GenealogyBank Is the Only Source of This Irish Passenger List Information

I am just amazed every time I see these Irish American passenger lists in GenealogyBank’s online newspapers and see that they tell me where these new arrivals had lived in Ireland, and where they were going to live in America. That information is NOT in any other passenger list source. How in the world did the editors of New York City’s Irish American newspapers find the time to interview and document the incoming Irish immigrants, and keep doing it for over a century?

passenger list, Irish Nation newspaper article 20 May 1882

Irish Nation (New York, New York), 20 May 1882, page 7

Irish American newspapers were diligent about reporting the great migration of Irish immigrants to America in the 19th and 20th centuries. Newspapers like the Irish Nation, Irish Voice, and Irish World regularly published lists of Irish passengers that came over on the passenger ships that week.

Genealogy Tip: What’s special about these Irish passenger lists for genealogists is the information provided: the passenger’s name; county of origin in Ireland; and their destination here in the United States.

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These published lists did not include every Irish immigrant – but for the tens of thousands that were interviewed and documented by the newspapers, these lists give us the critical place of origin and where they were heading, valuable information that is just not found in any other source. One of my colleagues, Duncan Kuehn, closely compared some of the passenger lists published in newspapers to the corresponding federal passenger lists. She found that for the passengers interviewed and listed by the newspapers, their names were often more complete – and often, additional names of accompanying family members were given in the newspaper account that didn’t appear in the federal lists. It would be even better if the newspapers had interviewed every single passenger, but we’re grateful for the excellent job they did on the ones that were documented. Genealogists must use these lists.

For example, in an issue of the Irish Nation from 1882, we see the following passenger lists.

passenger list, Irish Nation newspaper article 7 January 1882

Irish Nation (New York, New York), 7 January 1882, page 8

The first three passengers arriving on the steamer England on 29 December 1881 are:

  • Patrick Mitchel, from County Sligo – his destination was New York
  • Peter Judge, also from County Sligo, was heading to Baltimore, Maryland
  • Patrick Rourke, from County Clare, was going to Wisconsin

For genealogists having difficulty finding where in Ireland their Irish roots came from, this information tells them the answer. GenealogyBank is an imperative tool for Irish American research. Missing an Irish relative? Sign up for GenealogyBank today and find them. Start your 30-day trial now!

Click here to search GenealogyBank’s Irish American Newspaper Archives.

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What Were Your Ancestor’s Last Words?

Introduction: Mary Harrell-Sesniak is a genealogist, author and editor with a strong technology background. In this blog post, Mary takes a fascinating look at some of the last words people said before they died – both famous and not-so-famous.

When a person breathes their last, the grieving often ask: “What were his or her last words?”

For some people in these final cherished moments of life, their dying wish is to impart memorable quotes or words of wisdom to those left behind. These last words are great fun to read and contemplate.

Many are quoted in newspapers, so if you are lucky you might find your ancestor’s last words.

Religious Expressions

Many obituaries report the deceased’s devotion to, or love of, God.

One example was reported in this death notice for Miss Anna Harmon, who died at the age of 30. She said:

I wish I might – I hope I do resign myself to Christ, for time and for eternity!

obituary for Anna Harmon, Vermont Gazette newspaper article 24 January 1804

Vermont Gazette (Bennington, Vermont), 24 January 1804, page 3

In 1831, Caesar Low told his wife that he was going to die. His death notice reported that “spiritual light seemed to increase in his soul” and noted his last statements just before he died as follows:

“Glory to God – Hallelujah to God, hallelujah – Oh, my dear Father! My Heavenly Father! He is my Father.” Then pointing to heaven, he said: “Yes, I am coming, I am coming!” His final words were:

See Jesus! See Jesus! How shall I act in Heaven?

obituary for Caesar Low, Liberator newspaper article 29 October 1831

Liberator (Boston, Massachusetts), 29 October 1831, page 176

Instructions or Words of Wisdom

Although not reported in her obituary, noted abolitionist and suffragette Lucy Stone (1818-1893) left advice for her only daughter with her dying words, Alice Stone Blackwell.

obituary for Lucy Stone, Springfield Republican newspaper article 19 October 1893

Springfield Republican (Springfield, Massachusetts), 19 October 1893, page 5

Lucy encouraged Alice to “make the world better,” which she did.

last words of Lucy Stone, Oregonian newspaper article 28 September 1986

Oregonian (Portland, Oregon), 28 September 1986, page 167

By the time of her mother’s death, Alice (1857-1950) had become editor of the Woman’s Home Journal and recording secretary for the National American Woman Suffrage Association. During her life she championed many causes, including Russian freedom and world peace – and unlike her mother, was able to celebrate the passage of the 19th amendment in 1920 (see the National Archives).

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Alice’s last words were not recorded – but many would like to think she was thinking of her mother when she passed.

photo from the obituary for Alice Blackwell, Boston Herald newspaper article 16 March 1950

Boston Herald (Boston, Massachusetts), 16 March 1950, page 27

Appropriate Sayings

Joseph Medill (1823-1899), editor of the Chicago Tribune (who must have read hundreds of last words during his career), appears to have contemplated his own final utterance. Shortly before he passed, his physician heard him comment: “My last words shall be, what is the news?”

obituary for Joseph Medill, Dallas Morning News newspaper article 17 March 1899

Dallas Morning News (Dallas, Texas), 17 March 1899, page 2

Bat Masterson (1853-1921), another newspaper man, is quoted as having written a lengthy statement. It didn’t appear in his obituaries, but was widely cited years later.

obituary for Bat Masterson, Estrella newspaper article 5 November 1921

Estrella (Las Cruces, New Mexico), 5 November 1921, page 4

Masterson’s last words were:

There are those who argue that everything breaks even in this old dump of a world of ours. I suppose these ginks hold that because the rich man gets ice in the summer and the poor man gets it in the winter things are breaking even for both!

Bat Masterson's last words, Greensboro Record newspaper article 30 September 1964

Greensboro Record (Greensboro, North Carolina), 30 September 1964, page 9

How It Feels to Die

Others use their last words to express feelings about death and dying.

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For example, Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861) responded “beautiful” to a question about how she felt, and William Hunter (1718-1783), the famous Scottish physician and anatomist, said:

If I had strength enough left to hold a pen, I would write what a pleasant and easy thing it is to die.

article about some famous people's last words, Oregonian newspaper article 28 September 1986

Oregonian (Portland, Oregon), 28 September 1986, page 167

Jane Austen (1775-1817), author of Pride and Prejudice and other novels, didn’t feel the same. She was reportedly asked if there was anything she wanted. Her reply was:

Nothing but death.

Jane Austen's last words, Oregonian newspaper article 28 September 1986

Oregonian (Portland, Oregon), 28 September 1986, page 167

U.S. Presidents’ Last Words

Some of the most-quoted last words are from famous people, such as U.S. presidents.

Modern-day writers like to report that President John Adams, who died on the same day as President Thomas Jefferson on 4 July 1826, said for his final words: “Thomas Jefferson survives.”

As in all statements about history and ancestry, historical newspapers are one of the best ways to check the facts. For his last words, did Adams say, “Thomas Jefferson survives” or did he actually say “It is a great and glorious day”?

article about the last words of John Adams, Spectator newspaper article 14 July 1826

Spectator (New York, New York), 14 July 1826, page 1

Watch for a follow-up article offering more U.S. presidents’ last words, in celebration of the upcoming Presidents’ Day – and by all means, let us know what last words your ancestors are reported to have said!

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How to Use a Dictionary to Help with Your Genealogy

Introduction: Gena Philibert-Ortega is a genealogist and author of the book “From the Family Kitchen.” In this blog article, Gena discusses several different types of dictionaries, providing links to online versions – and shows how they can help with your family history research.

Have you ever started reading an old document or newspaper article about your ancestor and come across a word that made you scratch your head? Maybe there was a phrase your ancestor used in a piece of correspondence or their journal that you are curious about. I know there have been times when I come across an unfamiliar term – or even something I didn’t recognize as a word – and wondered what it meant. Words and their meanings from a different era can make understanding context difficult, and can lead you to make bad assumptions and wrong conclusions. It’s at times like these that you need to “look it up!” and break out some dictionaries.

ad for the Century Dictionary, Cyclopedia and Atlas, Plain Dealer newspaper advertisement 22 October 1907

Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), 22 October 1907, page 5

What dictionary might help? You’d be surprised at all the different types of dictionaries that exist that can help the family historian. You may be able to pick one up inexpensively at a library book sale or used book store – or there may be a free online version.

Medical Dictionaries

Did your ancestor die of the grippe or maybe ague? What’s a myocardial infarction? Having a good medical dictionary at your disposal can help you better understand your ancestor’s ailments and ultimately their death certificate.

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Medical terminology, like language itself, changes over time. So having access to definitions of archaic medical terms is very helpful.

Rudy’s List of Archaic Medical Terms: A Glossary of Archaic Medical Terms, Diseases and Causes of Death is a great resource for looking up causes of death on death certificates. This website defines itself as: “a collection of archaic medical terms and their old and modern definitions. The primary focus of this web site is to help decipher the Causes of Death found on Mortality Lists, Certificates of Death and Church Death Records from the 19th century and earlier.” What is great about the site are the entries that include a copy of a death certificate so that you can compare the writing. While there’s a benefit to using the online version, for the most up-to-date entries, you can download a copy of the glossary for a small fee.

Links to other websites that explain medical terms can be found on Cyndi’s List – Medical & Medicine – Diseases & Medical Terms.

photo of the Riverside County Historical Courthouse in Riverside, California

Photo: Riverside County Historical Courthouse in Riverside, California. Credit: Gena Philibert-Ortega.

Legal Dictionaries

For the non-attorney, legal jargon found in the court cases of our ancestors can be challenging at best. I’ve had times where I wish I could call a lawyer and ask them to sit with me and explain some concepts so that I could better evaluate what a case was really about. A legal dictionary can assist you at times when you’re trying to make sense of the world your ancestor lived in. The Law Dictionary is an online version of Black’s Law Dictionary, a dictionary everyone should refer to for better understanding of legal terms.

The Georgetown Law Library Digital Dictionaries: 1481-1916 provides access to a wide variety of legal dictionaries that can be browsed or searched.

Slang Dictionaries

Some of my favorite dictionaries are slang dictionaries. I know it’s easy to hear the phrase “slang dictionary” and discount it as something that is too modern to be of use when researching your family history. However, slang dictionaries have been around since the 17th century and are an excellent resource for learning about the common word usage of a particular era and how the meanings of some words have changed over time. A slang dictionary is the perfect resource to better understand early correspondence or journal entries. This type of dictionary can assist you as you read newspaper articles that utilize verbiage from a different time. It can also help when you’re writing the story of your great-grandparents and want to use language and phrases from their time period.

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Like any dictionary, a slang dictionary can be found online and in your favorite bookstore. Digitized book websites house various reference tools including slang dictionaries. Internet Archive has the 1909 text Passing English of the Victorian Era: A Dictionary of Heterodox English, Slang, and Phrase, and the 1912 work A Dictionary of Slang and Colloquial English.

Slang dictionaries from the 19th century can also be found on Google Books.

Military Dictionaries

Military dictionaries exist online and in physical book form. The DOD Dictionary of Military Terms can be browed or searched online as well as downloaded. It’s a great resource if you need to know what a beach party is or a Presidential Call-up.

The Oxford Essential Dictionary of the U.S. Military has a website with an index to entries. You can browse the index, but need a subscription to look at definitions.

Dictionaries for specific military conflicts include the Historical Dictionary of the Korean War by Paul M. Edwards, the Historical Dictionary of the Spanish-American War by Donald H. Dyal, and the Historical Dictionary of World War I by Ian V. Hogg.

What dictionaries are on your bookshelf? Start your own reference collection for your personal library to help with your family history research for a better understanding your ancestors and the times they lived in.

Related article:

How to Use a Thesaurus as a Genealogy Keyword Tool

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Captain Alden Howell: Last Confederate Officer

When Alden Howell passed away in 1947 at the age of 106, he was the last surviving commissioned officer of the Army of the Confederate States of America.

obituaryr for Alden Howell, San Luis Obispo Daily Telegram newspaper article 21 March 1947

San Luis Obispo Daily Telegram (San Luis Obispo, California), 21 March 1947, page 9

It’s a good thing that there were multiple obituaries about this centenarian. Each historical obit gives us more of the details of his life.

For example, see this old obituary in the Greensboro Record.

obituary for Alden Howell, Greensboro Record newspaper article 21 March 1947

Greensboro Record (Greensboro, North Carolina), 21 March 1947, page 10

We learn that he was a captain of “Company B of North Carolina’s Sixth Regiment,” that when he enlisted he had been “attending law school,” and that after the war he resumed his studies and received “his degree in 1866.”

We also pick up this critical piece of genealogical information: he “was a descendant of John Alden,” the famous ship’s cooper on the Mayflower, signer of the Mayflower Compact, and best known for marrying Priscilla Mullins. A great clue.

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In his ripe old age Howell was called upon to give advice, as reported in the Morning Olympian.

Confederate Veteran (Alden Howell) Gives Advice on Life, Morning Olympian newspaper article 19 February 1941

Morning Olympian (Olympia, Washington), 19 February 1941, page 1

“Don’t get mad. Don’t use cuss words. Never complain.”

Good advice – even now.

Even in this feel-good news article we pick up more genealogical details. He was an attorney and banker in Waynesville, North Carolina. He retired “15 years ago and moved [to Los Angeles],” and this critical statement: “He and his seven-year-old grandson, Kenneth Brimmer, jointly cut a birthday cake Tuesday” – a good clue that both he and his grandson were born on February 18th.

Genealogy Tip: Track down every newspaper article. Don’t stop with the first news article or obituary you find about your relative. Each one might contain the critical clue or fact that you need to build your family tree. Take those clues, verify the facts and document your family history.

Note: FamilySearch International (FamilySearch.org) and GenealogyBank are partnering to make over a billion records from historical obituaries searchable online. The tremendous undertaking will make a billion records from over 100 million U.S. newspaper obituaries readily searchable online. The newspapers are from all 50 states and cover the period 1730 to the present.  Find out more at: http://www.genealogybank.com/family-search/

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January 2015 Update: GenealogyBank Just Added 8 Million Records!

Every day, GenealogyBank is working hard to digitize more U.S. newspapers and obituaries, expanding our burgeoning collection to give you the largest newspaper archives for family history research available online from the 1600s up to today. We’re getting off to a great start this 2015, just completing the addition of 8 million more U.S. genealogy records, vastly increasing our content coverage from coast to coast!

screenshot of GenealogyBank's home page announcing the addition of eight million more records

Here are some of the details about our most recent U.S. newspaper additions:

  • A total of 52 newspaper titles from 18 U.S. states
  • 26 of these titles are newspapers added to GenealogyBank for the first time
  • Newspaper titles marked with an asterisk (*) are new to our online archives
  • We’ve shown the newspaper issue date ranges so that you can determine if the newly added content is relevant to your personal genealogy research

To see our newspaper archives’ complete title lists, click here.

State City Title Date Range Collection
Arkansas Denson Denson Tribune* 03/19/1943–06/02/1944 Newspaper Archives
California Manzanar Manzanar Free Press 07/14/1943–09/06/1944 Newspaper Archives
California Newell Newell Star 02/15/1945–02/15/1945 Newspaper Archives
California Newell Tulean Dispatch 03/31/1943–03/31/1943 Newspaper Archives
California San Francisco Corriere del Popolo 10/8/1918–12/6/1928 Newspaper Archives
California San Luis Obispo San Luis Obispo Daily Telegram 1/1/1951–10/31/1952 Newspaper Archives
Colorado Amache Granada Pioneer 06/09/1943–06/09/1943 Newspaper Archives
Florida Miami Miami Herald 6/13/1926–9/19/1928 Newspaper Archives
Florida Winter Garden West Orange Times, The* 02/06/2014–Current Recent Obituaries
Georgia Columbus Columbus Daily Enquirer 12/30/1940–6/28/1941 Newspaper Archives
Georgia Jesup Press-Sentinel, The* 09/13/2007–Current Recent Obituaries
Georgia Macon Macon Telegraph 5/14/1934–2/29/1944 Newspaper Archives
Kansas Wichita Wichita Eagle 11/2/1973–12/31/1974 Newspaper Archives
Kentucky Lexington Lexington Herald 2/6/1938–3/28/1939 Newspaper Archives
Maryland Baltimore Sun 4/4/1920–4/23/1920 Newspaper Archives
Missouri St. Louis Westliche Post* 03/13/1932–03/13/1932 Newspaper Archives
New York Adams Jefferson County Journal* 08/27/2014–Current Recent Obituaries
New York New York Courrier des Etats-Unis 6/22/1850–7/31/1890 Newspaper Archives
New York New York Cristoforo Colombo 01/08/1891–05/24/1892 Newspaper Archives
New York New York Gaelic American 10/20/1906–10/27/1906 Newspaper Archives
New York New York Jewish Messenger 1/10/1862–12/26/1902 Newspaper Archives
New York New York New Yorker Volkszeitung 01/24/1920–01/25/1920 Newspaper Archives
New York New York Vorwarts 06/18/1921–09/30/1922 Newspaper Archives
North Carolina Andrews Andrews Journal, The* 12/04/2008–Current Recent Obituaries
North Carolina Charlotte Charlotte Observer 11/1/1933–6/29/1934 Newspaper Archives
North Carolina Clemmons Clemmons Courier, The* 01/06/2011–Current Recent Obituaries
North Carolina Hillsborough News of Orange County, The* 08/27/2003–Current Recent Obituaries
North Carolina Littleton Lake Gaston Gazette-Observer* 07/08/2003–Current Recent Obituaries
North Carolina Mebane Mebane Enterprise, The* 09/17/2003–Current Recent Obituaries
North Carolina Murphy Cherokee Scout* 04/20/2007–Current Recent Obituaries
North Carolina Troy Montgomery Herald* 06/20/2003–Current Recent Obituaries
North Carolina Warrenton Warren Record, The* 07/08/2003–Current Recent Obituaries
North Carolina Yanceyville Caswell Messenger, The* 08/27/2003–Current Recent Obituaries
North Dakota Bismarck Staats-Anzeiger* 07/07/1931–07/07/1931 Newspaper Archives
Ohio Toledo Toledo Express* 03/31/1932–03/31/1932 Newspaper Archives
Pennsylvania Erie Erie Tageblatt 4/22/1903–10/31/1904 Newspaper Archives
Pennsylvania Philadelphia Philadelphia Demokrat* 12/21/1907–12/21/1907 Newspaper Archives
Pennsylvania Reading Der Pilger Durch Welt und Kirche 12/31/1870–12/26/1874 Newspaper Archives
Pennsylvania Reading Readinger Postbothe und Berks, Schuylkill und Montgomery Caunties Advertiser* 08/03/1816–07/27/1822 Newspaper Archives
Pennsylvania State College Centre Daily Times 3/1/1982–2/28/1983 Newspaper Archives
Utah Topaz Topaz Times 10/30/1942–2/9/1943 Newspaper Archives
Virginia Altavista Altavista Journal* 10/08/2003–Current Recent Obituaries
Virginia Appomattox Times-Virginian* 10/08/2003–Current Recent Obituaries
Virginia Brookneal Union Star, The* 10/02/2003–Current Recent Obituaries
Virginia Chatham Star-Tribune* 10/02/2003–Current Recent Obituaries
Virginia Emporia Independent-Messenger* 07/08/2003–Current Recent Obituaries
Virginia Lawrenceville Brunswick Times-Gazette* 07/08/2003–Current Recent Obituaries
Virginia South Hill South Hill Enterprise* 01/07/2004–Current Recent Obituaries
Virginia Wirtz Smith Mountain Eagle* 10/06/2004–Current Recent Obituaries
Washington Bellingham Bellingham Herald 9/3/1945–4/28/1947 Newspaper Archives
Washington Olympia Morning Olympian 7/23/1950–5/30/1952 Newspaper Archives
Wisconsin Milwaukee Wahrheit 06/22/1895–04/26/1902 Newspaper Archives

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Congratulations! FamilySearch.org Celebrates 120 Years

FamilySearch International recently observed the 120th anniversary of the formation of its forerunner, the Genealogical Society of Utah. FamilySearch is the largest worldwide Internet genealogy service in the world. For more details, read the full article at “FamilySearch Celebrates 120 Years.”

a timeline of the history of FamilySearch.org

Source: FamilySearch

The Genealogical Society of Utah was formed in 1894 by Wilford Woodruff (1807-1898), a native of Connecticut, to help the residents of Utah “to seek out their ancestors and preserve their family trees for future generations.”

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The article quotes Paul Nauta of FamilySearch public affairs:

Today, the vast collection of historical records and other family history services for preserving and sharing information are available for free to anyone at FamilySearch.org and the famous Family History Library in Salt Lake City.

Here’s a quick overview of FamilySearch’s history from their announcement:

  • During the Great Depression in the 1930s, the society pioneered the use of microfilm to preserve and provide access to the world’s genealogical records.
  • In 1963, the society completed the Granite Mountain Records Vault for long-term storage of microfilmed records. More than 2.4 million rolls of film from more than 120 countries and principalities are stored there today.
  • In 1984, the society pioneered one of the first desktop genealogy management software programs, Personal Ancestral File. It also developed GEDCOM, a software code for sharing genealogical data.
  • In 1999, it launched the free website FamilySearch.org, which is available today in 10 languages.
  • In 2007, FamilySearch began crowd-sourcing family history by creating a website where volunteers could index records to make them searchable. Over 1 billion records have been indexed in just seven years.
  • In 2013, FamilySearch introduced Family Tree and Memories, which let you build, preserve, and share your family trees, photos, stories, and historical documents collaboratively.

Today, FamilySearch is used by tens of millions of people around the world “to build, preserve, share, and research their family histories and records.”

Note: FamilySearch International (FamilySearch.org) and GenealogyBank are partnering to make over a billion records from historical obituaries searchable online. The tremendous undertaking will make a billion records from over 100 million U.S. newspaper obituaries readily searchable online. The newspapers are from all 50 states and cover the period 1730 to the present.  Find out more at: http://www.genealogybank.com/family-search/

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Michigan Archives: 148 Newspapers for Genealogy Research

On 26 January 1837 Michigan was admitted into the Union as the 26th state, doubling the nation’s original total of 13. Located in the Great Lakes region, Michigan (including the Upper Peninsula) is America’s largest state east of the Mississippi River, and the 9th most populous state in the U.S.

photo of Upper Falls, Tahquamenon Falls State Park, Michigan

Photo: Upper Falls, Tahquamenon Falls State Park, Michigan. Credit: Attila Nagy; Wikimedia Commons.

If you are researching your family roots in Michigan, you will want to use GenealogyBank’s online MI newspaper archives: 148 titles to help you search your family history in “The Wolverine State,” providing news coverage, family stories and vital statistics from 1837 to Today. There are currently more than 31 million newspaper articles and records in our online Michigan archives!

Dig deep into our archives and search for obituaries and other news articles about your Michigan ancestors in these recent and historical MI newspapers online. Our Michigan newspapers are divided into two collections: Historical Newspapers (complete paper) and Recent Obituaries (obituaries only).

Search Michigan Newspaper Archives (1837 – 1995)

Search Michigan Recent Obituaries (1995 – Current)

Here is our complete list of online Michigan newspapers in the archives. Each newspaper title in this list is an active link that will take you directly to that paper’s search page, where you can begin searching for your ancestors by surnames, dates, keywords and more. The MI newspaper titles are listed alphabetically by city.

City Title Date Range* Collection
Adrian Daily Telegram 1/3/1893 – 12/28/1922 Newspaper Archives
Adrian Tri=weekly Telegram 9/25/1900 – 1/1/1903 Newspaper Archives
Adrian Daily Telegram 12/9/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Ann Arbor Ann Arbor News 1/2/1909 – 12/30/1922 Newspaper Archives
Ann Arbor Ann Arbor Daily Times 9/1/1903 – 5/2/1908 Newspaper Archives
Ann Arbor Michigan Argus 10/17/1879 – 12/27/1907 Newspaper Archives
Ann Arbor Ann Arbor Daily Argus 11/16/1898 – 6/24/1907 Newspaper Archives
Ann Arbor Ann Arbor News-Argus 6/25/1907 – 5/2/1908 Newspaper Archives
Ann Arbor True Democrat 12/19/1845 – 3/8/1849 Newspaper Archives
Ann Arbor Ann Arbor News 4/3/2003 – 7/23/2009 Recent Obituaries
Ann Arbor Ann Arbor News: Web Edition Articles 7/24/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Bad Axe Huron Daily Tribune 12/17/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Baldwin Lake County Star 1/1/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Bay City Bay City Times 1/2/1889 – 12/30/1922 Newspaper Archives
Bay City Bay City Times 1/1/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Bay City Bay City Times, The: Web Edition Articles 10/22/2012 – Current Recent Obituaries
Big Rapids Pioneer 4/2/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Bronson Bronson Journal 3/3/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Caro Tuscola County Advertiser 9/26/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Cassopolis Cassopolis Vigilant 7/23/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Charlevoix Charlevoix Courier 1/2/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Cheboygan Cheboygan Daily Tribune 10/5/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Coldwater Coldwater Daily Reporter 11/9/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Dearborn Arab American News 10/27/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Detroit Plaindealer 9/20/1889 – 5/19/1893 Newspaper Archives
Detroit Weekly Detroit Free Press 1/2/1886 – 6/4/1887 Newspaper Archives
Detroit Herold 1/6/1911 – 12/29/1911 Newspaper Archives
Detroit Detroiter Abend-Post 8/18/1929 – 8/18/1929 Newspaper Archives
Detroit Detroit Independent 1/13/1923 – 1/13/1923 Newspaper Archives
Detroit Detroit Informer 1/13/1900 – 1/13/1900 Newspaper Archives
Detroit South End, The: Wayne State University 5/5/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Detroit Michigan Chronicle 8/2/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Detroit Associated Newspapers of Michigan 7/20/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Detroit Metro Times 8/4/1999 – Current Recent Obituaries
Detroit Detroit News 1/1/1999 – Current Recent Obituaries
Detroit Detroit News, The: Web Edition Articles 10/28/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Edwardsburg Edwardsburg Argus 7/20/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Fenton Tri-County Times 3/23/2000 – Current Recent Obituaries
Ferndale, Berkley, Huntington Woods, Pleasant Ridge Woodward Talk 5/19/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Flint Flint Journal 1/3/1898 – 12/31/1922 Newspaper Archives
Flint Flint Journal 4/3/1995 – Current Recent Obituaries
Flint Clio Messenger 4/20/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Flint Flushing Observer 10/12/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Flint Swartz Creek News 4/20/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Flint Grand Blanc News 6/12/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Flint Burton News 8/14/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Flint Flint Journal, The: Web Edition Articles 10/15/2012 – Current Recent Obituaries
Flint Davison Flagstaff 6/13/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Flint Flint Township News 3/21/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Flint Fenton Press 7/24/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Frankfort Benzie County Record Patriot 6/24/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Fraser Fraser-Clinton Township Chronicle 2/23/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Gaylord Gaylord Herald Times 1/1/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Gladwin Record & Clarion 10/6/1999 – Current Recent Obituaries
Grand Rapids Grand Rapids Press 1/11/1893 – 12/30/1922 Newspaper Archives
Grand Rapids Grand Rapids Herald 1/1/1898 – 12/31/1900 Newspaper Archives
Grand Rapids Afro-American Gazette 1/1/1991 – 8/7/1995 Newspaper Archives
Grand Rapids Grand Rapids Press 7/25/2000 – Current Recent Obituaries
Grand Rapids Grand Rapids Press, The: Web Edition Articles 10/18/2012 – Current Recent Obituaries
Grand Rapids Cadence Advance 10/10/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Grosse Pointe Grosse Pointe Times 1/30/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Hart Oceana’s Herald-Journal 9/16/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Hastings Maple Valley News 7/9/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Hastings Sun & News 7/16/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Hastings Hastings Banner 7/7/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Hastings Lakewood News 7/9/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Hillsdale Hillsdale Daily News 5/25/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Holland Holland Sentinel 7/25/1997 – Current Recent Obituaries
Holland myZeeland 11/3/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Homer Homer Index 5/2/2012 – Current Recent Obituaries
Hudsonville Grand Valley Advance 11/19/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Ionia Sentinel-Standard 12/17/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Jackson Jackson Citizen Patriot 3/27/1865 – 12/31/1922 Newspaper Archives
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Kalamazoo Kalamazoo Gazette 1/23/1837 – 12/31/1922 Newspaper Archives
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Saginaw Saginaw News 5/2/1881 – 12/31/1922 Newspaper Archives
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Sault Ste. Marie Sault Ste. Marie News 1/7/1888 – 12/29/1900 Newspaper Archives
Sault Ste. Marie Sault Ste. Marie Democrat 5/12/1887 – 12/29/1887 Newspaper Archives
Sault Ste. Marie Evening News 10/5/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
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Southfield Detroit Jewish News 2/23/2006 – 3/12/2009 Recent Obituaries
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State-Wide County mlive.com: Blogs 8/5/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
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Ypsilanti Ypsilanti Commercial 3/11/1864 – 8/25/1898 Newspaper Archives
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Revolutionary War Soldier Andrew Wallace – Dead at 105

In 1772 at the age of 42, Andrew Wallace shipped off for North America from Scotland – and just a few years later he was fighting in the American Revolutionary War for his new country.

obituary for Andrew Wallace, Elyria Republican newspaper article 19 February 1835

Elyria Republican (Elyria, Ohio), 19 February 1835, page 1

According to this old soldier’s obituary, Andrew “was engaged in some of the most memorable battles of the Revolutionary War,” and fought honorably. To the end of his life, he was honored by all for his military service. His most heroic moment on the battlefield came when General Marquis de Lafayette “was wounded at the battle of Brandywine [and] Wallace assisted in rescuing him from his perilous situation, and carried him off the field of battle to a friend’s house nearly two miles distant.” By the war’s close, Wallace was a decorated and honored sergeant.

Painting: “Nation Makers” by Howard Pyle, depicting a scene from the Battle of Brandywine

Painting: “Nation Makers” by Howard Pyle, depicting a scene from the Battle of Brandywine. Source: Brandywine Museum in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania; Wikimedia.

Wallace lived to be 105. A few weeks before his death, the Peale Museum in Baltimore, Maryland, hosted Andrew as a living exhibit meant to be the “connecting link between the olden and modern age.”

Andrew Wallace, at Peale's Museum, Richmond Whig newspaper article 2 December 1834

Richmond Whig (Richmond, Virginia), 2 December 1834, page 1

Wait – this is interesting.
The article states that Andrew “fought at the battle of Culloden…”
Battle of Culloden? That was in Scotland in 1746 when the British were putting down Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites.

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Thousands attended Wallace’s funeral at the old St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan, where he was buried. The Evening Post reported that even though he “lived and died in the Catholic faith…on his death-bed he asked to be buried with the honors of a mason and a soldier.” His request was honored and although “the weather was wet and stormy…there was an exceedingly brilliant display of military, the masonic fraternity, citizens and others.” The Church extended the extraordinary honor of having him buried in the same tomb as the revered Bishop John Connolly (1750-1825), the Second Bishop of New York. Andrew Wallace was beloved by many and had a great love for the country that took him in so many years prior.

Funeral of Andrew Wallace, Evening Post newspaper article 26 January 1835

Evening Post (New York, New York), 26 January 1835, page 2

Our veterans, old and new, have rendered us such great service and should be remembered every day. GenealogyBanks’ archive of over 1.7 billion historical documents holds the untold stories of your veteran ancestors; sign up today and discover them.

Genealogy Tip: Quite often, a person’s death is reported by many different newspapers in multiple states. Be sure to make a wide search for the obituaries of your ancestors. Do not limit your search to just the newspapers published in their home town.

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Wedding Belles! How to Find Your Ancestors’ Marriage Records

Introduction: Mary Harrell-Sesniak is a genealogist, author and editor with a strong technology background. In this blog post, Mary provides search tips for finding your ancestors’ marriage records in old newspapers.

When romance is in the air, newspapers report it in many surprising ways. By searching old newspapers, you’ll find copious details about your ancestors’ engagements, rehearsal dinners and weddings!

photo of a bride in her wedding dress

Photo: bride in wedding dress, 11 September 1929. Credit: Infrogmation; Wikimedia Commons.

Newspapers Provide Shower & Wedding Details

You might even find old newspaper articles on wedding showers, such as this one from 1910, when Grace (Floyd) Kannaman’s friends surprised her with one. Even though the wedding had already occurred, they couldn’t resist more festivities.

They dined on frappes and wafers, while entertaining themselves with the games “Ring on the String,” “Button, Button, Who’s Got the Button,” “Jenkins Up,” and a clothes-pin race. Color-coded gifts were accompanied by poetical dedications, and recipes were pasted in a blue-bound book to become her “infallible household guide!” What a treasure that recipe book must have been to receive – and a great family heirloom to locate if it’s still around!

article about Grace Floyd's bridal shower, Sedan Times-Star newspaper article 1 September 1910

Sedan Times-Star (Sedan, Kansas), 1 September 1910, page 1

Notice how the wedding of Mr. Le Grand C. Cramer and Miss Nellie Almy was described in the following newspaper article as a virtual feast of details. This lengthy historical news article names family members, bridesmaids, groomsmen, the officiant and even the organist – and you get to read about the magnificent pearl and diamond earrings bestowed on Nellie by her groom.

Her bridal costume “consisted of a very rich Velour white-ribbed silk dress with court train, the front breadth elaborately trimmed with flowers and tulle, and the remainder of the dress also elaborately trimmed with waxed orange buds and tulle.” There was a matching veil and extraordinary gifts abounded. An imported camel’s hair shawl was “very cheap at twelve hundred dollars” and of the solid silverware “there seemed to be no end, either in quantity or variety.” The article went on to say that “Those who ought to be good judges say that no bride in this city has ever received such a large quantity of elegant presents as have been bestowed upon Mrs. Cramer.” (I imagine that was an understatement!)

wedding  notice for Le Grand C. Cramer and Nellie Almy, Providence Evening Press newspaper article 17 November 1871

Providence Evening Press (Providence, Rhode Island), 17 November 1871, page 2

The elite are usually proffered prime newspaper coverage for their weddings – but even if your ancestor wasn’t a society belle, you’ll likely uncover intriguing details and descriptions of her wedding.

In 1897, this wedding notice for J. C. Love and Hattie Upchurch reported that the church was “crowded to the doors” and that after the “knot had been tied, to be broken only by death” there was a “swell reception.”

wedding notice for J. C. Love and Hattie Upchurch, Gazette newspaper article 30 October 1897

Gazette (Raleigh, North Carolina), 30 October 1897, page 3

Ancestor Wedding Photographs

Don’t forget to hunt for photographs of marriage engagements and weddings.

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Historical newspapers have always been prone to printing arrays of pictures. When you find weddings, you get a special treat – not only do you get to see the bride and sometimes the groom, but you also get a fashion show of earlier styles!

Genealogy Tip: As discussed in other articles on this blog, if you’ve got an undated photo, browse early newspapers to see if you can figure out the time period when similar clothing styles were popular. For example, read the article How to Date Family Photos with Vintage Fashion Ads in Newspapers.

Here is a 1913 photograph depicting a society belle with her groom. He was Frances Bowes Sayre (1885-1972), the lucky fellow who married President Woodrow Wilson’s daughter, Jessie (1887-1933). Her gown was magnificent – and if you search GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives for reports about their wedding, you’ll learn about the White House ceremony and their honeymoon in Europe.

wedding photo for Frances Bowes Sayre and Jessie Wilson, Evening Times newspaper article 29 November 1913

Evening Times (Grand Forks, North Dakota), 29 November 1913, page 8

This next photo example, from 1936, is a virtual collage of people – from the wedding party to family members and attendees. What a treasure it would be to include this wedding picture collage in the family scrapbook!

wedding photos, Heraldo de Brownsville newspaper article 9 August 1936

Heraldo de Brownsville (Brownsville, Texas), 9 August 1936, page 8

Search Tips for Ancestor Wedding Information in Old Newspapers

I’d like to leave you with some search tips, and invite you to share your own with us in the comments section.

screenshot of GenealogyBank's newspaper search page

  • After exhausting these two, try other search categories. Occasionally you’ll find a honeymoon mentioned in the Passenger Lists category, or the unfortunate divorce filing in the Legal, Probate & Court category. Any of these can help with finding an elusive date of marriage.
  • Don’t forget to broaden date ranges when you do your newspaper searches. Engagement notices can appear in newspapers many years prior to a wedding. Although local wedding notices are usually printed not long after a wedding, out-of-town papers may report the wedding after a long delay. Even honeymoon stop-overs are reported when the happy couple visits relatives.
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  • Research wedding legal requirements. An often overlooked query are banns, which had to be published prior to a wedding. This was done so that people could report concerns as to why a couple should not be married. The amusing anecdote in the following newspaper article showcases the process. In this instance, the groom had written to the church sexton with a request to publish the banns. Trying to be congenial, he concluded his letter: “So no more from your well wisher and Mary Williams.” This sexton unfortunately interpreted the man’s name as “William Wisher,” which was used in the published banns. Imagine the couple’s disappointment when they learned their wedding had to be postponed until after the corrected banns had been published!
article about wedding banns, Biloxi Herald newspaper article 16 December 1893

Biloxi Herald (Biloxi, Mississippi), 16 December 1893, page 3

  • Many records kept by organizations are only available at the source. Go to your family’s house of worship to see if any canonical records can be searched. One example comes from my own family. I tried to order my parents’ marriage certificate, but it is lost. So Mom and I went to the church where they were married, only to find that the official wedding book had been lost. The church finally located a report in the monthly newspaper which verified the details of their wedding.
  • Learn about religious customs. An example comes from those with ancestors belonging to the Society of Friends (or Quakers). Many of their accounts make for interesting reading. Recently, I spotted reports where members were directed to observe weddings. The intent was to make sure the ceremony was performed in a manner appropriate to the religion. When it wasn’t, there were follow-ups as to how the marriage had occurred out of unity and whether or not a member took appropriate steps to restore the relationship with the church.
  • If you can’t find a family wedding notice in a newspaper, focus on the groom. Enter his full name, and follow up with a search using his given name’s initials. As seen in the Sayre-Wilson wedding photo above, the bride wasn’t even mentioned by name – and the groom only as “F. B.” Sayre
  • A related tip is to search for the bride or groom’s father. It’s all too common to read reports that “a daughter or son of Mr. So & So was married recently.”
  • Many historical newspaper articles will have headlines reporting just the surnames of the wedding couple, so try searching without given names, such as “Smith-Kline marriage.”
  • If your primary objective is to determine a date and you’re striking out as to the exact date of the marriage, look for anniversary notices and obituaries. Many will report that a couple was married on a certain day, or that they were celebrating a special milestone such as a golden wedding anniversary.
article about wedding anniversaries, San Francisco Bulletin newspaper article 26 September 1866

San Francisco Bulletin (San Francisco, California), 26 September 1866, page 3

  • From one’s engagement to the actual wedding, there are more steps associated with marriages than any other type of life event – so consider all of them as potential keywords. Browse the following list to find keywords that can be cross-referenced:
  • bachelor
  • banns
  • best man
  • betrothal or betrothed
  • bride
  • bridal
  • bridal party
  • bridal shower
  • bridegroom
  • bridesmaid
  • ceremony
  • civil ceremony
  • civil union
  • commitment ceremony
  • dowry
  • elope
  • eloped
  • elopement
  • engaged
  • engagement
  • engagement ring
  • fiancé or fiancée
  • flower girl
  • groom
  • groomsmen
  • guests
  • honeymoon
  • intended
  • intentions
  • maid of honor or matron of honor
  • marriage
  • marriage certificate
  • marriage license
  • married
  • marry
  • newlyweds
  • nuptials
  • officiant (minister, priest, rabbi, reverend, etc.)
  • proposal
  • ring
  • shotgun wedding
  • shower
  • spinster
  • trousseau
  • union
  • veil
  • vows
  • wedding
  • wedding party
  • witness and witnesses

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Your Wife – She Just Might Save Your Life

Marriages create life. They connect family trees and create orchards of ancestors.

And sometimes your wife pulls you out of a snowbank.

Saved by His Wife: Decker Was Caught in the Big Snowstorm, Idaho Daily Statesman newspaper article 18 February 1898

Idaho Daily Statesman (Boise, Idaho), 18 February 1898, page 2

That was the case for Abram Decker, 35, of Sussex County, New Jersey, in 1898.

The Idaho Daily Statesman reports that Decker went to town late one night for groceries in bad weather, and didn’t return. Because they lived far from Newton, what should have been a simple trip for groceries became dangerous due to the distance and the freezing weather.

Patient but worried, his wife waited until early the next morning to go out and search for him; she feared the worst as she fought her way “through snow drifts in some places 15 feet deep.” The Statesman reports that when she found a single foot sticking out of the snow, Abram’s wife identified her frozen husband and saved his life by building a large fire to warm him and bring neighbors to their aid. Decker had collapsed from exhaustion, overtaken by the distance and weather. Thankfully his loving wife saved him from certain doom.

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Genealogy is not just the births, marriages, and deaths; it’s the in-between that truly connects us to our ancestors. Stories like Abram Decker’s brave wife often fail to be passed down in the family – but they really are memorable and should be preserved.

GenealogyBank helps preserve the color and details that fill in our ancestors’ lives. Family stories like this and many others in our archive are waiting to be found. Sign up for GenealogyBank today and add color to your family tree.

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