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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Genealogist Obituaries – genealogists in 26 states pass away

Genealogists in 26 States pass away. AL, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, GA, ID, IN, LA, MA, MI, MO, NC, NM, NY, OH, OK, PA, SC, TN, TX, UT, VA, VT, WA, WI

Antram, Jeanne. (1930-2009)
Roswell Daily Record (NM) – May 12, 2009

Becker, Julia Drane. (1920-2009)
Tulare Advance-Register (CA) – May 9, 2009

Brown, Dale Sturtz. (1936-2009)
Times Argus (Montpelier-Barre, VT) – May 11, 2009

Carrington, Hiram D., Jr. (1930-2009)
Voices (Woodbury, CT) – May 12, 2009

Cherney, Edna D. (Pieper). (1923-2009)
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI) – May 12, 2009

Clark, Elaine Hincks. (1936-2009)
Hartford Courant (CT) – May 8, 2009

Crane, Ora Mae. (1923-2009)
Modesto Bee (CA) – May 8, 2009

Dimick, Doris Lee Banks. (1949-2009)
Deseret News (Salt Lake City, UT) – May 7, 2009

Culberson, John L. (1927-2009)
Daily Herald (Columbia, TN) – May 7, 2009

Dodson, Burt, Jr. (1931-2009)
Charlotte Observer (NC) – May 10, 2009

Doty-Smith, Frances Earline. (1917-2009)
Evening News and Tribune (Jeffersonville-New Albany, IN) – May 8, 2009

Edwards, Mary Kathryn Smith. (1947-2009)
St. Joseph News-Press (MO) – May 11, 2009

Fielding, Evelyn Juanita Goodchild. (1911-2009)
Spokesman-Review (Spokane, WA) – May 10, 2009

Fonville, Lorene Davis. (1911-2009)
Montgomery Advertiser (AL) – May 8, 2009

Galusha, Brian W. (1944-2009)
Washington Post (DC) – May 10, 2009

Gowan, Marjorie E. (Horton). (1918-2009)
Taunton Call (MA) – May 12, 2009

Guthrie, Martha Dee Schwartz. (1913-2009)
Dallas Morning News (TX) – May 10, 2009

Hartman, Jean. (1927-2009)
Lansing State Journal (MI) – May 7, 2009

Hickerson, Virginia Barr. (1935-2009)
Oklahoman (Oklahoma City, OK) – May 8, 2009

Howard, Roberta Caroline. (1920-2009)
Journal and Courier (Lafayette, IN) – May 9, 2009

Huffman, David Linn. (1939-2009)
Alexandria Daily Town Talk (LA) – May 8, 2009

Jamieson, Margaret Jean. (1924-2009)
Dayton Daily News (OH) – May 14, 2009

Kania, Betty Slicer. (1923-2009)
News Journal (Wilmington, DE) – May 12, 2009

Kaulaity, Charlotte York. (1951-2009)
Lawton Constitution (OK) – May 11, 2009

Landry, William E. (1940-2009)
Morning Call (Allentown, PA) – May 7, 2009

Lane, Margaret Taylor. (1919-2009)
Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA) – May 12, 2009

Limber, Gertrude. (1919-2009)
Monterey County Herald (CA) – May 10, 2009

Newberry, Emily Jane. (1928-2009)
Times (Shreveport, LA) – May 13, 2009

Newman, William Gold. (1921-2009)
Albuquerque Journal (NM) – May 11, 2009

Osborne, Zetta Frances Wilkinson. (1920-2009)
Daily Sentinel (Grand Junction, CO) – May 13, 2009

Peeler, Juanita Worthy. (1931-2009)
Herald-Journal (Spartanburg, SC) – May 11, 2009

Proudfit, Louis A. (1943-2009)
Augusta Chronicle (GA) – May 8, 2009

Reid, Mildred Chase Lustig. (1924-2009)
Watertown Daily Times (NY) – May 10, 2009

Roberts, Earl. (1910-2009)
Knoxville News Sentinel (TN) – May 9, 2009

Rowley, Virginia Adam. (1928-2009)
Erie Times-News (PA) – May 10, 2009

Shea, Barbara Brown. (1924-2009)
Washington Post (DC) – May 8, 2009

Simonds, Nancy. (1930-2009)
Malden Observer (MA) – May 12, 2009

Taylor, Mildred Nye. (1917-2009)
Idaho State Journal (Pocatello, ID) – May 9, 2009

Thiele, Vicki. (1944-2009)
Waco Tribune-Herald (TX) – May 10, 2009

Tressler, Grace Helmich. (1915-2009)
Yakima Herald-Republic (WA) – May 8, 2009

Space age technology unraveling ancient manuscripts

Alexandra Alter reports in today’s Wall Street Journal on global projects to digitize and make available the world’s ancient manuscripts that have long been unreadable. Click here to read her article: The Next Age of Discovery. (Wall Street Journal, 8 May 2009).

“Archivists at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore used multispectral imaging to read this palimpsest, or text that had been scraped off and written over by a later scribe. The text had been covered up by a 13th-century monk who scraped the parchment with pumice and used the pages to write a prayer book. Multispectral imaging revealed a hidden mathematical treatise by the Greek mathematician Archimedes (above).”

Universities across the country: University of Kentucky, Brigham Young University, Oxford, British Library, Library of Congress, St. John’s Abbey & University in Minnesota, Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts (Texas), University of Michigan, Berkeley, Columbia University are all working to preserve the world’s oldest records. They are harnessing 3-D X-ray scanning, NASA multispectral imaging and the latest tools to digitize and preserve the world’s oldest manuscripts.
These projects have saved thousands of manuscripts that were otherwise unreadable and that were slowly deteriorating.
“Brent Seales, a computer scientist at the University of Kentucky, is pioneering the “virtual unrolling” technique for fragile or burned scrolls. Prof. Seales plans to test 3-D X-ray scanning on two papyrus scrolls from Pompeii that were charred by volcanic ash in 79 A.D.”

“Multispectral imaging — originally developed by NASA to capture satellite images through clouds — has proved remarkably effective on everything from ancient papyrus scrolls to medieval manuscripts that were scraped off and written over when scribes recycled parchment pages. Using the technique, which captures high-resolution images in different light wavelengths, scholars can see details invisible to the naked eye: For example, infrared light highlights ink containing carbon from crushed charcoal, while ultraviolet light picks up ink containing iron.”

It’s a great day for genealogy – and the world’s scholars are extending our reach even further back in time with space age technology.
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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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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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1870 Census now online

FamilySerachLabs has now gone live with the 1870 Federal Census.

That site now has the 1850; 1860; 1870; 1880 and 1900 census indexed and available online. These indexes are free.

These are All New Indexes and Images.
I was using the various online census indexes to search for some of my relatives. There was a dark blotch on the page and it was difficult to make out the name. So, I went to the 1900 Census Index at FamilySerachLabs and was very surprised to see that the same image on this page was crystal clear – no blotch. Why – I asked? Answer – FamilySerachLabs made the extra effort to create all new digital images of the census pages.

The 1870 census is available in two formats:
Indexed and Searchable – search every name in the census for these States:

Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Dakota Territory, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Idaho, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon and Utah.

Browsable – lets you look at the digital images of each page in the census for All States except Kentucky, Vermont and Virginia.

FamilySearchLabs will be putting the rest of these census images & indexes online shortly.

What newspapers are you adding for NC & SC?

One of our members asked today what North Carolina and South Caronlina historical newspapers will we be adding to GenealogyBank.com in the coming months.

She wrote:
I fully intend to renew my subscription to your service… I also want to let you know that it would greatly help your service if you could expand what you have from … North Carolina and ….. South Carolina Newspapers…. I truly love your service so far and it has been a great help in my genealogical research.

Since many of our members are researching in those States – I thought I’d share the list of North and South Carolina titles that we will be adding in the months ahead. We are constantly updating the list of titles to be added so – even more titles could be on the way – but these are the titles that are on the list right now. I don’t have an exact date when these new titles will be fully loaded on GenealogyBank.

There are already over 90 NC & SC newspapers in GenealogyBank.com

List of NC & SC Newspapers GenealogyBank will be adding in the months ahead.
Carolina Observer. Fayetteville, NC 1825 to 1863
Hillsborough Recorder. Hillsborough, NC 1824 to 1865
Carolina Centinel. New Bern, NC 1821 to 1837
Carolina Sentinel. Newbern, NC 1821 to 1827
Semi-Weekly Standard. Raleigh, NC 1861 to 1863

Camden Journal. Camden, SC 1840 to 1842
Charleston Courier. Charleston, SC 1822 to 1872
Charleston Mercury. Charleston, SC 1860 to 1868
Charleston Tri-Weekly Courier. Charleston, SC 1822 to 1867
City Gazette and Daily Advertiser Courier. Charleston, SC 1832 to 1834
Investigator. Charleston, SC 1812 to 1814
Southern Evangelical Intelligencer. Charleston, SC 1821-1821

States Rights & Free Trade Evening Post. Charleston, SC 1831 to 1832
Telescope. Columbia, SC 1815 to 1817
Georgetown Gazette. Georgetown, SC 1817 to 1824
Winyaw Intelligencer. Georgetown, SC 1825 to 1833

As you can see, it is a lot of newspapers.
For a complete list of North Carolina and South Carolina newspapers in GenealogyBank click on North Carolina or South Carolina.


We have been adding over 3 Million new records and documents every month to GenealogyBank and estimate that it contains more than 1 Billion Names.
Search it now and see what you’ll find.