Popular Baby Names from the Early 1900s to Today

Did you ever wonder why your ancestors had the first names they did? Were they old names used over generations in the family, or does your family history have some names that seemingly were random with no obvious family connection?

It might be that your family chose a name because it was the name of a family friend, or maybe it was one of the popular names of their day.

Here is a list of the most popular baby names for girls and boys in the United States spanning nearly a century, from the early 1900s up to 2011. See where your family’s first names place on this list of the top baby names.

What is your favorite first name in your family tree? Share with us in the comments.

Top Five Names for Births in 1912-2011

Females

Males

Year

Rank 1

Rank 2

Rank 3

Rank 4

Rank 5

Rank 1

Rank 2

Rank 3

Rank 4

Rank 5

2011

Sophia

Isabella

Emma

Olivia

Ava

Jacob

Mason

William

Jayden

Noah

2010

Isabella

Sophia

Emma

Olivia

Ava

Jacob

Ethan

Michael

Jayden

William

2009

Isabella

Emma

Olivia

Sophia

Ava

Jacob

Ethan

Michael

Alexander

William

2008

Emma

Isabella

Emily

Olivia

Ava

Jacob

Michael

Ethan

Joshua

Daniel

2007

Emily

Isabella

Emma

Ava

Madison

Jacob

Michael

Ethan

Joshua

Daniel

2006

Emily

Emma

Madison

Isabella

Ava

Jacob

Michael

Joshua

Ethan

Matthew

2005

Emily

Emma

Madison

Abigail

Olivia

Jacob

Michael

Joshua

Matthew

Ethan

2004

Emily

Emma

Madison

Olivia

Hannah

Jacob

Michael

Joshua

Matthew

Ethan

2003

Emily

Emma

Madison

Hannah

Olivia

Jacob

Michael

Joshua

Matthew

Andrew

2002

Emily

Madison

Hannah

Emma

Alexis

Jacob

Michael

Joshua

Matthew

Ethan

2001

Emily

Madison

Hannah

Ashley

Alexis

Jacob

Michael

Matthew

Joshua

Christopher

2000

Emily

Hannah

Madison

Ashley

Sarah

Jacob

Michael

Matthew

Joshua

Christopher

1999

Emily

Hannah

Alexis

Sarah

Samantha

Jacob

Michael

Matthew

Joshua

Nicholas

1998

Emily

Hannah

Samantha

Ashley

Sarah

Michael

Jacob

Matthew

Joshua

Christopher

1997

Emily

Jessica

Ashley

Sarah

Hannah

Michael

Jacob

Matthew

Christopher

Joshua

1996

Emily

Jessica

Ashley

Sarah

Samantha

Michael

Matthew

Jacob

Christopher

Joshua

1995

Jessica

Ashley

Emily

Samantha

Sarah

Michael

Matthew

Christopher

Jacob

Joshua

1994

Jessica

Ashley

Emily

Samantha

Sarah

Michael

Christopher

Matthew

Joshua

Tyler

1993

Jessica

Ashley

Sarah

Samantha

Emily

Michael

Christopher

Matthew

Joshua

Tyler

1992

Ashley

Jessica

Amanda

Brittany

Sarah

Michael

Christopher

Matthew

Joshua

Andrew

1991

Ashley

Jessica

Brittany

Amanda

Samantha

Michael

Christopher

Matthew

Joshua

Andrew

1990

Jessica

Ashley

Brittany

Amanda

Samantha

Michael

Christopher

Matthew

Joshua

Daniel

1989

Jessica

Ashley

Brittany

Amanda

Sarah

Michael

Christopher

Matthew

Joshua

David

1988

Jessica

Ashley

Amanda

Sarah

Jennifer

Michael

Christopher

Matthew

Joshua

Andrew

1987

Jessica

Ashley

Amanda

Jennifer

Sarah

Michael

Christopher

Matthew

Joshua

David

1986

Jessica

Ashley

Amanda

Jennifer

Sarah

Michael

Christopher

Matthew

Joshua

David

1985

Jessica

Ashley

Jennifer

Amanda

Sarah

Michael

Christopher

Matthew

Joshua

Daniel

1984

Jennifer

Jessica

Ashley

Amanda

Sarah

Michael

Christopher

Matthew

Joshua

David

1983

Jennifer

Jessica

Amanda

Ashley

Sarah

Michael

Christopher

Matthew

David

Joshua

1982

Jennifer

Jessica

Amanda

Sarah

Melissa

Michael

Christopher

Matthew

Jason

David

1981

Jennifer

Jessica

Amanda

Sarah

Melissa

Michael

Christopher

Matthew

Jason

David

1980

Jennifer

Amanda

Jessica

Melissa

Sarah

Michael

Christopher

Jason

David

James

1979

Jennifer

Melissa

Amanda

Jessica

Amy

Michael

Christopher

Jason

David

James

1978

Jennifer

Melissa

Jessica

Amy

Heather

Michael

Jason

Christopher

David

James

1977

Jennifer

Melissa

Amy

Jessica

Heather

Michael

Jason

Christopher

David

James

1976

Jennifer

Amy

Melissa

Heather

Angela

Michael

Jason

Christopher

David

James

1975

Jennifer

Amy

Heather

Melissa

Angela

Michael

Jason

Christopher

James

David

1974

Jennifer

Amy

Michelle

Heather

Angela

Michael

Jason

Christopher

David

James

1973

Jennifer

Amy

Michelle

Kimberly

Lisa

Michael

Christopher

Jason

James

David

1972

Jennifer

Michelle

Lisa

Kimberly

Amy

Michael

Christopher

James

David

John

1971

Jennifer

Michelle

Lisa

Kimberly

Amy

Michael

James

David

John

Robert

1970

Jennifer

Lisa

Kimberly

Michelle

Amy

Michael

James

David

John

Robert

1969

Lisa

Michelle

Jennifer

Kimberly

Melissa

Michael

David

James

John

Robert

1968

Lisa

Michelle

Kimberly

Jennifer

Melissa

Michael

David

John

James

Robert

1967

Lisa

Kimberly

Michelle

Mary

Susan

Michael

David

James

John

Robert

1966

Lisa

Kimberly

Mary

Michelle

Karen

Michael

David

James

John

Robert

1965

Lisa

Mary

Karen

Kimberly

Susan

Michael

John

David

James

Robert

1964

Lisa

Mary

Susan

Karen

Patricia

Michael

John

David

James

Robert

1963

Lisa

Mary

Susan

Karen

Linda

Michael

John

David

James

Robert

1962

Lisa

Mary

Susan

Karen

Linda

Michael

David

John

James

Robert

1961

Mary

Lisa

Susan

Linda

Karen

Michael

David

John

James

Robert

1960

Mary

Susan

Linda

Karen

Donna

David

Michael

James

John

Robert

1959

Mary

Susan

Linda

Karen

Donna

Michael

David

James

John

Robert

1958

Mary

Susan

Linda

Karen

Patricia

Michael

David

James

Robert

John

1957

Mary

Susan

Linda

Debra

Karen

Michael

James

David

Robert

John

1956

Mary

Debra

Linda

Deborah

Susan

Michael

James

Robert

David

John

1955

Mary

Deborah

Linda

Debra

Susan

Michael

David

James

Robert

John

1954

Mary

Linda

Deborah

Patricia

Susan

Michael

James

Robert

John

David

1953

Mary

Linda

Deborah

Patricia

Susan

Robert

James

Michael

John

David

1952

Linda

Mary

Patricia

Deborah

Susan

James

Robert

John

Michael

David

1951

Linda

Mary

Patricia

Deborah

Barbara

James

Robert

John

Michael

David

1950

Linda

Mary

Patricia

Barbara

Susan

James

Robert

John

Michael

David

1949

Linda

Mary

Patricia

Barbara

Susan

James

Robert

John

William

Michael

1948

Linda

Mary

Barbara

Patricia

Susan

James

Robert

John

William

David

1947

Linda

Mary

Patricia

Barbara

Sandra

James

Robert

John

William

Richard

1946

Mary

Linda

Patricia

Barbara

Carol

James

Robert

John

William

Richard

1945

Mary

Linda

Barbara

Patricia

Carol

James

Robert

John

William

Richard

1944

Mary

Barbara

Linda

Patricia

Carol

James

Robert

John

William

Richard

1943

Mary

Barbara

Patricia

Linda

Carol

James

Robert

John

William

Richard

1942

Mary

Barbara

Patricia

Linda

Carol

James

Robert

John

William

Richard

1941

Mary

Barbara

Patricia

Carol

Linda

James

Robert

John

William

Richard

1940

Mary

Barbara

Patricia

Judith

Betty

James

Robert

John

William

Richard

1939

Mary

Barbara

Patricia

Betty

Shirley

Robert

James

John

William

Richard

1938

Mary

Barbara

Patricia

Betty

Shirley

Robert

James

John

William

Richard

1937

Mary

Barbara

Patricia

Shirley

Betty

Robert

James

John

William

Richard

1936

Mary

Shirley

Barbara

Betty

Patricia

Robert

James

John

William

Richard

1935

Mary

Shirley

Barbara

Betty

Patricia

Robert

James

John

William

Richard

1934

Mary

Betty

Barbara

Shirley

Dorothy

Robert

James

John

William

Richard

1933

Mary

Betty

Barbara

Dorothy

Joan

Robert

James

John

William

Richard

1932

Mary

Betty

Barbara

Dorothy

Joan

Robert

James

John

William

Richard

1931

Mary

Betty

Dorothy

Barbara

Joan

Robert

James

John

William

Richard

1930

Mary

Betty

Dorothy

Helen

Margaret

Robert

James

John

William

Richard

1929

Mary

Betty

Dorothy

Helen

Margaret

Robert

James

John

William

Charles

1928

Mary

Betty

Dorothy

Helen

Margaret

Robert

John

James

William

Charles

1927

Mary

Dorothy

Betty

Helen

Margaret

Robert

John

James

William

Charles

1926

Mary

Dorothy

Betty

Helen

Margaret

Robert

John

James

William

Charles

1925

Mary

Dorothy

Betty

Helen

Margaret

Robert

John

William

James

Charles

1924

Mary

Dorothy

Helen

Betty

Margaret

Robert

John

William

James

Charles

1923

Mary

Dorothy

Helen

Margaret

Betty

John

Robert

William

James

Charles

1922

Mary

Dorothy

Helen

Margaret

Ruth

John

Robert

William

James

Charles

1921

Mary

Dorothy

Helen

Margaret

Ruth

John

Robert

William

James

Charles

1920

Mary

Dorothy

Helen

Margaret

Ruth

John

William

Robert

James

Charles

1919

Mary

Helen

Dorothy

Margaret

Ruth

John

William

James

Robert

Charles

1918

Mary

Helen

Dorothy

Margaret

Ruth

John

William

James

Robert

Charles

1917

Mary

Helen

Dorothy

Margaret

Ruth

John

William

James

Robert

Joseph

1916

Mary

Helen

Dorothy

Margaret

Ruth

John

William

James

Robert

Joseph

1915

Mary

Helen

Dorothy

Margaret

Ruth

John

William

James

Robert

Joseph

1914

Mary

Helen

Dorothy

Margaret

Ruth

John

William

James

Robert

Joseph

1913

Mary

Helen

Dorothy

Margaret

Ruth

John

William

James

Robert

Joseph

1912

Mary

Helen

Dorothy

Margaret

Ruth

John

William

James

Robert

Joseph

Genealogy Is Family Stories & Newspapers Are Full of Them

Introduction: Scott Phillips is a genealogical historian and owner of Onward To Our Past® genealogy services. In this guest blog post, Scott hears some interesting family stories from his 93-year-old mother and digs into old newspapers to learn more.

If you were at RootsTech 2013 or followed much of that genealogy conference online as I did, you know that speaker after speaker reminded us that stories are what make our genealogy come alive. I am sure you will agree with this sentiment. Few things in our family history work surpasses the impact and enjoyment of stories.

So it was natural that I got to thinking again about the multitude of stories that adorn my family tree. It is probably the item I ask for most often from people for our tree, right after I hound them for a photograph. Family stories can tell us so much about the lives and times of our ancestors. They offer us snapshots of life that are often filled with amazing tidbits and personal details.

photo of Scott Phillips and his 93-year-old mother

Photo: Scott Phillips’s mother sharing her stories with him. Credit: from the author’s collection.

When I am working on my genealogy early in the morning and it is too early to bother family members for a new story over the phone, I scan the newspaper for new information and stories that might be of interest. Since I am also a GOG—a Grizzled Old Genealogist—I still like my newspaper the old-fashioned way, delivered to my stoop each morning.

I begin my day, every day, the same way my father always began his day. That would be with the comics section of the newspaper! My Dad, God rest his soul, always said “The headlines and business news can wait. It’s more important to start your day off with a smile.” Then he would first open the paper to the funny pages.

Still to this day, I start my day the same way! Two things happen: I do indeed start my day with a smile and a chuckle; and in my mind’s eye I can see and hear my dad chuckle over his favorite comic, “Pogo” by Walt Kelly. My dad even had his favorite quote, uttered by Pogo himself, taped on his desk: “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

Pogo cartoon for Earth Day 1971, Anchorage Daily News newspaper 18 April 1971

Anchorage Daily News (Anchorage, Alaska), 18 April 1971, page 4

Not long ago I was visiting with my 93-year-old Mother about all things family and asking her about stories from her youth in the Czech community of Cleveland, Ohio. One of the stories she shared gave me gooseflesh. She told me about living in fear at the time of the “Torso Murders” in Cleveland that instilled dread throughout her neighborhood and the entire city.

This story was new to me, so it didn’t take me long to pull up some articles on GenealogyBank.com and begin to research this story from the 1930s involving a set of serial murders which remain unsolved to this day. I dug into this story and was fascinated to learn that these murders greatly tarnished the career of one of America’s most famous “G-Men,” Elliot Ness.

The "Mad Butcher" Strikes Again, Omaha World Herald newspaper article 18 September 1938

Omaha World Herald (Omaha, Nebraska), 18 September 1938, page 37

While I was reading my fourth newspaper article about the “Torso Murders” I was thrilled to find that one of my ancestors, Gordon Shibley, was a Cleveland Police Detective working to try and solve these horrible crimes. It was amazing and quite interesting to follow this strange murder case and read, in a 1936 article, about my ancestor’s efforts trying to solve these heinous crimes.

story about the "Torso Murders" in Cleveland in the 1930s, Plain Dealer newspaper article 12 September 1936

Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), 12 September 1936, page 1

As I was following this story as it unfolded in the newspapers of the day through GenealogyBank.com it was easy for me to check out, and add to, my family tree with additional items I uncovered. For example, I found other stories covering Detective Shibley’s experiences as a member of Cleveland’s “Thin Blue Line,” some family obituaries, wedding announcements, and many more family-related newspaper articles. I was able to more fully populate our family tree as I read and learned about some of Detective Shibley’s parents and siblings.

I have now become so intrigued with this historical murder case that I ordered a copy of the book In the Wake of the Butcher: Cleveland’s Torso Murders written by James Jessen Badal (Kent State University Press, 2001) for even more in-depth information on this family-linked story. I am excited to get this book—especially since I have been told there are multiple references to my detective ancestor in it.

My Mom finished her recollections by telling how her mother would admonish her and her brother each day, when they went to school or out to play, to be very careful. She said this warning continued for many years even when she and her brother headed just down the street to their highly-loved corner candy shop…the one operated by an uncle, which was half beer parlor and half candy store. Wow, did my ears perk up at hearing that! Here is yet another new family story I will get to investigate!

What is your favorite family story that you have been able to add to your family tree?

2013 Family History Expo Conference in St. George a Great Success

Over 700 genealogists packed the lecture halls at the Dixie Center in St. George, Utah, this past weekend to get training and sharpen their genealogy research skills at the 2013 Family History Expo.

Family History Expos logo

Family History Expos logo

James Tanner’s opening keynote remarks, “Top 10 Techniques,” made it clear that newspapers are critical to documenting our family history.

photo of James Tanner

Photo: James Tanner. Credit: Family History Expos.

That same point was made again and again by speakers at this year’s Family History Expo. With conference sessions like: “Newspaper, Critical Resource to Document Your Family Tree” by Thomas Jay Kemp; “Preservation Techniques for Documents, Newspapers and Photos” by Sharon Monson; “Tracing Colonial Immigrants” by Nathan Murphy; and “Obituaries—Clues to Look For” also by Tom Kemp, the importance of newspapers to genealogy research was made clear. All the conference talks were popular and well attended.

Among the dozens of presentations there were some new services announced, like the new FamilySearch Photos service that is available online in a Beta release. This new family tree tool allows users of the free Family Trees on FamilySearch.org to incorporate photos into their online tree. This feature allows genealogists to upload images of their ancestors, tag/identify ancestors in the photos, and associate the tagged ancestors in the photos to the Family Tree.

The family history conference covered a wide variety of sessions ranging from: German, French, Scandinavian and English genealogy research; to preparing your family history, letters and documents for publication in print or online.

One novel approach to genealogy was discussed during Marlo E. Schuldt’s presentation “It’s Time to Do a Slideshow Biography.” The slideshow biography format may be the answer you have been looking for. It’s an easy way to share a life sketch or family history that is online and visual, and can engage people in their heritage in a new way.

Here are links to download the PowerPoint decks Tom covered at the FH Expo:

Newspapers: A Critical Resource to Complete Your Family Tree
Top Genealogy Websites for the 21st Century

Tracing the Bohutinsky Family Tree: Good Finds from Bad News

Introduction: Scott Phillips is a genealogical historian and owner of Onward To Our Past® genealogy services. In this guest blog post, Scott writes about finding some bad news in his family history—and how this turned into good clues for his genealogy.

It seems that in genealogy even bad news can magically be transformed into good news, which is quite a feat when you think about it. Recently I decided that I was going to do some in-depth research on a branch of my family that I had not worked on before. It was during this research that I witnessed bad news turn good right before my eyes—and it was via GenealogyBank.com. Here is that story!

One of the more challenging branches of my family tree has been the Bohutinsky branch of our family. Research on this family branch remains a “work in progress,” but I do know that they appeared in Cleveland, Ohio, from Bohemia sometime prior to 1870. This means that they were amongst the earlier Bohemian immigrants to that area. Now let me tell you, not only does Bohutinsky get altered by misspellings, typographical errors, etc., but there are also branches that made the decision to change their surname from Bohutinsky to Bohntinsky, Botin, and even Bugg. Add to this the fact that some of the men chose to abandon their Bohemian given names and adopt Americanized given names—but then at times reverted back to their original Bohemian given names! Needless to say it has been a fun and complicated search.

As you might expect, it got even more challenging as I worked to find marriages and the ensuing families and paths for the female offspring in the family, but here is where truly bad news turned good.

One day as I was doing my research on the Bohutinsky line I happened upon a brief newspaper article from 1885.

James Bohutinsky domestic violence, Cleveland Leader newspaper article 3 October 1885

Cleveland Leader (Cleveland, Ohio), 3 October 1885, page 8

I was sad to read the story that James (born Vaclav) Bohutinsky was “fined $5 and costs” in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas for striking his young married daughter and her “babe.” This was certainly not the type of thing I like to find in my family history, nor do any of us. Domestic violence is terrible, even if the defendant was, as the article stated, “a little old man.”

However, I soon discovered that this historical newspaper article provided some good news for me as well!

I was very pleased to find that the daughter’s given name of Barbara was reported, as was her married surname of Seitz. This was a wonderful genealogical discovery. I immediately switched my search from Bohutinsky to Seitz and started looking for Barbara.

I quickly found an old newspaper article published back in 1900 that leads me to believe Barbara might have been active in the Knights of the Maccabees, a fraternal organization that was formed in 1878.

Knight and Lady "Bees," Cleveland Leader newspaper article 18 January 1900

Cleveland Leader (Cleveland, Ohio), 18 January 1900, page 7

This lengthy old newspaper article listed numerous officers in the organization, and buried in all those names I found mention that Barbara Seitz was “mistress-at-arms.”

Barbara Seitz, Cleveland Leader newspaper article 18 January 1900

Cleveland Leader (Cleveland, Ohio), 18 January 1900, page 7

After consulting other genealogy resources such as Ancesty.com, I found the family on the 1900 United States Census.

Then, back on GenealogyBank.com, it wasn’t long before I came across a death notice from 1904 which listed the death of one Barbara Seitz at 153 Beechwood Avenue in Cleveland, at the age of only 37.

Barbara Seitz death notice, Plain Dealer newspaper article 26 November 1904

Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), 26 November 1904, page 4

Although Barbara’s life and marriage were both cut short, I later found information about the “babe” that was referenced in the first article I had found. As a result of that I now know her name, and I am on the path of that daughter: Grace Seitz Vretman. So my ancestry search continues.

Yes, finding a historical newspaper article about domestic violence in my family history was dismaying, but the silver lining in that dark cloud was discovering an important family clue that has led to other searches for other members of my family.

I still have lots to learn about the Bohutinsky members of my family and especially the Bohutinsky/Seitz/Vretman branch, but it certainly has been nice to see that initial piece of bad news turn into something so good and helpful in my genealogy research!

Newspaper Genealogy Research: Finding the Hames Family Stories

So few family stories are passed down and preserved by folks today. People are busy earning a living and dealing with the demands of 21st century lives. In addition, many families now find themselves spread across the country. It can be difficult for the rising generation to hear the old family stories from their grandparents.

Fortunately newspapers published many of these interesting family stories from yesteryear, and they can be found online today.

Here’s a great story preserved in an old newspaper: the trip the Hames brothers made in 1910 to visit for the first time the grave of their 2nd great-grandfather John Hames.

brothers find grave of ancestor John Hames, Marietta Journal newspaper article 29 July 1910

Marietta Journal (Marietta, Georgia), 29 July 1910, page 2

After a train ride, the two brothers took “a buggy across the country to Sardis” where they saw the grave where their ancestor was buried in 1860.

Today, a gravestone marks the spot where John Hames was buried. The 1910 newspaper article stated that “his grave will be properly marked” by the visiting brothers to honor their ancestor. What’s there now is a standard military gravestone supplied by the government. Did the two brothers arrange for it to be placed in the cemetery?

photo of the gravestone of John Hames, buried in 1860

Photo: gravestone of John Hames. Credit: Waymarking.com.

Reading further into the old newspaper article about the brother’s gravesite visit, we find that when John Hames died he was known as the oldest man in the country: 108 years old.

Look at all the family history we learn from this one newspaper article:

  • W.J.M. Hames and D.C. Hames were brothers living in Marietta, Georgia
  • Their 2nd great-grandfather, John Hames, served in the Revolutionary War and was buried in Sardis, Georgia
  • John married Charity Jasper, the sister of Sergeant (William) Jasper—another hero of the Revolutionary War. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Jasper
  • The brothers took the Western & Atlantic train to Tilton, Georgia, then went by buggy to the cemetery at Sardis, Georgia
  • There they saw their ancestor’s grave and met John Beemer (who helped to bury the old soldier) and John Shannon (who made his coffin)
  • In 1860 when he died, John Hames, at 108, was considered to be the oldest man in America
  • The brother’s father was Hamlet C. Hames
  • Their grandfather was William Hames
  • Their great-grandfather was Charles Hames, the son of their Revolutionary War ancestor
  • They enjoyed their trip and spent time fishing in the Connasauga River
  • They visited Fort DeSoto
  • They visited the jail where John Howard Payne was imprisoned. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Howard_Payne
  • They also visited the home of Chief James Vann, the Cherokee Indian leader
photo of Cherokee Chief James Vann’s house

Photo: Cherokee Chief James Vann’s house. Credit: Georgia State Parks: http://www.gastateparks.org/ChiefVannHouse.

As this one historical newspaper article shows, newspapers provide information about your ancestors you can’t find anywhere else. More than just the names and dates you can get from other genealogy records, newspapers tell stories about the experiences your ancestors had, the people they met, and the times they lived in—these family stories help you get to know them as real people.

Obama & Romney Are Related! Genealogy Infographic

In time for the 2012 election countdown, I recently did some genealogy research to learn more about the background of both President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney, and guess what—they’re related!

What’s more: they’re also related to several former U.S. presidents, English kings, outlaws and celebrities. This is really huge! So huge in fact that our team at GenealogyBank decided to create this Infographic to show many of these surprising genealogical findings.

Click the image for the even bigger full-size Infographic version.

Obama & Romney - Who Knew? We're Related! Genealogy Infographic

Obama & Romney Are Related?

Yes. Obama and Romney are both direct descendants of King Edward I of England, who was the eldest son of King Henry III and himself a father to numerous children by his two wives, Queens Eleanor and Margaret. King Edward I was perhaps the most successful of the medieval English monarchs. Known as “Longshanks” due to his great height and stature, King Edward I stood head and shoulders above other men of his time, towering at a height of 6’2. Romney and Obama are chips off the old block, both over six feet tall. Romney measures in at 6’2 and Obama at 6’1.

Several U.S. Presidents as Cousins-in-Common

The 2012 presidential candidates not only share a royal ancestor, they also have many distant cousins-in-common. These distant relatives form the impressive lineup of United States presidents featured in the White House Family Reunion photo in the Infographic above.

Obama and Romney’s U.S. president distant cousins-in-common include:

  • James Madison – 4th President of the United States
  • William Harrison – 9th President of the United States
  • Zachary Taylor – 12th President of the United States
  • Ulysses S. Grant – 18th President of the United States
  • Benjamin Harrison – 23rd President of the United States
  • Grover Cleveland – 24th President of the United States
  • Warren G. Harding – 29th President of the United States
  • Calvin Coolidge – 30th President of the United States
  • Richard Nixon – 37th President of the United States
  • Gerald Ford – 38th President of the United States
  • Jimmy Carter – 39th President of the United States
  • George W. Bush – 43rd President of the United States
  • George H.W. Bush – 41st President of the United States

Early American Presidential Roots

Obama and Romney also have deep early American roots in their respective family trees. Mayflower passengers Edward and Samuel Fuller are both direct ancestors of Mitt Romney. They were part of the group of Pilgrims who founded Plymouth Colony in 1620.

Romney is also a distant cousin to the early American President Thomas Jefferson, and Obama is a distant cousin to President George Washington.

Wild West Outlaw Kin

Another interesting ancestral find was that each of the presidential nominees is a distant relation to notorious American Wild West gunslingers. Wild Bill Hickok is a distant cousin to Obama, and William H. Bonney a.k.a. “Billy the Kid” is a distant cousin to Romney. Also noteworthy is that Romney is a relation to famous American actor Clint Eastwood, who has starred in many hit Western movies such as The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

Star-Studded Family Trees

Both of the 2012 election candidates share their family trees with Hollywood megastars, as well as other celebrities ranging from renowned American artists to British royalty.

Obama is a distant cousin to the following celebrities:

  • Brad Pitt – Hollywood Megastar
  • Elvis Presley – King of Rock & Roll
  • Georgia O’Keeffe – Famous American Artist & Painter
  • Robert Duvall – Hollywood Actor

Romney’s family tree also has many movie stars and famous people. His distant cousins include:

  • Clint Eastwood – Hollywood Megastar
  • Alec Baldwin –Hollywood Actor
  • Princess Diana – Former Princess of Wales
  • Katherine Hepburn – Earlier Hollywood Megastar
  • Julia Child – Famous Chef, TV Personality and Author

Both Have Foreign-Born Fathers

President Barack Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, to parents Stanley Ann Dunham and Barack Hussein Obama, Sr. The Infographic features an old photo of Barack Obama II as a child with his mother Ann.

President Obama’s father was born in 1936 in Kanyadhiang Village, Kenya. The Infographic features an old picture of President Obama’s dad Barack Hussein Obama, Sr., as an infant with the president’s paternal grandmother Habiba Akumu Obama.

Governor Romney was born in 1947 in Detroit, Michigan, to parents Lenore and George W. Romney. The old family photograph in the Infographic shows the governor as a baby with his mom and dad.

Mitt Romney’s father George W. Romney, the former governor of Michigan, was born in 1907 in Colonia Dublán, Mexico. The old picture in the Infographic shows Romney’s father as a child with Mitt’s grandma Anna Amelia Pratt Romney.

Who knew the presidential candidates shared so many family connections? We’re continuing our ancestral exploration into the 2012 U.S. presidential candidates’ family trees. Make sure to stay tuned by following us here on the blog and on Facebook, Twitter or G+ to get more Obama and Romney family history.

It’s a great day for genealogy!

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Search More than 80 Minnesota Newspapers Online!

GenealogyBank continues to grow, adding more content daily to our newspaper archives. For genealogists researching their family history in Minnesota, we now have over 80 newspapers online from the “North Star State.”

That’s a lot of papers to research your genealogy with!

Our Minnesota archives include both old and recent newspaper titles, dating from the 1800s up to today.

Our MN historical newspaper archives cover 1849-1923, providing thousands of birth, marriage and death notices, as well as local news stories, to help with your family history research.

Our MN recent obituaries titles provide Minnesota death notices from 1986-Today.

Here is the complete list of GenealogyBank’s Minnesota newspapers.

City Title Date Range Collection
Albany Stearns – Morrison Enterprise 7/18/2005 – 1/12/2011 Recent Obituaries
Apple Valley Apple Valley – Rosemount Sun-Current 2/22/2011 – 3/6/2012 Recent Obituaries
Brooklyn Center Brooklyn Center Sun-Post 2/16/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Brooklyn Park Brooklyn Park Sun-Post 1/26/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Burnsville Burnsville Sun-Current 2/22/2010 – 3/6/2012 Recent Obituaries
Champlin, Dayton Champlin – Dayton Press 8/15/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Chanhassen Chanhassen Villager 10/2/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Chaska Chaska Herald 10/2/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Cloquet Pine Journal 5/17/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Coon Rapids Blaine – Spring Lake Park Sun-Focus 2/6/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Crookston Crookston Daily Times 2/13/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Crow River South Crow River News – Rockford Area News Leader 11/21/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Crystal, Robbinsdale Crystal – Robbinsdale Sun-Post 2/16/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Delano Delano Eagle 7/26/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Duluth Budgeteer News 6/9/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Duluth Duluth Daily News 7/2/1887 – 9/4/1892 Newspaper Archives
Duluth Duluth News Tribune 1/1/1995 – Current Recent Obituaries
Duluth Duluth News-Tribune 5/16/1881 – 12/31/1922 Newspaper Archives
Duluth Duluth Weekly Tribune 1/6/1876 – 8/18/1887 Newspaper Archives
Duluth Lake Superior News 7/4/1878 – 1/27/1881 Newspaper Archives
Duluth Minnesotian-Herald 4/24/1869 – 5/11/1878 Newspaper Archives
Eagan Eagan Sun-Current 2/16/2011 – 3/6/2012 Recent Obituaries
Eden Prairie Bloomington Sun-Current 2/22/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Eden Prairie Eden Prairie News 10/2/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Eden Prairie Eden Prairie Sun-Current 2/16/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Eden Prairie Plymouth Sun-Sailor 1/26/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Eden Prairie Richfield Sun-Current 1/25/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Eden Prairie St. Louis Park Sun-Sailor 2/9/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Edina Edina Sun-Current 2/16/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Excelsior Excelsior – Shorewood Sun-Sailor 1/26/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Grand Rapids Grand Rapids Herald-Review 1/10/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Granite Falls Advocate Tribune 10/2/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Hibbing Hibbing Daily Tribune 6/2/1999 – Current Recent Obituaries
Hopkins Hopkins Sun-Sailor 1/11/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Hutchinson Hutchinson Leader 10/2/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
International Falls Journal 8/25/2000 – Current Recent Obituaries
Jordan Jordan Independent 10/2/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lakeville Lakeville Sun-Current 2/16/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Litchfield Litchfield Independent Review 10/2/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Mankato Free Press 10/2/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Melrose Melrose Beacon 7/18/2005 – 1/13/2011 Recent Obituaries
Minneapolis Afro-American Advance 5/27/1899 – 11/17/1900 Newspaper Archives
Minneapolis Columbia Heights – Fridley Sun-Focus 2/16/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Minneapolis Minneapolis Journal 1/1/1895 – 12/31/1900 Newspaper Archives
Minneapolis Minneapolis Tidende 10/18/1895 – 12/28/1900 Newspaper Archives
Minneapolis Star Tribune 1/21/1986 – Current Recent Obituaries
Minnetonka Minnetonka Sun-Sailor 1/26/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Montevido Montevideo American-News 10/2/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Monticello Monticello Times 11/29/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Mound Laker 1/7/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Mounds View Mounds View – New Brighton – St. Anthony Sun-Focus 2/16/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
New Hope New Hope – Golden Valley Sun-Post 1/26/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Osseo, Maple Grove Osseo – Maple Grove Press 7/28/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Prior Lake Prior Lake American 10/2/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Redwood Falls Redwood Falls Gazette 10/3/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Sartell Sartell Newsleader 10/14/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Savage Savage Pacer 10/2/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Shakopee Shakopee Valley News 10/2/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Sleepy Eye Sleepy Eye Herald Dispatch 10/2/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
St. James St. James Plaindealer 10/2/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
St. Joseph St. Joseph Newsleader 1/4/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
St. Michael North Crow River News 4/17/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
St. Paul Appeal 2/7/1903 – 11/24/1923 Newspaper Archives
St. Paul Broad Axe 9/17/1891 – 6/11/1903 Newspaper Archives
St. Paul Negro World 3/10/1900 – 6/9/1900 Newspaper Archives
St. Paul St. Paul Daily Pioneer 9/23/1854 – 12/31/1857 Newspaper Archives
St. Paul St. Paul Daily Press 1/2/1868 – 12/29/1872 Newspaper Archives
St. Paul St. Paul Pioneer 4/28/1849 – 1/20/1853 Newspaper Archives
St. Paul St. Paul Pioneer Press 3/25/1988 – Current Recent Obituaries
St. Paul Sun Newspapers 1/10/2001 – 2/24/2010 Recent Obituaries
St. Paul Western Appeal 6/13/1885 – 12/29/1888 Newspaper Archives
Stillwater Stillwater Gazette 11/13/2000 – Current Recent Obituaries
Two Harbors Lake County News-Chronicle 5/11/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Virginia Mesabi Daily News 3/17/1999 – Current Recent Obituaries
Waconia Carver County News 8/4/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Waconia Pioneer 2/4/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Waconia Waconia Patriot 8/3/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Walker Pilot-Independent 12/18/1998 – Current Recent Obituaries
Wayzata Wayzata – Orono – Long Lake Sun-Sailor 9/9/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Winona Winona Daily News 5/15/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Young America Norwood Young America Times 1/5/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries

Amazing Survival Stories of Last Moments on the ‘Titanic’ Ship

This week, the world is commemorating the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the British passenger liner RMS Titanic. The massive ship went down at 2:20 a.m. on April 15, 1912, after striking an iceberg in the North Atlantic shortly before midnight. There weren’t enough lifeboats for everyone on board, and 1,517 passengers and crew lost their lives.

Another passenger ship, the Carpathia, picked up the Titanic survivors and brought them to New York City, docking on April 18. It was then that the world began to learn details of the disaster from some of the survivors, whose stories were published in the newspapers.

Here’s a newspaper article with some amazing survival stories from the last moments on the Titanic. This copyrighted news article was published by the Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, North Carolina), 19 April 1912, page 1:

Graphic Stories of Real Heroism charlotte observer newspaper article April 19 1912

Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, North Carolina), 19 April 1912, page 1

Graphic Stories of Real Heroism

Many of the Survivors Tell of Last Moment on Titanic

Skippers Were Told

Conduct of John Jacob Astor Deserves Highest Praise as He Gave His Life for His Wife

New York, April 18.—E. Z. Taylor of Philadelphia, one of the survivors, jumped into the sea just three minutes before the boat sank. He told a graphic story as he came from the Carpathia.

“I was eating when the Titanic struck the iceberg,” he said. “There was an awful shock that made the boat tremble from stem to stern. I did not realize for some time what had happened. No one seemed to know the extent of the accident. We were told that an iceberg had been struck by the ship. I felt the boat rise and it seemed to me that she was riding over the ice. I ran out on deck and then I could see ice. It was a veritable sea of ice and the boat was rocking over it. I should say that parts of the iceberg were 80 feet high, but it had been broken into sections probably by our ship.

“I jumped into the ocean and was picked up by one of the boats. I never expected to see land again. I waited on board the boat until the lights went out. It seemed to me that the discipline on board was wonderful.”

Saved at Last Moment

Colonel Archibald Gracie, U.S.A., the last man saved, went down with the vessel but was picked up. He was met tonight by his daughter, who had arrived from Washington, and his son-in-law, Paul H. Fabricius. Colonel Gracie told a remarkable story of personal hardship and denied emphatically the reports that there had been any panic on board. He praised in the highest terms the behavior of both the passengers and crew and paid a high tribute to the heroism of the women passengers.

“Mrs. Isidor Straus,” he said, “went to her death because she would not desert her husband. Although he pleaded with her to take her place in the boat she steadfastly refused, and when the ship settled at the head the two were engulfed in the wave that swept her.”

Colonel Gracie told of how he was driven to the topmost deck when the ship settled and was the sole survivor after the wave that swept her just before her final plunge had passed.

“I jumped with the wave,” said he, “just as I often have jumped with the breakers at the seashore. By great good fortune I managed to grasp the brass railing on the deck above and I hung on by might and main. When the ship plunged down I was forced to let go and I was swirled around and around for what seemed to be an interminable time. Eventually I came to the surface, to find the sea a mass of tangled wreckage.

“Luckily I was unhurt and casting about managed to seize a wooden grating floating nearby. When I had recovered my breath I discovered a larger canvas and cork life raft which had floated up. A man, whose name I did not learn, was struggling toward it from some wreckage to which he had clung. I cast off and helped him to get onto the raft and we then began the work of rescuing those who had jumped into the sea and were floundering in the water.

At Break of Dawn

“When dawn broke there were thirty of us on the raft, standing knee deep in the icy water and afraid to move lest the creaky craft be overturned. Several unfortunates, benumbed and half dead, besought us to save them and one or two made an effort to reach us but we had to warn them away. Had we made any effort to save them we all might have perished.

“The hours that elapsed before we were picked up by the Carpathia were the longest and most terrible that I ever spent. Practically without any sensation of feeling, because of the icy water, we were almost dropping from fatigue. We were afraid to turn around to look to see whether we were seen by passing craft and when someone who was facing astern passed the word that something that looked like a steamer was coming up one of the men became hysterical under the strain. The rest of us, too, were nearing the breaking point.”

Col. Gracie denied with emphasis that any men were fired upon and declared that only once was a revolver discharged.

“This was for the purpose of intimidating some steerage passengers,” he said, “who had tumbled into a boat before it was prepared for launching. This shot was fired in the air, and when the foreigners were told the next would be directed at them they promptly returned to the deck. There was no confusion and no panic.”

Contrary to the general expectation, there was no jarring impact when the vessel struck, according to the army officer. He was in his berth when the vessel smashed into the submerged portion of the berg and was aroused by the jar. He looked at this watch, he said, and found it was just midnight. The ship sank with him at 2:22 a.m., for his watch stopped at that hour.

“Before I retired,” said Colonel Gracie, “I had a long chat with Charles H. Hays, president of the Grand Trunk Railroad. One of the last things Mr. Hays said was this: ‘The White Star, the Cunard and the Hamburg-American lines are devoting their attention and ingenuity in vying with them to obtain supremacy in luxurious ships and in making speed records. The time will soon come when this will be checked by some appalling disaster.’ Poor fellow; a few hours later, he was dead.”

Conduct of Colonel Astor

“The conduct of Colonel John Jacob Astor was deserving of the highest praise,” declared Colonel Gracie. “The millionaire New Yorker,” he said, “devoted all his energies to saving his young bride, nee Miss Force of New York who was in delicate health. Colonel Astor helped us in our efforts to get her in the boat,” said Colonel Gracie. “I lifted her into the boat and as she took her place Colonel Astor requested permission of the second officer to go with her for her own protection.

“‘No, sir,’ replied the officer, ‘Not a man shall go on a boat until the women are all off.’ Colonel Astor then inquired the number of the boat, which was being lowered away and turned to the work of clearing the other boats and in reassuring the frightened and nervous women.

“By this time the ship began to list frightfully to port. This became so dangerous that the second officer ordered everyone to rush to starboard. This we did and we found the crew trying to get a boat off in that quarter. Here I saw the last of John B. Thayer, second vice president of the Pennsylvania Railroad, and George B. Widener, a capitalist of Philadelphia.”

Colonel Gracie said that despite the warnings of icebergs, no slowing down of speed was ordered by the commander of the Titanic. There were other warnings, too, he said. “In the 24 hours’ run ending the 14th,” he said, “the ship’s run was 546 miles, and we were told that the next 24 hours would see even a better record posted. No diminution of speed was indicated in the run and the engines kept up their steady running. When Sunday evening came we all noticed the increased cold, which gave plain warning that the ship was in close proximity to icebergs or ice fields. The officers, I am credibly informed, had been advised by wireless from other ships of the presence of icebergs and dangerous floes in that vicinity. The sea was as smooth as glass, and the weather clear, so that it seems that there was no occasion for fear.

No Indication of Panic

“When the vessel struck,” he continued, “the passengers were so little alarmed that they joked over the matter. The few that were on deck early had taken their time to dress properly and there was not the slightest indication of panic. Some of the fragments of ice had fallen on the deck and these were picked up and passed around by some of the facetious ones who offered them as mementoes of the occasion. On the port side a glance over the side failed to show any evidence of damage and the vessel seemed to be on an even keel. James Clinch Smith and I, however, soon found the vessel was listing heavily. A few minutes later the officers ordered men and women to don life preservers.”

One of the last women seen by Colonel Gracie, he said, was Miss Evans of New York, who virtually refused to be rescued, because, according to the army officer, “she had been told by a fortune teller in London that she would meet her death on the water.”

A young English woman, who requested that her name be omitted, told a thrilling story of her experience in one of the collapsible boats which had been manned by eight of the crew from the Titanic. The boat was in command of the fifth officer, H. Lowe, whose actions she described as saving the lives of many people. Before the lifeboat was launched, he passed along the port deck of the steamer, commanding the people not to jump in the boats and otherwise restraining them from swamping the craft. When the collapsible was launched, Officer Lowe succeeded in putting up a mast and a small sail. He collected the other boats together; in some cases the boats were short of adequate crews and he directed an exchange by which each was adequately manned. He threw lines connecting the boats together two by two, and all thus moved together. Later on he went back to the wreck with the crew of one of the boats and succeeded in picking up some of those who had jumped overboard and were swimming about. On his way back to the Carpathia he passed one of the collapsible boats which was on the point of sinking with thirty passengers aboard, most of them in scant night clothing. They were rescued just in the nick of time.

Whether you had ancestors directly involved with the Titanic disaster or simply want to learn more for your own interest, historical newspapers provide stories and details you cannot find anywhere else. GenealogyBank’s online archive of more than 5,850 newspapers is full of interesting survival stories, family history facts and more!

How to Do Genealogical Research: Damon Family Case Study

Sometime during the next few weeks, as we continue to add new content to our online archives, GenealogyBank will reach a milestone: we will have 1 billion more records than the total we launched our website with five years ago. Wow, that’s a lot of additional genealogy records!

I wanted to see what I could find in GenealogyBank with all this added material—so I chose a family at random and set out on a genealogical research investigation.

Researching the Family of Minnie M. Damon

I picked Minnie M. Damon who married James W. Wright on 31 December 1890 in Keene, New Hampshire. With Christmas still in the air and New Year’s Eve approaching, the couple was married by the Rev. C. E. Harrington.

A search in GenealogyBank found their marriage announcement in the New Hampshire Sentinel (Keene, New Hampshire), 7 January 1891, page 8.

wright damon marriage notice new hampshire sentinel newspaper january 7, 1891

New Hampshire Sentinel (Keene, New Hampshire), 7 January 1891, page 8

This marriage announcement is a great genealogical find. It gives terrific details about the wedding.

And—what about those “white silk slippers” the bride wore, the same ones her mother wore when she got married 38 years before? Does someone in the family still have them?

Hmm…they were married “at the home of the bride’s mother.” Why no mention of the father? Had he died? Was there a divorce?

Genealogical Research Find 1: George Damon (Minnie’s Father)

The next step in our genealogical research is to find out even more about Minnie’s dad. Digging deeper into our online archives I found the death notice of the bride’s father. He had died just six months earlier.

george damon death notice new hampshire sentinel june 4 1890

New Hampshire Sentinel (Keene, New Hampshire), 4 June 1890, page 8

George Damon was “aged 68 years 8 months and 27 days” when he died on 2 June 1890.

Next we want to subtract those figures from his death date to see when he was born.

George’s date of birth works out to 6 September 1821.

There is a handy site for calculating these dates: see TimeandDate.com

time and date calculator

Time and date calculator

Genealogical Research Find 2: Lucy Bowker/Damon (Minnie’s Mother)

Digging deeper into our historical newspaper archives I found the marriage record of her parents: George and Lucy (Bowker) Damon.

damon bowker marriage notice weekly eagle newspaper september 20, 1852

Weekly Eagle (Brattleboro, Vermont), 20 September 1852, page 3

Their marriage announcement was published in the Weekly Eagle (Brattleboro, Vermont), 20 September 1852, page 3.

Whoa—hold on: their marriage announcement was published in the Weekly Eagle, a Brattleboro, Vermont, newspaper?

But they lived in Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire. The newspaper even said that they were “all of” Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire.

So, why did a Vermont newspaper publish the announcement of their wedding?

map of fitzwilliam new hampshire

Map of Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire

Because newspaper editors wanted to sell papers, that’s why.

Brattleboro is only 40 miles from Fitzwilliam, and the Weekly Eagle was regularly bought and read by the residents there.

Genealogical Research Find 3: Elijah Bowker (Minnie’s Maternal Grandfather)

And here is a newspaper article about Lucy Bowker’s father, Captain Elijah Bowker, praising his life of service. It was published in the New Hampshire Sentinel (Keene, New Hampshire), 28 June 1877, page 1.

elijah bowker tribute new hampshire sentinel newspaper june 28, 1877

New Hampshire Sentinel (Keene, New Hampshire), 28 June 1877, page 1

What else could I find out about the Damon family in my genealogical research?

Branching Out the Damon Family Tree

I decided to do a broader genealogy search by searching on only the surname (Damon) and their hometown (Fitzwilliam).

screenshot of genealogybank's search form

GenealogyBank search form

Both “Damon” and “Fitzwilliam” are uncommon words. It is likely that all Damons from Fitzwilliam are related, but we need to sort them out to make sure.

This broad genealogy search produced a few hundred surname record results.

That is a reasonable amount of genealogy records to sift through, so I started reading through all of them.

Genealogical Research Find 4: Martha Damon (Minnie’s Aunt)

One death record in particular caught my eye. It was published in the New Hampshire Sentinel (Keene, New Hampshire), 28 April 1826, page 3.

martha damon death notice new hampshire sentinel newspaper april 28, 1826

New Hampshire Sentinel (Keene, New Hampshire), 28 April 1826, page 3

There in the third paragraph: “In Fitzwilliam, an infant daughter [Martha Damon, 1825-1826] of Mr. Geo. Damon.”

This little girl was the aunt of Minnie M. (Damon) Wright—the woman I started my investigation with.

Genealogical Research Find 5: George Damon and Deacon Oliver Damon (Minnie’s Paternal Grandfather and Her Paternal Great-Grandfather)

The “Geo. [George] Damon” named in this death notice was Minnie’s paternal grandfather [George Damon, 1796-1840] and the “Deacon Oliver Damon” [1758-1837] also named was her paternal great-grandfather.

OK. This newspaper obituary was for a two-year-old infant, and it would be easy to assume that such a notice would have minimal genealogical clues. But, I like to read every document.

As it turns out this obituary gives us lots of critical genealogical information:

“Deacon Oliver Damon and wife have lived in Fitzwilliam 42 years, and this [is] the first instance of mortality that has occurred in his family or among his descendants, (25 in all) during that time. Printers for Massachusetts are requested to notice this death.”

As of 1826, there were 25 descendants of the family in that area and none of them had died over the previous 42 years.

Digging deeper into GenealogyBank’s online archives I found more details in Deacon Oliver Damon’s obituary, published by the New Hampshire Sentinel (Keene, New Hampshire), 9 November 1837, page 3.

oliver damon obituary new hampshire sentinel newspaper november 9, 1837

New Hampshire Sentinel (Keene, New Hampshire), 9 November 1837, page 3

He was a Deacon of the Congregational Church, and he fought in the Revolutionary War. Clearly there is more genealogical research that we can do on this family.

Do you remember seeing in these obituaries the phrase “Printers in Mass. are requested to notice this death”? This note from the newspaper’s editors gives a strong indication that the Damon family has a family connection to Massachusetts.

So, the next steps in our genealogical investigation are to sort through all of the “Damon” references in and around Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire, and extend that search out to Massachusetts.

Damon?

The only “Damon” I ever heard of is the actor, Matt Damon.

I wonder if Minnie M. (Damon) Wright and Matt Damon are actually related.

Tracing the Damon family tree: to be continued…

How Did You Get Started as a Genealogist? Share Your Story with Us!

A Louisiana newspaper in 1853 said of family historians that “their memory is a forest planted with genealogical trees.” How true that is!
Daily Picayune (New Orleans, Louisiana), 25 October 1853, page 5.

After years of family history research many genealogists have had all types of “Eureka!” moments and breakthroughs, when they found a particular newspaper article or government record in their genealogical research that filled in gaps on their family trees.

My breakthrough moment as a genealogist was finding an 1811 real estate ad for my great-great-great-great-great grandfather’s farm in Maine. Aging sea captain James Garcelon (1739-1813) was selling his farm and moving in with his son William. The newspaper ad gave a terrific description of my ancestor’s property: a two-story house “very pleasantly situated” on 150 acres “with a handsome young orchard” and featuring two barns, outhouses, and “an excellent well of water.” Portland Gazette and Maine Advertiser. (Portland, Maine), 25 February 1811, page 4.

When I read this real estate ad, I could really picture my ancestor’s farm. I grew up on old farm property in New Hampshire. There were cellar holes where the homes and barns had once stood, wild apple trees, and with a little priming the well still gave ice cold water—and all around us stretched the long-idle fields. Maybe it was like my ancestor’s Garcelon Farm in the 1700s?

Thinking back on your own family history research—what first got you interested in genealogy? What was your most surprising genealogical discovery? What have you learned about your family along the way? What are your most prized genealogical discoveries? GenealogyBank wants to hear from you! Tell us your story.