DNA Needed to Solve One of the Oldest Missing Persons Cases

Introduction: Duncan Kuehn is a professional genealogist with over eight years of client experience. She has worked on several well-known projects, such as “Who Do You Think You Are?” and researching President Barack Obama’s ancestry. In this guest blog post, Duncan describes how DNA research may help solve a missing person case from 1926.

One of the oldest missing person cases may be solved.

Recently in the news, there was a report saying that one of the oldest missing persons cases may be solved using DNA. The details of the story were somewhat disjointed, but this is the basic story.

photo of Marvin A. Clark and an unidentified woman (probably his wife Mary)

Marvin A. Clark and an unidentified woman (probably his wife Mary), undated photo (1) [see notes at end of article]

In 1920, Marvin and Mary Clark were living in Tigard, Oregon. Marvin had been born in Iowa, but his parents were from New York. At 68 years old, he was a farmer with a mortgage. (2) They had lived in Oregon for quite some time, but they had previously lived in Nebraska where he had been a city marshal. (3) According to his granddaughter, Dorothy Willoughby, he had also worked as a marshal in the Portland area. (4)

Marvin was destined to become a “missing person” case.

Marvin and Mary Clark, 1920 Census, Tigard, Oregon

Marvin and Mary Clark, 1920 Census, Tigard, Oregon. Source: FamilySearch.

Marvin’s Family Background

Marvin’s mother Mary had at least two husbands following Marvin’s father George. She becomes a crucial part of this mystery. (See the footnote at the end of this article for further details.)

Enter Last Name










Marvin and Mary Clark had many children, but two factor into our story. (6) Their daughter Sidney McDougal had been living 180+ miles away in Seattle, Washington. (7) By 1926, she had moved to Portland, not far from her brother Grover, where she was a hotel manager.  Grover C. Clark was already living in Portland, just 10 miles away from his parents Marvin and Mary. (8)

Sidney McDougal, 1920 Census, Seattle, Washington

Sidney McDougal, 1920 Census, Seattle, Washington. Source: FamilySearch.

Grover C. Clark, 1920 Census, Portland, Oregon

Grover C. Clark, 1920 Census, Portland, Oregon. Source: FamilySearch.

Disappearance the Night before Halloween

The details of the story are a little confusing, but it appears that Marvin left his home in Tigard to visit his daughter Sidney in Portland the night before Halloween in 1926. This was a ten-mile trip, but he did not inform his daughter that he would be visiting. Nor did he take a coat with him on what would likely have been a chilly fall day in the Northwest.

Marvin never made it to his daughter’s home that day—he simply disappeared.

This newspaper article reported his disappearance.

article about missing person Marvin Clark, Bellingham Herald newspaper article 9 November 1926

Bellingham Herald (Bellingham, Washington), 9 November 1926, page 5

This 1900s newspaper article reported that Grover’s wife had received a letter from his 75-year-old father postmarked Bellingham, Washington. The letter disturbed the family because it was “disconnected.” According to the article:

The letter indicated that the aged man’s mind is wandering as it was badly jumbled despite the fact that Clark is highly educated, being a graduate of two universities.

The old newspaper article also reported that “so far as known Clark was practically without funds,” and that “he had stopped at hotels here [Bellingham] on November 2 and 3.”

The article provided a brief description of Marvin:

The missing man is described as weighing about 175 pounds and is about five feet seven inches tall. His right side is paralyzed and he drags his right foot when he walks.

photo of Marvin A. Clark

Marvin A. Clark, undated photo (9)

Searching for Marvin Clark

His family frantically searched for him. The police did their best to locate the man. The family even offered a reward of $100, which would be about $1,300 in today’s dollars. Because of Marvin’s previous profession as a marshal, the family feared the worst—knowing he had made enemies in his law enforcement career.

article about reward being offered for missing person Marvin Clark, Oregonian newspaper article 11 November 1926

Oregonian (Portland, Oregon), 11 November 1926, page 9

And so a generation passed away with no sight or sound of Marvin. His wife and children never knew what happened to him. But, in fact, Marvin was never far away.

Skeleton Tied to Old Missing Persons Case

In 1986 a body was found in the woods, as this newspaper article reported:

…loggers were clearing an isolated section of Portland when they discovered the remains of a mystery man who had been dead for at least half a century.

Skeleton Opens Old 'Missing Person' Case, Oregonian newspaper article 20 May 1986

Oregonian (Portland, Oregon), 20 May 1986, page 12

The skeleton had a single bullet hole through the temples and the gun was nearby. Police deemed the death a suicide from around the 1920s based on the clothing and personal items.

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At the time of Marvin’s disappearance, the family had not considered suicide a possibility. Because of Marvin’s previous profession as a marshal, the family had feared an attack. Alternatively, they feared he had become disoriented and lost due to his seemingly diminished mental capacity as portrayed in the letter Grover’s wife received.

The skeleton was in such good shape that the medical examiner initially guessed the age as between 35 and 55. This cast doubt on Marvin’s granddaughter’s claim a few days later that the body might belong to her long-missing grandfather. Nothing was able to verify or disprove her claim, and she died in 1991 without closure and without leaving a DNA sample.

And so the case remained unsolved until 2011 when, according to the recent article in the Daily Mail by Dan Bloom (10):

Dr. Nici Vance, from the Oregon state medical examiner’s office, found the file on the suicide and began investigating.

Amazingly, 90 years after Marvin went missing, the remains were still in storage and DNA may yet solve the case. Several great grandchildren on Marvin’s paternal side have been found and DNA samples have been procured. Now they are looking for a maternal link in order to get a clearer profile. Perhaps you will be the one to find living descendants whose DNA will definitively solve the case of the missing Marvin A. Clark! Please let us know if you can help resolve this unsolved missing person mystery.

Notes

(1) Dan Bloom, “Could One of America’s Oldest Missing Person Cases Finally Be Solved? Investigators Hope DNA Will Unravel Mystery of Man Who Vanished in 1926,” Daily Mail, published 30 April 2014. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2616542/DNA-sought-close-1926-missing-person-case.html.
(2) “United States Census, 1920,” index and images, FamilySearch. https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/M48P-T8J. Accessed 11 June 2014. Marvin A. Clark, Tigard, Oregon, United States; citing sheet 4B, family 92, NARA microfilm publication T625, FHL microfilm 1821505.
(3) “United States Census, 1900,” index and images, FamilySearch. https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/M31Q-Y27. Accessed June 2014, Marvin Clark, Pender Precinct, Thurston, Nebraska, United States; citing sheet 13A, family 253, NARA microfilm publication T623, FHL microfilm 1240941.
(4) Associated Press, “Investigators Seek DNA to Close 1926 Oregon Missing Person Case,” Fox News. http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/04/30/investigators-seek-dna-to-close-126-oregon-missing-person-case/. Accessed June 2014.
(5) Possible census returns for Marvin Clark and his mother Mary/Miranda.
“United States Census, 1880,” index and images, FamilySearch. https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MDL3-LP2. Accessed June 2014, Marvin Clark in household of Nickolus Fritz, St. Marys, Mills, Iowa, United States; citing sheet 267D, NARA microfilm publication T9.
“United States Census, 1870,” index and images, FamilySearch. https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MDVL-G3D. Accessed June 2014, Marvin Clark in household of William Fiedler, Iowa, United States; citing page 3, family 18, NARA microfilm publication M593, FHL microfilm 000545910.
“United States Census, 1860,” index, FamilySearch. https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MXR1-CC7. Accessed June 2014, Marvin Clark in household of Geo Clark, Girard Tp, Erie, Pennsylvania, United States; citing “1860 U.S. Federal Census-Population,” Fold3.com; page 31, household ID 228, NARA microfilm publication M653; FHL microfilm 805107.
(6) “United States Census, 1910,” index and images, FamilySearch. https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MLB7-GL7. Accessed June 2014, Marvin A. Clark, Holbrook, Multnomah, Oregon, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 121, sheet 4A, family 80, NARA microfilm publication T624, FHL microfilm 1375301.
(7) “United States Census, 1920,” index and images, FamilySearch. https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MHNT-NH8. Accessed June 2014, Sidney McDougal, Seattle, Washington, United States; citing sheet 4A, family 59, NARA microfilm publication T625, FHL microfilm 1821928.
(8) “United States Census, 1920,” index and images, FamilySearch. https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/M48N-8VP. Accessed June 2014, Grover C. Clark, Portland, Oregon, United States; citing sheet 14A, family 359, NARA microfilm publication T625, FHL microfilm 1821501.
(9) Bloom.
(10) Bloom.

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Earlier Women of War: Nurses, Camp Followers & Red Cross Volunteers

Introduction: Mary Harrell-Sesniak is a genealogist, author and editor with a strong technology background. In this guest blog post, Mary searches old newspapers to find the stories of women who served during some of our nation’s earlier wars—as army nurses, camp followers, and Red Cross volunteers.

There are numerous groups that celebrate the lives of (mostly men) veterans from America’s past wars, but many of us wonder: what about the women? Certainly women on the home front were supportive of their husbands, fathers and brothers at war—with sewing, cooking and other tasks to contribute to the war effort and stability at home.

But many women during wartime did much more—even making the decision to assist as military “camp followers” ready to tend to the needs of the soldiers. If you were a wife or mother who had sent a spouse or sons to war, what would you do?

Would you remain at home, or would you want to be close at hand, making sure the men were well fed and nursed in the event of battle injuries? Of course, most women did continue to raise their families, work the fields and keep the household running—but some went off to war to support the troops.

Most of these brave women’s war stories have never been told, as history books make scarce mention of them. Firsthand accounts of these women camp followers and soldiers’ wives are few—but with a little help from historical newspapers, we can get a glimpse into the lives of these forgotten women of war.

Elizabeth Dodd, Revolutionary War Camp Follower

In this 1849 obituary we can read the life story of Elizabeth Dodd, who led quite an eventful life in her 111 years. As the obituary comments: “In the death of this aged person, there is a volume of history lost. Living in great retirement, the relict of a forgotten age, few knew the stories she could tell of the brave old days.”

obituary for Elizabeth Dodd, Weekly Herald newspaper article 4 August 1849

Weekly Herald (New York, New York), 4 August 1849, page 248

Dodd was a camp follower during the American Revolutionary War: “During the first American war, she followed her husband through the principal campaigns; was at many of the hardest fought battles; at Monmouth, White Plains, Yorktown, &c.”

Susannah Clark, First Army Nurse Pensioned

Another fascinating account is that of Mrs. Susannah D. Clark who, according to this 1899 newspaper article, nursed American soldiers in two wars and has the distinction of being the first army nurse pensioned in U.S. history.

According to the old newspaper article: “As a bride of a few days, she cared for the suffering and dying during the Civil War, and as a gray-haired grandmother she looked after and nursed back to good health two of her grandsons during the late Spanish-American unpleasantness.”

Mrs. [Susannah] Clark Nursed Soldiers of Two Wars, Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper article 4 September 1899

Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), 4 September 1899, page 4

Officers’ Entourages

Officers typically had an array of camp followers—some there to directly assist the officers with many varying roles, including baggage handling, while others came along to sell their wares.

This 1792 newspaper article discusses General Abercrombie and the Grand Army, reporting that he “sent off all his baggage that was on the out side of the fort, to Mysore, under an effort of cavalry, and accompanied by his camp followers.”

Grand Army [under General Abercrombie], Daily Advertiser newspaper article 3 September 1792

Daily Advertiser (New York, New York), 3 September 1792, page 2

British Camp Followers of the “Paper Army”

Military camp followers have participated in almost every war, here and abroad. This 1885 newspaper article gives an account of a British “Paper Army.” It reports that during a recent inspection, the actual number of men was much lower than official reports had indicated, so “cooks, servants, and camp followers were hastily crowded into the ranks to satisfy the inspectors.”

A [British] Paper Army, Wisconsin State Journal newspaper article 13 February 1885

Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, Wisconsin), 13 February 1885, page 5

Red Cross Camp Followers

This 1911 newspaper article gives a report from the Mexican War. After one battle, supply wagons that had been left on the battlefield were inspected by Americans protected by a Red Cross flag.

The historical newspaper article reports: “However, after the Americans demonstrated that it was safe to approach the wagons, the Mexican commander sent a detail under protection of machine guns to bring the wagons into camp. The supplies were evidently a welcome addition to the commissary department of the federals, and were received with handclapping on the part of the women camp followers.”

article about the Mexican War, Salt Lake Telegram newspaper article 10 April 1911

Salt Lake Telegram (Salt Lake City, Utah), 10 April 1911, page 6

Clara Barton, the “Angel of the Battlefield”

One female camp follower who did achieve fame was Clara Barton (1821-1912), founder of the American Red Cross Society.

pictures of Clara Barton, from the Trenton Evening Times 13 April 1912 & the Fort Worth Star-Telegram 12 April 1912

Trenton Evening Times (Trenton, New Jersey), 13 April 1912, page 3 (left);
Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Fort Worth, Texas), 12 April 1912, page 1 (right)

Because of her nursing work on the front lines during the Civil War, Barton was known as the “Angel of the Battlefield.” After the war, she traveled to the infamous Confederate prisoner-of-war camp Andersonville in Georgia, where she researched the graves of thousands of Union soldiers, identifying the dead and writing letters telling Northern families what had happened to their missing loved ones. (See National Park Service article at www.nps.gov/ande/historyculture/clara_barton.htm.) Later, she provided nursing services in Europe during the Franco-Prussian War, then came home to promote formation of the American Red Cross.  Barton’s long career of service began as a nurse camp follower.

As the following 1912 newspaper obituary mentions, Clara Barton “gave her life to humanity, and humanity mourns at her death…Not till she was 40 years old did Miss Barton start upon her notable life work. Then came the conflict between the American states, calling every patriot to duty. Miss Barton could not shoulder a musket, but she could and did [do] what was as essential; she went to the front as a nurse.”

The Death of Clara Barton, Plain Dealer newspaper obituary 13 April 1912

Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), 13 April 1912, page 6

Eleanor Guckes, My WWII Red Cross Ancestor

This photograph of my grandmother Eleanor (Scott) Guckes shows her wearing an American Red Cross uniform in 1942 during WWII. According to our family records, she assisted in the war effort by driving an ambulance while her husband was serving with the Navy in the Pacific Theatre.

photo of Eleanor Guckes

Credit: from the photographic collection of Mary Harrell-Sesniak

Do you have a female family member who served in the Red Cross or assisted as a camp follower during one of our nation’s wars? If so, please share your ancestor’s story with us in the comments section.

How Old Newspapers Can Help You Search U.S. Census Records

Like detectives, we approach family history by gathering all of the clues and making a case for who our relatives were: their names, when and where they were born, pushing through all of the activities of their lives until their deaths.

Pulling all of the facts and clues together helps us rediscover who each one of our relatives really were. What happened while they were alive—what do we really know about them?

The U.S. census is a terrific tool—basic for building an American family tree. It gives us a snapshot of our family at the time of recording. The census looks in on them one day of their lives, every ten years, over their lifetime. Couple this census information with old family letters, perhaps a journal, and birth, marriage & death certificates, and we begin to discover the basic facts about each person.

Add newspapers to our research and we can go beyond the basic genealogical facts: we get to learn their stories.

Newspapers were published every day. They tell us what happened each day in their town, their state, in the world. Old newspapers tell us what was happening in our relatives’ lives every day of their lives.

Since a census record is a one-day look at the family, we complement those basic facts with newspaper articles to fill in the details and get the rest of their stories, as shown in the following two examples.

William T. Crow (1802 – )

Here is the listing for William T. Crow and his wife Elizabeth Crow (1806- ) in the 1880 census.

photo of the 1880 census listing for William and Elizabeth Crow, from FamilySearch.org

Credit: FamilySearch.org

Digging deeper into GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives, I found this old 1800s newspaper article about William Crow.

notice about William T. Crow, Aberdeen Weekly News newspaper article 2 October 1885

Aberdeen Weekly News (Aberdeen, South Dakota), 2 October 1885, page 2

This article fills in more of the details of their lives:

  • He was a judge
  • Her maiden name was Elizabeth Blackwell
  • They married on 26 February 1826
  • They were close to the 60th anniversary of their wedding day
  • They had 6 children and 47 grandchildren living in 1885
  • 1 daughter died during childhood
  • 2 sons “sleep in soldiers’ graves”
  • They lived near Carnesville, Georgia, and all of the children lived within 1½ miles of the family home

That’s a lot of family information packed into one short paragraph. Marriage records in newspapers are a fantastic resource to trace your family tree.

Hannah Lyman (1743-1832)

Hannah (Clark) Lyman lived in Northampton, Massachusetts.

Her census record gives us a start at her story.

Here she is in the 1830 census, living in Northampton, Massachusetts.

photo of the 1830 Census listing for Hannah Lyman, from FamilySearch.org

Credit: FamilySearch.org

She is there—and the check marks tell us that there were others, unnamed, living in the house with her at that time.

Once again I turned to GenealogyBank’s historical newspapers to get more of her story, and found this 1800s news article published just two years after the census was taken.

obituary for Hannah Lyman, Hampshire Gazette newspaper article 21 March 1832

Hampshire Gazette (Northampton, Massachusetts), 21 March 1832, page 3

Like the trendy saying “it takes a village,” it takes multiple genealogical resources to fill in the details of the lives of our ancestors.

And wow—do newspapers deliver!

This newspaper article from GenealogyBank’s deep backfile of historical newspapers builds on her brief mention in the census, and tells us the core facts of her life along with a terrific family story of her memories of the “great earthquake of Nov. 18, 1755.”

Details—stories.

Newspapers tell us so much about our family history.

GenealogyBank’s Online Montana Newspaper Archives

Montana—“Big Sky Country”—is also known as “The Treasure State.” Montana officially became our 41st state in 1889, but there were newspapers published in Montana Territory decades before it achieved statehood.

photo of the Sun River in Montana

Photo: Montana’s Sun River. Credit: Wikipedia.

GenealogyBank has coverage of Montana’s newspapers spanning 1866 to Today. Dig in and find the stories about your family as they pioneered early America, including cowboys, miners, teachers and kids. Discover the truth about your Montana ancestry in news articles, obituaries, historical documents and more in GenealogyBank’s vast online newspaper archives.

Use this handy list of Montana newspapers to quickly navigate to your title of interest:

City Newspaper

Coverage

Collection

Anaconda Anaconda Standard

1/2/1898 – 12/31/1922

Newspaper Archives

Big Fork West Shore News

3/24/2009 – Current

Recent Obituaries

Bigfork Bigfork Eagle

7/16/2004 – Current

Recent Obituaries

Billings Billings Gazette

10/2/2009 – Current

Recent Obituaries

Bozeman Bozeman Daily Chronicle

6/4/1996 – Current

Recent Obituaries

Butte Butte Weekly Miner

1/2/1896 – 5/23/1901

Newspaper Archives

Columbia Falls Hungry Horse News

7/13/2004 – Current

Recent Obituaries

Helena Helena Independent

1/1/1898 – 12/31/1900

Newspaper Archives

Helena Montana Herold

5/4/1893 – 7/11/1901

Newspaper Archives

Helena Helena Weekly Herald

11/15/1866 – 11/25/1869

Newspaper Archives

Helena Montana Radiator

1/27/1866 – 10/13/1866

Newspaper Archives

Helena Independent Record

10/2/2009 – Current

Recent Obituaries

Kalispell Daily Inter Lake

9/23/2004 – Current

Recent Obituaries

Libby Western News

8/6/2004 – Current

Recent Obituaries

Missoula NewWest

3/10/2005 – Current

Recent Obituaries

Missoula Missoulian

10/2/2009 – Current

Recent Obituaries

Plains Clark Fork Valley Press

1/8/2008 – Current

Recent Obituaries

Polson Lake County Leader & Advertiser

12/3/2008 – Current

Recent Obituaries

Sidney Sidney Herald

1/12/2001 – Current

Recent Obituaries

Whitefish Whitefish Pilot

7/13/2004 – Current

Recent Obituaries

New Year’s Genealogy Resolutions for Genealogists in 2013

It’s the start of a new year, a time when many people think about making some changes. Here are four suggestions I have; I hope that genealogists take to heart these New Year’s resolutions for 2013.

Use Newspapers for Genealogy Research

Search through historical newspaper archives for each of your ancestors and find those old stories that over time have been lost to the family.

Family stories like the one in this obituary, containing the riveting recollection of Hannah (Clark) Lyman (1734-1832), who recalled the earthquake of 1755 so vividly all her life that it was referenced in her obituary when she died—77 years after the earthquake struck!

Hannah Lyman's Obituary in the Hampshire Gazette March 21, 1832

Hampshire Gazette (Northampton, Massachusetts), 21 March 1832, page 3.

Resolve this year to find your family stories in old newspapers: document these stories, preserve them and pass them down.

Scan Your Family Photos and Documents

Every day we read about storms that destroy homes and wash away treasured family photos and papers. Don’t let that happen to you. Resolve this year to scan your family’s documentation and put it online. Secure it so that the information is there regardless of tomorrow’s storms or other disasters. Set up a reasonable schedule that you can stick to, such as putting up five documents/photos every week. Keep plugging away, and at the end of the year you’ll have over 250 items preserved for future generations online. Start now.

Put Your Family History Online

As a dedicated genealogist you’ve likely spent years researching your family—you don’t want all that hard work to be lost. Preserve your genealogy research by resolving to put it online. There are lots of terrific websites where you can post your family history. It’s a good idea to put your family history on multiple sites. I strongly recommend that you create a family tree on Ancestry.com and on FamilySearch.org; these are both good genealogy websites for hosting family trees.

Upload your family tree onto the genealogy sites you’ve chosen, setting the upload so that it excludes the current, living members of the family. Then add scans of your family photos and documents.

Make sure that as you add new genealogical data, you update the information on all your online family trees.

Resolve to do this today to preserve and pass down your family’s heritage.

Print Your Family History and Put a Copy of the Printed Document Online

To accomplish this, use Scribd.com, a handy, free online site for publishing and distributing your family history.

You probably have your family history on one of the many excellent family history software programs like: Legacy, RootsMagic or PAF.

Simply use the report function on these family tree software programs to print out your family history, being careful to not include the current, living members of the family.

By putting these reports online, every name becomes easily searchable via Google, Bing, etc. I have had many breakthroughs on my family tree by using Scribd.com.

Resolve to use Scribd.com to preserve and pass down your family’s history—that’s a New Year’s resolution you won’t regret.

edward and mary rutledge genealogy records on Scribd.com

Edward & Mary Rutledge’s Genealogy Records on Scribd.com

Portuguese American Revolutionary War Hero’s Obituary Discovered

You can learn a lot about the Americans who fought in our country’s wars—from the Colonial Indian Wars down to the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq—from GenealogyBank’s online newspaper archives.

Revolutionary War Hero Lives to Be a Centenarian

This old obituary gives us many details of the life of John Peters, a Portuguese American who fought in the Revolutionary War and lived to be over 100 years old. It was published in the Alexandria Gazette (Alexandria, Virginia), 1 May 1832, page 2.

John Peters Obituary - Alexandria Gazette Newspaper

Peters was there from the beginning of the troubles with Great Britain.

He was at the Boston Tea Party on 16 December 1773. He then joined the army.

John Peters Obituary - Boston Tea Party - Alexandria Gazette Newspaper

During the American Revolutionary War he fought in the Battle of Lexington and the Battle of Bunker Hill.

Although Peters “lost one of his fingers” in that latter battle, he continued to fight for his new country.

John Peters Obituary - Revolution War Battles - Alexandria Gazette

He was “in the battles of Monmouth and Princeton, and assisted in capturing the Hessians at Trenton.”

The historical obituary of this old Revolutionary war soldier goes on to say “He was engaged in the capturing of Burgoyne and also of Cornwallis; he fought under Washington and Lafayette at Valley Forge, where he was again wounded.”

It tells us he was “aged 100 years 5 months and 23 days” when he died on 23 April 1832. That calculates out to give us his birth date:  31 October 1731.

And just where was this centenarian veteran born? The old newspaper obituary tells us that he was born “in Portugal near Lisbon.”

John Peters Obituary - Born in Portugal - Alexandria Gazette Earthquakes That Shook the World in 1755 Remembered

The veteran’s obituary adds the extra detail that he “emigrated [sic] to this country shortly after the earthquake in 1755.”

According to Wikipedia that was the 1755 Lisbon earthquake, “one of the deadliest earthquakes in history” with tens of thousands killed.

There were several powerful earthquakes in 1755. Another one was the Cape Ann earthquake that hit the U.S. 18 days after the Lisbon earthquake, on the northeast coast of Massachusetts.

Young Hannah Clark [Hannah (Clark) Lyman (1743-1842)], then a child of 12, was terrified by the Cape Ann earthquake. Her obituary clearly recorded her terror at living through that earthquake.

Hannah Lyman Obituary - Hampshire Gazette Newspaper

It was published in the Hampshire Gazette (Northampton, Massachusetts), 21 March 1832, page 3.

“She remembered distinctly the great earthquake of Nov. 18, 1755…It was between 4 and 5 in the morning, and the moon shone brightly. She and the rest of the family were suddenly awaked from sleep by a noise like that of the trampling of many horses; the house trembled and the pewter rattled on the shelves. They all sprang out of bed, and the affrighted children clung to their parents. ‘I cannot help you dear children,’ said the good mother [Martha Phelps Clark, 1717-1803], ‘we must look to God for help.’”

According to Wikipedia this was “the largest earthquake in the history of Massachusetts.” Cape Ann and Boston felt the brunt of the earthquake’s aftermath; however hundreds of homes and buildings throughout the state of Massachusetts were also damaged. Northampton, Massachusetts, is 142 miles from Cape Ann, Massachusetts.

These two powerful earthquakes were so memorable that 77 years later they were mentioned in these 1832 obituaries.

Don’t let the stories of your ancestors’ lives be lost. Use GenealogyBank to find them and document their lives.

Genealogy Humor

One of our readers (Kevin Clark) pointed me to today’s Wizard of Id cartoon – that speaks to the “high cost” of family history research.

To see the cartoon – click here
or if that site is busy – click here

Wizard of Id by Parker and Hart is one of my favorites.

Patty Barthell Myers, 1930-2008

Patty Barthell Myers died 9 October 2008, at the home of her daughter, Lucy Bonnington.

Her obituary (San Antonio Express-News (TX) – October 13, 2008; Philadelphia Inquirer, 13 Oct 2008) simply stated her “life’s work was genealogy.” Well said.

She was the author of numerous compiled genealogies and reference works including:
Female index to Genealogical dictionary of the first settlers of New England by James Savage. (Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2008).

Ancestors and descendants of Lewis Ross Freeman with related families : based partially on the work of Freeman Worth Gardner and Willis Freeman. (Camden, ME: Penobscot Press, 1995).

Cargill/Cargile/Cargal of the south and southwest : descendants of Cornelius Cargill of Virginia, John Cargile of Virginia & North Carolina, John Cargile of Virginia & Georgia, Andrew J. & John Cargal of South Carolina & Georgia. (Camden, ME: Penobscot Press, 1997).

Descendants of Joseph Barthel and his wife, Christina Lutz : who came to America 1830 on the Romulus and who settled in Erie County, New York. (Author, 1991).

The Hughes family from Virginia to Oregon. (San Antonio, TX: Burke, 1999).

Her lengthy obituary concluded by saying: “Her life was an example of overcoming enormous challenges, and making a difference in the world, patiently, quietly–and then there was the occasional wild rumpus. “

Her late husband, A.J. Myers had been a POW at the “Hanoi Hilton” at the same time John McCain was there.

San Antonio Express-News (TX) - October 13, 2008
Reprinted with permission GenealogyBank
Patty [Florence] Barthell Myers died October 9th, at the home of her daughter in suburban Philadelphia, where she was living and receiving hospice care since August.


Born in Evanston, Illinois on June 6, 1930, Patty was the third of four children of Harriet Lyon and Edward East Barthell, Jr. She grew up in Winnetka, Illinois, spending summers on Lake Michigan. She graduated from New Trier High School with honors and attended Northwestern University in Evanston.

She met her first husband, Louis Harold Cargill, Jr. on Lake Michigan and they married on Patty’s birthday in 1951. They had 3 children, Lucy, James, and Lon Cargill. Lou died in 1985 and Patty returned to San Antonio. Lon died in January of 1985. Patty married Armand J. Myers in 1988. A.J. and Patty met in 1965 when he was flying fighter jet missions over North Vietnam. He was shot down June, 1966, and was a POW in the Hanoi Hilton for 6 years. When he was re-patriated, his Air Force sponsor was Patty’s husband, Lou. Patty and A.J. married in 1988. A.J. died in 2002.

Patty’s life’s work was genealogy. In 2007, she published her FEMALE INDEX TO GENEALOGICAL DICTIONARY OF THE FIRST SETTLERS OF NEW ENGLAND, by James Savage,1860.

She is survived by her brother, John Peter Barthell of Sequim, WA, sister Polly Barthell Clark of Orlond Beach, FL, brother Edward East Barthell, III, of Appleton WI, cousin Charles Arthur Carroll, of Manhattan, and cousin Elizabeth (Betsy) Barthell of Overland Park, KS. She also leaves her daughter, Lucy, and her husband Mark Bonnington, of Malvern, PA, son James Eric Cargill of San Antonio, her grandchildren Colin Mark and Cara Ellen Bonington of Malvern, PA and John Shaw Lynch, of Williamsburg, VA and his sister Ashley Lynch Rodi, and God daughters Kemper and Edyn Rodi, of Newport Beach, CA, and sister-in-law, Sally Dulin Shaw of Mexico City.

Patty requested no memorial service. Her ashes will be scattered on Lake Michigan, the pink beaches of Bermuda, and the coast of Oregon.

Her life was an example of overcoming enormous challenges, and making a difference in the world, patiently, quietly–and then there was the occasional wild rumpus.

Friends may call at her home in Oakwell Farms, 15 Campden Circle, San Antonio, TX on Thursday, October 16th, from 2:00 to 7:00 p.m. Donations may be made in her name to the nearest public library.
Copyright (c), 2008, San Antonio Express-News. All Rights Reserved.

Census – Vital Records – Washington State; England; Mexico

Washington State Census, Birth Records, Marriage Records, Death Records; Mexico 1930 Census; and England & Wales Census of 1841 & 1861 are now online.

It’s a great day for Genealogy.

Washington State
Washington State Digital Archives has now put Washington State & Federal census records from 1847 through 1910. Click here to see the list of census records online.

Washington State Birth Records for: Adams County 1893-1907, 1910-1915, (several delayed birth returns: 1942); Benton County 1905-1907; King County 1891-1907; Spokane County 1890-1907; Whatcom County 1891-1907; Whitman County 1890-1907

Washington State Marriage Records for:
Adams County Marriage Records; Asotin County Marriage Records; Benton County Marriage Records; Chelan County Marriage Records; Clark County Marriage Records; Columbia County Marriage Records; Ferry County Marriage Records; Franklin County Marriage Records; Garfield County Marriage Records; Grant County Marriage Records; Grays Harbor County Marriage Records; Island County Marriage Records; Jefferson County Marriage Records; Kitsap County Marriage Records; Kittitas County Marriage Records; Klickitat County Marriage Records; Lincoln County Marriage Records; Mason County Marriage Records; Pacific County Marriage Records; Pend Oreille County Marriage Records; Pierce County Marriage Records;
Skagit County Marriage Records; Skamania County Marriage Records; Snohomish County Marriage Records; Spokane County Marriage Records; Stevens County Marriage Records;
Thurston County Marriage Records; Walla Walla County Marriage Records; Whatcom County Marriage Records; Whitman County Marriage Records; Yakima County Marriage Records.

Washington State Death Records for:
1860 Mortality Schedule; 1870 Mortality Schedule; 1880 Mortality Schedule; Adams County Death Return; Brinnon Cemetery – Jefferson County 1895-2003; Cowlitz County Death Returns 1898-1907; Ferry County Register of Deaths 1899-1911; Odd Fellows #1 Memorial Park Cemetery and Mausoleum Listings; Spokane County Death Returns 1888-1907; Washington State Death Records; Whatcom County Death Returns, 1891-1907; Whitman County Death Returns 1891-1907.

GenealogyBank has long runs of Washington State newspapers online including:
Bellingham Herald (Bellingham, WA). 10/2/1903 – 12/30/1922. Variant titles: Fairhaven Herald.
Bellingham Herald (WA). 9/4/1999-Current
Chinook Observer (Long Beach, WA). 8/15/2002-Current
Chronicle (Centralia, WA). 10/31/2002-Current
Columbian (Vancouver, WA). 5/27/1994-Current
Daily Herald (Everett, WA). 8/16/2005-Current
Daily Record (Ellensburg, WA). 10/23/2006-Current
Eastside Journal (Bellevue, WA). 12/4/1999-1/13/2003
Hokubei Jiji (Seattle, WA). 10/14/1916 – 2/28/1918
King County Journal (Bellevue, WA). 1/8/2003-1/20/2007
Morning Olympian (Olympia, WA). 3/15/1891 – 12/31/1922. Variant titles: Daily Olympian; Morning Olympian Tribune
News Tribune (Tacoma, WA). 1/1/1992-Current
Olympia Record (Olympia, WA). 5/13/1902 – 12/31/1922
Olympian (WA). 3/12/2001-Current
Seattle Post-Intelligencer (WA). 1/1/1986-Current
Seattle Times (WA). 1/6/1985-Current
Skagit Valley Herald (Mount Vernon, WA). 8/2/2007-Current
South County Journal) (Kent, WA). 12/3/1999-1/11/2003
Spokesman-Review (Spokane, WA). 7/3/1994-Current
Tacoma Daily News (Tacoma, WA). 8/25/1890 – 12/31/1898
Tri-City Herald (Kennewick, WA). 2/21/2006-Current
Wenatchee World (WA). 4/2/2006-Current
Yakima Herald-Republic (WA). 12/11/1997-Current


International – Mexico; England & Wales
FamilySearchLabs has now added the 1841 Census of England & Wales (complete); 1861 Census of England & Wales (complete) and the 1930 Census of Mexico (17% complete).

FamilySearchLabs has the index to the 1841 Census of England & Wales and 1861 Census of England & Wales online for free – but the links to see the images take you to a pay site – FindMyPast – where you need to sign up to view the census page images. The Family History Library has similar arrangements with other providers where the indexes are free but there is a charge for the page images. See FamilySearchLabs for the details.
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