Recent Obituaries

Genealogy Tip: One of the ways to take advantage of the fact that Genealogy is constantly adding new content is to use a feature on the newspapers’ search box that lets you search just on the content added since a certain time:

screenshot of GenealogyBank's search box showing ability to search only on newest added content

GenealogyBank adds millions of new records monthly, so keep searching. And good luck with your family history research!

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr: A Brief Genealogy & Family Tree

Introduction: Scott Phillips is a genealogical historian and owner of Onward To Our Past® genealogy services. In this blog post – in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day – Scott searches old newspapers to find out more about Dr. King’s family history.

The year was 1968. If you lived it, you know it was a year quite like no other in U.S. history. Certain words and images are indelibly seared into our memories from 1968: Vietnam, Tet Offensive, anti-war riots, Robert F. Kennedy, Apollo, Nixon, “Prague Spring,” and Martin Luther King, Jr. to name a few.

It was on 4 April 1968 that our world lost the legendary civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to an assassin’s bullet, as reported in this 1968 Louisiana newspaper.

article about the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Times-Picayune newspaper article 5 April 1968

Times-Picayune (New Orleans, Louisiana), 5 April 1968, page 1

The world was in shock and sadness over the assassination of MLK, and our entire nation was on edge. As a country, we tried to come to grips with the murder of one of our most stalwart proponents of peaceful humanitarian change.

Since today is the national celebration of Dr. King’s life, as well as the 48th anniversary of his untimely death, I thought I would search GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives to see what I could learn about the genealogy and family history of this truly great American.

Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Father, the Reverend King, Sr.

The first thing we need to recall is that while newspapers often referred to him as Dr. King, his full name was Martin Luther King, Jr. His father was Rev. Martin Luther King, Sr.

Rev. King, Sr. outlived his son, dying in Atlanta of heart disease in 1984, as reported in this Texas newspaper. This obituary gives us more information about the family of Rev. King, Sr., commenting that “his life was stained by repeated tragedy.” He not only lost his son, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the 1968 assassination, but his only other son, Rev. A. D. King, accidentally drowned in 1969, and his wife, Alberta Williams King, was killed by gunfire while playing the organ during a church service in 1974.

obituary for Rev. Martin Luther King, Sr., Dallas Morning News newspaper article 12 November 1984

Dallas Morning News (Dallas, Texas), 12 November 1984, page 1A

Rev. King, Sr.’s faith and commitment is shown in the last two paragraphs of this obituary:

But in his last years, King refused to speak with bitterness about his family’s losses. Nor did he swerve from his commitment to non-violence and his faith in the ultimate designs of a loving God.

“I do not hate the man who took the life of my dead son,” he said at a bicentennial ceremony in Dallas in 1976. “I am not going to hate the young man who came and killed my wife. I am every man’s brother. I’m going on with my job.”

The murder of Alberta King, wife of Rev. King, Sr. and mother of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was reported in this 1974 Massachusetts newspaper.

article about the murder of Alberta King, wife of Rev. King, Sr. and mother of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Boston Herald newspaper article 1 July 1974

Boston Herald (Boston, Massachusetts), 1 July 1974, page 1

MLK’s Personal “Preacher’s Kid” Story & Family Photo

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was part of a group called “preacher’s kids,” as shown in this 2006 Illinois newspaper article. This old newspaper article not only provides a view of what it is like to grow up as a “PK” or preacher’s kid, but also provides us with a photo of the King family in 1963, as well as a very nice biography of Dr. King which lists his wife, Coretta Scott, and his four children, Yolanda, Martin Luther III, Dexter, and Bernice.

article about the family of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Register Star newspaper article 14 January 2006

Register Star (Rockford, Illinois), 14 January 2006, page 9

Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Daughter, the Reverend Bernice King

I then discovered an intriguing article from a 1991 South Dakota newspaper about Dr. King’s daughter Bernice. She is the only one of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s four children to become a minister. The old newspaper article proclaims: “Bernice King is seeking her own mission and her own identity.” As with so many of our own families, it seems the passion for a profession followed through the branches and roots of the King family with Rev. Bernice King, who is currently the chief executive officer of The King Center.

article about Rev. Bernice King, Aberdeen Daily News newspaper article 20 January 1991

Aberdeen Daily News (Aberdeen, South Dakota), 20 January 1991, page 35

Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Grandfather, the Reverend A. D. Williams

It was also interesting for me to note, when I looked up Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s grave on, that his maternal grandfather, A. D. Williams, was also a Reverend.

Honoring the Memory of MLK

Dr. King’s legacy was recognized and respected by the signing of the bill establishing a national holiday in his honor by then-President Ronald Reagan, as reported in this 1983 Washington newspaper article.

article about President Reagan signing the bill to create Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Seattle Daily Times newspaper article 2 November 1983

Seattle Daily Times (Seattle, Washington), 2 November 1983, page 1

His legacy was further elevated by the establishment of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial in Washington, D.C., on 28 August 2011.

Photo: Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial

Photo: Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial. Credit: U.S. National Park Service.

It was an article I found in a 1971 Alabama newspaper that really made me nostalgic. This article is all about songwriter Dick Holler and it reports: “Holler considers ‘Abraham, Martin and John’ his best song to date.” It goes on to say: “He said it only took about 10 minutes to write the song and that he had no idea it would be such a tremendous success.”

article about songwriter Dick Holler, Mobile Register newspaper article 30 December 1971

Mobile Register (Mobile, Alabama), 30 December 1971, page 30

While all of the memorials and tributes to Dr. King are wonderful, it is Dick Holler’s that I always carry close in my heart!

Anybody here seen my old friend Martin?
Can you tell me where he’s gone?
He freed a lot of people,
But it seems the good they die young.
I just looked around and he’s gone.
—Dick Holler

Take some time during today’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day commemoration to reflect upon this great civil rights leader and his legacy of faith, love, hope, and non-violence.

Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Family Tree

Here is Martin Luther King, Jr.’s family tree that contains the names, DOB, and DOD (if applicable) of his parents, grandparents and great grandparents.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. family tree

MLK Genealogy Challenge

See if you can find out more about Martin Luther King, Jr.’s ancestry dating back into the 1800s, and fill in some of the unknowns in his family tree. Our African American newspaper archives is a great place to start. Please be sure to share your MLK family history finds with us in the comments!

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Using Newspapers to Expand Your Genealogy Research: A Morgue Example

Introduction: Gena Philibert-Ortega is a genealogist and author of the book “From the Family Kitchen.” In this blog article, Gena shows how newspaper articles can fill in the details only hinted at in some records, such as morgue documents.

What records have you used to verify your ancestor’s demise? Normally, death certificates and obituaries are the family historian’s go-to source for researching death, but there are other documents available as well. An example of a unique set of records is the Hamilton County, Ohio, Morgue Records, 1887-1930, available from the University of Cincinnati Libraries Digital Collections. This is but one example of the genealogically significant records available through academic digital collections.

The website explains:

“Bodies were taken to the morgue for various reasons, such as suspicion of murder or suicide, accidental deaths, unidentified or unclaimed bodies, or death under unknown or otherwise suspicious circumstances. Details in the morgue records include the date, time, and location the body was found, personal information on the deceased, probable cause of death, and removal of the body, sometimes effects found on the body. Some entries include letters from the next-of-kin or public officials that offer more information on the deceased.”

Morgue Records Don’t Provide the Full Story

A record set such as this is a rich source of genealogical information. But the information it provides only goes so far – we don’t really learn the full story of how or why the deceased died. To learn that story – or any of the stories about our ancestors’ lives – we need a collection of old newspapers such as GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives.

Filling in the story hinted at by a morgue record is a good example of the importance of enhancing what you find in one set of records with newspaper articles. Newspapers are a perfect companion to most records. Once you find an ancestor in a morgue document, search the newspapers and verify names, dates, places, and additional details to learn the full story.

In this blog article, we’ll look at three examples that show how newspapers enhance the story of an ancestor’s death after first finding them in a morgue record.

Follow the Trail

In the case of deaths that are anything but natural, it’s important to follow the paper trail found in old newspapers. Murders, suicides and accidents can mean numerous newspaper articles on the day of and following the event – and sometimes, preceding the event.

One such example begins with the 1895 Hamilton County morgue record of Louis Stolzenberger. In that record we learn of his death – then, in a series of newspaper articles detailing his crimes and their aftermath, we learn more about the circumstances surrounding Stolzenberger’s death.

Louis, distraught over the death of his child, began his crime spree by physically abusing his wife. After the abuse was reported to the police, Officer Morris went to the Stolzenberger home to serve Louis with a warrant.

Initially, Stolzenberger appeared to cooperate by proclaiming “all right” – but then he took his pistol, placed it at the officer’s chest, and fired. As Stolzenberger fled the scene he saw his sister-in-law, Minnie Cook, and fired two shots at her but missed. Another officer, Fred Shafer, gave chase and, as expected, Stolzenberger then started firing at him.

Officer Shafer returned fire, hitting Louis in the neck. One newspaper article reports that Louis’ “…body was taken to the Morgue.” Stolzenberger is said to have been “… jealous of his wife, and accused her of infidelity.” But this article doesn’t stop there: it goes on to tell the story of Officer Morris’ last moments, including dictating his last will and testament (great news for his descendants).

article about Louis Stolzenberger, Cincinnati Post newspaper article 28 February 1895

Cincinnati Post (Cincinnati, Ohio), 28 February 1895, page 7

This article includes a pencil sketch of the accused, Louis Stolzenberger.

picture of Louis Stolzenberger, Cincinnati Post newspaper article 28 February 1895

Cincinnati Post (Cincinnati, Ohio), 28 February 1895, page 7

After the incident, Officer Shafer demanded that he be arrested for shooting and killing Louis. “I want to be tried on a charge of manslaughter.” But his superior told him: “There’s nothing to try you for…Let me shake hands with you for doing it.”

As this newspaper article reports, a coroner’s inquest ruled that Officer Shafer was acting in self-defense in the death of Stolzenberger.

article about Stolzenberger and Shafer, Cincinnati Post newspaper article 2 March 1895

Cincinnati Post (Cincinnati, Ohio), 2 March 1895, page 3

Genealogy Tip: This event is a good example of why you want to make sure you don’t narrow your geographic search for an ancestor too much. When I searched on “Louis Stolzenberger” in just Ohio newspapers, I came across a few articles. But when I tried the same search and didn’t specify a place, I received hits for articles in newspapers from Indiana, Michigan and Nebraska. It is a safe assumption that an event like this would be picked up by other newspapers. Remember that a newsworthy event may be reported by newspapers across the country.

article about Stolzenberger shooting, Evansville Courier and Press newspaper article 28 February 1895

Evansville Courier and Press (Evansville, Indiana), 28 February 1895, page 1

Further genealogical research into city directories finds Lizzie Stolzenberger, the widow of Louis, living in Cincinnati after his death. If we were to continue our research on the Stolzenberger family it would include tracing their lives in Cincinnati using city directories, the U.S. census, vital records – and, of course, newspaper articles.

Sometimes There’s More to the Story

One of the aspects I love about genealogy is that research is always full of surprises. We want to believe that our ancestors lived predictable, neat lives, but life is messy.

One of the records in the Hamilton County Morgue collection is for George Montgomery. His date of entry is 24 May 1892, but the notes mention that he most likely died the previous month from a suicide. Wanting to know more of the story, I turned to the old newspapers. A newspaper search tells us of the events leading up to the morgue entry. First, a short mention is found in an April newspaper article that reports a man was seen jumping from the Newport Bridge, leaving behind his hat.

article about George Montgomery, Cincinnati Post newspaper article 18 April 1892

Cincinnati Post (Cincinnati, Ohio), 18 April 1892, page 1

A month later we learn that Mr. Montgomery’s body was found. It’s easy to assume he was a local resident, but a follow-up newspaper article informs us that he resided in Kentucky. The article reports:

About the middle of April, George Montgomery, of Butler, Ky., committed suicide by jumping into the Ohio from the new bridge. His name was learned only from a slip of paper found under the lining of his hat, which the suicide threw down on the walk before making the fatal leap.

His cousin, Dr. I. J. Bonar, identified the remains. The article goes on to report that Montgomery was a single, 40-year-old man with a previous suicide attempt.

article about George Montgomery, Cincinnati Post newspaper article 25 May 1892

Cincinnati Post (Cincinnati, Ohio), 25 May 1892, page 1

Genealogy Tip: It’s important to widen your search to the days, even weeks, prior to a death reported in a morgue record. Earlier newspaper articles may report everything from a sickness to, in this case, the events leading up to finding a body. While narrowing your search is important in cases when you are trying to find someone with a common name, it is imperative to try several different searches and to expect the unexpected.

Work Kills

There’s no doubt that life was dangerous for our ancestors. This can easily be confirmed by reports of occupational-related deaths. In some cases those accidents may affect more than just employees, as in this case of a railroad collision that killed an employee and two “hobos.” The morgue records list the victims of this 23 July 1894 crash as Frank Taylor, Richard Tudor, and Chas Sherman. Newspaper articles provide not only more information about the crash and those killed, but also the names of the injured.

article about a train wreck, Cincinnati Post newspaper article 23 July 1894

Cincinnati Post (Cincinnati, Ohio), 23 July 1894, page 1

This accident involved two trains. Blame is squarely placed on the shoulders of the freight train engineer, who forgot about the express train until it was too late to avoid a collision. Two employees on the express train jumped, along with a small boy who saw them jump, saving their lives. But unfortunately not everyone had time to make that decision.

Ed Bradley, presumably an acquaintance of the two “hobos,” identified the men at the morgue. The newspaper article does not provide much information about one of the men, 20-year-old Richard Tudor, except for his street address and that he lived with his mother, a Mrs. Bailes. Details given about the other man, Charles Sherman, include where he worked, previous occupations, and his fatal return after a visit with a young lady, Maud Carson.

As we would expect when researching a large accident, there are other reports that can help us piece together this story. In this case a short newspaper mention of the coroner’s inquest is found a few months after the train wreck, which proclaims that the accident was “the result of gross carelessness on the part of the engineer, Samuel Hart, in forgetting the schedule time of the train with which he collided.”

article about a train wreck, Cincinnati Post newspaper article 12 September 1894

Cincinnati Post (Cincinnati, Ohio), 12 September 1894, page 1

Accidents can result in numerous newspaper articles that report on the accident for days after including inquiries and of course obituaries. Any time an ancestor is a victim of an accident, occupational or personal, look for newspaper articles and be sure to extend your search to months – even a year – afterward.

What Will You Find?

The limited information I found in the Hamilton County Morgue records was greatly enhanced by additional newspaper research. I was able to learn more about their deaths, the names of family members and acquaintances, as well as details that could lead to other records. Don’t limit your newspaper research to just finding one article about an ancestor. Expand your search by following up on records that mention your ancestor to find additional newspaper articles. Records that document your ancestors’ lives usually lead to other records and newspaper articles.

Are you attending the RootsTech Genealogy Conference?

GenealogyBank is helping to sponsor the upcoming RootsTech conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, 3-6 February, 2016. If you’re attending, come visit us at booth #523 to discuss genealogy in general, or any specific questions you have about your own family history research.

For more information about RootsTech, visit the website at:

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Follow-Up Story: Good News about the Italian State Archives L’Aquila

In 2009 I wrote about the destruction of the Archivio di Stato (State Archive) L’Aquila, Italy, building that was destroyed by an earthquake on 6 April 2009.

The earthquake itself destroyed some records, and it also exposed the entire collection – centuries of records – to further destruction from the weather.

Photo: the Italian State Archives L’Aquila damaged by an earthquake in 2009

Source: Archivio di Stato dell’Aquila

The archivists there and around the world immediately looked for – and found – solutions. The archivists signed an agreement two years later, on 30 June 2011, with the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, to digitize and begin putting these records online.

I contacted FamilySearch to see how that is progressing and was informed that:

“Civil registration (stato civile) of births, marriages, and deaths within the custody of the State Archive of L’Aquila (Archivio di Stato di L’Aquila) [which] also includes ten-year indexes (indici decennali); residency records (cittadinanze); marriage banns (notificazioni o pubblicazioni); supplemental records (allegati); marriage supplements (processetti); miscellaneous records (atti diversi), etc.” are being put online.

FamilSearch also reported:

“Records included in this collection coincide with the modern-day provinces of L’Aquila and Rieti.”

These records can be searched on the FamilySearch site here:

Digital copies of these records can be searched and viewed on the Italian National Archives (DGA) Portale degli antenati website here: