Taxes: Not Fun to Pay, but Great Genealogy Records!

Introduction: Gena Philibert-Ortega is a genealogist and author of the book “From the Family Kitchen.” In this guest blog post, Gena shows how your ancestors’ tax records and notices published in old newspapers can fill in some gaps in your family history.

Tax Day in the United States is quickly approaching. Are you ready? Taxes are a part of our everyday modern lives from sales tax and income tax to property tax. As we approach that dreaded date in April when our annual income tax returns are due, it’s a good reminder that we can look at our ancestor’s tax records to help with our genealogy research.

1941 Pennsylvania tax notice

Document: 1941 Pennsylvania tax notice. Credit: from the author’s collection.

Have you thought about the newspaper as a place to research your ancestor’s tax records? Our ancestors were similarly saddled with all types of taxes as we are today, and some taxpayers found themselves mentioned in the newspapers in the form of annual delinquent property tax lists.

For example, in this 1910 list of delinquent tax payers in Sandoval County, New Mexico, the names of the property owners, the amount due, and the property descriptions are all provided.

List of Delinquent Taxes, Sandoval County, Albuquerque Journal newspaper article article 26 August 1910

Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, New Mexico), 26 August 1910, page 3

For those who could not or would not pay their outstanding property tax balances, a sale of their property would occur. That information would also be published in the newspaper and might include the property owner’s name and property description, as shown in this example from California.

Notice of Sale of Property for Delinquent Taxes, Evening News newspaper article 11 January 1905

Evening News (San Jose, California), 11 January 1905, page 6

Here is an old article from an Idaho newspaper about taxpayer complaints to the county board. It provides good information about a few taxpayers, why their taxes weren’t paid or weren’t credited by the tax collector, and the result of their complaints. In one case a man who was ill with smallpox asked to have any penalties for non-payment dropped because he was quarantined and not allowed by county officials to visit anyone. While it seems like that would be a good enough excuse, it appears his request fell on deaf ears. Several women were exempted from paying taxes because they were widows. Details including names and circumstances of seven taxpayers can be found at the end of the old newspaper article.

Complaints to County Board, Idaho Statesman newspaper article 17 November 1903

Idaho Statesman (Boise, Idaho), 17 November 1903, page 6

Other types of newspaper articles provide information about new taxes being enacted. These historical news articles can give you a sense of what life was like for your ancestor. While this type of social history background is not specific to an individual’s name, it does provide an understanding of their lives.

All types of tax records and notices are available on our ancestors. One of my favorites, the dog tax that was assessed against owners, was adopted by communities to help individuals who suffered the loss of livestock because of roving dogs. When researching taxes your ancestor may have paid, if you haven’t done so already, I recommend that you first check the Family History Library Catalog and conduct a Place Name search on where your ancestor lived. While conducting a place search you can look over records in the subject category “Taxation” for documents that can provide some information about your ancestor’s life.

Between these tax records, and the information published in old newspapers, you might be able to fill in a few missing pieces in your family history!

23 Million Newspaper Records for all 50 U.S. States Just Added!

Did you realize that every day GenealogyBank adds more records from over 3,000 newspapers from all 50 states? Our archivists and digital experts are gathering and digitizing more of America’s newspapers and putting them online continuously.

In the past month alone we added over 23 million newspaper records—that is more than 5 million records every week!

Here is a glimpse of just some of the new newspaper content that has recently been added to GenealogyBank. Since we can’t list all 3,000 newspapers here, we have selected a representative sample to give you a sense of GenealogyBank’s dynamic growth. Dig into our rapidly expanding newspaper archives and uncover your family history now!

Newspapers marked with an asterisk (*) are new to GenealogyBank.

State City Newspapers

Date Range

Collection

Alaska Anchorage Anchorage Daily News

1/2/1971–12/30/1972

Newspaper Archives

California San Diego Evening Tribune

9/2/1912–9/29/1936

Newspaper Archives

California San Diego San Diego Union

4/20/1881–12/23/1930

Newspaper Archives

California San Francisco Bay Citizen, The*

06/01/2010–Current

Recent Obituaries

Colorado Denver Denver Post

7/4/1903–5/22/1917

Newspaper Archives

Colorado Denver Denver Rocky Mountain News

11/30/1890–10/1/1898

Newspaper Archives

Colorado Golden Arvada Press*

08/30/2012–Current

Recent Obituaries

Colorado Golden Golden Transcript*

06/07/2012–Current

Recent Obituaries

Colorado Golden Wheat Ridge Transcript*

05/12/2012–Current

Recent Obituaries

Colorado Lakewood Lakewood Sentinel*

05/18/2012–Current

Recent Obituaries

Colorado Thornton Northglenn-Thornton Sentinel*

05/18/2012–Current

Recent Obituaries

Colorado Westminster Westminster Window*

05/18/2012–Current

Recent Obituaries

District of Columbia Washington Daily Union

05/01/1845–12/31/1853

Newspaper Archives

District of Columbia Washington (DC) Evening Star

4/11/1877–12/31/1922

Newspaper Archives

Georgia Marietta Marietta Journal

1/15/1961–12/8/1978

Newspaper Archives

Idaho Idaho Falls Post Register*

01/24/2013–Current

Recent Obituaries

Illinois Belleville Belleville News-Democrat: Blogs*

05/22/2009–Current

Recent Obituaries

Illinois Chicago Chicago Sun-Times: Blogs*

02/20/2008–Current

Recent Obituaries

Illinois Elburn Elburn Herald*

10/09/2008–Current

Recent Obituaries

Illinois Springfield Daily Illinois State Register

1/1/1856–1/14/1892

Newspaper Archives

Louisiana Baton Rouge Advocate

10/1/1943–5/15/1958

Newspaper Archives

Louisiana Baton Rouge State Times Advocate

3/3/1933–9/15/1969

Newspaper Archives

Louisiana New Orleans NOLA Defender*

03/13/2010–Current

Recent Obituaries

Maryland Baltimore Sun

8/9/1922–9/3/1922

Newspaper Archives

Massachusetts Boston Boston Herald

7/2/1855–9/19/1972

Newspaper Archives

Massachusetts Boston Boston Herald: Blogs*

10/28/2006–Current

Recent Obituaries

Massachusetts Boston Boston Traveler

9/1/1855–8/7/1951

Newspaper Archives

Massachusetts Springfield Republican, The: Web Edition Articles*

11/16/2012–Current

Recent Obituaries

Massachusetts Springfield Springfield Daily News

1/24/1914–11/6/1919

Newspaper Archives

Massachusetts Springfield Springfield Republican

01/18/1920–01/18/1920

Newspaper Archives

Massachusetts Westfield Westfield News, The*

12/13/2011–Current

Recent Obituaries

Michigan Ann Arbor Ann Arbor Daily Argus

11/17/1898–12/31/1906

Newspaper Archives

Michigan Ann Arbor Ann Arbor Daily Times

10/5/1907–4/7/1908

Newspaper Archives

Michigan Ann Arbor Michigan Argus

10/31/1879–12/20/1907

Newspaper Archives

Michigan Ypsilanti Ypsilanti Commercial

3/11/1864–8/18/1898

Newspaper Archives

Mississippi Hattiesburg Petal News, The*

04/21/2011–Current

Recent Obituaries

Nebraska Omaha Omaha Star*

01/07/2011–Current

Recent Obituaries

Nebraska Omaha Omaha World Herald

11/1/1981–11/30/1983

Newspaper Archives

Nevada Boulder City Boulder City Review*

11/05/2009–Current

Recent Obituaries

New Jersey Leonia Leonia Life*

01/22/2010–Current

Recent Obituaries

New York Hastings-on-Hudson, Dobbs Ferry Rivertowns Daily Voice*

08/02/2011–Current

Recent Obituaries

New York New York Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper

04/01/1871–10/21/1871

Newspaper Archives

New York New York New Yorker Volkszeitung

02/18/1894–02/28/1900

Newspaper Archives

New York Westchester County Newsday: Westchester County Edition*

05/02/2012–Current

Recent Obituaries

North Carolina Charlotte Charlotte Observer, The: Blogs*

11/09/2006–Current

Recent Obituaries

North Carolina Greensboro Greensboro Daily News

4/14/1945–9/30/1977

Newspaper Archives

North Carolina Greensboro Greensboro Record

2/22/1950–4/10/1981

Newspaper Archives

North Carolina Reidsville Eden Daily News, The*

02/13/2013–Current

Recent Obituaries

Ohio Cincinnati Cincinnati Post

1/7/1886–6/4/1920

Newspaper Archives

Oregon Hood River Hood River News*

08/09/2001–Current

Recent Obituaries

Pennsylvania Philadelphia Philadelphia City Paper*

06/29/2006–Current

Recent Obituaries

South Carolina Charleston Charleston Courier*

8/14/1860–2/15/1861

Newspaper Archives

South Carolina Charleston Charleston News and Courier

11/04/1897–07/16/1913

Newspaper Archives

South Carolina Charleston Evening Post

9/29/1914–8/29/1921

Newspaper Archives

Texas Fredericksburg Fredericksburg Standard-Radio Post*

08/07/2002–Current

Recent Obituaries

Vermont Middlebury Addison County Independent*

12/27/2006–Current

Recent Obituaries

Vermont St. Johnsbury Caledonian

8/12/1854–6/25/1897

Newspaper Archives

Vermont St. Johnsbury Caledonian-Record

11/25/1908–1/14/1925

Newspaper Archives

Virginia Richmond Richmond Times Dispatch

2/1/1948–12/31/1986

Newspaper Archives

Washington Bellingham Bellingham Herald, The: Blogs*

01/15/2008–Current

Recent Obituaries

Washington Forks Forks Forum*

12/15/2010–Current

Recent Obituaries

Wisconsin Chippewa Falls Chippewa Herald, The: Blogs*

06/21/2012–Current

Recent Obituaries

Wisconsin Milwaukee Wahrheit

09/05/1896–09/05/1896

Newspaper Archives

Thousands More Recent Obituaries from 13 States Coming Soon!

GenealogyBank is adding 21 new newspapers with thousands more obituaries to its Recent Obituaries archives to help with your family history research.

GenealogyBank's search form for Recent Newspaper Obituaries

GenealogyBank’s search form for Recent Newspaper Obituaries

These newspapers are from 13 states: California, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Massachusetts, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.

You can view our entire Recent Obituaries archives here: http://www.genealogybank.com/gbnk/obituaries/

These newspapers will be added in the next few weeks.

Bay Citizen (San Francisco, CA)

  • Obituaries:  06/01/2010 – Current

Arvada Press (Golden, CO)

  • Obituaries:  08/30/2012 – Current

Golden Transcript (Golden, CO)

  • Obituaries:  06/07/2012 – Current

Lakewood Sentinel (Lakewood, CO)

  • Obituaries:  05/18/2012 – Current

Northglenn-Thornton Sentinel (Thornton, CO)

  • Obituaries:  05/18/2012 – Current

Westminster Window (Westminster, CO)

  • Obituaries:  05/18/2012 – Current

Wheat Ridge Transcript (Golden, CO)

  • Obituaries:  05/12/2012 – Current

Post Register (Idaho Falls, ID)

  • Obituaries:  01/24/2013 – Current

Belleville News-Democrat: Blogs (Belleville, IL)

  • Obituaries:  05/22/2009 – Current

Chicago Sun-Times: Blogs (Chicago, IL)

  • Obituaries:  02/20/2008 – Current

Elburn Herald (Elburn, IL)

  • Obituaries:  10/09/2008 – Current

Boston Herald: Blogs (Boston, MA)

  • Obituaries:  10/28/2006 – Current

Boulder City Review (Boulder City, NV)

  • Obituaries:  11/26/2009 – Current

Newsday: Westchester County Edition (NY)

  • Obituaries:  05/02/2012 – Current

Charlotte Observer: Blogs (Charlotte, NC)

  • Obituaries:  11/09/2006 – Current

Eden Daily News (Reidsville, NC)

  • Obituaries:  02/13/2013 – Current

Hood River News (Hood River, OR)

  • Obituaries:  08/09/2001 – Current

Philadelphia City Paper (Philadelphia, PA)

  • Obituaries:  06/29/2006 – Current

Addison County Independent (Middlebury, VT)

  • Obituaries:  12/27/2006 – Current

Bellingham Herald: Blogs (Bellingham, WA)

  • Obituaries:  01/15/2008 – Current

Chippewa Herald: Blogs (Chippewa Falls, WI)

  • Obituaries:  06/21/2012 – Current

3,000+ U.S. Newspaper Archives Just Got More Content!

It is another busy year for the GenealogyBank team as we continue to rapidly grow our online archives to offer you the best U.S. newspaper coverage for your genealogy research. We are pleased to announce that we recently added more back issues and articles to more than 3,000 newspapers from all 50 U.S. states! Now you can enjoy even more content to investigate your family history with our expanded newspaper coverage across the entire United States.

It would be too lengthy to list them all, but here is a partial list of the new newspapers we added, and the expansion to some of our existing titles: over 60 newspapers from 11 states. This gives you just a taste of the rapid growth of GenealogyBank’s online U.S. newspaper archives!

In fact, we are adding more newspapers right now, as we do each and every day to help you do better genealogy research.

Dig in and tell us what you find.

State City Newspaper

Coverae

Collection

Alabama Mobile Alabama Staats-Zeitung

02/08/1917–02/08/1917

Newspaper Archives

California Martinez Martinez News-Gazette*

01/06/2009–Current

Recent Obituaries

California San Diego Evening Tribune

9/29/1908–12/31/1914

Newspaper Archives

California San Diego San Diego Union

05/12/1871–07/17/1905

Newspaper Archives

District of Columbia Washington Daily Union

01/02/1846–12/31/1850

Newspaper Archives

District of Columbia Washington Evening Star

3/7/1913–2/9/1921

Newspaper Archives

Illinois Chicago Chicago Crusader*

11/26/2011–Current

Recent Obituaries

Illinois Peoria Journal Star

4/1/1951–3/31/1953

Newspaper Archives

Illinois Springfield Daily Illinois State Journal

1/9/1907–3/23/1913

Newspaper Archives

Illinois Springfield Daily Illinois State Register

4/1/1915–12/3/1922

Newspaper Archives

Indiana Gary Gary Crusader*

12/03/2011–Current

Recent Obituaries

Louisiana Baton Rouge State Times Advocate

3/1/1933–7/30/1975

Newspaper Archives

Louisiana New Orleans Advocate, The: New Orleans Edition*

10/22/2012–Current

Recent Obituaries

Maine Biddeford Justice de Biddeford

09/16/1897–03/02/1950

Newspaper Archives

Maine Sanford Justice de Sanford

04/29/1926–12/06/1928

Newspaper Archives

Maryland Baltimore American and Commercial Daily Advertiser

12/28/1850–06/30/1853

Newspaper Archives

Massachusetts Boston American Traveller*

05/02/1862–10/21/1862

Newspaper Archives

Massachusetts Boston Boston Herald

1/1/1851–12/30/1972

Newspaper Archives

Massachusetts Boston Boston Traveller

10/1/1945–12/31/1951

Newspaper Archives

Massachusetts Boston Boston Traveller*

10/02/1854–03/31/1864

Newspaper Archives

Michigan Ann Arbor Ann Arbor Daily Argus*

11/16/1898–6/24/1907

Newspaper Archives

Michigan Ann Arbor Ann Arbor Daily Times

10/15/1903–5/2/1908

Newspaper Archives

Michigan Ann Arbor Ann Arbor Daily Times*

9/1/1903–12/29/1906

Newspaper Archives

Michigan Ann Arbor Ann Arbor News-Argus*

6/25/1907–5/2/1908

Newspaper Archives

Michigan Ann Arbor Michigan Argus*

10/17/1879–12/27/1907

Newspaper Archives

Michigan Ann Arbor True Democrat*

12/19/1845–3/8/1849

Newspaper Archives

Michigan Ypsilanti Ypsilanti Commercial*

4/17/1869–8/25/1898

Newspaper Archives

New Jersey Collingswood Retrospect, The*

01/06/2012–Current

Recent Obituaries

New Jersey Egg Harbor City Egg Harbor Pilot

10/17/1908–02/20/1915

Newspaper Archives

New Jersey Newark Newark Daily Advertiser

12/28/1864–12/29/1866

Newspaper Archives

New York New York Courrier des Etats-Unis

11/17/1859–01/26/1885

Newspaper Archives

New York New York Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper

06/04/1870–10/28/1871

Newspaper Archives

New York New York New Yorker Volkszeitung*

01/14/1894–02/27/1898

Newspaper Archives

New York Plattsburgh Burgh, The*

08/05/2011–Current

Recent Obituaries

New York Skaneateles Skaneateles Press*

08/04/2011–Current

Recent Obituaries

North Carolina Greensboro Greensboro Daily News

7/30/1939–2/12/1973

Newspaper Archives

North Carolina Greensboro Greensboro Record

9/13/1946–7/14/1964

Newspaper Archives

Ohio Cincinnati Cincinnati Post

6/17/1885–6/26/1897

Newspaper Archives

Oklahoma Bethany Bethany Tribune*

12/07/2012–Current

Recent Obituaries

Oklahoma Fairland American, The*

10/04/2012–Current

Recent Obituaries

Oklahoma Nowata Nowata Star*

10/03/2012–Current

Recent Obituaries

Oklahoma Perry Perry Daily Journal*

12/04/2012–Current

Recent Obituaries

Oklahoma Vinita Vinita Daily Journal, The*

11/10/2012–Current

Recent Obituaries

Oklahoma Weatherford Weatherford Daily News*

11/27/2012–Current

Recent Obituaries

Pennsylvania Erie Erie Tageblatt

03/07/1899–04/20/1903

Newspaper Archives

Pennsylvania Harrisburg Unparteyische Harrisburg Morgenroethe Zeitung

02/03/1831–02/03/1831

Newspaper Archives

Pennsylvania Jeannette Jeannette Spirit, The*

11/15/2012–Current

Recent Obituaries

Pennsylvania Ligonier Ligonier Echo, The*

04/21/2011–Current

Recent Obituaries

Pennsylvania Monroeville North Journal*

04/12/2012–Current

Recent Obituaries

Pennsylvania Monroeville Times Express, The*

04/14/2011–Current

Recent Obituaries

Pennsylvania Penn Hills Plum Advance Leader*

11/08/2012–Current

Recent Obituaries

Pennsylvania Pittsburgh Druid

01/15/1929–03/01/1929

Newspaper Archives

Pennsylvania Pittsburgh National Labor Tribune

01/11/1941–08/18/1945

Newspaper Archives

Pennsylvania Scottdale Independent-Observer, The*

04/21/2011–Current

Recent Obituaries

Pennsylvania South Hills South Hills Record*

11/07/2012–Current

Recent Obituaries

South Carolina Charleston Charleston News and Courier

2/21/1895–4/13/1910

Newspaper Archives

South Carolina Charleston Evening Post

5/26/1899–6/20/1922

Newspaper Archives

Tennessee Spring Hill Advertiser News, The*

05/14/2007–Current

Recent Obituaries

Texas Jasper Jasper Newsboy, The*

12/28/2005–Current

Recent Obituaries

Virginia Richmond Richmond Times Dispatch

6/11/1944–9/15/1986

Newspaper Archives

Washington Ocean Shores North Coast News, The*

03/24/2009–03/23/2012

Recent Obituaries

Wisconsin Milwaukee Wahrheit

12/22/1906–06/25/1910

Newspaper Archives

Our United States Recent Obituary Collection Keeps Growing…

In the next two weeks GenealogyBank will expand our online U.S. Recent Obituaries collection by adding content from 14 newspapers from 12 states: California, Florida, Illinois, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Washington. Some of these newspaper titles are brand new to our recent obituary collection; in other cases, we’ve added more obituaries to existing newspaper titles.

It’s a great day for genealogy!

Here is the list of U.S. newspaper obituaries that will be added or expanded in our online archives soon:

Martinez News-Gazette (Martinez, CA)

  • Obituaries:  01/06/2009 – Current

Daytona Beach News-Journal (Daytona Beach, FL)

  • Death Notices:  01/01/2005 – Current; scattered 2000 data also available

Harrisburg Daily Register (Harrisburg, IL)

  • Obituaries: added 11/4/1996 – 10/5/2009 to existing collection
  • Death Notices: added 12/10/1996 – 3/10/2010 to existing collection

Kearney Hub (Kearney, NE)

  • Death Notices:  12/19/2006 – Current

Wahoo Newspaper (Wahoo, NE)

  • Death Notices:  02/01/2007 – Current

Jersey Journal (Jersey City, NJ)

  • Obituaries: added 1/16/1999 – 6/20/2003 to existing collection

Burgh (Plattsburgh, NY)

  • Obituaries:  08/05/2011 – Current

Skaneateles Press (Skaneateles, NY)

  • Obituaries:  08/04/2011 – Current

Smithfield Herald (Smithfield, NC)

  • Death Notices:  01/11/2012 – Current

Jeannette Spirit (Jeannette, PA) – this title’s search form is still being set up

  • Obituaries:  11/15/2012 – Current

Advertiser News (Spring Hill, TN)

  • Obituaries:  05/19/2007 – Current

Jasper Newsboy (Jasper, TX)

  • Obituaries:  07/25/2007 – Current; scattered earlier data also available

News & Messenger (Manassas, VA)

  • Obituaries: added 5/02/2008 – 1/21/2011 to existing collection

North Coast News (Ocean Shores, WA)

  • Obituaries:  03/24/2009 – 03/23/2012

Tarbell Sisters’ Civil War Feud Finally Ended—in 1922!

While many genealogical records can provide names and dates for your family tree, newspapers give you something more: actual stories about your ancestors’ lives, so that you can get to know them as real people and learn about the times in which they lived.

Here’s an example of a newspaper preserving a remarkable family story: the two Tarbell sisters, although they dearly loved each other, carried on a feud for 61 years sparked by a disagreement over the American Civil War!

Hatchet Buried by Oldest Twins, Lexington Herald newspaper article 11 June 1922

Lexington Herald (Lexington, Kentucky), 11 June 1922, page 1

Mae and Bell Tarbell were twin sisters born in Camden, Maine, in January 1839. The girls remained deeply attached to one another—and nearly inseparable—for the next 83 years. In the late 1850s, when the sisters were teenagers, the family moved to Missouri—at a time when pro- and anti-slavery violence along the Missouri-Kansas border was so extreme that people referred to the conflict as “Bleeding Kansas,” a precursor to the Civil War.

The differences tearing the nation apart almost separated the Tarbell sisters as well. Mae married a Virginia man who joined the Confederate army, while Bell married a Connecticut man who fought for the Union. This difference in allegiance began the feud between the twins, even though they continued to live together throughout the long war—as they have their entire lives. Their two husbands went off to fight the war, “leaving the twins at home”:

Hatchet Buried by Oldest Twins, Lexington Herald newspaper article 11 June 1922

Lexington Herald (Lexington, Kentucky), 11 June 1922, page 1

As Mae explains in this historical newspaper article: “Bell is a mighty sweet girl, always has been, and we lived together fine, or did until that horrid war came along. We were both from Maine, but we stuck to our husbands’ states. Bell and I would not be separated from each other and yet we would not agree on anything in that war. Only once were we apart, and that was when Bell’s husband was captured. She went to the Southern camp and, although officers there tried to get her to come home, she wouldn’t do it without her husband, and, being persistent, she finally got him. Well, the war ended and our husbands came back, and we all went together to California, but Bell and I still argued about the war. That was the only thing we did argue about. Our husbands said they wished there never had been any war, if it was going to result in such a long quarrel, but what could we do? We’re from Maine, and neither of us would give in.”

And so it went, this long family feud that stretched over 61 years between these two stubborn yet loving sisters, long after the Civil War had ended and both of their husbands had passed away.

Then one day in 1922, the 83-year-old sisters were out in the yard making a kettle of lard when they had the following conversation. Mae again tells the story:

“‘Bell,’ I said, ‘I believe we’re getting old.’ ‘Yes, Mae,’ she said, ‘I suppose we are getting along.’ ‘How long ago did this here Civil War begin?’ I asked. ‘Just tell me that,’ and Bell added a minute or two and said: ‘Sixty-one years ago.’ ‘Seems to me that you and I have said about all there is to say about that war,’ I declared. ‘Doesn’t make any difference if we are from New England. Life’s too short to worry over something that happened that long ago. I want to take things quietly from now on, and besides the papers say there ain’t going to be any more war. If you’ll stop and not mention the war again, I’ll do the same. I think you’re part right anyway.’

“Well, Bell looked at me kinda funny and smiled, and said: ‘Why, Mae, I’ve been wanting to stop talking about that blamed war all these years, but I just hated to give in. One side was about as right as the other anyway, and I’ll quit if you’ll quit. There’s nothing in war anyway.’”

What a great family story! Can’t you just see the two elderly sisters, out in that back yard stirring a pot of lard, smiling at each other and finally agreeing to bury the hatchet? A marvelous moment in your ancestors’ lives, captured and forever preserved in an old newspaper article, just waiting for you to discover and add to your family history.

Along with the emotional satisfaction of this story, look at all the important genealogical information we get from this one old newspaper article:

  • The twins’ names: Mae (Tarbell) Peake and Bell (Tarbell) Billings
  • Their birthplace and date: Camden, Maine, in January 1839
  • Mae’s husband: Dr. W. Peake, from Virginia, a Confederate veteran, who died in 1904
  • Bell’s husband: John Billings, from Connecticut, a Union veteran who was a prisoner-of-war held in a Southern camp, who died in 1906
  • The twins’ movements throughout their life: from their birthplace in Maine to Keokuk, Iowa, in 1854; to Missouri in the late 1850s; to California after the Civil War; to Clint, Texas
  • Mae has 13 children and 26 grandchildren
  • Bell had no children
  • The twins’ mother lived to be 103
  • They trace their ancestry back to the days of the witchcraft trials in Salem, Massachusetts

If you are related to the Tarbell sisters, this historic newspaper article has not only given you a great family story but lots of genealogical clues to continue your family history research.

There are a lot more family stories like this one in GenealogyBank’s historical newspaper archives. Search now, and find the tales about your Civil War ancestors and more!

Italian American (Americano Italiano) Newspapers Are Coming!

GenealogyBank is pleased to announce that later this year it will be adding six Italian American newspapers from three states: California, New York and Pennsylvania.

These new additions to GenealogyBank’s online historical newspaper archives will provide thousands of articles to help you do genealogy research on your Italian American ancestors. Trace your Italian ancestry back to the 1800s with obituaries, birth notices, wedding announcements, and local news stories found in these old Italian-language newspapers.

photo of Mulberry Street in "Little Italy" in New York City around 1900

Photo: Mulberry Street, “Little Italy” in New York City, around 1900. Credit: Wikipedia.

The early Italian American newspapers we will be adding soon to our online archives include:

State

City Newspaper

Start

End

CA

San Francisco Corriere del Popolo

1916

1962

NY

New York Cristoforo Colombo

1891

1893

NY

New York Eco d’Italia

1890

1896

NY

New York Fiaccola Weekly

1912

1921

NY

New York Progresso Italo-Americano

1886

1950

PA

Philadelphia Momento

1917

1919

Look for these Italian news titles to be added online late in 2013.

GenealogyBank Is Growing Rapidly!

Every day we add more newspapers to GenealogyBank’s online newspaper archives, updating our coverage for more than 3,000 newspapers.

Rain, snow, it doesn’t matter—we digitize and post daily papers published today across America, as well as newspapers published 300 years ago. Millions of records are added every month to our archives.

We add new titles and expand the date ranges of newspapers already in our collection.

When we add a back run of a newspaper we may not yet have tracked down every issue ever published by that newspaper. However, we digitize and put online all the issues we can find, while continuing to track back issues with the goal of someday getting every possible issue online.

Here is just a partial list of what we have been working on in the past few weeks. I think it will give you a sense of the enormous scale of the service that GenealogyBank is bringing to genealogists online. Notice that we found one more issue of the Augusta Chronicle (Augusta, Georgia) and over 1,500 issues of the American & Commercial Daily Advertiser (Baltimore, Maryland): as we find back issues we digitize and index them, then put them online.

It’s a great day for genealogy.

Location Newspaper

Issues

Pages

Start

End

Albany, NY Albany Evening Journal

           51

        209

1856-01-29

1875-03-03

Annapolis, MD Maryland Gazette

              6

           25

1824-03-11

1829-01-15

Augusta, GA Augusta Chronicle

              1

              3

1792-01-07

Baltimore, MD American and Commercial Daily Advertiser

    1,518

    6,220

1844-06-10

1853-12-31

Baltimore, MD Baltimore American

              9

        130

1903-04-18

1911-05-03

Bangor, ME Bangor Weekly Register

              1

              5

1831-06-21

Beaumont, TX Beaumont Enterprise

              6

        123

1906-05-04

1910-04-26

Beaumont, TX Beaumont Journal

              1

           28

1910-09-11

Bellows Falls, VT Bellows Falls Gazette

           21

           87

1841-01-30

1851-03-28

Benicia, CA California Gazette

              1

              4

1852-02-07

Bennington, VT Vermont Gazette

              1

              4

1874-09-05

Biddeford, ME Justice de Biddeford

           18

        122

1896-08-06

1905-04-06

Boston, MA American Traveller

           24

           98

1825-07-26

1835-12-29

Boston, MA Boston Courier

              1

              4

1845-05-05

Boston, MA Boston Daily Advertiser

              1

              4

1874-01-22

Boston, MA Boston Herald

              5

           96

1864-04-28

1897-03-14

Boston, MA Boston Post

              6

           24

1858-07-12

1865-09-28

Boston, MA Repertory

              4

           16

1822-01-22

1823-03-15

Boston, MA Weekly Messenger

              4

           19

1829-01-15

1831-03-31

Brattleboro, VT Vermont Phoenix

              1

              4

1866-09-28

Camden, SC Camden Journal

              4

           16

1841-03-24

1841-09-08

Charleston, SC Charleston Courier

              3

           12

1808-01-23

1808-10-24

Charleston, SC Charleston News and Courier

        552

    2,271

1873-03-20

1886-04-10

Charleston, SC South-Carolina State-Gazette

              6

           48

1801-10-22

1801-12-31

Cherry Valley, NY Cherry-Valley Gazette

           42

        191

1821-01-02

1825-07-12

Chillicothe, OH Scioto Gazette

        103

        429

1835-04-29

1837-12-14

Cincinnati, OH Cincinnati Daily Times

        162

        654

1875-11-02

1876-12-30

Columbia, SC South Carolina State Gazette

              4

           17

1823-11-28

1829-02-28

Concord, NH New Hampshire Patriot and State Gazette

              2

           12

1879-10-09

1888-04-05

Egg Harbor City, NJ Egg Harbor Pilot

        480

    2,777

1872-08-03

1904-12-24

Emporia, KS Emporia Gazette

        104

        653

1912-06-01

1912-09-30

Exeter, NH Freeman’s Oracle

           25

        140

1786-08-29

1789-08-04

Frankfort, KY Guardian Of Freedom

              5

           22

1798-06-19

1804-05-26

Galveston, TX Galveston Weekly News

              1

              8

1881-10-13

Grand Rapids, MI Grand Rapids Press

           11

        226

1901-02-26

1922-12-07

Hallowell, ME Hallowell Gazette

              2

              9

1860-11-03

1861-04-06

Harrisburg, PA Patriot

           11

        104

1885-02-21

1917-01-16

Harrisburg, PA Unparteyische Harrisburg Morgenroethe Zeitung

        926

    3,794

1799-03-12

1840-11-05

Hartford, CT Connecticut Courant

           79

        326

1851-01-04

1876-12-21

Hartford, CT Connecticut Courant

              6

           24

1842-01-15

1843-09-16

Jackson, MI Jackson Citizen Patriot

              9

        158

1903-10-31

1922-08-02

Jonesboro, AR Jonesboro Daily Tribune

              1

              8

1921-03-02

Jonesboro, AR Jonesboro Evening Sun

              2

           12

1905-12-16

1921-04-23

Lancaster, PA Lancaster Journal

           17

           69

1817-11-03

1817-12-10

Litchfield, CT Litchfield Republican

           11

           44

1855-06-07

1856-06-13

Miami, OK Miami District Daily News

        180

    1,444

1917-09-05

1923-01-12

Morristown, NJ Genius of Liberty

        136

        552

1798-05-31

1801-03-26

Natchez, MS Ariel

              1

              8

1826-09-29

Nebraska City, NB Daily Nebraska Press

              3

           12

1873-12-03

1875-10-27

New Bern, NC North Carolina Sentinel

              7

           28

1827-07-14

1830-10-16

New Haven, CT Columbian Register

           71

        286

1826-02-11

1874-02-21

New Haven, CT Connecticut Herald

              2

              8

1831-06-21

1832-09-04

New Orleans, LA Courrier de la Louisiane

              1

              4

1823-12-08

New Orleans, LA Times-Picayune

              5

        132

1907-03-20

1914-01-23

New York, NY Commercial Advertiser

              4

           16

1843-05-29

1848-12-29

New York, NY Courrier des Etats-Unis

        702

    3,308

1876-07-09

1891-03-31

New York, NY Evening Post

           62

        267

1821-01-02

1874-05-30

New York, NY Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper

           71

    1,156

1867-07-13

1869-03-13

New York, NY Morning Telegraph

              1

              8

1872-11-17

New York, NY National Advocate

              9

           36

1822-01-01

1826-08-15

New York, NY New York Herald

              1

           12

1875-08-10

New York, NY New York Herald-Tribune

           51

        514

1874-11-19

1896-05-09

New York, NY Statesman

              2

              8

1824-04-23

1824-06-29

Newark, NJ Centinel Of Freedom

              2

              8

1863-01-13

1869-08-24

Newark, NJ Newark Daily Advertiser

    2,143

    8,729

1850-01-02

1857-12-31

Northampton, MA Hampshire Gazette

        165

        670

1830-03-10

1843-12-26

Norwich, CT Norwich Courier

        448

    1,849

1834-01-08

1876-08-16

Pensacola, FL Pensacola Gazette

              6

           24

1829-11-21

1840-12-19

Philadelphia, PA National Gazette

              2

              8

1831-11-08

1840-11-10

Philadelphia, PA Public Ledger

              4

           16

1859-07-19

1859-11-15

Pittsburg, PA Commonwealth

           33

        135

1805-09-14

1808-03-02

Portland, ME Portland Advertiser

              3

           12

1833-10-22

1834-10-25

Portland, ME Portland Daily Press

           22

           88

1872-02-07

1882-02-09

Portland, OR Daily Oregon Herald

           23

           92

1871-02-12

1872-10-09

Providence, RI Manufacturers’ and Farmers’ Journal

              2

           12

1869-01-28

1869-05-13

Richmond, VA Richmond Times Dispatch

              1

           50

1921-07-10

Richmond, VA Richmond Whig

              3

           17

1864-06-21

1872-06-07

Richmond, VA Virginia Patriot

              2

              8

1815-06-14

1815-10-25

Salem, MA Salem Observer

        784

    3,204

1824-01-03

1874-01-10

Salem, MA Salem Register

              6

           24

1853-11-07

1873-03-10

Salem, NJ Salem Standard and Jerseyman

              6

           24

1821-10-10

1829-03-11

Salt Lake City, UT Salt Lake Telegram

        752

    8,358

1902-01-30

1922-01-29

San Francisco, CA Weekly Pacific News

              2

              8

1850-03-01

1851-02-01

Saratoga Springs, NY Saratoga Sentinel

              1

              5

1829-01-27

Savannah, GA Georgian

              1

              4

1822-05-04

Schenectady, NY Cabinet

              8

           32

1818-09-23

1819-12-01

St. Albans, VT St. Albans Advertiser

              1

              4

1875-08-03

St. Albans, VT St. Albans Daily Messenger

           44

        346

1879-07-19

1922-05-31

St. Albans, VT St. Albans Messenger

              3

           16

1848-01-26

1891-11-12

St. Augustine, FL Florida Herald and Southern Democrat

              7

           28

1829-07-15

1839-05-09

Steubenville, OH Steubenville Herald

              2

              8

1816-06-21

1817-07-04

Trenton, NJ Trenton Evening Times

        136

    3,350

1902-06-22

1922-12-31

Trenton, NJ True American

              1

              4

1808-12-12

Tulsa, OK Tulsa World

              1

           20

1922-05-17

Utica, NY Columbian Gazette

              4

           16

1807-08-18

1811-05-14

Washington, DC Washington Sentinel

        101

        431

1853-10-02

1854-02-09

Washington, PA Washington Reporter

              4

           16

1847-05-01

1863-05-27

Washington, PA Washington Review and Examiner

              1

              4

1853-09-17

Waterford, NY Waterford Gazette

              2

              8

1804-04-03

1804-04-24

West Springfield, MA American Intelligencer

           13

           52

1796-05-10

1797-06-27

Wilmington, DE Delaware and Eastern-Shore Advertiser

              1

              4

1795-04-25

Wilmington, DE Mirror of the Times, and General Advertiser

              2

              8

1800-02-05

1800-02-08

Worcester, MA National Aegis

              1

           16

1873-08-23

More Newspapers, from California to Washington, D.C., Coming Soon!

GenealogyBank adds more records to several thousand newspapers every day to provide you with enhanced coverage for your family research. Our next batch of current newspaper additions will span across the U.S., from California to Washington, D.C., including some recent newspapers from the heartland in Iowa and South Dakota.

illustration of men pointing to a map showing Washington, D.C., Patriot newspaper 29 July 1919

Patriot (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania), 29 July 1919, page 2

This round of expansion, we’ll be adding many more recent obituaries and death notices to help you discover more about your ancestors. Here are just a few of the new newspapers that we are adding to our archives from 11 states:

Mohave Valley Daily News (Bullhead City, AZ)

  • Death Notices:  06/30/2009 – Current

California Newswire (CA)

  • Obituaries:  07/09/2009 – Current

Ridgefield Press (Ridgefield, CT)

  • Obituaries: 6/12/2003 – 1/27/2010

Washington Times (Washington, DC)

  • Death Notices:  1/27/2004 – Current

Beacon News (Aurora, IL)

  • Obituaries:  9/24/2006 – Current

Wednesday Journal of Oak Park & River Forest (Oak Park, IL)

  • Obituaries:  12/21/2004 – Current

Decorah Newspapers (Decorah, IA)

  • Obituaries:  9/06/2001 – Current

Daily Hampshire Gazette (Northampton, MA)

  • Obituaries:  4/25/2012 to Current

Edgefield Advertiser (Edgefield, SC)

  • Obituaries:  2/27/2012 – Current

Black Hills Pioneer (Spearfish, SD)

  • Obituaries:  12/20/1999 – Current

Mexia News (Mexia, TX)

  • Obituaries:  9/13/2012 – Current plus selected coverage from 6/30/2008 – 9/2/2008

Gin Marriages, Gretna Greens & Your Ancestor’s Marriage Records

Introduction: Gena Philibert-Ortega is a genealogist and author of the book “From the Family Kitchen.” In this guest blog post, Gena explains why gin marriage laws and Gretna Greens may have something to do with your ancestors’ marriage records appearing in unexpected newspapers from the 1920s and 1930s.

Where did you get married? Was it a town near where you lived? Did you run away to get married?

We often feel frustrated when we can’t find our ancestor’s marriage records in the most obvious place: the town they lived in. But let’s face it, not everyone gets married where they live. Maybe your ancestor chose to go to a “Gretna Green.”

What’s a Gretna Green?

Named after a city in Scotland, Gretna Greens are cities where couples run off to get married. According to the website The Gretna Wedding Bureau, Scotland historically has had lax requirements for marriage: a couple only had to be over 16 years of age and declare themselves husband and wife in front of witnesses. Because it was easy to get married in Scotland, people from neighboring countries flocked to marry there. Gretna Green was the first post along the route from England to the Scottish border, so it was a convenient wedding destination for eloping couples. Even today, Gretna Green, Scotland, continues to be a popular wedding destination.

There are Gretna Greens all over the United States. One of the most popular Gretna Greens is Las Vegas, NV. But even less glitzy places are popular wedding destinations for a whole host of reasons, especially places where couples can get married quickly without the requirement of blood tests, medical examinations or a marriage license. A Gretna Green might be the answer for couples who want to skip the hassle and expense of a traditional wedding and any disapproving family members.

Some people don’t want to wait to get married—for a variety of reasons.

Typically there is some time involved between the excitement of getting engaged and the actual wedding date. However, born out of a belief that those who married hastily, and perhaps while under the influence of alcohol, were more likely to divorce, some states enacted waiting periods between the time a marriage license was filed and the day the wedding could take place.

One state that enacted such a law was California. In 1927 California passed a “gin marriage” law. This law required a three-day waiting period from the time the couple purchased their marriage license until they could actually tie the knot.

Couples Must Give Notice of Bans, San Diego Union newspaper article 21 May 1927

San Diego Union (San Diego, California), 21 May 1927, page 11

As with any good intention there were some unanticipated results with this marriage legislation. While the law stopped couples from marrying quickly in California, it drove them to nearby out-of-state Gretna Greens such as Yuma, Arizona, and Las Vegas, Nevada, where they could secure “quickie” weddings. During one year of enforcement of California’s marriage law, Yuma—then a town of 5,000 residents—recorded 17,000 marriages! During the years of California’s gin marriage law, both Yuma and Las Vegas became the hip place for Hollywood stars and everyday people to get married.

Government officials started becoming wise to couples crossing state borders to marry in states with no gin marriage laws. In reaction, more laws affecting marrying couples were passed. Some of those laws required blood tests to check for venereal disease, as in the following example.

Gin-Marriage Ban, Dallas Morning News newspaper article 30 January 1939

Dallas Morning News (Dallas, Texas), 30 January 1939, section 2, page 4

Here is another historical newspaper article about a gin marriage law, this one in New York.

Gin Marriage Law Reduces Gretna Green's Dawn Rites, Dallas Morning News newspaper article 26 May 1938

Dallas Morning News (Dallas, Texas), 26 May 1938, section 1, page 11

This old newspaper article points out how effective the gin marriage law has been in curbing drunken couples from impulsively getting married in the middle of the night:

“At last the 3 a.m. marriage evil became intolerable. Dozens of young squirts with a snootful of bubble-water were wont to shoot to nearby Gretna Greens toward dawn, rout out sleepy but fee-hungry clerks and Justices, and become spliced before they had any notion what day it was, if any at all. This made dandy copy for the gaudier press, but it distressed the quieter element who still believed that marriages were not properly made in a tub of Scotch and soda.

“Jane Todd acted with her bill, and the law soon read that seventy-two hours had to elapse between license and the vows. Now a quick checkup reveals that it works fine.”

Can’t find an ancestor’s marriage record from the late 1920s or the 1930s? Maybe they decided to elope to a nearby Gretna Green. After all, who wants to wait when you’re in love?