Discovering Thanksgiving Family History in Newspaper Articles

From the earliest days of the nation our presidents and governors have proclaimed annual days of “publick Thanksgiving and Prayer” in gratitude for their families, lives and success in the New World.Then as now we pause as families gather to give thanks.
Lucky for us many of these holiday family gatherings were recorded in newspapers, providing a valuable genealogical resource to trace our family histories and fill in details on our family trees.

Here is a newspaper article about a family gathering for Thanksgiving the year the American Civil War finally ended. It was originally printed by the Providence Press and reprinted by the New Hampshire Sentinel (Keene, New Hampshire), 28 December 1865, page 1.

This terrific newspaper article describes four generations of the McIntyre family that gathered to celebrate Thanksgiving Day in 1865, providing many family details. For example, we learn about the physical stature and ability of 82-year-old Daniel McIntyre of York, Maine (Only 72 pounds! No gray hair! Still works the fields! Still reads the newspaper without glasses!) and his good wife (“his bigger and better half”) who was more than three times his size. The newspaper article supplies interesting details such as the fact they had 12 children, 11 of whom were still living and 10 that attended the Thanksgiving gathering along with their children.

A quick search of familysearch.org shows that it was their first child, Nancy McIntyre (c. 1811-1838) who was the child mentioned in the newspaper article that had passed away. The newspaper article also speaks of Mary (Staples) McIntyre’s good cooking that was greatly enjoyed by the grandchildren. Clearly she liked her own cooking—and for those of you who might be thinking of cutting back over Thanksgiving, consider that Mary at 225 pounds outlived her good husband of 72 pounds by 11 years!

GenealogyBank has more articles about the McIntyres from York, Maine—there is Rufus McIntyre who served in Congress, and a George S. McIntyre whose “reputation for mathematics” caused him to be called a “born mathematician.” Guess over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend I’ll sort out how all of these McIntyres are related.

It is really amazing what you can find in GenealogyBank’s newspapers archive, with its 5,700 newspapers from all 50 states. With hundreds of millions of newspaper articles all digitized and easily searched, you can start uncovering your own family reunion articles: documenting each member of the family, the old family stories, the details of their lives, perhaps even some favorite family recipes!

Patty Barthell Myers, 1930-2008

Patty Barthell Myers died 9 October 2008, at the home of her daughter, Lucy Bonnington.

Her obituary (San Antonio Express-News (TX) – October 13, 2008; Philadelphia Inquirer, 13 Oct 2008) simply stated her “life’s work was genealogy.” Well said.

She was the author of numerous compiled genealogies and reference works including:
Female index to Genealogical dictionary of the first settlers of New England by James Savage. (Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2008).

Ancestors and descendants of Lewis Ross Freeman with related families : based partially on the work of Freeman Worth Gardner and Willis Freeman. (Camden, ME: Penobscot Press, 1995).

Cargill/Cargile/Cargal of the south and southwest : descendants of Cornelius Cargill of Virginia, John Cargile of Virginia & North Carolina, John Cargile of Virginia & Georgia, Andrew J. & John Cargal of South Carolina & Georgia. (Camden, ME: Penobscot Press, 1997).

Descendants of Joseph Barthel and his wife, Christina Lutz : who came to America 1830 on the Romulus and who settled in Erie County, New York. (Author, 1991).

The Hughes family from Virginia to Oregon. (San Antonio, TX: Burke, 1999).

Her lengthy obituary concluded by saying: “Her life was an example of overcoming enormous challenges, and making a difference in the world, patiently, quietly–and then there was the occasional wild rumpus. “

Her late husband, A.J. Myers had been a POW at the “Hanoi Hilton” at the same time John McCain was there.

San Antonio Express-News (TX) - October 13, 2008
Reprinted with permission GenealogyBank
Patty [Florence] Barthell Myers died October 9th, at the home of her daughter in suburban Philadelphia, where she was living and receiving hospice care since August.


Born in Evanston, Illinois on June 6, 1930, Patty was the third of four children of Harriet Lyon and Edward East Barthell, Jr. She grew up in Winnetka, Illinois, spending summers on Lake Michigan. She graduated from New Trier High School with honors and attended Northwestern University in Evanston.

She met her first husband, Louis Harold Cargill, Jr. on Lake Michigan and they married on Patty’s birthday in 1951. They had 3 children, Lucy, James, and Lon Cargill. Lou died in 1985 and Patty returned to San Antonio. Lon died in January of 1985. Patty married Armand J. Myers in 1988. A.J. and Patty met in 1965 when he was flying fighter jet missions over North Vietnam. He was shot down June, 1966, and was a POW in the Hanoi Hilton for 6 years. When he was re-patriated, his Air Force sponsor was Patty’s husband, Lou. Patty and A.J. married in 1988. A.J. died in 2002.

Patty’s life’s work was genealogy. In 2007, she published her FEMALE INDEX TO GENEALOGICAL DICTIONARY OF THE FIRST SETTLERS OF NEW ENGLAND, by James Savage,1860.

She is survived by her brother, John Peter Barthell of Sequim, WA, sister Polly Barthell Clark of Orlond Beach, FL, brother Edward East Barthell, III, of Appleton WI, cousin Charles Arthur Carroll, of Manhattan, and cousin Elizabeth (Betsy) Barthell of Overland Park, KS. She also leaves her daughter, Lucy, and her husband Mark Bonnington, of Malvern, PA, son James Eric Cargill of San Antonio, her grandchildren Colin Mark and Cara Ellen Bonington of Malvern, PA and John Shaw Lynch, of Williamsburg, VA and his sister Ashley Lynch Rodi, and God daughters Kemper and Edyn Rodi, of Newport Beach, CA, and sister-in-law, Sally Dulin Shaw of Mexico City.

Patty requested no memorial service. Her ashes will be scattered on Lake Michigan, the pink beaches of Bermuda, and the coast of Oregon.

Her life was an example of overcoming enormous challenges, and making a difference in the world, patiently, quietly–and then there was the occasional wild rumpus.

Friends may call at her home in Oakwell Farms, 15 Campden Circle, San Antonio, TX on Thursday, October 16th, from 2:00 to 7:00 p.m. Donations may be made in her name to the nearest public library.
Copyright (c), 2008, San Antonio Express-News. All Rights Reserved.

A Good Woman Can be Hard to Find…

It can be very difficult to find women in the early 19th Century – finding sources that actually give their names and genealogical details. It was common in the 19th century for genealogical sources to be brief and give only the basic information about a household in the census – or an entry in a birth register.

The 1800 – 1840 census – only named one person in the entire family – the head of the household – while that could have been a single woman who never married or was widowed – it was most often the husband. Most American’s men and women were not named in the census.

Birth and church registers often record brief information – with entries like:

1812 July 28. A son, to Walter Hickenlooper.
What was the son’s or the mother’s name?

So researchers become experts in tracking down records that give more information – that fill in the missing details of our family trees.

Genealogists write me all the time with their success stories in finding their elusive ancestors using GenealogyBank.

GenealogyBank is particularly strong on pre-1850 newspapers – with over 1,300 titles.

GenealogyBank has over 3,700 newspapers – that range from 1690 to today ….. you can find the details about women in GenealogyBank – information that is just not in the census and often not found in other early 19th century sources. Newspapers you just won’t find on other sites.

I have been working on my Brundage line and documenting all of the grandparents; aunts and cousins in Westchester, New York and the family members that have spread across the country.

I found this Brundage obituary notice (Hudson River (NY) Chronicle 8 Oct 1839) that illustrates the point –


In the 1820 Census – John Brundage is living in Bedford, NY – with his wife (unnamed) and family. By the 1840 census – neither one of them was listed. Why?

This obituary article tells us that John has died and that his “widow” – Rachael Brundage died on 26 Sep 1839 at age “about 44 years” – well before the 1840 census. I now knew what had happened to them.
Clue #1 – Name: Rachael Brundage: a widow of John Brundage; her age; her date & place of death
Clue #2 – Name of husband: John Brundage – and that he had predeceased her

In addition to the details about Rachael & John Brundage – the article has two other obituaries.

Look at the facts that we find about these women: Harriet Sutherland and Deborah Cornwell.

Harriet Sutherland

The article tells us that Harriet Sutherland died on 25 Sep 1839 at “Middle Patent” – (North Castle, NY) – the widow of John Sutherland. It gives her age as “aged about 46 years”.

Clue #1 – Name: Harriet Sutherland: a widow of John Sutherland; her age; her date & place of death
Clue #2 – Name of husband: John Sutherland- and that he had predeceased her

And in the third obituary in this article we learn that “Miss Deborah Cornwell, daughter of the late Jonathan Cornwell” died 6 Sep 1839 in Henrietta, Monroe County, NY at the “fiftieth year of her age” and that she was “formerly of New Castle (NY).”

Clue #1 – Name: Deborah Cornwell: a daughter of Jonathan Cornwell; her age; her date & place of death; that she formerly lived in New Castle, NY.
Clue #2 – Name of father: Jonathan Cornwell- and that he had predeceased her

It can be difficult to find a good woman in the early 19th century – but newspapers are a terrific source and GenealogyBank has more of them than you will find anywere else.

Click here and search GenealogyBank right now and see what you will find.