Funeral Sermons – a core genealogical resource

GenealogyBank.com has over 7,000 funeral sermons – full text digital copies and excerpts.

These are a core source for genealogists searching for the details of their ancestor’s lives in Colonial America and the early Federalist period. (Photo, Ian Britton. FreeFoto.com).
It was common in Colonial America to have a funeral sermon printed and distributed “at the request of the family” to the mourners.
These slim pamphlets can range from six to thirty pages. While it was common for these to be printed – they were printed in small press runs, so it can be difficult for genealogists to locate copies. In many cases only one copy of the sermon – with its critical biographical information survives.

In my experience the earliest published funeral sermons that survive were for ministers and their wives. This practice expanded to include older members of the community and by the late 1700s to early 1800s it was common to see printed funeral sermons for children, men, women of all backgrounds and occupations.

Clergy routinely printed and circulated their sermons on all topics as a way to encourage the faithful to live better lives. I always assumed that the reason their funeral sermons survived while the others that may have been printed didn’t is that ministers/their wives were more widely known then regular townspeople.
Their funeral and other sermons were likely circulated to clergy in other cities; seminaries; townspeople in prior towns where they had been stationed etc. The wider the circulation – the more likely a copy would be preserved.
These sermons would not just be homilies to promote religious values but “news” – that people would want to read to be informed and reminded of the lives well lived by the ministers that had served them over the years. This would give more opportunities for people to have kept them – making it more likely for these fragile pamphlets to have survived.
Newspaper accounts of funerals vary – some give the complete sermon and some stories give brief details of the service – like this account of Mark Twain and his wife “listening” to the funeral service of her mother – Olivia (Lewis) Langdon, by telephone. (Inter-Ocean, 12 Jan 1891).
Another newspaper account gave the details of the “Most Impressive Funeral Service Ever Held” – the funeral of the Rev. Thomas Allen Horne. It was also the most unusual since he realized that he would soon pass away and had recorded his sermon to be played at the funeral.

His powerful remarks, in his own voice, made “grown men weep” and “women faint”. The family had a recording of the Rev. Horne and his late wife singing the old hymn “There is a Better Land“.

Tip: Click & Read this:

Imagine the impact in 1890 of listening to the funeral sermon of the deceased – recorded in his own voice; the shock in 1890 of hearing the recorded voices of he & his wife singing their funeral hymn – the poignant, personal remarks in his sermon – again recorded in his own voice. No doubt, that would have been the “Most Impressive Funeral Service Ever Held”.

Click Here to read the entire story: Charlotte (NC) News 15 March 1890.

GenealogyBank has thousands of funeral sermons – elegies, memorials etc. Many of these are full digital copies and others are the full sermon or excerpts that appeared in the newspapers.
Here are some typical examples of what you will find in GenealogyBank.
Harris, Thaddeus Mason, (1768-1842). A tribute of filial respect, to the memory of his mother, in a discourse, delivered at Dorchester, Feb. 8, 1801, the Lord’s day after her decease. Charlestown, MA: Printed by Samuel Etheridge, 1801. 20p.
The biographical and genealogical details of the late Rebekah (Mason) Wait (1738-1801) begin on page 16. We learn that she was born on 28 Dec 1738 – the daughter of Thaddeus Mason “of Cambridge, who survives her, in his 95th year.”

On page 17 we learn that she was married twice. She married her first husband, William Harris of Cambridge, MA on 20 Aug 1767. He died 30 Oct 1778. She married her second husband, Samuel Wait of Malden, MA on 2 Mar 1780. She died on 2 Feb 1801 “leaving behind her a widowed husband and five children (four by her first marriage and one by the second) to mourn their loss.”

Maxcy, Jonathan, (1768-1820). A funeral sermon, occasioned by the death of Mr. John Sampson Bobo a member of the Junior Class in the South-Carolina College, who was unfortunately drowned in the Congress River, near Columbia. Columbia, SC: Faust, 1819. 16p.

Moore, Martin, (1790-1866). Death of the saints precious in God’s sight a sermon delivered in Natick, June 13, 1819, occasioned by the death of Mrs. Hannah Coolidge, wife of Mr. William Coolidge, aetatis 40. Dedham, MA: Mann, 1819. 15p.

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Passenger Lists to America

Newspapers routinely published the list of passengers on board ships bound to and from America. Here are just a few examples of the thousands of passenger lists published in newspapers that can be found in GenealogyBank.

Newspapers published not just lists of immigrants coming to America but also regularly published passenger lists of American’s going overseas; American’s returning home to the US and American’s traveling within the United States by ship.

Notice in this example from the Irish-American newspaper, The Shamrock (17 Aug 1816) – published in New York City – that these passengers left from the port of Sligo, Ireland on board the brig Juno and landed in New London, CT. There they boarded the “sloop MacDonough” which in turn set sail for New York City – where they arrived on 16 August 1816.

This pre-1820 passenger list tells us that these immigrants landed twice on their trip to America, that they took two ships to finally reach their destination – an alert that their names will appear on two different passenger lists. Once on the passenger list for the brig Juno that landed in New London, CT and again on the passenger list for the sloop MacDonough that landed in New York City.

Notice also that this passenger list gives the hometown or county of origin of each passenger. Critical information that is almost never given in the Federal post-1820 passenger lists.

Tip: Passenger lists were not collected by the government until 1820 – these early lists can be difficult if not impossible to find. Newspapers are a terrific source for Colonial passenger lists.

Click on these links to see a few examples of the thousands of passenger lists, published in newspapers that can be found in GenealogyBank.

Passenger Lists of Columbus, GA
3 April 1894. Steamer Queen City.
Columbus (GA) Daily Inquirer. 3 April 1894.

Passenger Lists New Orleans, LA
20 February 1869. Steamship Crescent City. From New York City.
Times Picayune. 20 February 1869.
23 October 1872. Steamship Saxonia. Left for Hamburg (Germany) by way of Havana (Cuba), Santander (Spain) and Havre (France).
Times Picayune. 23 October 1872. p. 1
29 April 1873. Steamship John G. Meiggs. Left for Aspinwall (Panama); Port Limon (Costa Rica); and Havanna (Cuba).
Times Picayune. 29 April 1873. p. 8
25 August 1875. Steamship City of Merida. Arrived from Vera Cruz, Tuxpan, and Tampico – all ports in Mexico.
Times Picayune. 25 August 1875. p. 1

Passenger Lists New York City, NY
11 June 1819. Ship Amity. Left for Liverpool (England)
Philadelphia Inquirer. 12 June 1819. p. 3
11 June 1819. Ship Atlantic. From Liverpool (England)
Philadelphia Inquirer. 12 June 1819. p. 3
11 June 1819. Ship Magnet. From Liverpool (England)
Philadelphia Inquirer. 12 June 1819. p. 3
12 June 1848. Steamship Washington. From Southampton (England), by way of Halifax (Nova Scotia).
New York Herald. 16 Jan 1848. p. 2

Passenger Lists Philadelphia, PA
5 Nov 1881. Steamship City of Savannah. Departed for Savannah (Georgia).
Philadelphia Inquirer. 7 Nov 1881. p. 2
13 July 1883. Steamship Niagara. Marine Disaster. Burned off the coast of Florida.
Philadelphia Inquirer. 14 July 1883. p. 1
23 June 1891. Steamship Polynesia. Enroute from Hamburg, Germany.
Philadelphia Inquirer. 23 June 1891. p. 4
10 September 1901. Steamship Alleghany. Enroute from the South.
Philadelphia Inquirer. 10 September 1901. p. 16

Passenger Lists San Francisco, CA
6 September 1871.
San Francisco Bulletin. 6 September 1871. p. 3

Click here to download and search the complete 1819/1820 Passenger List for all US ports. This free resource is a good example of genealogical content in the historical newspapers, books and documents that can be found in GenealogyBank.
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NY genealogist featured in newspaper article

Lawrence Corbett, Watertown, NY family historian, has been researching since 1976 when his mother compiled their family history and published it in a spiral bound book.

He is the Corresponding Secretary of the Jefferson County (NY) Genealogical Society.

Click here to see the article about Corbett’s research experience and advice. The article appeared in today’s (4 April 2009) Watertown Daily Times (NY).

GenealogyBank has the Watertown Daily Times (20 Jan 1988 to Today, America’s Obituaries) and over 300 other New York newspapers.

Click Here to search GenealogyBank’s 304 New York historical newspapers.

DNA Study Finds Colon Cancer Risk for Descendants of George Fry who arrived in Weymouth, MA in early 1600s

Today’s Boston Globe is reporting the important work of University of Utah Dr. Deb Neklason, “a professional geneticist and an amateur genealogist;” in tracing the family history of a gene that causes colon cancer through many generations of the descendants of Colonial immigrant George Fry.

She presented her findings at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society last week.

Read the entire story in today’s Boston Globe (4 April 2009) here.

Best source for old newspapers online

GenealogyBank is the best source for early US newspapers on the planet.

Last week I wrote about digging in GenealogyBank and finding articles about my early American ancestors in Maine.

I had found family death and marriage announcements – this week I kept digging for more information about William Garcelon (1763-1851) his wife Maria (Harris) Garcelon (1763-1850) and his father Sea Captain James Garcelon (1739-1813) – and I found it!

Wow – in GenealogyBank I found this article from the Maine Gazette 22 July 1799

reporting that William Garcelon lost a horse in 1799 – “a black mare, with a white face and two white hind feet, about 15 years old” – it adds the key fact that he was living in Freeport, Maine in 1799.

Looking further I found a shipping article in the Essex (MA) Gazette (1769) stating that [Captain] J[ames] Garcelon had set sail on the Schooner Alexander for Bilbao, [Spain].

By family tradition we knew that he was a sea captain but here was proof and details of this voyage in 1769 – just 10 years after he had settled in America.

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Wow – A newspaper published in 1769?

I didn’t know that newspapers that old had survived – let alone that they were digitized and easily searchable online.

Tip: GenealogyBank has old newspapers going back to 1690 – easy to search, read, print and save!

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Then in the 25 Feb 1811 issue of the Maine Gazette was the advertisement that James Garcelon’s farm was for sale. It gives a terrific description: 150 acres, 20 of them wooded, “handsome young orchard”, a “very pleasantly situated” two story house and more. Wow, you could almost picture the property.

Why was James Garcelon (1739-1813) selling his home and property? Were he and his wife, Deliverance (Annis) Garcelon (1735-1828), moving in with one of his children? At age 72, had he become infirm and unable to manage the property? Probably so.

We get another clue from the probate notice in the 24 Jan 1814 Maine Gazette.

Sea Captain James Garcelon had died 17 November 1813. His son [Rev.] James Garcelon was the executor.
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Tip: GenealogyBank is a goldmine.

No other source has this many early US newspapers.

Only newspapers give this level of detail about the lives of Colonial Americans.
Wow – over 3,700 newspapers – the best newspaper site on the planet.

Search GenealogyBank now.
What will you find? _____________________________________________________

Wow – I love GenealogyBank.

We routinely hear from genealogists telling about their success – “Wow, look what I found!”

We really love to hear those stories and today it is my turn.
Last week I was stunned to find that one of my cousins had posted early photographs of our family online.
There they were – the actual pictures of my third great-grandfather Isaac Garcelon (1790-1872)
and his parents William (1763-1851)
and Maria (Howe) Garcelon (1763-1850).
I could see why they were so bundled up.
They were from Lewiston, Androscoggin County, Maine. Having grown up in New England I am used to cold weather – the snow would stay on the north side of my grandparent’s home until April almost every year.
This find got me to searching in GenealogyBank to find out more about them. I simply searched the name: William Garcelon and quickly found death notices for William Garcelon (1763-1851) that were published in two newspapers, one in Massachusetts and one in Maine.
The Boston Evening Transcript 23 Jan 1851

and in the Portland Daily Advertiser (29 Jan 1851).

Then I quickly spotted the marriage announcement of William’s nephew – Captain Asa Garcelon (1796-1859) that was published in the Eastern Argus (Maine) 16 March 1825.

Notice that every one of these articles appeared in out-of-town or out-of-state newspapers.

TIP: Colonial and 19th Century Newspapers often printed out of town birth, marriage and death notices. GenealogyBank makes them easy to find because it let’s you search all 3,700 newspapers for your ancestors.

TIP: Be flexible in your searches and remember that their obituaries or marriage notices just might have been printed in out of state newspapers – like the wedding announcement of Nicholas Goodson and Sarah Matthews in Isle of Wight County, Virginia – that was published in the Maine newspaper – the Eastern Argus in 1825. Like cable news television stations today – newspapers carried news from across the country.

There were no articles telling if Nicholas Goodson was ever arrested.

It is a great day for genealogy. What an opportunity we have to find these historic artifacts, articles and documents about our family.

Tip: Search GenealogyBank now.
What will you find?

GenealogyBank – packed with veteran’s records

Today is Veteran’s Day – I have many ancestors and cousins that served – from the days of the Colonial militia, the Revolutionary War, War of 1812 right up to today. In fact my brother and I joined the Navy when we were 17 – but that was a long time ago.

With Veteran’s Day in mind I started looking at the many resources in GenealogyBank for researching our family members that served in the military.

The Historical Documents section of GenealogyBank now has over 226,000 documents – it is packed with military records.
For example – here is one page from the published list of all lieutenants serving in the US Navy – as of 1832. The list gives their names; dates of appointment; ships they served on etc.

(US Congress. American State Papers. List of lieutenants in the Navy in 1832, and the sea service performed by each since his promotion. Communicated to the House of Representatives, June 16, 1832. American State Papers. 026, Naval Affairs Vol. 4; 22nd Congress, 1st Session Publication No. 483).

I decided to pick a name at random from this list just to see what else I could find out about him.

I selected John P. Zantzinger.

I quickly found that he was listed in multiple documents – the ships he served on – his rejected pay increase request for serving off the coast of Brazil – and other interesting details of his career.
Turning to the Historical Newspapers I found even more.
I found his marriage to Susan R. Hipkins – recorded in the Massachusetts newspaper, the Columbia Centennial (21 March 1821) even though they were married in North Carolina!

This article also filled in another detail – that his middle name was: Paul.

Then I found the sad news that 25 years later his wife died at Fauquier White Sulpher Springs, VA – an area then well known for the “restorative” powers of its natural sulpher springs.

Note that her obituary was published in the New London (CT) Morning News 18 Sep 1846 – even though her death occurred in Virginia.

TIP: Remember – a newspaper from across the country might have printed your ancestor’s marriage announcement or obituary. Don’t limit your search to just the newspapers in one state.

In all I found more than 1,500 records for Zantzinger.

GenealogyBank – makes it easy to search over 243 million records and documents for our ancestors.

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Discover Your Family Story.

GenealogyBank sheds new light on the daily lives and communities of millions of American families from 1690 to today. With more than 3,700 newspapers and other core documents from all 50 states, you’ll find not only your ancestor’s names, dates, places and events, but also learn about their everyday challenges and the events that defined their lives.

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Change your mind and want to cancel simply call us at 800-243-7694 before your trial ends and you still only pay $9.95.

Hurry – this offer ends TODAY – Tuesday, November 11th!

What is upcoming for Tennessee?

I was asked tonight: What Tennessee newspapers are being adding next on GenealogyBank?

I checked and here are the titles that have been approved and will be added in the months ahead.

Knoxville Gazette. Knoxville, TN. 1795 to 1818
Clarion and Tennessee Gazette. Nashville, TN. 1821 to 1874
Nashville Gazette. Nashville, TN. 1822 to 1826
Tennessee Gazette. Nashville, TN. 1800 to 1807


To see the complete list of Tennessee newspapers live right now on GenealogyBankCLICK HERE

What State(s) are you working on?

Let me know and I will post the forthcoming list for your State.

With data on more than 1 billion people – GenealogyBank is packed with the facts about our ancestors.

Your membership in GenealogyBank helps us to make even more records available.

Membership entitles you to read the complete text of over 230 million articles and records – search for more than 1 billion of your relatives.

Sign up now and ask your friends to join with us in bringing even more records online – It’s only $9.95 – Click Here and start right now.

Philadelphia Marriage Index 1885-1951 Online

Last month we told you about the Philadelphia Death Certificates 1803-1915 going online.

This week FamilySearchLabs.org has put up more data. The indexes to Philadelphia Marriages 1885-1951 are now online. Click Here to search them.

Genealogists can page through this index to find the date and marriage license certificate number for their ancestor’s marriage.

The index is divided into five sections: 1885-1916; 1917-1938; 1939-1942; 1943-1946; and 1947-1951.

Simply select the time period you want to search and browse the index to locate your ancestor.

The Philadelphia Inquirer 1860-1922 along with over 280 Philadelphia and Pennsylvania newspapers from the colonial period right up to today are already online at GenealogyBank

It’s a great day for genealogy!

Birth Announcements – newspapers are packed with them

Newspapers have been announcing births since the 1700s.

It is common to see birth notices in newspapers all across the country, like this one for triplets born to “Mrs. Rust of Wolfeboro, NH” in 1796. It appeared in the Massachusetts Mercury 14 Oct 1796.
You’ll find millions of births recorded in newspapers on GenealogyBank from the colonial period right up to recent times.
Newspapers often had regular columns for all area births. Sometimes these were listed by the name of the hospital. These notices often give the names of the child, parents and even grandparents.

Some are written in a fun, familiar style – as this one from the Dallas Morning News 1 June 1967 – “She’ here…” and went on to give the details of their new daughter.

This 1918 birth notice from the Belleville (IL) Democrat 8 March 1918, gave three generations of genealogical information including the name of the grandmother, the mother’s maiden name and the name of the parents – but not the name of the baby!

Other newspapers simply gave the essential facts of their area births. Like these births from the San Francisco (CA) Daily Evening Bulletin 12 August 1856.

But no matter how much detail the newspaper included, genealogists will find GenealogyBank a practical tool for uncovering the birth notices for their relatives.

Since the name of the child is not always given, search for them by the name of the parents or simply the surname. You may limit your search by date or place to see if the birth of the children you are looking for was published in the newspaper.

For a complete list of the newspaper titles and dates of coverage click here.

Newspapers are a great source for finding the historical records that document our family tree.