Effort to Mark 1,200 Unmarked Civil War Veterans’ Graves Hits Snag

American volunteers are out in cemeteries across the country, working to document the lives of bygone generations whose graves were not permanently marked with a tombstone. When these dedicated good Samaritans identify a veteran, the volunteers often request a headstone from the National Cemetery Administration which is part of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Per the Department’s instructions: “The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) furnishes upon request, at no charge to the applicant, a Government headstone or marker for the unmarked grave of any deceased eligible veteran in any cemetery around the world.”

illustration of government headstones available for the graves of military veterans

Credit: Department of Veterans Affairs

There are multiple styles of markers and tombstones that can be selected. These can be personalized with a symbol reflecting the veteran’s religious faith.

illustration of the religious symbols available for the government headstones furnished for the graves of military veterans

Credit: Department of Veterans Affairs

Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York, has been using this VA program to place tombstones on the unmarked graves of Civil War veterans. As a team of volunteers documents each vet, they request a headstone to honor his service in the American Civil War.

Watch a New York Times video report about the volunteer effort to mark these Civil War graves:

This volunteer team estimates that there are over 8,000 Civil War graves in the National Historic Landmark Green-Wood Cemetery, many of them unmarked. The historic New York cemetery has gotten tombstones for over 3,000 formerly unmarked Civil War veterans’ graves, but they have had a problem getting the next 1,200 tombstones.

The Daily News reports that the Department of Veterans Affairs has changed its policy and is now requiring that the tombstone application be filed by a relative and not by a group such as the volunteers working at the Green-Wood Cemetery. See the complete news article “Department of Veterans Affairs blocks historic Green-Wood cemetery from giving Civil War vets tombstones.” Daily News (New York City, New York,) 9 July 2013.

New York Senator Chuck Schumer has gotten involved in this controversy, stating: “To require the permission of a direct descendant of men who died well over one hundred years ago is a nonsensical policy and it must be reversed.”

If the Department of Veterans Affairs doesn’t reverse this decision, then the volunteers and cemeteries will have to raise the funds to pay for these Civil War veterans’ grave markers.

Finding Our Family’s Stories in Newspapers—Even the Children

Genealogists want to find every story about their family—but where do you turn to find more information about the life of a youngster that passed away? Remarkably—even for those family members who died very young—you can find out more about their lives in newspapers.

When tragedy strikes a family in the loss of a young child, it would seem impossible to find stories that would tell us more about the deceased toddler’s life.

Here’s where newspapers can be a big help to family historians. For example, little Paul McBride died at the age of four back in 1889—yet look at how much we learn from his newspaper obituary.

For one thing, the young child’s newspaper obituary gives us the core genealogical facts:

  • Name: Paul Montgomery McBride
  • Age: 4 years, 8 months and 17 days
  • Birthplace: Pierre, South Dakota
  • Youngest son of Rev. and Mrs. J. M. McBride
  • Buried in Riverside Cemetery
  • Died 19 October 1889, at “twenty minutes to 8 o’clock”
  • Since his father was a minister, a pastor of another faith, the Rev. E. S. Wallace, pastor of the Presbyterian Church, conducted “the Episcopal burial service”
  • Because of the “infectious nature of the disease, no services will be held at the family residence”

That is a lot of detail from the obituary of such a young person.

With some surprise, I found that Paul’s obituary told us even more about his life.

obituary for Paul Montgomery McBride, Aberdeen Daily News newspaper article 20 October 1889

Aberdeen Daily News (Aberdeen, South Dakota), 20 October 1889, page 5

We also learn the following information about Paul from this old newspaper article:

  • He was called “Little Paul”
  • He got along well with the other children
  • He was a quiet, well-behaved child—traits often commented on by other adults
  • The week before his death, a Sunday School teacher gave Paul a copy of the small Calvary Catechism book used at that time in the Episcopal Church to teach children the Gospel
  • He liked that gift so much that it was buried with him

Little Paul McBride was not just a notation, a genealogical statistic—he was a likeable, fun four-year-old boy. He was given a small catechism book and he loved it. As you get to know him, don’t you want to go right out and find a copy of that book and read what he would have read?

Knowing the story of the lives of our family members makes all the difference. Newspapers provide those stories that we can add to our family tree.

Dig into GenealogyBank’s newspaper archives and find the stories of your family.

Don’t let them be lost.

Celebrate Redlands’ 125th Anniversary & Its Library Archives

Hat’s off to Nathan Gonzales, City Archivist of Redlands, California, for maintaining an extensive collection of genealogical and historical material about Redlands itself and the surrounding San Bernardino County.

photo of the A. K. Smiley Public Library, Redlands, California

Photo: A. K. Smiley Public Library, Redlands, California. Credit: Wikipedia; Amerique.

Watch this video interview (49 minutes) with Nathan, as he describes the extensive genealogical and historical materials gathered over the past 100 years and archived in the Heritage Room at the A. K. Smiley Public Library in Redlands.

Nathan Gonzales: Archivist from A. K. Smiley Library

Want more California genealogical and historical information? GenealogyBank’s online California newspaper archives contain millions of birth notices, wedding announcements, obituaries and local news articles to help you research your family history in “The Golden State.”

Search the history of Redlands and all of California by clicking on these two archive collections:

Search California Newspaper Archives (1846 – 2007)

Search California Recent Obituaries (1983 – Current)

Here is the complete title list of our extensive collection of California newspapers. Each CA newspaper title contains a hyperlink taking you directly to that newspaper’s search page where you can begin tracing your family tree by ancestor first names and surnames, dates, keywords and more.

City Newspaper Date Range Collection
Agoura Hills Acorn 6/22/2000 – Current Recent Obituaries
Agoura Hills Simi Valley Acorn 5/7/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Agoura Hills Thousand Oaks Acorn 7/18/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Alameda Alameda Journal 2/8/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Anaheim Anaheim Bulletin: Orange County Register weekly 5/27/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Anaheim Anaheim Hills News: Orange County Register weekly 5/27/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Anaheim Fullerton News Tribune: Orange County Register weekly 5/20/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Anaheim Orange City News: Orange County Register weekly 8/12/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Anaheim Placentia News-Times: Orange County Register weekly 5/20/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Anaheim Yorba Linda Star: Orange County Register weekly 5/20/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Anderson Anderson Valley Post 5/3/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Antioch Brentwood News 5/9/1997 – Current Recent Obituaries
Antioch East County Times 10/28/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Antioch Ledger Dispatch 3/23/1997 – Current Recent Obituaries
Arroyo Grande Adobe Press 12/21/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Auburn Auburn Journal 12/19/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Avenal Avenal Progress 5/18/2005 – 12/18/2007 Recent Obituaries
Bakersfield Bakersfield Californian 3/25/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Bakersfield Bakersfield Californian, The: Web Edition Articles 8/25/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Benicia California Gazette 3/29/1851 – 2/21/1852 Newspaper Archives
Berkeley East Bay Daily News 10/18/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Berkeley Fuego de Aztlan 3/1/1976 – 12/1/1978 Newspaper Archives
Berkeley Grito 9/1/1967 – 6/1/1974 Newspaper Archives
Beverly Hills Beverly Hills 90210 5/1/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Beverly Hills Beverly Hills Weekly 3/20/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Beverly Hills Canyon News 4/23/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Big Bear Lake Big Bear Grizzly 6/5/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Bishop Inyo Register 10/8/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Burbank Burbank Weekly 6/23/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Calistoga Weekly Calistogan 9/4/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Camarillo Camarillo Acorn 5/12/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Cambria Cambrian 5/10/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Ceres Ceres Courier 2/6/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Chico Chico Enterprise-Record 9/12/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Chino Chino Champion 1/1/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Chino Chino Hills Champion 1/1/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Coachelia Ideal 11/2/1969 – 11/21/1977 Newspaper Archives
Coalinga Coalinga Record 5/6/2003 – 2/7/2009 Recent Obituaries
Colfax Colfax Record 12/16/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Colton Chicano 4/21/1968 – 6/30/1977 Newspaper Archives
Compton Compton Bulletin 8/31/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Concord Concord Transcript 2/22/1996 – Current Recent Obituaries
Crescent City Daily Triplicate 1/15/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Culver City Culver City Observer 7/7/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Cupertino La Voz Weekly: De Anza College 5/15/2000 – Current Recent Obituaries
Danville Danville Times 10/13/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Davis Davis Enterprise 7/18/1999 – Current Recent Obituaries
El Centro Imperial Valley Press 1/2/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Escondido North County Times 1/2/2001 – 3/5/2013 Recent Obituaries
Eureka Humboldt Beacon 4/23/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Eureka Times-Standard 9/15/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Folsom El Dorado Hills Telegraph 11/18/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Folsom Folsom Telegraph 1/21/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Fort Bragg Fort Bragg Advocate News 9/20/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Fountain Valley Fountain Valley View, The: Orange County Register weekly 12/16/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Fremont Argus 9/15/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Fresno Collegian, The: California State University-Fresno 10/30/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Fresno Fresno Bee 2/5/1987 – Current Recent Obituaries
Fresno Fresno Republican Weekly 1/7/1882 – 12/29/1883 Newspaper Archives
Garberville Redwood Times 9/22/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Glendale California Courier 2/15/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Glendale California Courier 8/20/1958 – 12/27/2007 Newspaper Archives
Glendale Glendale Independent Weekly 6/30/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Gridley Gridley Herald 10/18/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Half Moon Bay Half Moon Bay Review 2/15/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Hanford Hanford Sentinel 5/12/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Hayward Daily Review 9/15/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Hemet Hemet News 1/6/1899 – 12/30/1927 Newspaper Archives
Hermosa Beach Beach Reporter 11/4/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Hermosa Beach Easy Reader 10/14/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Huntington Beach Wave, The: Orange County Register weekly 5/27/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Idyllwild Idyllwild Town Crier 1/27/1998 – Current Recent Obituaries
Kingsburg Kingsburg Recorder 7/5/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
La Cañada Flintridge La Cañada Flintridge Weekly 10/20/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Laguna Woods Leisure World News: Orange County Register weekly 5/20/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lake Arrowhead Mountain News & Crestline Courier-News 12/6/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lake Forest Canyon Life – Ladera Post – Rancho Santa Margarita News: Orange County Register weeklies 5/14/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lake Forest Laguna News-Post: Orange County Register weekly 5/13/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lake Forest Laguna Niguel News – Aliso Viejo News: Orange County Register weeklies 5/13/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lake Forest Saddleback Valley News: Orange County Register weeklies 5/14/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lake Isabella Kern Valley Sun 11/16/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lakeport Clear Lake Observer American 11/19/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lakeport Lake County Record Bee 9/23/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lemoore Lemoore Advance 6/11/2003 – 9/17/2009 Recent Obituaries
Lincoln Lincoln News Messenger 11/25/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lodi Lodi News-Sentinel 2/15/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lompoc Lompoc Record 10/2/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Long Beach Downtown Gazette 7/30/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Long Beach Grunion Gazette 2/22/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Long Beach Long Beach Press-Telegram 8/11/1990 – Current Recent Obituaries
Long Beach Uptown Gazette 1/21/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Loomis Loomis News 12/10/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Angeles Aguacero 3/24/1878 – 3/31/1878 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Amigo del Pueblo 11/30/1861 – 11/30/1861 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Argonaut 3/5/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Angeles Bel-Air View 7/11/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Angeles Brentwood News 8/11/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Angeles Cinema 2/1/1935 – 2/1/1935 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Clamor Publico 6/19/1855 – 6/27/1857 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Con Safos 6/1/1968 – 1/1/1972 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Correo Mejicano 10/18/1917 – 10/18/1917 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Cronica 9/12/1874 – 9/12/1874 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Democrata 10/14/1882 – 11/4/1882 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Dos Republicas 3/15/1892 – 9/3/1898 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Eastern Group Publications 8/11/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Angeles Eco de la Patria 2/14/1878 – 2/21/1878 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Eco de Mexico 10/3/1924 – 10/29/1924 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Eco Mejicano 10/29/1885 – 10/29/1885 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Fe en la Democracia 10/29/1884 – 11/3/1884 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Heraldo de Mexico 12/9/1917 – 12/29/1928 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Inter-Faith Churchman 4/20/1941 – 4/20/1941 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles 9/30/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Angeles Joven 9/18/1877 – 4/12/1878 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles L.A. Observed 5/23/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Angeles L.A. Watts Times 4/20/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Angeles LA Alternative 4/2/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Angeles Los Angeles Downtown News 1/17/2000 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Angeles Los Angeles Sentinel 3/22/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Angeles Los Angeles Times 1/2/1985 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Angeles Los Angeles Tribune 9/6/1943 – 4/22/1960 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Malcriado 4/17/1927 – 4/17/1927 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Malibu Beach 7/11/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Angeles Mesazero 12/21/1954 – 12/21/1954 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Monitor Mejicano 10/26/1895 – 10/29/1898 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Our Weekly 9/9/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Angeles Pacific Citizen 3/16/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Angeles Park Labrea News/Beverly Press 12/1/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Angeles Prensa 12/8/1917 – 1/2/1937 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Regeneracion 9/5/1910 – 10/6/1917 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Santa Monica Sun 8/2/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Angeles Teller 3/20/1946 – 3/20/1946 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Union 11/21/1896 – 5/15/1897 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Westside Today 7/4/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Banos Los Banos Enterprise 8/2/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Gatos Los Gatos Daily News 9/22/2006 – 8/19/2007 Recent Obituaries
Madera Madera Tribune 5/8/2002 – 3/10/2009 Recent Obituaries
Mammoth Lakes Mammoth Times 10/9/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Manteca Manteca Bulletin 11/19/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Marina Del Rey Del Rey News 5/1/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Martinez Martinez News-Gazette 1/6/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Martinez, Pleasant Hill Record 4/10/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Marysville Appeal-Democrat 10/25/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Marysville Weekly California Express 11/7/1857 – 10/29/1859 Newspaper Archives
Mendocino Mendocino Beacon 9/20/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Merced Merced Sun-Star 8/22/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Milpitas Fremont Bulletin 6/28/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Milpitas Milpitas Post 8/5/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Modesto Modesto Bee 1/3/1989 – Current Recent Obituaries
Monrovia Arcadia Weekly 9/8/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Monrovia Monrovia Weekly 9/8/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Monrovia Pasadena Independent 9/8/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Monrovia Sierra Madre Weekly 9/8/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Montclair Village Montclarion 11/23/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Monterey Californian 8/15/1846 – 8/15/1846 Newspaper Archives
Monterey Monterey County Herald 1/6/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Moorpark Moorpark Acorn 3/18/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Morro Bay Central Coast Sun Bulletin 11/11/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Mount Shasta Mt. Shasta Herald 10/5/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Napa American Canyon Eagle 9/7/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Napa Napa Valley Register 1/1/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Needles Needles Desert Star 4/9/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Newport Beach, Costa Mesa Current, The: Orange County Register weekly 5/7/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Novato Marin Independent Journal 2/11/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Oakdale Escalon Times 2/6/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Oakdale Oakdale Leader 10/7/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Oakdale Riverbank News 8/16/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Oakhurst Sierra Star 2/21/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Oakland Alambres de N.E.L. 5/21/1975 – 6/21/1977 Newspaper Archives
Oakland Alameda Times-Star 9/15/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Oakland American Sentinel 1/1/1886 – 12/25/1889 Newspaper Archives
Oakland Mundo 1/6/1971 – 12/25/1974 Newspaper Archives
Oakland Oakland Post 11/5/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Oakland Oakland Sunshine 3/20/1915 – 2/25/1922 Newspaper Archives
Oakland Oakland Tribune 9/15/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Oakland Western Outlook 11/7/1914 – 5/26/1928 Newspaper Archives
Ojai Ojai Valley News 1/30/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Ontario Inland Valley Daily Bulletin 4/9/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Oroville Oroville Mercury-Register 1/2/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Pacific Palisades Pacific Palisades 90272 2/5/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Pacifica Pacifica Tribune 8/20/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Palm Springs Desert Star Weekly 9/2/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Palo Alto Burlingame Daily News 9/22/2006 – 9/25/2008 Recent Obituaries
Palo Alto Daily News 9/22/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Palo Alto Daily Post 12/18/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Palo Alto Redwood City Daily News 9/22/2006 – 9/25/2008 Recent Obituaries
Paradise Paradise Post 7/11/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Pasadena Pasadena Star-News 9/15/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Pasadena Pasadena-San Gabriel Valley News Journal 2/25/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Piedmont Piedmonter 3/1/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Placerville Mountain Democrat 3/9/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Pleasanton Pleasanton Times 8/26/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Pleasanton Tri-Valley Herald 9/15/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Pleasanton Valley Times 6/19/1995 – 8/28/2011 Recent Obituaries
Porterville Porterville Recorder 4/15/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Red Bluff Red Bluff Daily News 9/12/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Redding Redding Record Searchlight 3/8/1991 – Current Recent Obituaries
Redlands Redlands Daily Facts 9/16/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Rialto Rialto Record 1/27/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Richmond Berkeley Voice 11/30/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Richmond El Cerrito Journal 11/2/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Richmond West County Times 6/28/1995 – 8/4/2011 Recent Obituaries
Richmond West County Weekly 3/2/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Ridgecrest Daily Independent 4/7/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Riverdale Twin City Times 5/13/2003 – 1/23/2008 Recent Obituaries
Riverside Business Press/California 2/26/1996 – Current Recent Obituaries
Riverside Press and Horticulturist 7/6/1878 – 12/29/1905 Newspaper Archives
Riverside Press-Enterprise 9/28/1992 – Current Recent Obituaries
Riverside Riverside County Record 1/12/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Riverside Riverside Daily Press 6/10/1886 – 3/11/1949 Newspaper Archives
Riverside Riverside Independent Enterprise 3/3/1891 – 12/31/1922 Newspaper Archives
Rocklin Placer Herald 12/2/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Rolling Hills Estates Palos Verdes Peninsula News 12/27/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Roseville Press-Tribune 12/11/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Sacramento Daily Democratic State Journal 8/26/1853 – 4/30/1858 Newspaper Archives
Sacramento Post (El Informador) 11/4/1967 – 12/2/1967 Newspaper Archives
Sacramento Prensa Libre 1/15/1969 – 12/31/1970 Newspaper Archives
Sacramento Sacramento Bee 3/31/1984 – Current Recent Obituaries
Sacramento Sacramento Weekly Union 10/31/1851 – 4/15/1853 Newspaper Archives
Sacramento Themis 2/24/1889 – 6/24/1894 Newspaper Archives
Sacramento Weekly Rescue 2/1/1864 – 9/27/1877 Newspaper Archives
Salinas Valley Adviser 6/3/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Bernardino Colton Courier 12/16/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Bernardino El Chicano 12/16/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Bernardino Sun 9/18/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Clemente Capistrano Valley News: Orange County Register weekly 5/20/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Clemente Dana Point News: Orange County Register weekly 5/27/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Clemente Sun Post News: Orange County Register weekly 5/21/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Diego Daily San Diegan 11/1/1887 – 2/29/1888 Newspaper Archives
San Diego Evening Tribune 12/3/1895 – 9/24/1940 Newspaper Archives
San Diego San Diego Daily Bee 5/16/1887 – 3/30/1888 Newspaper Archives
San Diego San Diego Daily World 1/28/1873 – 7/25/1873 Newspaper Archives
San Diego San Diego Sun 7/27/1881 – 2/29/1888 Newspaper Archives
San Diego San Diego Union 3/20/1871 – 12/31/1983 Newspaper Archives
San Diego U-T San Diego 12/7/1983 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Diego Weekly World 7/27/1872 – 7/19/1873 Newspaper Archives
San Fernando San Fernando Valley Sun 11/11/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Francisco Alaska Appeal 3/6/1879 – 4/15/1880 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Alta California 6/1/1850 – 6/21/1861 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Bay Citizen 6/1/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Francisco California Farmer and Journal of Useful Sciences 1/12/1854 – 9/21/1876 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco California Journal und Sonntags-gast 1/14/1872 – 12/30/1877 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Centro America 2/20/1921 – 8/25/1921 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Cronica 12/15/1854 – 2/28/1855 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Daily Commercial News 1/1/1885 – 12/31/1888 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Daily Globe 1/1/1857 – 8/14/1858 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Daily Placer Times and Transcript 6/28/1852 – 12/4/1855 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Eco del Pacifico 4/9/1857 – 4/9/1857 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Elevator 5/5/1865 – 6/11/1898 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Free Angela 5/1/1971 – 11/8/1971 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Grafico Internacional 2/1/1937 – 4/1/1937 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Hispano America 6/16/1918 – 12/5/1931 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Imparcial 11/20/1931 – 2/1/1935 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Jalamate 12/1/1971 – 6/9/1972 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Mefistofeles 3/9/1918 – 7/20/1918 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Mercantile Gazette and Prices Current, Shipping List and Register 10/2/1863 – 10/18/1867 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Mirror of the Times 12/12/1857 – 12/12/1857 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Nueva Mission 11/27/1967 – 10/1/1969 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco San Francisco Abend Post 1/3/1871 – 12/30/1876 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco San Francisco Bulletin 10/8/1855 – 12/31/1891 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco San Francisco Chronicle 1/1/1937 – 12/31/1942 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco San Francisco Chronicle 1/1/1985 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Francisco San Francisco Evening Journal 5/31/1852 – 5/13/1854 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco San Francisco Vindicator 5/2/1887 – 2/16/1889 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Seminario Imparcial 8/13/1938 – 11/12/1938 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Voz de Chile y de las Republicas Americanas 10/11/1867 – 5/26/1868 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Voz del Nuevo Mundo 3/27/1865 – 9/23/1884 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Weekly Alta California 10/5/1850 – 12/30/1854 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Weekly Pacific News 12/31/1849 – 5/15/1851 Newspaper Archives
San Jose Almaden Resident 10/16/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Jose Campbell Reporter 9/22/1999 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Jose Cupertino Courier 12/27/1995 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Jose Evening News 2/23/1884 – 12/30/1922 Newspaper Archives
San Jose Los Gatos Weekly-Times 3/17/1999 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Jose Rose Garden Resident 4/29/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Jose San Jose Mercury News 11/5/1861 – 12/31/1922 Newspaper Archives
San Jose San Jose Mercury News 6/1/1985 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Jose Sunnyvale Sun 2/21/1996 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Jose Willow Glen Resident 1/10/1996 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Luis Obispo Tribune 1/1/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Mateo San Mateo County Times 9/15/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Mateo San Mateo Daily Journal 6/18/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Ramon San Ramon Valley Times 9/9/1995 – 7/28/2010 Recent Obituaries
Santa Ana Irvine World News: Orange County Register weekly 5/13/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Santa Ana OC Post-Irvine World News: Orange County Register weekly 2/19/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Santa Ana Orange County Register 1/1/1987 – Current Recent Obituaries
Santa Ana Star-Progress: Orange County Register weekly 5/27/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Santa Ana Tustin News, The: Orange County Register weekly 5/6/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Santa Anita Santa Anita Pacemaker 4/24/1942 – 7/29/1942 Newspaper Archives
Santa Barbara Gaceta 8/9/1879 – 7/30/1881 Newspaper Archives
Santa Clarita Signal 12/5/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Santa Maria Santa Maria Times 12/3/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Santa Maria Times Press Recorder 1/5/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Santa Monica Aguila 3/21/1971 – 3/21/1973 Newspaper Archives
Santa Monica Santa Monica Daily Press 3/9/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Santa Rosa Press Democrat 1/1/1995 – Current Recent Obituaries
Saratoga Saratoga News 12/6/1995 – Current Recent Obituaries
Scotts Valley Santa Cruz Sentinel 2/9/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Seaside Monterey County Weekly 4/24/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Selma Selma Enterprise 5/6/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Sonoma Sonoma Index-Tribune 11/29/1996 – Current Recent Obituaries
Sonora Union Democrat 3/4/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
St. Helena St. Helena Star 3/3/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Stanford Atisbos 6/1/1975 – 6/1/1978 Newspaper Archives
State-Wide County California Newswire 7/9/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Stockton San Joaquin Republican 10/27/1855 – 12/8/1860 Newspaper Archives
Taft Midway Driller 11/8/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Tanforan Tanforan Totalizer 5/15/1942 – 9/12/1942 Newspaper Archives
Temecula Californian 7/14/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Torrance Daily Breeze 8/3/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Torrance More San Pedro 2/18/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Turlock Turlock Journal 12/11/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Twentynine Palms Desert Trail 5/7/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Twentynine Palms Observation Post: Marine Corps Combat Center 1/16/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Ukiah Ukiah Daily Journal 9/30/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Vacaville Reporter 1/3/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Vallejo Solano Times 4/20/2000 – Current Recent Obituaries
Vallejo Times-Herald 7/10/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Ventura Ventura County Star 3/5/1997 – Current Recent Obituaries
Walnut Weekly News 8/4/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Walnut Creek Contra Costa Times 6/1/1995 – Current Recent Obituaries
Walnut Creek Lamorinda Sun 2/21/1996 – Current Recent Obituaries
Walnut Creek Walnut Creek Journal 8/5/1999 – Current Recent Obituaries
West Covina San Gabriel Valley Tribune 9/25/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Whittier Whittier Daily News 9/15/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Willits Willits News 9/17/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Woodland Daily Democrat 8/20/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Woodland Hills Daily News of Los Angeles 10/3/1985 – Current Recent Obituaries
Yreka Siskiyou Daily News 5/16/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Yucca Valley Hi-Desert Star 5/7/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries

The Polygamist’s Wife: The Story of My Favorite Ancestor Mary Ann

Introduction: Gena Philibert-Ortega is a genealogist and author of the book “From the Family Kitchen.” In this guest blog post, Gena writes about her favorite ancestor Mary Ann, a Mormon who married a polygamist when she was 15 years old, in 1868.

Do you have a favorite ancestor? Maybe it’s that one ancestor you love to research because of all the great documents you find about his or her life. Or perhaps it’s a more recent ancestor that was alive when you were a child.

old photographs from the author's collection

Old photographs from the author’s collection

When someone asks me about my favorite ancestor it’s hard for me to choose just one. But there is one ancestor that is responsible for me loving family history as a child and my eventual career as a genealogist.

My maternal grandmother’s paternal grandmother, Mary Ann Smith McNeil, has always been important to me. My grandmother told me stories of her grandmother’s life, a life story that rivals any Hollywood movie. Maybe that’s why my grandmother spent time telling me about Mary Ann. Perhaps my grandmother knew that it would ultimately plant a seed that would continue to grow within me and lead me on a genealogical journey.

Let me tell you a little about Mary Ann’s life. She was born on 2 July 1853 in Newton Heath, England, to William Smith and Mary Hibbert Smith. At the age of two years she sailed to America along with her family and other English Mormon converts. When Mary Ann was nine years old they migrated across the United States to Utah. She was married at age 15 years to a polygamist who was 45 years old. At the age of 16 she became a mother.

Polygamy is a controversial subject. My grandmother would tell me about Mary Ann’s life as a polygamist’s wife and suffice it to say it was difficult. The stories of this life (please remember that the Mormon Church ceased practicing polygamy in 1890) captivated me as I thought about what it must have been like to have been so young and married.

But this isn’t a story about polygamy. That’s an article for another time. This is the story of a woman who was just an everyday ancestor. Just like most of your female ancestors, Mary Ann was an everyday person; some would label her “just a housewife.” But she left a great paper trail.

That paper trail starts with the obvious records: marriage records, a death certificate, and birth certificates for children. Like many women, Mary Ann’s work for her church was important, and so her name is found in church histories and records of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ female auxiliary, the Relief Society.

But here’s the great thing about living in the modern age of Genealogy 2.0. Digitized genealogy records are always being added online. This means continued, reasonably exhaustive Internet searching is crucial in order to find the latest information available about your ancestor.

One of the family stories I had heard was that during World War II, Mary Ann appeared in newspaper articles touting the large number of descendants she had serving in the war. A biography compiled by her great-grandson Herbert A. Hancock describes newspaper articles that appeared nationwide reporting on her 5 grandsons and 17 great-grandsons serving in the war (later the number of her descendants serving in the military would grow to a total of 25). These newspaper articles about her family’s patriotism started appearing around the celebration of her 90th birthday and were picked up by a number of newspapers nationwide proclaiming her family’s “great contribution to the cause of freedom.”(Legacy of Faith, compiled by Herbert A. Hancock, pg. 364.)

I was always curious about these old newspaper articles. Prior to digitized newspapers being made available online, it was very difficult to find them. However, a search today on GenealogyBank shows some of these articles, one of which appeared in a newspaper not too far from where I, her great-great granddaughter, live.

Nonagenarian 'Ancestor," San Diego Union newspaper article 4 June 1944

San Diego Union (San Diego, California), 4 June 1944, page 31

Sometimes it’s the human interest stories that get our seemingly everyday ancestor written up in the newspaper. GenealogyBank’s search engine allows us to search for ancestors whether they are mentioned in a hometown newspaper or in several papers around the country. These articles are something I would miss if I limited my search to where Mary Ann lived in Arizona. Her life is a great reminder that ordinary people, including housewives, had stories written about them and that these stories can provide us wonderfully rich information about our families.

Not too bad for a woman who was “just a housewife.”

How to Find Your Ancestors’ Church Records

Church records can be a terrific resource for your genealogy research. But if you’re not sure what church your ancestors attended, how do you know what church records to look for?

The denominations that families attended may have changed over the years. In some faith traditions, like Catholics and Mormons, it is important that the members of the church be baptized and married by the clergy of that church—so it is likely that your ancestors in those faith traditions made the effort to travel to the closest church within that denomination. In other faith traditions families may have felt some flexibility in which denomination they attended, often based on proximity or the appeal of a local pastor or congregation.

In looking for church records about your ancestors, start with the faith tradition of your parents and grandparents. Chances are that the family has attended the same church for multiple generations. But—there wasn’t always a Presbyterian or Baptist church in every town.

When I was growing up in Lower Gilmanton, New Hampshire, there was only one church in town: a Congregational church. It seemed then that every small town had a Congregational church. So, if you wanted to attend church in Lower Gilmanton, you either went to the local Congregational church or made a trip to Barnstead, Belmont, Pittsfield, or any of the other towns in the area that had a church of the denomination you were more comfortable with.

In the early 1960s a group of Baptists was organized in Lower Gilmanton and they wanted to meet in the Congregational church. It was agreed that they would rent it and hold religious services on Sunday afternoons. In this case two denominations shared the same building.

Genealogy Search Tip: Check the records of all of the churches in the area where your ancestors lived. Be flexible—just as they were—because they may have attended multiple churches during their lives. Since it was common for couples not of the same faith to marry, it is possible to find, for example, that the Methodist groom was married to the Baptist bride at the area Baptist church—and then, when they moved west to settle in Kansas, they attended the Congregational church.

13th Amendment Ratified, Abolishing Slavery in America

Our online archive of old newspapers is a great resource to help with your family history research, filling in details on your family tree. It’s also a good way to learn about the times your ancestors lived in, and better understand their lives.

For example, if your ancestors were alive on Dec. 6, 1865, then you know one of the major news topics they were discussing around the supper table. For on that day, the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, forever abolishing slavery in the United States.

The next day, Americans saw in their local newspapers something very similar to what New Yorkers were reading about the newly-ratified constitutional amendment marking the abolition of slavery:

Slavery Forever Dead New York Herald Newspaper Article December 07, 1865

New York Herald (New York, New York), 7 December 1865, page 1.

Some people today think President Abraham Lincoln banned slavery when he issued his Emancipation Proclamation during the Civil War, but that was not the case. Using his War Powers, President Lincoln only did what he could legally do: free the slaves in Confederate-controlled parts of the country. Slavery itself remained legal in the U.S.— slaves were not freed in the four border states that did not secede from the Union: Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland and Missouri.

It would take an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to legally ban slavery in the United States, and when the Georgia Legislature approved the 13th Amendment—becoming the 27th state to do so—the necessary approval of ¾ of the states was reached and the amendment was ratified.

13th Amendment Newspaper Article Lowell Daily Citizen & News 1865

Lowell Daily Citizen and News (Lowell, Massachusetts), 8 December 1865, page 2.

The American Civil War was fought over two main preservation issues: whether the Union should remain intact, and whether slavery should be preserved. After four terrible years of military fighting that killed over 600,000 soldiers and wounded hundreds of thousands more, the nation had its answers: the Union would remain whole, and slavery was ended.

What a tumultuous year 1865 was for America! At the beginning of the year the Civil War was still raging. During April General Robert E. Lee surrendered the main Confederate army—and five days later U.S. President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated by a Southern sympathizer. By that summer the fighting had ended and the American Civil War was finally over.

And all during that long year the process of ratifying the 13th Amendment to ban slavery in America was slowly winding its way through the state ratification process. While this was of great interest to all Americans, of course, it is safe to say the outcome of the constitutional amendment’s ratification was especially important to African Americans, as the following three newspaper articles show (all from GenealogyBank’s African American newspapers collection).

The Duty of Colored Men in Louisiana Black Republican Newspaper 1865

Black Republican (New Orleans, Louisiana), 15 April 1865, page 2.

This newspaper article was published on the day President Lincoln died, and reminds its African American audience that ending the Civil War and freeing the slaves is but a first step toward a society where all members are free, educated, and equal participants with full legal protections. The old newspaper article warns that it is prejudice itself that must be overcome:

There are many remnants of the past guilt yet polluting the soil and the atmosphere. There are cruel and dangerous prejudices that must be outlived. The sting of the serpent of slavery is in the hearts of the people. They may die with it, but justice and righteousness will live forever, and with them we must and shall succeed.

Our Country Black Rights Article South Carolina Leader

South Carolina Leader (Charleston, South Carolina), 21 October 1865, page 2.

These are powerful words in an African American newspaper from South Carolina—the first state that seceded from the Union and where the Civil War’s first battle was fought—published just months after the war ended. The historical newspaper article goes on to say:

We are confident of a change, because satisfied that the present policy is a failure. No cause can long prevail unless founded in absolute justice to all men. With such implicit faith in the justice of our cause, let us give our unqualified support to the President, and press steadily on for the accomplishment of the great purposes of our country—the moral rights, the intellectual privileges, and the physical liberties of mankind.

At the end of December 1865, following ratification of the 13th Amendment, this newspaper article was published with the title “What Is a Man?”

What Is a Man? Black Equality Article Colored American Newspaper

Colored American (Augusta, Georgia), 30 December 1865, page 2.

This old newspaper article concludes with these stirring words:

But these laws are dead, and we are glad of it. Fate has torn down the shutters and broken the locks of the temple of knowledge, and the great problem of advancement has commenced, and if, in its solution, it should give birth to men in the full sense of the term; we hope and trust that the boundary lines of color and race shall be obliterated from the map of common sense, and every man shall stand on his own merits as a man, and the world shall behold the consummation of the poet’s [i.e., Robert Burns] highest hope, that

Man to man the world o’er

Shall brothers be, an’ a’ that.

Good luck with your family history research, and enjoy browsing through historical newspaper archives such as the ones GenealogyBank offers. You’ll find many details, and possibly even maps, photographs or other illustrations, to learn more about your ancestors—and the times they lived in.

If you are researching your black American ancestry you may find our special African American newspaper archive to be particularly helpful.

Memorial Day

Every Memorial Day we see the familiar poppies and remember our nation’s war dead. Recalling those that died from the Revolutionary War down through today.

In Flanders fields the poppies grow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie,

in Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

Click here to see the news of his death during World War I and burial there in Belgium. Printed in the Kansas City Star. 5 February 1918, page 10

Faith and Begorrah – Ireland 1901 Census is now live online.

Breaking News!
The National Archives of Ireland has just put the complete Irish 1901 Census online.

More Irish genealogy resources:
GenealogyBank – is packed with Irish American newspapers as well as birth announcements, marriage notices and obituaries.

GenealogyBank keeps on growing.

Search it now!