Genealogy Case Study: Researching Isaac Fernald

I recently was researching a man from Oregon named Isaac Fernald (1814-1871), and found information related to him in a variety of places online.

Isaac’s Death Reported in the News

I began my search with GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives, and I found Fernald’s obituary in his home town newspaper: the Portland Daily Press.

obituary for Isaac Fernald, Portland Daily Press newspaper article 1 April 1871

Portland Daily Press (Portland, Maine), 1 April 1871, page 3

I noticed this interesting phrase – “as has been before stated” – in his obituary, which is a good clue to look for earlier newspaper references to his death that were likely printed between the date of death (25 February 1871) and the date of the obituary (1 April 1871).

Enter Last Name

Digging deeper in GenealogyBank, I quickly found this reference to his accidental death in Cardenas, Cuba.

obituary for Isaac Fernald, Boston Journal newspaper article 28 February 1871

Boston Journal (Boston, Massachusetts), 28 February 1871, page 2

I also found this report, which adds the detail that Fernald’s fatal accident happened on a “side track of the railroad at Cardenas.”

obituary for Isaac Fernald, Boston Daily Advertiser newspaper article 1 March 1871

Boston Daily Advertiser (Boston, Massachusetts), 1 March 1871, page 2

In addition, I found this report of his funeral services.

article about the funeral services for Isaac Fernald, Portland Daily Press newspaper article 3 April 1871

Portland Daily Press (Portland, Maine), 3 April 1871, page 3

Each newspaper article reports more of the details.

Why was he in Cuba?
It turns out that he had traveled there on business before.

Ship Passenger Lists

I know that FamilySearch has put the passenger lists for U.S. ports online, so I looked there for reference to Fernald’s travels to Cuba. I found him listed several times. For example, here he is reported returning to the U.S. onboard the steamship Cahawba, returning on 1 April 1860. His occupation is listed as “merchant.”

New York Passenger Lists 1820-1891, showing entry for Isaac Fernald

Source: FamilySearch, New York Passenger Lists 1820-1891

I also know that the Prints & Graphics Division of the Library of Congress has put their massive collection of ship photographs and images online. Checking there, I was able to find this sketch of the Cahawba that was drawn at about the same time that Isaac Fernald had traveled to Cuba.

drawing of the  U.S. steamship "Cahawba"

Illustration: U.S. transport Cahawba. Source: Library of Congress.

Genealogy Tip: After you find your ancestor’s obituary, be sure to keep on digging. There are several types of historical records easily accessible online that contain relevant information about our ancestors. By making the extra research effort you will find additional details of the story of your ancestor’s life.

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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John M’Donogh – Loyal American Patriot ’till Death

Deemed an upstanding citizen by the Salem Gazette, two-time American war veteran John M’Donogh passed away, losing a long fight with disease on 19 March 1809.

M’Donogh is noted for serving directly under a young General George Washington during the French & Indian War. M’Donogh fought during British General Braddock’s failed expedition in 1755 against the French, in which a 23-year-old Washington led troops, including M’Donogh, into battle on the Monongahela River.

obituary for John McDonogh, American and Commercial Daily Advertiser newspaper article 22 March 1809

American and Commercial Daily Advertiser (Baltimore, Maryland), 22 March 1809, page 2

Enter Last Name

M’Donogh also served for the Maryland 3rd Regiment during the Revolutionary War, under Captain Cox. “One of the patriotic band of Baltimore,” Captain Cox led M’Donogh and other troops into battle at Germantown and Brandywine. M’Donogh survived, and went on to lead an exceptional life in Baltimore.

obituary for John McDonogh, Providence Gazette newspaper article 8 April 1809

Providence Gazette (Providence, Rhode Island), 8 April 1809, page 3

GenealogyBank makes it easy for me to learn about John M’Donogh and other Revolutionary War heroes; see what’s inside the archives on your ancestor’s story. Start your 30-day trial now!

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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Gershom Beach Dead at 77 – the Forgotten Paul Revere

Gershom Beach, a blacksmith in Rutland, Vermont, was 77 when he passed away on 2 September 1805, according to his obituary.

obituary for Gershom Beach, Middlebury Mercury newspaper article 5 February 1806

Middlebury Mercury (Middlebury, Vermont), 5 February 1806, page 3

Born 24 September 1728 in Cheshire, Connecticut, Gershom Beach was credited as being one of the original settlers of Rutland, Vermont.

Beach is most noted for his Paul Revere-style message delivery for Colonel Ethan Allen at the battle for Fort Ticonderoga during the Revolutionary War, described in an article published by the Rockford Republic (Rockford, Illinois), 14 March 1930, page 6.

Enter Last Name

Beach rallied the famous Green Mountain Boys by covering 60 miles of country in one day, carrying Colonel Ethan Allen’s message. According to the article: “He walked and ran 60 miles in 24 hours.” He went from town to town calling on the men in each town to join Col. Allen to take Fort Ticonderoga: “Even when he reached Hands Point, the rendezvous, ahead of the men he had summoned, he slept only a few hours.”

His life proved one man can make a difference. Beach’s heroic ride was detailed in a 1939 poem “Vermont’s Paul Revere” that describes this major turning point in the Revolutionary War.

The poem begins this way:

poem about Gershom Beach, Boston Herald newspaper article 29 June 1939

Boston Herald (Boston, Massachusetts), 29 June 1939, page 14

And ends like this:

poem for Gershom Beach, Boston Herald newspaper article 29 June 1939

Boston Herald (Boston, Massachusetts), 29 June 1939, page 14

Genealogy Tip: Gershom Beach’s brief obituary is just a few lines long, but with a small amount of digging in GenealogyBank you can find the rest of Beach’s interesting life story.

GenealogyBank has over 1.7 billion records and adds more newspaper archives daily. Interested in learning more about what GenealogyBank knows about your ancestors? Sign up today at GenealogyBank.com

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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New Mexico Archives: 161 Newspapers for Genealogy Research

New Mexico, which became American territory in 1848 at the close of the Mexican-American War, waited 64 years before finally being admitted as the 47th state of the Union on 6 January 1912. One of the western Mountain States in the U.S., New Mexico is the 5th largest state in the country—yet only the 36th most populous.

photo of the Wheeler Peak mountain group, New Mexico

Photo: Wheeler Peak mountain group, New Mexico. Credit: David Herrera; Wikimedia Commons.

If you are researching your family roots in New Mexico, you will want to use GenealogyBank’s online New Mexico newspaper archives: 161 titles to help you search your family history in the “Land of Enchantment,” providing coverage from 1844 to Today. There are currently more than two million newspaper articles and records in our online NM archives!

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

Search New Mexico Newspaper Archives (1844 – 1973)

Search New Mexico Recent Obituaries (1994 – Current)

Here is our complete list of online New Mexico 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 NM newspaper titles are listed alphabetically by city.

City Title Date Range* Collection
Alamogordo Alamogordo Daily News 9/10/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Albuquerque Albuquerque Journal 1/2/1906 – 12/31/1922 Newspaper Archives
Albuquerque Albuquerque Morning Democrat 1/1/1886 – 12/31/1898 Newspaper Archives
Albuquerque Albuquerque Citizen 2/10/1887 – 12/31/1900 Newspaper Archives
Albuquerque Bandera Americana 8/10/1901 – 5/13/1909 Newspaper Archives
Albuquerque Albuquerque Weekly Press 1/20/1863 – 7/12/1864 Newspaper Archives
Albuquerque Nuevo Mundo 5/1/1897 – 9/20/1900 Newspaper Archives
Albuquerque Opinion Publica 7/2/1892 – 3/2/1907 Newspaper Archives
Albuquerque Defensor del Pueblo 6/27/1891 – 5/28/1892 Newspaper Archives
Albuquerque Indito 11/24/1900 – 4/4/1901 Newspaper Archives
Albuquerque News 1/23/1886 – 12/6/1886 Newspaper Archives
Albuquerque Morning Journal 11/9/1884 – 12/3/1886 Newspaper Archives
Albuquerque Daily Times 6/14/1893 – 6/14/1893 Newspaper Archives
Albuquerque Industrial Advertiser 12/23/1899 – 12/23/1899 Newspaper Archives
Albuquerque Hormiga de Oro 11/7/1903 – 11/7/1903 Newspaper Archives
Albuquerque Revista 12/5/1881 – 12/5/1881 Newspaper Archives
Albuquerque Union de Albuquerque 1/20/1893 – 1/20/1893 Newspaper Archives
Albuquerque Combate 7/7/1892 – 7/7/1892 Newspaper Archives
Albuquerque Voz de Nuevo Mexico 9/1/1894 – 9/1/1894 Newspaper Archives
Albuquerque Estrella Mejicana 10/11/1890 – 10/11/1890 Newspaper Archives
Albuquerque Estrella Mexicana 10/4/1890 – 10/4/1890 Newspaper Archives
Albuquerque Albuquerque Journal 1/6/1995 – Current Recent Obituaries
Albuquerque Albuquerque Tribune 1/1/1997 – Current Recent Obituaries
Bernalillo Agricultor Moderno 3/23/1916 – 3/23/1916 Newspaper Archives
Bernalillo Espejo 3/8/1879 – 3/8/1879 Newspaper Archives
Bland Bland Herald 12/30/1898 – 6/6/1902 Newspaper Archives
Carlsbad Carlsbad Current-Argus 1/28/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Chama Northwestern New Mexican 6/10/1893 – 6/17/1893 Newspaper Archives
Chloride Black Range 12/29/1882 – 8/6/1897 Newspaper Archives
Columbus Columbus News 7/9/1909 – 5/26/1911 Newspaper Archives
Deming Deming Herald 4/2/1901 – 3/10/1903 Newspaper Archives
Deming Deming Headlight 1/24/1891 – 2/18/1899 Newspaper Archives
Deming Deming Tribune 12/25/1884 – 12/25/1884 Newspaper Archives
Deming Deming Headlight 6/3/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Eddy Eddy Argus 6/30/1893 – 6/30/1893 Newspaper Archives
Eddy Eddy County Citizen 6/13/1893 – 6/27/1893 Newspaper Archives
Elizabethtown Mining Bulletin 1/4/1900 – 8/11/1900 Newspaper Archives
Estancia Estancia News 9/1/1905 – 7/5/1907 Newspaper Archives
Farmington Daily Times 2/16/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Gallup Gallup Independent 10/11/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Grants Cibola County Beacon 6/20/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Hillsboro Sierra County Advocate 9/25/1886 – 11/26/1897 Newspaper Archives
Kingston Kingston Weekly Shaft 4/16/1887 – 7/15/1893 Newspaper Archives
Kingston Kingston Clipper 3/8/1884 – 3/8/1884 Newspaper Archives
La Mesilla Defensor del Pueblo 3/7/1891 – 3/28/1891 Newspaper Archives
Las Cruces Estrella 2/1/1911 – 5/18/1935 Newspaper Archives
Las Cruces Labrador 9/8/1896 – 6/14/1912 Newspaper Archives
Las Cruces Tiempo 11/9/1882 – 7/8/1911 Newspaper Archives
Las Cruces Dona Ana County Republican 3/11/1897 – 2/15/1902 Newspaper Archives
Las Cruces Mesilla Valley Democrat 9/2/1886 – 12/2/1890 Newspaper Archives
Las Cruces Eco del Valle 11/18/1905 – 5/6/1916 Newspaper Archives
Las Cruces Las Cruces Progress 2/22/1902 – 1/1/1904 Newspaper Archives
Las Cruces Las Cruces Democrat 2/3/1892 – 11/29/1899 Newspaper Archives
Las Cruces Las Cruces Daily News 3/5/1889 – 11/23/1889 Newspaper Archives
Las Cruces Borderer 7/24/1872 – 1/10/1874 Newspaper Archives
Las Cruces Mesilla Valley Bulletin 2/2/1934 – 10/21/1938 Newspaper Archives
Las Cruces Flor del Valle 2/3/1894 – 10/11/1894 Newspaper Archives
Las Cruces Thirty-Four 4/16/1879 – 11/3/1880 Newspaper Archives
Las Cruces Democrata 6/2/1894 – 11/24/1894 Newspaper Archives
Las Cruces Empresa 9/26/1896 – 6/12/1897 Newspaper Archives
Las Cruces Eco del Rio Grande 2/12/1876 – 3/2/1882 Newspaper Archives
Las Cruces Verdad 9/16/1890 – 4/9/1898 Newspaper Archives
Las Cruces Promotor Escolar 9/12/1891 – 2/16/1892 Newspaper Archives
Las Cruces Observador Fronterizo 9/11/1888 – 10/30/1888 Newspaper Archives
Las Cruces Las Cruces Daily Times 5/8/1889 – 5/10/1889 Newspaper Archives
Las Cruces Newmans Semi-Weekly 4/2/1881 – 4/20/1881 Newspaper Archives
Las Cruces Gaceta Popular 10/24/1919 – 12/1/1919 Newspaper Archives
Las Cruces Fronterizo 4/29/1875 – 4/29/1875 Newspaper Archives
Las Cruces Las Cruces Sun-News 2/15/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Las Vegas Las Vegas Daily Gazette 7/27/1880 – 1/31/1886 Newspaper Archives
Las Vegas Revista Catolica 1/8/1888 – 2/10/1895 Newspaper Archives
Las Vegas Grito del Norte 8/24/1968 – 7/1/1973 Newspaper Archives
Las Vegas Las Vegas Daily Optic 3/8/1884 – 10/31/1900 Newspaper Archives
Las Vegas Misionero Bautista: Organo Oficial de la Convencion Bautista Hispano-Americana de Nuevo Mexico 12/21/1943 – 8/21/1951 Newspaper Archives
Las Vegas Las Vegas Weekly Optic 10/23/1880 – 10/30/1880 Newspaper Archives
Las Vegas Voz del Pueblo 6/4/1892 – 12/13/1904 Newspaper Archives
Las Vegas Sol de Mayo 5/1/1891 – 7/24/1891 Newspaper Archives
Las Vegas Hispano Americano 4/21/1892 – 10/15/1892 Newspaper Archives
Las Vegas New Mexico Herald 6/25/1879 – 7/30/1879 Newspaper Archives
Las Vegas Las Vegas Record 1/29/1901 – 4/12/1902 Newspaper Archives
Las Vegas Campaign Bulletin 8/25/1880 – 8/27/1880 Newspaper Archives
Las Vegas Daily Examiner 8/30/1895 – 8/30/1895 Newspaper Archives
Las Vegas Chronicle 10/19/1886 – 10/19/1886 Newspaper Archives
Las Vegas Clarin Mexicano 10/30/1890 – 10/30/1890 Newspaper Archives
Las Vegas Political Comet 11/4/1882 – 11/4/1882 Newspaper Archives
Las Vegas Cachiporra 10/19/1888 – 10/19/1888 Newspaper Archives
Las Vegas Boletin de Anuncios 1/19/1878 – 1/19/1878 Newspaper Archives
Las Vegas Las Vegas Optic 11/7/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lordsburg Western Liberal 6/23/1893 – 4/12/1901 Newspaper Archives
Los Alamos Los Alamos Monitor 9/27/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Magdalena Magdalena News 2/28/1918 – 3/10/1918 Newspaper Archives
Magdalena Magdalena Mountain Mail 4/5/1888 – 4/5/1888 Newspaper Archives
Maldonado Estrella 1/30/1897 – 1/30/1897 Newspaper Archives
Maxwell Maxwell Mail 1/7/1915 – 12/30/1915 Newspaper Archives
Mesilla Mesilla News 2/1/1879 – 2/9/1884 Newspaper Archives
Mora Mosquito 12/3/1891 – 6/30/1892 Newspaper Archives
Mora Cronica de Mora 6/13/1889 – 11/2/1889 Newspaper Archives
Mora Gaceta de Mora 8/28/1890 – 8/28/1890 Newspaper Archives
Mora Mora Echo 9/16/1890 – 9/16/1890 Newspaper Archives
Mountainair Independiente 1/26/1918 – 12/25/1920 Newspaper Archives
Raton Relampago 5/21/1904 – 8/6/1904 Newspaper Archives
Raton Weekly News 5/6/1904 – 6/24/1904 Newspaper Archives
Raton Union 2/26/1898 – 9/10/1898 Newspaper Archives
Raton Raton Range 6/22/1893 – 8/29/1895 Newspaper Archives
Raton Raton Reporter 7/12/1893 – 7/12/1893 Newspaper Archives
Raton Amigo del Pueblo 1/8/1896 – 1/8/1896 Newspaper Archives
Rincon Rincon Weekly 8/29/1895 – 5/11/1897 Newspaper Archives
Roswell Roswell Record 7/14/1893 – 7/14/1893 Newspaper Archives
Roswell Roswell Daily Record 1/3/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Ruidoso Ruidoso News 12/1/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Acacio Comercio 7/11/1907 – 7/11/1907 Newspaper Archives
San Marcial San Marcial Bee 4/29/1893 – 3/29/1902 Newspaper Archives
San Marcial San Marcial Reporter 4/14/1888 – 3/8/1890 Newspaper Archives
San Marcial Libertad 4/15/1896 – 4/15/1896 Newspaper Archives
Santa Fe Santa Fe Daily New Mexican 4/15/1871 – 6/27/1905 Newspaper Archives
Santa Fe Santa Fe Weekly New Mexican and Livestock Journal 4/25/1863 – 8/30/1906 Newspaper Archives
Santa Fe Nuevo Mexicano 8/16/1890 – 5/9/1908 Newspaper Archives
Santa Fe Boletin Popular 4/1/1886 – 5/30/1895 Newspaper Archives
Santa Fe Voz del Pueblo 4/27/1889 – 6/15/1889 Newspaper Archives
Santa Fe Guia de Santa Fe 10/2/1886 – 10/16/1886 Newspaper Archives
Santa Fe Cachiporrota 10/8/1890 – 10/28/1890 Newspaper Archives
Santa Fe Gato 5/23/1894 – 8/24/1894 Newspaper Archives
Santa Fe Registro de Nuevo Mexico 5/2/1916 – 5/2/1916 Newspaper Archives
Santa Fe New Mexican Mining News 12/21/1881 – 12/21/1881 Newspaper Archives
Santa Fe Santa Fe Weekly Express 7/2/1887 – 7/2/1887 Newspaper Archives
Santa Fe Gauntlet 6/25/1894 – 6/25/1894 Newspaper Archives
Santa Fe Santa Fe Weekly Sun 6/17/1893 – 6/17/1893 Newspaper Archives
Santa Fe Capitol 9/14/1901 – 9/14/1901 Newspaper Archives
Santa Fe Clarin Mejicano 8/10/1873 – 8/10/1873 Newspaper Archives
Santa Fe Verdad 9/12/1844 – 9/12/1844 Newspaper Archives
Santa Fe Santa Fe New Mexican 9/12/1994 – Current Recent Obituaries
Santa Rosa Santa Rosa Sun 10/31/1919 – 5/28/1920 Newspaper Archives
Silver City Southwest Sentinel 10/19/1886 – 12/27/1887 Newspaper Archives
Silver City Silver City Enterprise 9/17/1886 – 8/23/1895 Newspaper Archives
Silver City Silver City Independent 8/3/1897 – 11/5/1901 Newspaper Archives
Silver City Eagle 8/28/1895 – 8/28/1895 Newspaper Archives
Silver City Mining Chronicle 3/3/1881 – 3/3/1881 Newspaper Archives
Silver City Herald 4/1/1876 – 4/1/1876 Newspaper Archives
Silver City New Southwest 1/7/1882 – 1/7/1882 Newspaper Archives
Silver City Grant County Herald 6/15/1878 – 6/15/1878 Newspaper Archives
Silver City Silver City Daily Press & Independent 4/19/2012 – Current Recent Obituaries
Silver City Silver City Sun-News 3/2/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Socorro Defensor del Pueblo 3/30/1906 – 4/9/1943 Newspaper Archives
Socorro Progreso 5/17/1887 – 8/9/1887 Newspaper Archives
Socorro Industrial Advertiser 6/10/1893 – 8/24/1895 Newspaper Archives
Socorro Hispano Americano 11/17/1891 – 1/9/1892 Newspaper Archives
Socorro Socorro Bullion 4/24/1886 – 9/11/1886 Newspaper Archives
Socorro Estrella de Nuevo Mexico 8/7/1896 – 3/26/1897 Newspaper Archives
Socorro Combate 1/3/1898 – 1/15/1898 Newspaper Archives
Socorro Bullion 3/1/1884 – 3/1/1884 Newspaper Archives
Socorro Republicano 3/16/1901 – 3/16/1901 Newspaper Archives
Socorro Golondrina 2/12/1898 – 2/12/1898 Newspaper Archives
Springer Colfax County Stockman 7/8/1893 – 12/27/1913 Newspaper Archives
Springer Estandarte de Springer 6/27/1889 – 6/15/1893 Newspaper Archives
Springer Sentinel 2/8/1901 – 12/27/1901 Newspaper Archives
Taos Revista de Taos 2/20/1904 – 2/20/1904 Newspaper Archives
Taos Taos News 2/15/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Wagon Mound Combate 12/6/1902 – 11/2/1918 Newspaper Archives
White Oaks White Oaks Eagle 8/22/1895 – 8/22/1895 Newspaper Archives
White Oaks Lincoln County Leader 6/24/1893 – 6/24/1893 Newspaper Archives
White Oaks New Mexico Interpreter 11/15/1889 – 11/15/1889 Newspaper Archives

*Date Ranges may have selected coverage unavailable.

You can either print or create a PDF version of this Blog post by simply clicking on the green “Print/PDF” button below. The PDF version makes it easy to save this post onto your desktop or portable device for quick reference—all the New Mexico newspaper links will be live.

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Historical Italian American Newspapers Online

Per favore, provalo!

photo of street vendors in Manhattan’s Little Italy

Photo: street vendors in Manhattan’s Little Italy. Source: Wikipedia.

See: Street vendors at the Feast of San Gennaro in Manhattan’s Little Italy.

GenealogyBank is pleased to announce that these historical Italian American newspapers are available in our online archives.

State City Newspaper Start End
CA San Francisco Corriere del Popolo 1916 1962
NY New York Cristoforo Colombo 1892 1893
NY New York Eco d’Italia 1890 1896
NY New York Fiaccola Weekly 1912 1921
NY New York Progresso Italo-Americano 1884 1889
PA Philadelphia Momento 1917 1919

This collection of online newspapers is a terrific resource for Italian American genealogists.

Whether you’re looking for an old Italian marriage announcement or an obituary, GenealogyBank’s deep historical newspaper archives are your source.

collage of articles from Italian American newspapers

Two examples from GenealogyBank: a marriage notice from
Progresso Italo-Americano (New York City, New York), 2 August 1889, page 1 and an obituary from Corriere del Popolo (San Francisco, California), 25 December 1947 page 8

Please – give it a try!

Per favore, provalo!

Related Italian American Genealogy Articles:

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3 New Year’s Genealogy Resolutions for 2015

Introduction: Gena Philibert-Ortega is a genealogist and author of the book “From the Family Kitchen.” It’s the time of year for making New Year’s Resolutions, and in this blog article Gena suggests three good resolutions for genealogists in 2015.

It’s almost time to ring in 2015! So what did you accomplish with your genealogy in 2014? What family stories did you tell? What places did you research? Any new family tree facts uncovered? Maybe you’re like me and wondering where 2014 went…

With the New Year soon approaching, it’s time to get serious about your family history. The perfect time to resolve to record your family history for the next generation is here. There’s no better time than now. Here are some ideas to get you started preserving your genealogical findings.

photo of the New Year ball drop event in New York City’s Times Square, 2012

Photo: New Year ball drop event in New York City’s Times Square, 2012. Credit: Replytojain; Wikimedia Commons.

1) Resolve to Get Your Genealogy Finds Organized

Recently someone asked me to help with her genealogy. When I asked to see her pedigree chart she provided me with various scraps of paper, all with unsourced facts. Frankly, I have done the same thing in my research. The ancestor hunt is more exciting than stopping to properly document and organize what information is found. But it’s writing everything down in one place – fact, source, and comments – that you will be grateful for later on.

Enter Last Name

So today make the resolution to get rid of those scraps of paper and record all your genealogy information in one place. How will you record everything you find? Will it be by using a genealogy software package like RootsMagic, Legacy Family Tree, or Family Tree Maker (just to name a few)? Will you use a note keeping program like Microsoft OneNote or Evernote, which would allow you access from any of your mobile devices? Will you go back to basics and simply use 3-ring binders, divider tabs, paper and forms? Decide which recording method you will actually use and then stick with it. Make sure you know how you will record each family fact you find during your genealogy research. How will you utilize your system away from home, at the library, archive, or family member’s home? Consider how you can use your smartphone or tablet’s capabilities to help you track and keep your genealogical findings in one place. Decide today and then skip the scraps.

2) Resolve to Learn Genealogy Research Methodologies

How can learning be a family history resolution? My experience has been that many brick walls are more easily knocked down by learning research methodologies. The more you learn about how to research and what’s available, the easier it is to solve those family mysteries.

So how do you learn more about genealogy? You can make a commitment to do more of what you are doing right now: read. The GenealogyBank Blog provides information about not only searching the GenealogyBank website, but tips to help you find success with your family history research in general. Use a RSS reader like Feedly or Flipboard to subscribe to this blog and others. RSS readers allow you to add the website addresses of your favorite blogs, and then they provide you a list of blog posts to read. Using a RSS reader and subscribing to RSS feeds is like putting together your own genealogy newspaper with articles on genealogy tips, resources, and more.

To subscribe to our RSS feed, click on the orange square with three white lines at the very bottom of this article, after the comments section. Next to the box it says “Subscribe to RSS.”

Enter Last Name

Of course, you can learn more about genealogy in all kinds of ways. One suggestion might be the most surprising: research more. That’s right, spend some more hours researching. And don’t only focus on your family. Ask yourself a question about a famous or infamous person and then start looking it up in old newspapers like GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives, or via Google Books. Take time to read old issues of your ancestor’s local newspaper for ideas about what was happening at that time, and the names of people in their community. Take some time to browse unindexed images in FamilySearch for your favorite state. I looked over 1930s death certificates from California and learned a lot about diseases, industrial accidents, nearby cemeteries and funeral homes, occupations, and more. That type of deep genealogy research can help you become more familiar with a resource, and in turn help you better solve your research questions.

3) Resolve to Free Your Family Photos

I can’t be the only one. You know who you are. You have great photos of family, ancestors, and documents – and they are trapped on storage cards, smartphones and even your computer. Sure it’s easy to take the family photo and save it somewhere, but not so easy to do something with it.

Let this be the year that you organize old family photos into folders, name individual photos, and then share, share, share. It really doesn’t matter how you share your photos: it can be on cloud storage websites like Dropbox, Microsoft One Drive or Sugar Synch; burn them to a CD; or save to flash drives. Just do it! Then once your pictures are saved to multiple places, share them with others. Give them to family, share to your website or blog, or make family tree scrapbooks. The more people you provide with your old family photos, the better. Consider putting together something for a local historical society, your genealogy society’s newsletter, or a town’s history project. That ensures that your family history survives long after a disaster occurs or you become an ancestor!

What will you resolve to do in 2015? Really, working on your family history shouldn’t be like a goal – such as losing weight – that’s often forgotten by many come Valentine’s Day. Family history is your passion; ensure that that passion will be felt long after you are gone.

Happy 2015!

Related Genealogy Organization & Records Preservation Articles:

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Funny Genealogy Quotes: End-of-the-Year Fun for Genealogists

Introduction: Mary Harrell-Sesniak is a genealogist, author and editor with a strong technology background. In this blog post, Mary helps end your year on a humorous note with these funny genealogy quotes.

When asked to suggest 2015 New Year’s resolutions for genealogists, I thought about reminding everyone to back up computers, check out new apps, index records, interview family members, read more historical newspapers, and share as many new finds as possible.

But then, most of you already know to do this, don’t you!

So, I thought – what does everyone really want to read to end their 2014?

Since this was the year of shared genealogy humor & quotes, I realized we all want to have more fun with our research – because after all, if genealogy wasn’t so much fun, we wouldn’t be so wrapped up in the chase!

genealogy saying: "You know you’re a genealogist if you refuse to live in a house with brick walls!"

So here we go. Here are some more fun “You know you’re a genealogist” quotes to end this wonderful year!

You know you’re a genealogist if…

  • you refuse to live in a house with brick walls!
  • 99.99% of your friends are family historians!
  • instead of downsizing, you’re planning on upsizing to store the genealogy stuff!
  • the first item in your will has to do with how your genealogy will be preserved!
  • the song “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” makes you dream about the White family roots!
  • you dream about ancestors!
  • you find really old newspaper news, really good news!
  • you have a special photo album just for historical markers & tombstones!
  • you keep a source book, or A to Zax, near your computer!

genealogy saying: "You know you’re a genealogist if, when you find a new birth record, you get so excited you think about throwing a baby shower!"

  • when you find a new birth record, you get so excited you think about throwing a baby shower!
  • you attend more holiday parties with gen-aholics than family!
  • you can name all of your forebears to the fifth generation!
  • you carry a magnifying glass, not for reading menus, but for genealogy!
  • you celebrate dead people’s birthdays!
  • you consider your “rejected” lineage society applications battle wounds!
  • you made it through the 52-week challenge, and are already working on next year’s!
  • you own clothing embroidered with surnames!
  • you put on a lucky hat to give yourself an edge at busting down brick walls!

genealogy saying: "You know you’re a genealogist if, when you overhear someone at a party talking about something being done “for bears,” you assume they’re talking about “forebears”!"

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  • when you overhear someone at a party talking about something being done “for bears,” you assume they’re talking about “forebears”!
  • you can’t fall asleep until you’ve found one more genealogy fact!
  • you know not to confuse epitaph with epithet, or interment with internment!
  • you know the expression “redoing your roots” has nothing to do with hair dye!
  • you know what autosomal, mitochondrial and haplogroup mean!
  • you read fairy tales to grandchildren, but change the names to ancestors! “Once upon a time, there were three bears, Jane Eliza McGillicutty Bear, her husband William Henry Mergatroyd Bear and their cute little baby, William Henry Mergatroyd Bear, the Second.”
  • you routinely take sneak peeks of genealogy while the family is watching sports!
  • you spend more on death certificates than on clothing!
  • you zoom in on old photos just to examine framed portraits spotted in the background!

genealogy saying: "You know you’re a genealogist if you never trash old records, knowing they can always be recycled and used for some other family history research!"

  • you never trash old records, knowing they can always be recycled and used for some other family history research!
  • your recycling bin never has much paper in it!
  • you’d rather have a genealogy library than a swimming pool!
  • you’re clueless about how to speak a foreign language, but have no problem translating a foreign language will!
  • you’re not offended to be called a tombstone tourist!
  • you’ve already purchased your headstone, so your family doesn’t get it wrong!
  • you’ve come down with a case of taphophilia, and aren’t worried about being contagious!
  • you’ve considered forming your own lineage society!
  • you’ve considered putting a family tree chart on your tombstone!

genealogy saying: "You know you’re a genealogist if you’ve considered storing your precious genealogy in the family safe!"

  • you’ve considered storing your precious genealogy in the family safe!
  • you’ve created a photo montage of yourself with an ancestor!
  • you’ve deleted a movie on your DVR to make space for a genealogy show!
  • your daily goals include solving someone else’s brick wall!
  • your house’s family room is a family “genealogy” room!
  • your research breaks only happen on days that don’t end in y!
  • your travel app alerts you to fare drops to cities with genealogy libraries!
  • your travel tote includes a portable scanner!
  • your will directs that a family tree chart be imprinted on your grave!

genealogy saying: "You know you’re a genealogist if you’ve driven 100 miles to track down a vital record!"

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  • you’ve driven 100 miles to track down a vital record!
  • you’ve gifted a teddy bear to a child named after one of their forebears!
  • you’ve gotten a speeding ticket because you were thinking about genealogy!
  • you’ve made your family plant a “family” tree!
  • you’ve memorized an epitaph!
  • you’ve sneaked a peak at GenealogyBank while pretending to watch sports!
  • you’ve stayed up late researching someone else’s family!
  • you’ve identified at least a dozen spelling variations for your surname!
  • your calendar records “this day in history” ancestral birthdays!

And I’d like to leave you with one more genealogy quote, sent in from my friend Linda Hodginson:

genealogy sayings: "You know you’re a genealogist if you know people who would want a book on tombstone rubbings!"

No wonder we are friends. I even own a book on tombstone sayings!

Happy New Year to all our readers!

If you have any fun “you know you’re a genealogist if…” sayings, please send them along for a future blog article!

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Descendant of Texas Declaration of Independence Signer Dies

Martha F. Fenstermaker (1943-2014) recently passed away, and in her published obituary it mentioned that she was “a direct descendant of Samuel Augustus Maverick, a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence.” Her obituary also states she was a member of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas.

obituary for Martha F. Fenstermaker, Laredo Morning Times newspaper article 4 December 2014

Laredo Morning Times (Laredo, Texas), 4 December 2014

Her ancestor’s last name “Maverick” is where we get that word from, based on his tendency to be “individually minded.” He refused to brand his cattle—and in Texas, unbranded cattle came to be called mavericks, and the term stuck.

photo of Samuel Augustus Maverick

Photo: Samuel Augustus Maverick. Source: Wikipedia.

Genealogy Tip: Don’t only search obituaries looking for your known relatives—you also want to do a search using an ancestor’s name who died long ago. It just might be that a cousin unknown to you has mentioned a mutual ancestor in their obituary.

Related Descendant Articles:

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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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3 Tips for Sharing the Family History You Gather This Holiday Season

Introduction: Gena Philibert-Ortega is a genealogist and author of the book “From the Family Kitchen.” In this blog article, Gena provides some helpful tips for how to preserve and share the family stories you gather during this Holiday Season.

With family members gathering for the Holiday Season, now is a great time to ask questions and hear stories about your family history.  Once you’ve collected these stories, what do you do with the information? How do you preserve and share these family stories? And what does it mean to effectively share them?

Painting: “The Christmas Tree” by Albert Chevallier Tayler, 1911

Painting: “The Christmas Tree” by Albert Chevallier Tayler, 1911. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

To effectively share family history, it has to be preserved – and in order to be preserved, it needs to be copied and be of interest to those who are inheriting it. The following tips are some ideas on how to do exactly that.

Tip #1: Make Copies Available

Burning information to a CD, saving it on a flash drive, or uploading it to a cloud storage website or via an app might be the easiest way of sharing your latest family history finds. Depending on your family, how many people you will be sharing the information with, and their grasp on technology, your method for sharing these recent discoveries may differ. Years ago one of my cousins would write a Christmas letter detailing her latest research and findings. Each family received that and any documents that she found. These paper copies were then saved by families, ready to be discovered by future budding family historians. For current discoveries that I want to share, I have done everything from burning CDs for family members, to sharing via digital methods like a private virtual bulletin board on Pinterest showcasing family photos, or creating a shared folder on cloud storage site Dropbox.

Tip #2: Get Family Members Involved

So you’ve shared photographs, video or audio files – and even documents or family histories – with your family. Now what? Ask family members for something in return. Once they have viewed what you have provided, ask them for additional contributions. Do they have previously unshared photos that would illustrate the stories you shared? Do they have memories that can be audio recorded via an app or an audio recorder? Do they want to create a video that tells the “rest of the story” that you have started?

Too often family histories and memories are gathered – only to sit on a bookshelf, photo album, or the computer. Encourage recipients to treat the information you share as a “living document,” and either add to it or ask questions so that more information can be added for the next family gathering.

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Tip #3: Tell an Interesting Story

I’ve noticed in funerals that I’ve attended in the last few years, families are putting together slide shows of photos of the recently deceased, sharing their life from birth to latter years. These slide shows often include music and provide viewers with a look back at that life, and share images that trigger thoughts of happier times.

While slide shows are a great idea for a funeral, why not use them to tell your family story and recent discoveries now? Did you do something special this Holiday Season to capture even more memories? Did you have everyone write out a Thanksgiving or Christmas memory or interview them? People like a good story so why not use what you have discovered to create a visual family history story.

Why not use software on your computer or a free online program to put together a slide show that you can then share at your next family event? Microsoft PowerPoint allows you to add audio and video to a slide show. You can incorporate photos, music and even the voices of family members on a slide show that can be the star of your next gathering, or put the slides on a “loop” that plays automatically as people mingle. Don’t own Microsoft PowerPoint? Free versions of slide show software can be found online including through Google Drive and Prezi.

Once your live performance of the slide show is done, share the slides or use them to create a scrapbook that can be printed out.

Remember that telling an interesting story and preserving the memories you’ve recorded can be done in many different ways. “Playing cards” printed with ancestor facts and images can be created and gifted to younger family members. Matching games can be played using these cards. Copies (don’t use originals) of documents and images can be laminated and used as table place mats. These place mats can help facilitate sharing stories and memories.*

How will you share your family history finds? However you decide to share memories you’ve recorded this Holiday Season, work on sharing them with everyone so that those memories are passed on.

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* Never laminate original documents or photos. Lamination is not a preservation method and will cause irreversible damage.

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Family History Interviewing Tips for the Holiday Season

Introduction: Gena Philibert-Ortega is a genealogist and author of the book “From the Family Kitchen.” In this blog article, Gena provides some helpful tips for conducting oral interviews with your family members this holiday season so that you can record those family stories.

It’s that time of the year when families gather, break bread, and take part in age-old holiday traditions. There’s no better time than the holidays to pursue family history! Think about it: everyone is together and they are having conversations that begin with “remember when…” It’s the perfect time to take advantage of those memories and conduct some interviews.

This article will give you some helpful tips for conducting oral interviews with your family members this holiday season so that you can record those family stories.

painting: “Happy Christmas” by Johansen Viggo, 1891

Painting: “Happy Christmas” by Johansen Viggo, 1891. Source: Den Hirschsprungske Samling; Wikimedia Commons.

“Interview” seems like such an official name for what you really want to do: capture the stories and memories of family young and old. Young family members?! Of course! Ask them questions about their lives and memories now so that they can benefit when they are older.

You say you’re convinced that it’s a good genealogy idea to take advantage of an upcoming family gathering – but how do you actually conduct interviews with your relatives? The following steps will help you take action and preserve those family memories for the future.

Get Your Interview Plan Ready

Decide from the start what you want to know about your family history. Will your family interviews be strictly with the older generation and involve them recalling their lives thus far? Will the interviews center on a theme and everyone in the family will be involved (for example: tell us your favorite holiday memory)? Maybe you’ll put together index cards of prompts and then invite family members to spend some time in an “interview booth” (maybe a spare room) and answer questions while speaking into a video camera. First, decide what you want to know and whom you want to participate.

Now that you have a plan, make sure you let everyone know ahead of time. Not everyone likes to be photographed or recorded. Your family history interview questions, even seemingly benign ones, may bring up bad memories. Remember that answering endless questions can be tiring, so decide what will be asked, of whom, and how long it will take. Let everyone you are interviewing know so that they can be prepared and not feel put on the spot. This might also allow them time to find and bring heirloom items, photographs, or other family memorabilia to share. (Make sure to bring a camera or a scanner as well as recording equipment.)

You will need to prepare what questions you will ask about your family history ahead of time. Not sure what to ask? Various family interview prompts can be found online, such as the article Fifty Questions for Family History Interviews by genealogist Kimberly Powell. Don’t be afraid to ask general questions of everyone that focus on the holidays, memories of specific people, or even what they are thankful for.

Now decide how you’ll record the information gathered from your family interviews. Smart phones and mobile devices make audio and video recording your interviewees easy. You can even download a specialized mobile app that will help you record and share information. Once recorded, make sure to upload the file to a cloud sharing website and provide access to family members, or save the file on a portable storage device like a flash drive and hand them out. Even if you don’t have a smart phone or mobile device, a video recorder or a digital audio recorder might be just what you need.

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Interview Preparation & Considerations

It’s the day of the big event. Set the stage for your family history interviews. Find a quiet, comfortable spot. Prepare the interviewing area for your equipment. If you are using anything that requires big bulky extension cords, be sure to make the area safe for everyone to walk through.

Most importantly, as you talk with each family member, make sure you are clear about what you will be doing with the information they provide during the interview. Will it be transcribed and used in a family history? Posted to a social media or family website? It’s important that the relatives participating know what will be done with the material and how they can access it so that they can make informed decisions about participating. You definitely don’t want any hard feelings later when your aunt realizes her true feelings about her sister-in-law are going to be part of the next family reunion slide show.

Go!

Start interviewing your relatives. Let people talk and don’t interrupt. After they answer your interview questions allow a delay before you speak. Ask for clarifications of terms, places, or information they mentioned that won’t be easily understood by others.

Limit your time with each family member and if they look like they need a break, give it to them. Several small family history interviews may be preferable to one large interview. Remember, even though we LOVE family history, some family members may not be as enamored with it and may even feel like it’s intrusive. The whole point is to get those stories down and learn more about your collective family history.

Interviewing family members doesn’t have to be a large project. It can be as big or as small as you want. Use the opportunity of a family dinner, reunion, or holiday gathering to ask questions and record those answers. Then, don’t let that information languish in your electronic device: transcribe it, upload it and share it so that all family members can benefit from those interviews.

Happy memory making!

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