149th Anniversary: Civil War Ends with Lee’s Surrender to Grant

Introduction: Scott Phillips is a genealogical historian and owner of Onward To Our Past® genealogy services. In this guest blog post, Scott searches old newspapers to learn more about Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s surrender to Union General Ulysses S. Grant that effectively ended the American Civil War.

All of us have studied it, memorized the date, and (if we’ve been lucky) visited the place where it occurred: Appomattox Court House, Virginia, the site of Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s surrender to Union General U. S. Grant, effectively ending the United States Civil War on 9 April 1865.

Although General Lee’s surrender was 149 years ago now, that momentous historical event still seems fresh in the public’s mind—and it must have been incredible news to our American ancestors all those many years ago.

I decided to take a look in GenealogyBank’s online Historical Newspaper Archives to see how the news of General Lee’s surrender was announced via the nation’s newspapers, and learn what has happened to Appomattox Court House since that fateful day.

Just six days before the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia, surrendered, this Richmond newspaper was still giving its readers news about the war.

Vigorous Assault upon the Enemy's Works near the Appomattox, Richmond Whig newspaper article 28 March 1865

Richmond Whig (Richmond, Virginia), 28 March 1865, page 1

Just days before Generals Lee and Grant were to meet at Appomattox, the Battle of Five Forks was raging as reported in this Albany newspaper. One of my ancestors, Captain James Ham of the Pennsylvania Cavalry, was mortally wounded in this action and died five days before Lee’s surrender. I wonder how his family received the news about the war’s end, coming so soon after they had received word of his death.

article about the Civil War's Battle of Five Forks, Albany Evening Journal newspaper article 3 April 1865

Albany Evening Journal (Albany, New York), 3 April 1865, page 2

After Lee surrendered on April 9, it didn’t take long for word to spread across America, as you can imagine.

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The headlines of this Boston newspaper article say it all.

Surrender of General Lee and His Entire Army, Boston Herald newspaper article 10 April 1865

Boston Herald (Boston, Massachusetts), 10 April 1865, page 2

That same day and in the same city, readers of this Boston newspaper saw this article, including this paragraph:

The joy of our population this morning, as the intelligence of the surrender of Lee’s army spread, hardly knew bounds. Men embraced each other with the most extravagant demonstrations of feeling; staid, quiet citizens forgot their equanimity for the moment and found themselves cheering in the streets for Gen. Grant and the Potomac Army; workmen in shore gave voice to a joyous outburst of patriotic exultation, and everywhere the same accordant strains of heartfelt rejoicing were heard.

article about Civil War General Lee surrendering to General Grant, Boston Evening Transcript newspaper article 10 April 1865

Boston Evening Transcript (Boston, Massachusetts), 10 April 1865, page 2

Readers of a New York newspaper saw these headlines.

Surrender of Lee and His Whole Army to Grant, New York Herald newspaper article 10 April 1865

New York Herald (New York, New York), 10 April 1865, page 1

On the same day and across the country in California, this San Francisco newspaper reported the important news.

article about Civil War General Lee surrendering to General Grant, San Francisco Bulletin newspaper article 10 April 1865

San Francisco Bulletin (San Francisco, California), 10 April 1865, page 2

Twenty years later, as you can see in this 1885 Aberdeen newspaper article “The Interesting Story of Appomattox Retold,” the details of Lee’s surrender to Grant were still being reported. I remember as a young student reading these types of Civil War stories and realizing for the first time that Appomattox Court House was the name of a town, and that Lee and Grant had actually met in the home of the Wilmer McLean family.

Grant and Lee--The Interesting Story of Appomattox Retold, Aberdeen Weekly News newspaper article 17 April 1885

Aberdeen Weekly News (Aberdeen, South Dakota), 17 April 1885, page 3

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The fortunes of Appomattox Court House waned after the war, as you can read in this 1884 New York newspaper article. It reports that the town was almost deserted and the McLean home had been:

…taken down, brick by brick, for removal to the World’s Fair, but for some reason the plan was not carried out, and the bricks and timbers are still stored in the vacant houses in the neighborhood.

article about Appomattox Court House, Virginia, New York Tribune newspaper article 10 June 1894

New York Tribune (New York, New York), 10 June 1894, page 16

Luckily for all of us, as you can read in this 1903 Dallas newspaper article, bills had been introduced in Congress to provide funding to buy and save the historic McLean house in Appomattox before it was sold to a Chicagoan who planned to move it there and use it as his residence.

McLean House at Appomattox, Dallas Morning News newspaper article 22 February 1903

Dallas Morning News (Dallas, Texas), 22 February 1903, page 23

And of course as a genealogist, it would be hard not to note the remarkable role played by one of the Appomattox surrender’s lesser known but critically important players, Ely Parker. You might not recognize the name so I’d recommend you take a look at this wonderful obituary for this full-blooded Seneca Indian who actually penned Grant’s terms for surrender. This obituary appeared in an 1895 Cleveland newspaper.

obituary for Ely Samuel Parker, Plain Dealer newspaper article 1 September 1895

Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), 1 September 1895, page 1

Today Appomattox Court House, Virginia, and the McLean House are part of our National Parks system and well worth a visit.

Read More Articles about the Civil War:

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10 Famous African Americans in 18th & 19th Century History

Introduction: Mary Harrell-Sesniak is a genealogist, author and editor with a strong technology background. In this guest blog post, to celebrate February being Black History Month, Mary searches old newspapers to find information about 10 African Americans who achieved notable “firsts” in American history

So rich is the history of persons of color, that when GenealogyBank asked me to research historical African American accomplishments, it was difficult to narrow the choices.

As a result, this article focuses on just a few famous African American women and men of the 18th and 19th Centuries. This list includes transformational leaders, authors, inventors and the people behind many of the “firsts” in American history. At the conclusion of this article, follow the links to further broaden your knowledge of these famous African Americans, as well as other notable people who could not be featured in this short piece.

For researchers of Black history who know these earlier achievers as household names, take this handy quiz—which you are welcome to share with others.

For everyone else, read on to learn more about these individuals, with information gleaned from GenealogyBank’s online Historical Newspaper Archives.

quiz about 10 famous African Americans from the 17th and 18th centuries

1) Benjamin Banneker (9 Nov. 1731 Baltimore, MD – 9 Oct. 1806 Baltimore, MD)

Early newspapers described Banneker as “a noted Negro mathematician and astronomer”—but he was also a farmer, clock-maker and self-taught scientist. In addition, he was the first African American to author an almanac.

Banneker was chosen to assist Major Andrew Ellicott with his project to survey the borders of the District of Columbia. Known to be a voluminous writer of letters, Banneker became involved in the movement to establish the colony of Liberia in Africa. He was never enslaved, as his parents, Mary and Robert, were free.

(See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benjamin_Banneker.)

article about Benjamin Banneker, Omaha World Herald newspaper article 29 August 1926

Omaha World Herald (Omaha, Nebraska), 29 August 1926, page 64

2) James Derham (1757 Philadelphia, PA – 1802)

Although he did not hold a degree, James Derham became the first African American man to formally practice medicine, a skill he learned during the Revolutionary War while serving with the British under his master, Dr. George West. Derham was fluent in French, English and Spanish. As someone taught to compound medicines, he was an early pharmacist. His medical business in New Orleans, Louisiana, reportedly earned him $3,000 per year.

This 1789 newspaper article presented a biography of James Derham.

article about James Derham, New-Hampshire Spy newspaper article 3 February 1789

New-Hampshire Spy (Portsmouth, New Hampshire), 3 February 1789, page 120

In this 1828 newspaper article, a local New Orleans doctor expressed his admiration for James Derham’s medical knowledge:

‘I conversed with him on medicine,’ says Dr. Rush, ‘and found him very learned. I thought I could give him information concerning the treatment of diseases, but I learned more from him than he could expect from me.’

article about James Derham, Freedom’s Journal newspaper article 14 November 1828

Freedom’s Journal (New York, New York), 14 November 1828, page 2

3) Jupiter Hammon (17 Oct. 1711 Lloyd Harbor, NY – before 1806)

Hammon was an abolitionist, the first published African American poet, and is largely considered to be one of the founders of African American literature. Enslaved by the John Lloyd family and never emancipated, he was allowed to write and even served in the American Revolutionary War.

One of his poems, “An Evening Thought: Salvation by Christ with Penitential Cries,” was published as a broadside (i.e., a paper printed on a single page).

(See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jupiter_Hammon.)

article about Jupiter Hammon, Richmond Times Dispatch newspaper article 24 April 1924

Richmond Times Dispatch (Richmond, Virginia), 24 April 1924, page 6

For more information about his life, see: Authentication of Poem Written by 18th Century Slave and Author, Jupiter Hammon (Cedrick May, University of Texas at Arlington).

4) Absalom Jones (1746 Delaware – 13 Feb. 1818 Philadelphia, PA)

Born into slavery, Absalom Jones was a noted abolitionist who became the first ordained African American priest of the Episcopal Church, in 1795. Early newspapers depict him as an articulate and educated man, who worked to establish a free colony of former slaves in Africa. In the Episcopal Calendar of Saints, 13 February is celebrated as “Absalom Jones, Priest 1818.”

(See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Absalom_Jones.)

article about Absalom Jones, Amherst Journal newspaper article 26 September 1795

Amherst Journal (Amherst, New Hampshire), 26 September 1795, page 3

5) Jarena Lee (c. 1783 Cape May, NJ – unknown)

A noted Evangelist, Jarena Lee was the first African American woman to publish an autobiography.

portrait of Jarena Lee

Portrait: Jarena Lee. Credit: Library of Congress.

The earliest mention of Jarena Lee in a newspaper was in 1840, when she was listed as a member of the American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society from Pennsylvania.

article about Jarena Lee, Emancipator newspaper article 29 May 1840

Emancipator (New York, New York), 29 May 1840, page 18

Another report from an 1853 newspaper mentions Lee involved in a discussion about the Colonization Society.

article about Jarena Lee, Liberator newspaper article 9 December 1853

Liberator (Boston, Massachusetts), 9 December 1853, page 195

6) Mary Eliza Mahoney (16 Apr. 1845 Dorchester, MA – 4 Jan. 1926 Boston MA)

After working at the New England Hospital for Women and Children, Mary Eliza Mahoney became the first African American woman to be accepted into nursing school, at the age of 33. It took 16 months, after which only 3 of the 40 applicants graduated. By 1908 she had co-founded the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses (NACGN) with Ada B. Thorns. She went on to be an active participant in other nursing organizations, along with holding titles as a director. When women gained their voting rights in 1920, Mahoney was the first woman in Boston to register to vote. Several prestigious nursing awards are given in her honor.

(See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Eliza_Mahoney.)

article about Mary Eliza Mahoney, Milwaukee Star newspaper article 13 July 1968

Milwaukee Star (Milwaukee, Wisconsin), 13 July 1968, page 5

7) Judy W. Reed (c. 1826 – unknown)

Judy W. Reed is often hailed as the first African American woman to hold a patent, for her dough kneader.

illustration of Judy Reed's dough kneader

Illustration: Judy Reed’s dough kneader. Credit: United States Patent & Trademark Office.

Not much is known about her life, but this 1900 newspaper article reports that she and several other women received their patents in 1899.

(Note: Google patents reports that they were earlier. See: https://www.google.com/patents.)

article about Judy Reed, Evansville Courier and Press newspaper article 11 June 1900

Evansville Courier and Press (Evansville, Indiana), 11 June 1900, page 5

8) Alexander Lucius Twilight (26 Sep. 1795 Corinth, VT – 19 June 1857 Brownington, VT)

Twilight was a licensed Congregational minister, a teacher and politician. In 1823 he became the first African American to earn a bachelor’s degree when he graduated from Middlebury College in Vermont. He also became the first state-elected official when he joined the Vermont General Assembly in 1836.

(See: http://www.blackpast.org/aah/twilight-alexander-1795-1857.)

article about Alexander Twilight, American Repertory newspaper article 28 August 1823

American Repertory (St. Albans, Vermont), 28 August 1823, page 3

9) Phillis Wheatley or Phillis Wheatley Peters (8 May 1753 Senegambia, Africa – 5 Dec. 1784 Boston, MA)

Hailed in this 1773 newspaper as “the ingenious Negro Poet,” Phillis Wheatley was the first African American female poet to be published.

article about Phillis Wheatley, Connecticut Journal newspaper article 7 May 1773

Connecticut Journal (New Haven, Connecticut), 7 May 1773, page 3

Captured at the age of seven in the present-day regions of Gambia and Senegal, Africa, Phillis found herself enslaved by the John Wheatley family of Boston, who taught her to read and write. At the age of 20, this talented woman published Poems of Various Subjects, Religious and Moral, which was showcased in America and England. After the death of John Wheatley, she was emancipated and decided to marry John Peters. The family struggled financially, and after Peters was sent to prison for debts, Phillis became ill and died at the young age of 31.

(See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phillis_Wheatley.)

article featuring a poem by Phillis Wheatley, Boston-News Letter newspaper article 13 May 1773

Boston-News Letter (Boston, Massachusetts), 13 May 1773, page 4

10) Harriet E. “Hattie” Adams Wilson (15 Mar. 1825 New Hampshire – 28 June 1900 Quincy, MA)

Born to an African American “hooper of barrels” and a washerwoman of Irish descent, Hattie was raised by her parents until her father died. As a young girl, she found herself abandoned and bound out as an indentured servant on the farm of Nehemiah Heyward, Jr. After completing her indenture, she worked as a seamstress and servant. Some of her other occupations were: clairvoyant physician, nurse and healer. In 1851 she married Thomas Wilson, an escaped slave and lecturer. He soon abandoned her, but later returned to rescue her and her son from a poor farm.

(See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harriet_E._Wilson.)

Harriet is credited with writing the first African American novel published in the U.S. Although copyrighted, “Our Nig: or Sketches from the Life of a Free Black, was published anonymously in 1859 and rediscovered by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. in 1982. Although a work of fiction, the book is thought to describe her life as an indentured servant. I couldn’t find any early newspaper articles to document her life or her novel, but I did find several recent articles discussing her work—including this one from 1982.

article about Harriet Adams Wilson, Omaha World Herald newspaper article 15 November 1982

Omaha World Herald (Omaha, Nebraska), 15 November 1982, page 6

For more information, see: African American Registry.)

Additional African American Research Resources

For more complete biographies on these and other noteworthy African Americans, see:

Remembering Robert E. Lee, John Denver & Wilt Chamberlain with Newspapers

During this October week in American history three giants—one quite literally—died who had a big impact on America:

  • Robert E. Lee, American soldier and Confederate general, died at 63 on 12 October 1870
  • John Denver (Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr.), American singer-songwriter, died at 53 on 12 October 1997
  • Wilt Chamberlain, American basketball player, died at 63 on 12 October 1999

Newspapers are filled with obituaries and profiles that help us better understand the lives of our ancestors—and the famous people who lived during their times. The following newspaper articles about these three famous Americans are good examples.

Robert E. Lee (1807-1870)

Around 9:30 a.m. on Oct. 12, 1870, Robert E. Lee, the beloved Confederate general who had spent his years after the Civil War serving as the much-respected president of Washington College, died. He was 63. Lee had suffered a stroke on September 28, and in his debilitated state contracted pneumonia, which did him in. He died in Lexington, Virginia, the home state he loved so well.

Robert E. Lee is one of the giants in American history. He had a remarkable 36-year military career, mostly with the U.S. Army (fighting in the Mexican-American War and reaching the rank of colonel) while the last 4 years were spent in the Confederate Army (fighting for the South in the Civil War, the general who led the famous Army of Northern Virginia).

As shown in Lee’s obituary below, it is easy to see why U.S. President Abraham Lincoln offered Lee command of the Union Army on April 18, 1861, the day after Virginia voted to secede. Lee was torn between his oath to serve the U.S. and its army, and his deep love for Virginia—but Virginia won out, and on April 20, 1861, Robert E. Lee resigned from the U.S. Army and headed home to become commander of the Virginia military forces.

Death of Robert E. Lee, Cincinnati Commercial Tribune newspaper obituary 13 October 1870

Cincinnati Commercial Tribune (Cincinnati, Ohio), 13 October 1870, page 4

This obituary provides a good review of Lee’s military career:

“Although not unexpected, the death of General Robert E. Lee, which is announced in our telegraphic columns, will create a profound sensation. General Robert Edmund [Edward] Lee, whose name a few years ago was on all lips, when he was at the head of the so-called Army of Northern Virginia, was born in that State, of distinguished parents, in the year 1808 [1807]. After receiving a liberal education, he was admitted into West Point, as a cadet, in 1825; entered the United States Army, as Second Lieutenant, in July 1829; was made First Lieutenant in September 1836; and Captain in July 1838. He was appointed a member of the Board of Engineers in 1845; Chief Engineer of the Army in Mexico in 1846; was made Major, April 18, 1846, for gallant conduct at Cerro Gordo; Lieutenant Colonel, August 20, 1847, for bravery at Contreras and Churubusco; and Colonel, September 13, 1847, for gallant conduct at Chapultepec. At the end of the Mexican War he was reappointed a member of the Board of Engineers, and in1852 was raised to the post of Superintendent of the Military Academy at West Point, which he held till March 1855, when he was appointed Lieutenant Colonel of Cavalry. He was appointed Colonel of Cavalry on the 16th of March, 1861, but resigned his commission in the United States Army a few days afterward under circumstance with which most of our readers are familiar. What General Lee did for the cause of the Rebellion during those eventful four years which will never be effaced from the memory of Americans, will be judged by history; and history, furthermore, will pass at a future day upon his military talents that opinion which his contemporaries will hardly be able to give.

“Soon after the close of the war he accepted the Presidency of Washington College, Virginia, and sustained a position of becoming dignity in regard to the past. Southerners almost universally entertained for him an affection that perhaps was not equaled in its intensity excepting by that in which General Thomas was held by the people of the North.”

To mark the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Robert E. Lee’s birth, this Texas newspaper published a series of poems celebrating his life and commemorating his death.

Robert Edward Lee: One Hundredth Anniversary of His Birth, Dallas Morning News newspaper article 20 January 1907

Dallas Morning News (Dallas, Texas), 20 January 1907, page 7

One of the poems about the famous Confederate general presented, “The Death of Lee,” begins this way:

The drapery of heaven hung low

In dark and gloomy shrouds,

And angels used the weeping stars

In pinning back the clouds.

The shades of gloom and woe prevail

O’er all the land and sea,

And eyes so long unused to tears

Now wept for Robert Lee.

 

A Christian soldier, true and brave,

Beloved near and far,

He was first in time of peace

And first in time of war.

Virginia never reared a son

As good and brave as he,

Save one, and that was Washington,

Who lived and died like Lee.

 

His peaceful sword is laid away,

His work on earth is done,

He loved the people of the South,

They idolized their son.

There’s not a woman, man nor child,

I care not where they be,

Throughout this still sweet, sunny South

But loves the name of Lee.

John Denver (1943-1997)

John Denver was a giant in the American music industry in the 1970s and 1980s, one of the leading stars of the acoustic singer-songwriter genre. He recorded more than 300 songs in his long, successful career, writing about 200 of them, including “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” “Rocky Mountain High” and “Sunshine on My Shoulders.”

Denver also appeared in movies and numerous television shows, and was a humanitarian, advocate for space exploration, and a crusading voice for environmental protection. He was as passionate about flight as he was about music—sadly, his life was cut short at the age of 53 in a fatal accident while flying his personal aircraft solo off the California coast near Pacific Grove.

The below profile and obituary from the Register Star said of Denver: “His trademark wire-rimmed glasses and handsome smile—sort of a clean-cut hippie who could appeal to all generations—made him a winner on countless TV specials.”

profile and obituary for John Denver, Register Star newspaper articles, 14 October 1997

Register Star (Rockford, Illinois), 14 October 1997, page 13

As reported in the news article below, more than 2,000 people attended Denver’s funeral in Aurora, Colorado: “It was the kind of day he loved to sing about: plenty of sunshine, the peaks of the Rockies in sight, and lots of family and friends around.”

His ashes were scattered in the Rocky Mountains he loved so much.

On Sunny Day, Service Honors John Denver, Register Star newspaper article 18 October 1997

Register Star (Rockford, Illinois), 18 October 1997, page 8

Wilt Chamberlain (1936-1999)

It is no exaggeration to say Wilton Norman “Wilt” Chamberlain was a giant of a man. During his years playing center for the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers, Chamberlain stood 7 feet 1 inch and weighed 300 pounds. In his long professional basketball-playing career, which began with the Harlem Globetrotters in 1958 and ended with the Lakers in 1973, Chamberlain set numerous scoring and rebounding sports records. He performed feats on the basketball court that still astonish us today—he once scored 100 points in a single NBA game, the only player ever to do that. Chamberlain is the only player in the history of the NBA to average at least 30 points and 20 rebounds per game in a single season. No one else has ever done it—Chamberlain did it nine times, and in fact averaged 30.1 points and 22.9 rebounds per game for his 14-year NBA career!

The below obituary recounts a funny story from New York Knicks center Darrall Imhoff, who had the unfortunate task of guarding Chamberlain the game he scored an amazing 100 points:

“I spent 12 years in his armpits, and I always carried that 100-point game on my shoulders…After I got my third foul, I said to one of the officials, Willy Smith, ‘Why don’t you just give him 100 points and we’ll all go home?’ Well, we did.”

Wilt Chamberlain Dead at 63, Aberdeen Daily News newspaper obituary 13 October 1999

Aberdeen Daily News (Aberdeen, South Dakota), 13 October 1999, page 25

Chamberlain was known for more than his prowess on the basketball court. As reported in the below news article, about 800 people attended Chamberlain’s memorial service in Los Angeles: “Wilt Chamberlain was remembered Saturday more for his curiosity, intellect and quiet generosity than his unparalleled abilities on the basketball court.”

Memory of 'Stilt' Honored, Augusta Chronicle newspaper article 17 October 1999

Augusta Chronicle (Augusta, Georgia), 17 October 1999, page 47

Chamberlain’s fierce rivalry with Boston Celtics center Bill Russell was legendary. At the memorial service, Russell told the crowd:

“‘I knew how good he was and he knew that I knew how good he was,’ Russell said, drawing laughter. ‘I’ll just say that as far as I’m concerned, he and I will be friends through eternity.’”

Newspaper Obituaries provide personal details about someone’s life that we can’t find elsewhere—whether they are our ancestors or famous people we’re interested in. GenealogyBank features two collections of obituaries:

Dig into these obituary archives today and see what you can discover about your family tree and the famous people you admire most!

Making an All-Inclusive Family Tree through Newspaper Research

Introduction: Scott Phillips is a genealogical historian and owner of Onward To Our Past® genealogy services. In this guest blog post, Scott writes about expanding his family tree research to be inclusive of all family relations, and uses old newspapers to accomplish this goal.

When I embarked on my initial family tree work I made an important decision: I was going to be as inclusive in my ancestry work as possible. It was an easy decision and it was actually made by my children. Quite naturally, they wanted to know both sides of their ancestry. To them it made no difference that my wife’s grandparents weren’t “my blood” because they were “their blood”!

I quickly saw that this would be true for every marriage in my tree and thanked my children profusely. In hindsight this decision to go all-inclusive with our family tree has paid huge dividends in many of my family history and genealogy efforts.  It’s led to research successes such as finding my ancestral home village in Bohemia through a clue I discovered as a result of researching my great grandfather’s sister’s marriage!

Recently while I was researching my family tree I found myself sighing over the fact that I really knew far too little about my brother-in-law’s father, Lee Tressel.

photo of the Phillips-Tressel wedding

Photo: the wedding of Scott Phillips’s sister and her husband, Dick Tressel. The bride’s parents are on the left; Lee Tressel and his wife, Eleanor, are on the right. Credit: from the author’s collection.

Unfortunately, Lee passed away at the young age of 56 in 1981, long before I was smart enough to have spent an appropriate amount of time gathering his stories and memories of his life and career to add to our family tree. While I knew Lee and had spent some time with him, I believed that there had to be more I did not know about this accomplished football player, coach, mentor, and family man. So off I went to GenealogyBank.com to help me fill the void in our family tree—and it did a superb job!

One of my earliest discoveries in this family research project was a 1996 newspaper article that recapped Lee’s induction, as a member of the inaugural class, into the College Football Hall of Fame. It was inspiring to see his name alongside such football luminaries as Terry Bradshaw and Walter Payton.

Payton, Bradshaw Lead List of Hall of Fame Inductees, Marietta Journal newspaper article 18 May 1996

Marietta Journal (Marietta, Georgia), 18 May 1996, page 22

As I continued my genealogy search, I was treated to a 1969 newspaper article that included a wonderful photo. This was a truly smile-inducing old news article since it not only talked about Lee, but also about his son, Dick, my now brother-in-law, playing for him at Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea, Ohio.

Father-Son Act Closes at B-W, Plain Dealer newspaper article 21 November 1969

Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), 21 November 1969, page 54

Soon my searching brought me to another historical newspaper article from Cleveland, Ohio. While it was bittersweet to be reading Lee’s obituary, there were genealogy and family history treasures to be found throughout this article.

Friends, Rivals Alike Remember B-W's Tressel as a Gentleman, Plain Dealer newspaper article 17 April 1981

Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), 17 April 1981, page 61

Not only was there a very nice review of Lee’s sports coaching career, there was also a quote from our old family friend and my first childhood hero, Cleveland Browns’ Pro Football Hall of Fame member Lou “The Toe” Groza. I was even more thrilled when I saw that this news article included a photograph of Lee from his playing days. Now, I am not saying Lee played the game in the olden days, but I will say you can see him wearing a leather helmet. No wonder he knew the game so well! It was also heartwarming to read a quote by the Browns’ coach, Sam Rutigliano, who said “Lee represented all the things I believe in—in coaching, as a father, a friend and a husband. He was all the things I’d like to be.” Quite an accolade I’d say.

I came across several more articles talking about how Lee thought it was a real thrill to be able to coach two of his sons on the gridiron, both my brother-in-law, Dick, and Dick’s youngest brother and my schoolmate, Jim. I kept on searching and was taken aback by my next genealogy find.

I couldn’t quite figure out why GenealogyBank.com was directing me to an article published on 20 November 1933 in the Repository of Canton, Ohio, but as always I took a quick look. I found myself reading an article about Lee’s father (who was also named Lee) and the tragic loss of his brother, Charles Gene Tressel, at the age of 11. He died of “lockjaw” from stepping on a chicken bone. This one took me right back to my summer visits to the old Tressel family farm in rural Ohio.

Tetanus Attack Fatal, Repository  newspaper article 20 November 1933

Repository (Canton, Ohio), 20 November 1933, page 10

In just about an hour I had taken a lovely trip back in time, gained valuable information on this family member, and even discovered tidbits of family information I had never expected. That is one of the things I like best about using newspapers in my genealogy research: finding the unexpected!
What kind of interesting family information have you found unexpectedly in old newspapers?

A Civil War Captain in My Family Tree?! Share Your Surprises

Introduction: Scott Phillips is a genealogical historian and owner of Onward To Our Past® genealogy services. In this guest blog post, Scott writes about his genealogy surprise: he was researching a branch of his family tree and discovered a Confederate captain from the Civil War!

One of the most enjoyable aspects of working on our genealogy is the surprises we discover. If you are like me, you have had your fair share of finding something in your family history research that you either weren’t looking for at the time, or were shocked at what you actually did find. Recently that happened to me while I was working on our daughter-in-law’s family branch. Here is that story. And after telling you about my latest genealogy adventure, I’d love to hear about your biggest genealogy surprises!

I had been at work on our daughter-in-law’s family tree for some time when I got a bit stumped on one of the female members back in the early 1800s. The family was from southern Ohio and their daughter Mary A. Dillon seemed to have disappeared on me. That is to say, she disappeared until a colleague happened to mention that he thought she might have married a fellow by the name of Scovell. A quick check with the Lawrence County, Ohio, Genealogy Society and I confirmed the marriage of our Mary A. Dillon to one William Tiley Scovell. Once I had a place and a name I was off to the newspaper archives and other databases of GenealogyBank.com to see what else I could find.

Well, the last thing I was expecting to find in my family tree was a Civil War Confederate captain who was so in demand that Southern generals were competing to have his services! Plus, none other than General Robert E. Lee, the top man himself, was deciding where Scovell could best serve the Confederacy.

I’ve long known that we have a Civil War veteran or two in our family tree, but never anyone above the rank of private and certainly no one who was in demand quite like Captain Scovell. A riverboat captain before the war, Scovell evidently was extremely adept at getting ships, men, and cargo up and down—as well as across—rivers.

In my first search I found an 1895 newspaper article explaining that Captain Scovell had just passed away—at that time he was the second-to-last surviving member of the Grivot Rifles of the Fifteenth Louisiana Infantry.

William Scovell obituary, Times-Picayune newspaper article 4 July 1895

Times-Picayune (New Orleans, Louisiana), 4 July 1895, page 11

From this old newspaper article I gained excellent information, leads, and insight into the Civil War career of William T. Scovell and began looking further.

Next I discovered, in GenealogyBank.com’s Historical Documents collection, the Journal of the Congress of the Confederate States of America, 1861-1865, which showed William T. Scovell “taking rank” on June 5, 1862, in Louisiana.

reference to William Scovell in the Journal of the Congress of the Confederate States of America, 1861-1865

U.S. Congressional Serial Set: Journal of the Congress of the Confederate States of America, 1861-1865. Volume II. Serial Set Vol. No. 4611; S.Doc. 234 pt. 2.

Next I found an additional 1895 newspaper article about Scovell.

Liked by Lee and Jackson, Idaho Register newspaper article 18 October 1895

Idaho Register (Idaho Falls, Idaho), 18 October 1895, page 2

This historical newspaper article was wonderful since it explained that Captain Scovell’s services were argued over by Generals Stonewall Jackson and Early, with the decision over Scovell’s assignment coming from General Robert E. Lee himself. It also offered the information that Captain Scovell was one of the CSA officers in charge of the infamous burning of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, on July 30, 1864.

Then I discovered a real bit of genealogy treasure. In a 1922 newspaper I read a “Succession Notice” for “Mrs. Mary A. Dillon, widow of William T. Scovell.”

succession notice for Mary Dillon, New Orleans States newspaper article 8 January 1922

New Orleans States (New Orleans, Louisiana), 8 January 1922, page 35

This historical succession notice was for the probate of the estate of Mary. I have since sent to Louisiana for instructions and information on how I can access this will and estate file since the old news article wonderfully contains the court name, parish, division, date, file number, deceased, attorney, and executor. What an abundance of information in one short article!

photo of the crypt of William T. Scovell and Mary Dillon in Louisiana

Photo: the Louisiana crypt for William T. Scovell, his wife Mary Dillon, and their family. Credit: from the author’s collection.

From almost nothing I am now deeply involved in learning about our family’s Civil War luminary and it brings me back to the question I asked in the beginning of this article.

Tell me…what is the biggest surprise that you have found doing your genealogy and family history?

13th Amendment Ratified, Abolishing Slavery in America

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

13th Amendment Newspaper Article Lowell Daily Citizen & News 1865

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

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

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

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

The Duty of Colored Men in Louisiana Black Republican Newspaper 1865

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

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

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

Our Country Black Rights Article South Carolina Leader

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

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

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

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

What Is a Man? Black Equality Article Colored American Newspaper

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

This old newspaper article concludes with these stirring words:

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

Man to man the world o’er

Shall brothers be, an’ a’ that.

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

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

Search More than 120 New Jersey Newspapers Online

GenealogyBank’s U.S. newspaper archives contain more than 5,850 newspapers from all 50 states. This expansive online genealogical resource includes a strong collection of more than 120 New Jersey newspapers, from 1777 to today, from cities and towns all over the Garden State.

That’s the equivalent of over 65 million N.J. newspaper articles—and growing!

We’ve got the online genealogy resources you need to document your New Jersey family history.

New Jersey NJ Historical Newspapers Collage

Historical New Jersey Newspapers

 

New Jersey Newspaper Titles in GenealogyBank

State

City Title

Dates

Notes

NJ

Absecon South Jersey Republican

9/19/1863 – 7/1/1865

NJ

Andover, Stanhope, Newton Township Journal

1/12/2005 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Atlantic City Press of Atlantic City

1/1/1989 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Bayonne Bayonne Journal

3/7/2002 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Belleville Belleville Times

1/29/2009 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Bergenfield, Dumont, New Milford Twin-Boro News

10/2/2009 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Berlin Record Breeze

6/17/2005 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Bloomfield Bloomfield Life

10/22/2009 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Bloomingdale, Wanaque Suburban Trends

10/3/2010 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Brick Brick Township Bulletin

11/6/2002 – 1/21/2010

Obituaries Only

NJ

Bridgeton Bridgeton Evening News

2/13/1879 – 1/1/1923

NJ

Bridgeton East-Jersey Republican

5/22/1816 – 7/3/1816

NJ

Bridgeton News of Cumberland County

7/31/2004 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Bridgeton Washington Whig

7/31/1815 – 9/13/1834

NJ

Burlington Burlington Advertiser

4/13/1790 – 12/13/1791

NJ

Burlington New-Jersey Gazette

12/5/1777 – 11/27/1786

NJ

Burlington Rural Visitor

7/30/1810 – 7/22/1811

NJ

Clifton Clifton Journal

4/4/2008 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Cranford Cranford Chronicle

6/9/2005 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

East Brunswick East Brunswick Sentinel

1/20/2010 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Edgewater Edgewater View

10/2/2009 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Edison, Metuchen Edison-Metuchen Sentinel

10/15/2003 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Egg Harbor City Atlantic Democrat

4/6/1861 – 5/20/1865

NJ

Egg Harbor City Beobachter Am Egg Harbor River

10/2/1858 – 12/25/1858

NJ

Egg Harbor City Der Egg Harbor Pilot

3/22/1860 – 3/31/1866

NJ

Egg Harbor City Der Pilot

12/18/1858 – 3/19/1859

NJ

Egg Harbor City Der Wochentliche Unzeiger

6/4/1859 – 8/6/1859

NJ

Egg Harbor City Der Zeitgeist

4/6/1867 – 3/23/1872

NJ

Egg Harbor City Egg Harbor Aurora

8/18/1860 – 11/28/1860

NJ

Egg Harbor City Egg Harbor Beobachter

1/13/1859 – 4/28/1859

NJ

Egg Harbor City Egg Harbor Pilot

4/7/1866 – 3/23/1872

NJ

Elizabethtown Federal Republican

1/25/1803 – 1/17/1804

NJ

Elizabethtown New-Jersey Journal

5/10/1786 – 12/29/1818

NJ

Elizabethtown Political Intelligencer

4/20/1785 – 5/3/1786

NJ

Emerson, Hillsdale, Montvale Pascack Valley Community Life

10/2/2009 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Englewood Northern Valley Suburbanite

1/21/2010 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Fairlawn Community News

1/7/2010 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Fairlawn Gazette

1/21/2010 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Flemington Hunterdon County Democrat

10/2/2009 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Fort Lee Fort Lee Suburbanite

11/5/2009 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Franklin Lakes, Oakland Franklin Lakes-Oakland Suburban News

11/11/2010 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Freehold Atlanticville

12/29/2009 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Frenchtown Delaware Valley News

2/12/2004 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Glen Ridge Glen Ridge Voice

10/12/2009 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Glen Rock Glen Rock Gazette

11/5/2010 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Hackensack Hackensack Chronicle

10/2/2009 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Hackensack Record

1/2/1985 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Haddonfield Haddon Herald

12/27/2000 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Howell, Jackson, Lakewood, Plumstead Tri-Town News

1/16/2010 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Jersey City City Journal

6/3/2004 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Jersey City Jersey City News

1/2/1902 – 3/31/1902

NJ

Jersey City Jersey Journal

5/2/1867 – 12/30/1922

NJ

Jersey City Jersey Journal

1/16/1999 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Jersey City Waterfront Journal

3/14/2002 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Kearny Kearny Journal

3/21/2002 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Kinnelon Argus

10/2/2009 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Lafayette, Oak Ridge, Ogdensburg, Stockholm, Sussex, Wantage, Vernon Advertiser-News

6/9/2005 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Little Falls, Totowa Passaic Valley Today

10/2/2009 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Mahwah Mahwah Suburban News

10/2/2009 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Manalapan News Transcript

3/10/2010 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Maple Shade Maple Shade Progress

8/18/2006 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

May’s Landing Atlantic Journal

10/13/1859 – 10/24/1862

NJ

Medford Central Record

3/22/2007 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Middletown, Hazlet Independent

1/5/2010 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Midland Park Midland Park Suburban News

10/11/2009 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Milburn, Short Hills Item of Millburn and Short Hills

12/3/2009 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Millstone, Englishtown, Allentown Examiner

3/8/2010 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Montclair Montclair Times

4/1/2010 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Moorestown Newsweekly

11/14/2003 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Morristown Genius of Liberty

5/24/1798 – 3/5/1811

NJ

Morristown Palladium of Liberty

5/5/1808 – 12/26/1822

NJ

Mount Pleasant Jersey Chronicle

5/2/1795 – 4/30/1796

NJ

New Brunswick Fredonian

4/24/1811 – 6/10/1819

NJ

New Brunswick Jewish Journal

9/5/1956 – 8/27/1971

NJ

New Brunswick Political Intelligencer

10/14/1783 – 4/5/1785

NJ

New Egypt New Egypt Press

10/18/2001 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Newark Centinel Of Freedom

10/5/1796 – 12/26/1820

NJ

Newark Jewish Chronicle

10/14/1921 – 1/8/1943

NJ

Newark New-Jersey Telescope

11/4/1808 – 11/7/1809

NJ

Newark Star-Ledger

5/10/1989 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Newton AIM Sussex County

10/2/2009 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

North Brunswick, South Brunswick North-South Brunswick Sentinel

1/3/2010 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Nutley Nutley Sun

10/2/2009 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Old Bridge Suburban

1/6/2010 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Parsippany Parsippany Life

10/2/2009 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Pemberton Community News

1/30/2004 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Pennington Pennington Post

1/15/2003 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Ramsey Ramsey Suburban News

10/2/2009 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Red Bank Hub

1/5/2010 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Ridgewood Ridgewood News

10/2/2009 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Ridgewood Suburban News – A Publication of The Ridgewood News

1/14/2010 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Ridgewood Town Journal

1/7/2010 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Ridgewood Town News

1/7/2010 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Rockaway AIM Jefferson

10/2/2009 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Rutherford South Bergenite

10/2/2009 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Salem Salem Standard and Jerseyman

11/17/1819 – 4/25/1832

NJ

Salem Today’s Sunbeam

7/29/2004 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Secaucus Hudson Dispatch

4/15/2010 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Secaucus Secaucus Journal

5/20/2004 – 2/4/2010

Obituaries Only

NJ

Sewell News Report

8/26/2004 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Somerville Chronicle

6/11/2005 – 3/3/2007

Obituaries Only

NJ

Somerville Messenger-Gazette

6/9/2005 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Sparta Sparta Independent

5/18/2005 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Summit, Berkeley Heights, New Providence Independent Press

8/2/2006 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Teaneck Teaneck Suburbanite

10/2/2009 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Trenton Miscellany

6/10/1805 – 12/2/1805

NJ

Trenton New Jersey State Gazette

9/19/1792 – 12/31/1799

NJ

Trenton Sentinel

6/26/1880 – 11/4/1882

NJ

Trenton Times

3/21/2007 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Trenton Trenton Evening Times

1/7/1883 – 3/15/1993

NJ

Trenton Trenton Federalist

12/2/1800 – 12/27/1824

NJ

Trenton Trenton State Gazette

1/12/1847 – 12/31/1898

NJ

Trenton Trenton Sunday Times-Advertiser

11/6/1938 – 8/26/1973

NJ

Trenton Trentonian

4/19/2000 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Trenton True American

3/10/1801 – 9/21/1818

NJ

Verona, Cedar Grove Verona-Cedar Grove Times

10/2/2009 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Warren Warren Reporter

6/28/1997 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Wayne Wayne Today

10/14/2009 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

West Milford AIM West Milford

10/2/2009 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

West Milford West Milford Messenger

1/7/2005 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

West Paterson Herald News

7/30/1998 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Westfield Westfield Record-Press

6/10/2005 – 9/26/2008

Obituaries Only

NJ

Williamstown Plain Dealer

11/1/2002 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Willingboro, Burlington Burlington County Times

12/16/2002 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Woodbridge Woodbridge Sentinel

11/5/2003 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Woodbury Gloucester County Times

8/11/2004 – Current

Obituaries Only

NJ

Woodbury Woodbury Daily Times

2/3/1897 – 12/30/1922

 

Genealogist Obituaries – genealogists in 16 states pass away

Genealogists in 16 States pass away. AK, CA, DE, FL, ID, IL, KS, LA, MA, MO, OH, TX, UT, VA, WA, WI.

Bedgood, Pierrine Charlotte Claudine Cabral. (1938-2009)
Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA) – May 13, 2009

Cheng, Nelson Yum-Ping. (1920-2009)
St. Petersburg Times (FL) – May 14, 2009

Cox, Donald H. (1946-2009)
Lima News (OH) – May 16, 2009

Dawson, Elsie Carter Leonard. (1913-2009)
News Journal (Wilmington, DE) – May 17, 2009

Fortuine, Robert. (1934-2009)
Anchorage Daily News (AK) – May 14, 2009

Gerrie, Alfred Lind, Jr. (1931-2009)
Pasadena Star-News (CA) – May 14, 2009

Harden, Glenda. (1931-2009)
Deseret News (Salt Lake City, UT) – May 14, 2009

Harding, Nancy Grotz. (1950-2009)
Free Lance-Star (Fredericksburg, VA) – May 17, 2009

Hess, Arthur Brackett. (1948-2009)
Landmark (Holden, MA) – May 14, 2009

Hunt, Edwin Simonds. (1915-2009)
Rockford Register Star (IL) – May 14, 2009

Krah, Gladys Thelma. (1913-2009)
Columbian (Vancouver, WA) – May 17, 2009

Krebs, Emanuel. (1916-2009)
Times-News (Twin Falls, ID) – May 15, 2009

Lasche, Martha Mae. (1912-2009)
Seattle Times (WA) – May 17, 2009

Osteen, Elizabeth Moore. (1917-2009)
Longview News-Journal (TX) – May 16, 2009

Raymond, Guy Raymond, Jr. (1925-2009)
Post-Crescent (Appleton, WI) – May 14, 2009

Roos, Diane. (1945-2009)
Deseret News (Salt Lake City, UT) – May 17, 2009

Scott, Frances L. (1946-2009)
St. Louis Post-Dispatch (MO) – May 17, 2009

Shackelford, Patricia Ann. (1935-2009)
Lee’s Summit Journal (MO) – May 14, 2009

Stocks, Ina Sharp. (1919-2009)
Idaho State Journal (Pocatello, ID) – May 15, 2009

Strother, Mary McAvoy. (1923-2009)
Sacramento Bee (CA) – May 16, 2009

Yust, Frances L. (1920-2009)
Hutchinson News (KS) – May 16, 2009

.

Private William Christman – first burial in Arlington Cemetery May 13, 1864

The first burial on the grounds of what would become Arlington National Cemetery was on May 13, 1864.

Private William Christman was buried in the rose garden in front of General Robert E. Lee’s home in Arlington, Virginia. He was serving with Company G, 67th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. Click here to see his headstone.

In May 1863 Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton ordered the creation of the “Freedman’s Village for the protection of the Black man and his family, upon the Arlington estate, belonging to the Rebel General Lee.” The Liberator, 15 July 1864.

June 15, 1864 Secretary Stanton ordered that the grounds around the Lee home be used as a military cemetery – which would soon be known around the world as Arlington National Cemetery.

The newspapers of the day loved it that the Lee home and grounds were used to house and give the freedmen a new start and a military cemetery to honor the nation’s war dead.

“How appropriate that Lee’s lands should be dedicated to two such noble purposes – the free living Black man whom Lee would enslave and the bodies of the dead soldiers who Lee has killed in a wicked cause. Let this record stand to the everlasting credit of Secretary Stanton.”
The Liberator, 15 July 1864.

In GenealogyBank you may read many more articles about the creation of Arlington National Cemetery and the Freedman’s Village. Look for them in the Historical Newspapers and in the Historical Documents which includes the US Serial Set – where there are also numerous government reports detailing the progress of both operations.

Freedman’s Village – Robert E. Lee Estate in Arlington

There are a lot of anniversaries in May.

In May 1863 the government organized the Freedman’s Village on the grounds of General Robert E. Lee’s home in Arlington, Virginia.

It had “fourteen dwellings, and a church a hospital and a home of the aged and infirm, with streets regularly laid out and named, and a park planted in the centre.” The grounds were laid out and the village was built under the direction of Brigadier General Montgomery C. Meigs, he was named the Quartermaster of the Army in May 1861.

The Village quickly took shape and within a year had more than 3,000 residents, former slaves and their families.

By Decemeber 1865 there were 53 schools, 112 teachers and 5,618 students located at the Freedman’s Village and on government lands in Alexandria, Georgetown and Maryland.

In 1888 the Freedman’s Village was closed. Read more about the Freedman’s Village in GenealogyBank. Look for artilces in the Historical Newspapers and for the many government reports that detailed the progress and ultimate closing in the US Serial Set found in the Historical Documents section.

Tomorrow I will blog about the other May anniversary.