New DNA Ancestry Study Reveals We’re All Related?!

It’s nice to think that everyone is related—but as genealogists we have known that would be difficult to prove. Now science is proving that theory is correct.

illustration for DNA study showing that everyone on the planet is related

A new DNA study shows that everyone alive on the earth today shares common ancestors only 1,000 to 2,000 years ago.

What?

“Group Hug!”

Wow—what is this study telling us?

It is saying that we are all related and that science can prove it.

How is that possible?

With every generation the number of our ancestors doubles. We have 4 grandparents; 8 great-grandparents; 16 2nd-great-grandparents, and so forth.

But as we go back in time the reverse is true: the number of people who were alive on the earth keeps growing smaller.

A new DNA study shows that all Europeans descend from the “same set of ancestors only a thousand years ago.” This theory has long been proposed, and it has commonly been said that “everyone” in Europe is a descendant of Charlemagne—or that every Englishman alive today has royal ancestry.

UC-Davis Professor Graham Coop says that “we now have concrete evidence from DNA data” that we are all related, and “it’s likely that everyone in the world is related over just the past few thousand years.” Read the entire article: Europeans All Related by Genetic Footprint Dating Back Only 1,000 Years Ago.

This interesting finding will revolutionize the way we view “family” in much the same way that the 1873/1874 Galton-Walton study changed our view of surnames 140 years ago.

graph illustrating the Galton-Walton surname extinction study

Credit: Wikipedia

Their pioneering work showed us that it was likely for a surname to go extinct after 12 to 20 generations. Assuming that each generation begins every 30 years, then 20 generations would extend back to the 1400s.

Click here to read their study “On the Probability of the Extinction of Families” published in the Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain, volume 4, pages 138–144, printed in 1875.

This interesting genealogy study concluded that any given family would eventually no longer have male descendants in the male, surname line. They might have hundreds or thousands of female heirs, but no male descendants carrying the surname after 12 to 20 generations.

Their probability research showed that with each generation it was possible, even likely, that in the next generations there would be no male children born to a given household, or that the male children born would die without surviving male children. They concluded that it was likely after 12 to 20 generations—with wars, disease, or simply by chance—that there would be no more surviving males who could marry and pass down the family name. In genealogy-speak this is referred to as daughtering-out.

From the probability theories of 140 years ago to the more exact science of DNA today, we genealogists are getting a lot more to consider as we trace our family history.

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?

Celebrate Redlands’ 125th Anniversary & Its Library Archives

Hat’s off to Nathan Gonzales, City Archivist of Redlands, California, for maintaining an extensive collection of genealogical and historical material about Redlands itself and the surrounding San Bernardino County.

photo of the A. K. Smiley Public Library, Redlands, California

Photo: A. K. Smiley Public Library, Redlands, California. Credit: Wikipedia; Amerique.

Watch this video interview (49 minutes) with Nathan, as he describes the extensive genealogical and historical materials gathered over the past 100 years and archived in the Heritage Room at the A. K. Smiley Public Library in Redlands.

Nathan Gonzales: Archivist from A. K. Smiley Library

Want more California genealogical and historical information? GenealogyBank’s online California newspaper archives contain millions of birth notices, wedding announcements, obituaries and local news articles to help you research your family history in “The Golden State.”

Search the history of Redlands and all of California by clicking on these two archive collections:

Search California Newspaper Archives (1846 – 2007)

Search California Recent Obituaries (1983 – Current)

Here is the complete title list of our extensive collection of California newspapers. Each CA newspaper title contains a hyperlink taking you directly to that newspaper’s search page where you can begin tracing your family tree by ancestor first names and surnames, dates, keywords and more.

City Newspaper Date Range Collection
Agoura Hills Acorn 6/22/2000 – Current Recent Obituaries
Agoura Hills Simi Valley Acorn 5/7/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Agoura Hills Thousand Oaks Acorn 7/18/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Alameda Alameda Journal 2/8/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Anaheim Anaheim Bulletin: Orange County Register weekly 5/27/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Anaheim Anaheim Hills News: Orange County Register weekly 5/27/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Anaheim Fullerton News Tribune: Orange County Register weekly 5/20/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Anaheim Orange City News: Orange County Register weekly 8/12/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Anaheim Placentia News-Times: Orange County Register weekly 5/20/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Anaheim Yorba Linda Star: Orange County Register weekly 5/20/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Anderson Anderson Valley Post 5/3/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Antioch Brentwood News 5/9/1997 – Current Recent Obituaries
Antioch East County Times 10/28/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Antioch Ledger Dispatch 3/23/1997 – Current Recent Obituaries
Arroyo Grande Adobe Press 12/21/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Auburn Auburn Journal 12/19/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Avenal Avenal Progress 5/18/2005 – 12/18/2007 Recent Obituaries
Bakersfield Bakersfield Californian 3/25/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Bakersfield Bakersfield Californian, The: Web Edition Articles 8/25/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Benicia California Gazette 3/29/1851 – 2/21/1852 Newspaper Archives
Berkeley East Bay Daily News 10/18/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Berkeley Fuego de Aztlan 3/1/1976 – 12/1/1978 Newspaper Archives
Berkeley Grito 9/1/1967 – 6/1/1974 Newspaper Archives
Beverly Hills Beverly Hills 90210 5/1/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Beverly Hills Beverly Hills Weekly 3/20/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Beverly Hills Canyon News 4/23/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Big Bear Lake Big Bear Grizzly 6/5/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Bishop Inyo Register 10/8/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Burbank Burbank Weekly 6/23/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Calistoga Weekly Calistogan 9/4/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Camarillo Camarillo Acorn 5/12/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Cambria Cambrian 5/10/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Ceres Ceres Courier 2/6/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Chico Chico Enterprise-Record 9/12/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Chino Chino Champion 1/1/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Chino Chino Hills Champion 1/1/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Coachelia Ideal 11/2/1969 – 11/21/1977 Newspaper Archives
Coalinga Coalinga Record 5/6/2003 – 2/7/2009 Recent Obituaries
Colfax Colfax Record 12/16/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Colton Chicano 4/21/1968 – 6/30/1977 Newspaper Archives
Compton Compton Bulletin 8/31/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Concord Concord Transcript 2/22/1996 – Current Recent Obituaries
Crescent City Daily Triplicate 1/15/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Culver City Culver City Observer 7/7/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Cupertino La Voz Weekly: De Anza College 5/15/2000 – Current Recent Obituaries
Danville Danville Times 10/13/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Davis Davis Enterprise 7/18/1999 – Current Recent Obituaries
El Centro Imperial Valley Press 1/2/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Escondido North County Times 1/2/2001 – 3/5/2013 Recent Obituaries
Eureka Humboldt Beacon 4/23/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Eureka Times-Standard 9/15/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Folsom El Dorado Hills Telegraph 11/18/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Folsom Folsom Telegraph 1/21/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Fort Bragg Fort Bragg Advocate News 9/20/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Fountain Valley Fountain Valley View, The: Orange County Register weekly 12/16/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Fremont Argus 9/15/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Fresno Collegian, The: California State University-Fresno 10/30/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Fresno Fresno Bee 2/5/1987 – Current Recent Obituaries
Fresno Fresno Republican Weekly 1/7/1882 – 12/29/1883 Newspaper Archives
Garberville Redwood Times 9/22/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Glendale California Courier 2/15/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Glendale California Courier 8/20/1958 – 12/27/2007 Newspaper Archives
Glendale Glendale Independent Weekly 6/30/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Gridley Gridley Herald 10/18/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Half Moon Bay Half Moon Bay Review 2/15/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Hanford Hanford Sentinel 5/12/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Hayward Daily Review 9/15/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Hemet Hemet News 1/6/1899 – 12/30/1927 Newspaper Archives
Hermosa Beach Beach Reporter 11/4/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Hermosa Beach Easy Reader 10/14/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Huntington Beach Wave, The: Orange County Register weekly 5/27/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Idyllwild Idyllwild Town Crier 1/27/1998 – Current Recent Obituaries
Kingsburg Kingsburg Recorder 7/5/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
La Cañada Flintridge La Cañada Flintridge Weekly 10/20/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Laguna Woods Leisure World News: Orange County Register weekly 5/20/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lake Arrowhead Mountain News & Crestline Courier-News 12/6/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lake Forest Canyon Life – Ladera Post – Rancho Santa Margarita News: Orange County Register weeklies 5/14/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lake Forest Laguna News-Post: Orange County Register weekly 5/13/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lake Forest Laguna Niguel News – Aliso Viejo News: Orange County Register weeklies 5/13/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lake Forest Saddleback Valley News: Orange County Register weeklies 5/14/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lake Isabella Kern Valley Sun 11/16/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lakeport Clear Lake Observer American 11/19/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lakeport Lake County Record Bee 9/23/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lemoore Lemoore Advance 6/11/2003 – 9/17/2009 Recent Obituaries
Lincoln Lincoln News Messenger 11/25/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lodi Lodi News-Sentinel 2/15/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lompoc Lompoc Record 10/2/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Long Beach Downtown Gazette 7/30/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Long Beach Grunion Gazette 2/22/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Long Beach Long Beach Press-Telegram 8/11/1990 – Current Recent Obituaries
Long Beach Uptown Gazette 1/21/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Loomis Loomis News 12/10/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Angeles Aguacero 3/24/1878 – 3/31/1878 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Amigo del Pueblo 11/30/1861 – 11/30/1861 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Argonaut 3/5/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Angeles Bel-Air View 7/11/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Angeles Brentwood News 8/11/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Angeles Cinema 2/1/1935 – 2/1/1935 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Clamor Publico 6/19/1855 – 6/27/1857 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Con Safos 6/1/1968 – 1/1/1972 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Correo Mejicano 10/18/1917 – 10/18/1917 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Cronica 9/12/1874 – 9/12/1874 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Democrata 10/14/1882 – 11/4/1882 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Dos Republicas 3/15/1892 – 9/3/1898 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Eastern Group Publications 8/11/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Angeles Eco de la Patria 2/14/1878 – 2/21/1878 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Eco de Mexico 10/3/1924 – 10/29/1924 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Eco Mejicano 10/29/1885 – 10/29/1885 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Fe en la Democracia 10/29/1884 – 11/3/1884 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Heraldo de Mexico 12/9/1917 – 12/29/1928 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Inter-Faith Churchman 4/20/1941 – 4/20/1941 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles 9/30/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Angeles Joven 9/18/1877 – 4/12/1878 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles L.A. Observed 5/23/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Angeles L.A. Watts Times 4/20/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Angeles LA Alternative 4/2/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Angeles Los Angeles Downtown News 1/17/2000 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Angeles Los Angeles Sentinel 3/22/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Angeles Los Angeles Times 1/2/1985 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Angeles Los Angeles Tribune 9/6/1943 – 4/22/1960 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Malcriado 4/17/1927 – 4/17/1927 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Malibu Beach 7/11/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Angeles Mesazero 12/21/1954 – 12/21/1954 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Monitor Mejicano 10/26/1895 – 10/29/1898 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Our Weekly 9/9/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Angeles Pacific Citizen 3/16/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Angeles Park Labrea News/Beverly Press 12/1/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Angeles Prensa 12/8/1917 – 1/2/1937 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Regeneracion 9/5/1910 – 10/6/1917 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Santa Monica Sun 8/2/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Angeles Teller 3/20/1946 – 3/20/1946 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Union 11/21/1896 – 5/15/1897 Newspaper Archives
Los Angeles Westside Today 7/4/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Banos Los Banos Enterprise 8/2/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Los Gatos Los Gatos Daily News 9/22/2006 – 8/19/2007 Recent Obituaries
Madera Madera Tribune 5/8/2002 – 3/10/2009 Recent Obituaries
Mammoth Lakes Mammoth Times 10/9/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Manteca Manteca Bulletin 11/19/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Marina Del Rey Del Rey News 5/1/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Martinez Martinez News-Gazette 1/6/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Martinez, Pleasant Hill Record 4/10/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Marysville Appeal-Democrat 10/25/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Marysville Weekly California Express 11/7/1857 – 10/29/1859 Newspaper Archives
Mendocino Mendocino Beacon 9/20/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Merced Merced Sun-Star 8/22/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Milpitas Fremont Bulletin 6/28/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Milpitas Milpitas Post 8/5/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Modesto Modesto Bee 1/3/1989 – Current Recent Obituaries
Monrovia Arcadia Weekly 9/8/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Monrovia Monrovia Weekly 9/8/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Monrovia Pasadena Independent 9/8/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Monrovia Sierra Madre Weekly 9/8/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Montclair Village Montclarion 11/23/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Monterey Californian 8/15/1846 – 8/15/1846 Newspaper Archives
Monterey Monterey County Herald 1/6/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Moorpark Moorpark Acorn 3/18/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Morro Bay Central Coast Sun Bulletin 11/11/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Mount Shasta Mt. Shasta Herald 10/5/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Napa American Canyon Eagle 9/7/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Napa Napa Valley Register 1/1/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Needles Needles Desert Star 4/9/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Newport Beach, Costa Mesa Current, The: Orange County Register weekly 5/7/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Novato Marin Independent Journal 2/11/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Oakdale Escalon Times 2/6/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Oakdale Oakdale Leader 10/7/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Oakdale Riverbank News 8/16/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Oakhurst Sierra Star 2/21/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Oakland Alambres de N.E.L. 5/21/1975 – 6/21/1977 Newspaper Archives
Oakland Alameda Times-Star 9/15/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Oakland American Sentinel 1/1/1886 – 12/25/1889 Newspaper Archives
Oakland Mundo 1/6/1971 – 12/25/1974 Newspaper Archives
Oakland Oakland Post 11/5/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Oakland Oakland Sunshine 3/20/1915 – 2/25/1922 Newspaper Archives
Oakland Oakland Tribune 9/15/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Oakland Western Outlook 11/7/1914 – 5/26/1928 Newspaper Archives
Ojai Ojai Valley News 1/30/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Ontario Inland Valley Daily Bulletin 4/9/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Oroville Oroville Mercury-Register 1/2/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Pacific Palisades Pacific Palisades 90272 2/5/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Pacifica Pacifica Tribune 8/20/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Palm Springs Desert Star Weekly 9/2/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Palo Alto Burlingame Daily News 9/22/2006 – 9/25/2008 Recent Obituaries
Palo Alto Daily News 9/22/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Palo Alto Daily Post 12/18/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Palo Alto Redwood City Daily News 9/22/2006 – 9/25/2008 Recent Obituaries
Paradise Paradise Post 7/11/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Pasadena Pasadena Star-News 9/15/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Pasadena Pasadena-San Gabriel Valley News Journal 2/25/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Piedmont Piedmonter 3/1/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Placerville Mountain Democrat 3/9/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Pleasanton Pleasanton Times 8/26/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Pleasanton Tri-Valley Herald 9/15/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Pleasanton Valley Times 6/19/1995 – 8/28/2011 Recent Obituaries
Porterville Porterville Recorder 4/15/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Red Bluff Red Bluff Daily News 9/12/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Redding Redding Record Searchlight 3/8/1991 – Current Recent Obituaries
Redlands Redlands Daily Facts 9/16/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Rialto Rialto Record 1/27/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Richmond Berkeley Voice 11/30/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Richmond El Cerrito Journal 11/2/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Richmond West County Times 6/28/1995 – 8/4/2011 Recent Obituaries
Richmond West County Weekly 3/2/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Ridgecrest Daily Independent 4/7/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Riverdale Twin City Times 5/13/2003 – 1/23/2008 Recent Obituaries
Riverside Business Press/California 2/26/1996 – Current Recent Obituaries
Riverside Press and Horticulturist 7/6/1878 – 12/29/1905 Newspaper Archives
Riverside Press-Enterprise 9/28/1992 – Current Recent Obituaries
Riverside Riverside County Record 1/12/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Riverside Riverside Daily Press 6/10/1886 – 3/11/1949 Newspaper Archives
Riverside Riverside Independent Enterprise 3/3/1891 – 12/31/1922 Newspaper Archives
Rocklin Placer Herald 12/2/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Rolling Hills Estates Palos Verdes Peninsula News 12/27/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Roseville Press-Tribune 12/11/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Sacramento Daily Democratic State Journal 8/26/1853 – 4/30/1858 Newspaper Archives
Sacramento Post (El Informador) 11/4/1967 – 12/2/1967 Newspaper Archives
Sacramento Prensa Libre 1/15/1969 – 12/31/1970 Newspaper Archives
Sacramento Sacramento Bee 3/31/1984 – Current Recent Obituaries
Sacramento Sacramento Weekly Union 10/31/1851 – 4/15/1853 Newspaper Archives
Sacramento Themis 2/24/1889 – 6/24/1894 Newspaper Archives
Sacramento Weekly Rescue 2/1/1864 – 9/27/1877 Newspaper Archives
Salinas Valley Adviser 6/3/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Bernardino Colton Courier 12/16/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Bernardino El Chicano 12/16/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Bernardino Sun 9/18/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Clemente Capistrano Valley News: Orange County Register weekly 5/20/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Clemente Dana Point News: Orange County Register weekly 5/27/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Clemente Sun Post News: Orange County Register weekly 5/21/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Diego Daily San Diegan 11/1/1887 – 2/29/1888 Newspaper Archives
San Diego Evening Tribune 12/3/1895 – 9/24/1940 Newspaper Archives
San Diego San Diego Daily Bee 5/16/1887 – 3/30/1888 Newspaper Archives
San Diego San Diego Daily World 1/28/1873 – 7/25/1873 Newspaper Archives
San Diego San Diego Sun 7/27/1881 – 2/29/1888 Newspaper Archives
San Diego San Diego Union 3/20/1871 – 12/31/1983 Newspaper Archives
San Diego U-T San Diego 12/7/1983 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Diego Weekly World 7/27/1872 – 7/19/1873 Newspaper Archives
San Fernando San Fernando Valley Sun 11/11/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Francisco Alaska Appeal 3/6/1879 – 4/15/1880 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Alta California 6/1/1850 – 6/21/1861 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Bay Citizen 6/1/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Francisco California Farmer and Journal of Useful Sciences 1/12/1854 – 9/21/1876 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco California Journal und Sonntags-gast 1/14/1872 – 12/30/1877 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Centro America 2/20/1921 – 8/25/1921 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Cronica 12/15/1854 – 2/28/1855 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Daily Commercial News 1/1/1885 – 12/31/1888 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Daily Globe 1/1/1857 – 8/14/1858 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Daily Placer Times and Transcript 6/28/1852 – 12/4/1855 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Eco del Pacifico 4/9/1857 – 4/9/1857 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Elevator 5/5/1865 – 6/11/1898 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Free Angela 5/1/1971 – 11/8/1971 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Grafico Internacional 2/1/1937 – 4/1/1937 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Hispano America 6/16/1918 – 12/5/1931 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Imparcial 11/20/1931 – 2/1/1935 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Jalamate 12/1/1971 – 6/9/1972 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Mefistofeles 3/9/1918 – 7/20/1918 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Mercantile Gazette and Prices Current, Shipping List and Register 10/2/1863 – 10/18/1867 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Mirror of the Times 12/12/1857 – 12/12/1857 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Nueva Mission 11/27/1967 – 10/1/1969 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco San Francisco Abend Post 1/3/1871 – 12/30/1876 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco San Francisco Bulletin 10/8/1855 – 12/31/1891 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco San Francisco Chronicle 1/1/1937 – 12/31/1942 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco San Francisco Chronicle 1/1/1985 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Francisco San Francisco Evening Journal 5/31/1852 – 5/13/1854 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco San Francisco Vindicator 5/2/1887 – 2/16/1889 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Seminario Imparcial 8/13/1938 – 11/12/1938 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Voz de Chile y de las Republicas Americanas 10/11/1867 – 5/26/1868 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Voz del Nuevo Mundo 3/27/1865 – 9/23/1884 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Weekly Alta California 10/5/1850 – 12/30/1854 Newspaper Archives
San Francisco Weekly Pacific News 12/31/1849 – 5/15/1851 Newspaper Archives
San Jose Almaden Resident 10/16/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Jose Campbell Reporter 9/22/1999 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Jose Cupertino Courier 12/27/1995 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Jose Evening News 2/23/1884 – 12/30/1922 Newspaper Archives
San Jose Los Gatos Weekly-Times 3/17/1999 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Jose Rose Garden Resident 4/29/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Jose San Jose Mercury News 11/5/1861 – 12/31/1922 Newspaper Archives
San Jose San Jose Mercury News 6/1/1985 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Jose Sunnyvale Sun 2/21/1996 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Jose Willow Glen Resident 1/10/1996 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Luis Obispo Tribune 1/1/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Mateo San Mateo County Times 9/15/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Mateo San Mateo Daily Journal 6/18/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Ramon San Ramon Valley Times 9/9/1995 – 7/28/2010 Recent Obituaries
Santa Ana Irvine World News: Orange County Register weekly 5/13/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Santa Ana OC Post-Irvine World News: Orange County Register weekly 2/19/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Santa Ana Orange County Register 1/1/1987 – Current Recent Obituaries
Santa Ana Star-Progress: Orange County Register weekly 5/27/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Santa Ana Tustin News, The: Orange County Register weekly 5/6/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Santa Anita Santa Anita Pacemaker 4/24/1942 – 7/29/1942 Newspaper Archives
Santa Barbara Gaceta 8/9/1879 – 7/30/1881 Newspaper Archives
Santa Clarita Signal 12/5/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Santa Maria Santa Maria Times 12/3/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Santa Maria Times Press Recorder 1/5/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Santa Monica Aguila 3/21/1971 – 3/21/1973 Newspaper Archives
Santa Monica Santa Monica Daily Press 3/9/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Santa Rosa Press Democrat 1/1/1995 – Current Recent Obituaries
Saratoga Saratoga News 12/6/1995 – Current Recent Obituaries
Scotts Valley Santa Cruz Sentinel 2/9/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Seaside Monterey County Weekly 4/24/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Selma Selma Enterprise 5/6/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Sonoma Sonoma Index-Tribune 11/29/1996 – Current Recent Obituaries
Sonora Union Democrat 3/4/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
St. Helena St. Helena Star 3/3/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Stanford Atisbos 6/1/1975 – 6/1/1978 Newspaper Archives
State-Wide County California Newswire 7/9/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Stockton San Joaquin Republican 10/27/1855 – 12/8/1860 Newspaper Archives
Taft Midway Driller 11/8/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Tanforan Tanforan Totalizer 5/15/1942 – 9/12/1942 Newspaper Archives
Temecula Californian 7/14/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Torrance Daily Breeze 8/3/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Torrance More San Pedro 2/18/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Turlock Turlock Journal 12/11/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Twentynine Palms Desert Trail 5/7/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Twentynine Palms Observation Post: Marine Corps Combat Center 1/16/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Ukiah Ukiah Daily Journal 9/30/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Vacaville Reporter 1/3/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Vallejo Solano Times 4/20/2000 – Current Recent Obituaries
Vallejo Times-Herald 7/10/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Ventura Ventura County Star 3/5/1997 – Current Recent Obituaries
Walnut Weekly News 8/4/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Walnut Creek Contra Costa Times 6/1/1995 – Current Recent Obituaries
Walnut Creek Lamorinda Sun 2/21/1996 – Current Recent Obituaries
Walnut Creek Walnut Creek Journal 8/5/1999 – Current Recent Obituaries
West Covina San Gabriel Valley Tribune 9/25/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Whittier Whittier Daily News 9/15/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Willits Willits News 9/17/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Woodland Daily Democrat 8/20/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Woodland Hills Daily News of Los Angeles 10/3/1985 – Current Recent Obituaries
Yreka Siskiyou Daily News 5/16/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Yucca Valley Hi-Desert Star 5/7/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries

Old Photos of the City of Cleveland in Historical Photo Archive

It was a happy day in 1914 when Clevelanders learned that a cache of old city photos had been found.

A photograph, after all, is worth a thousand words—and these old Cleveland, Ohio, photographs told quite a story about the city’s development.

Photographing Cleveland for 50 Years, Plain Dealer newspaper article 27 December 1914

Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), 27 December 1914, page 27

This massive collection of more than 5,000 negatives had been taken over a lifetime by Jerry Greene, long-time Cleveland photographer. The cache of these old city photos of Cleveland was found and rescued by Stanley McMichael in 1914.

You too can find and rescue your family’s old photographs by searching for those that were published in the nation’s newspapers over the past century and more. Uncover your ancestors’ old pictures from events such as birthdays, graduations, marriages, family reunions and more. See historical pictures of the cities and towns they lived in and watch them grow. These old photos can provide a true sense of what life was like during their times.

Be sure to use GenealogyBank’s handy photographs and images search page designed to help you focus in on these historical photos.

GenealogyBank's Newspaper Photos & Illustrations search page

GenealogyBank’s Newspaper Photos & Illustrations search page

Search the historical photo archive using only a surname to find photos and illustrations of your relatives, or search on the name of their home town to find images of the ancestral towns where your family was from.

Find, preserve and pass down these old family photographs!

Carnegie Libraries: A History of Library Philanthropy from Steel

Introduction: Gena Philibert-Ortega is a genealogist and author of the book “From the Family Kitchen.” In this guest blog post Gena writes about a resource beloved by genealogists, the local library—and how thousands were built thanks to the generosity of businessman, steel magnate and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.

Many genealogists are thankful for a resource that helps them immensely with their family history research: the local library. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, communities throughout the English-speaking world owed their local libraries to the generosity of one man: businessman, steel magnate and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.

Between the years 1883 and 1929, more than 2,500 libraries were built with donated Carnegie money, including a staggering 1,689 in the United States alone!

A recent History Channel mini-series, “The Men Who Built America,” told the story of those late 19th century tycoons who helped industrialize and bring innovation to the United States, including Andrew Carnegie. While the wealth that Carnegie amassed building his steel empire later benefitted the public, he was not without controversy. Along with his business success, Carnegie was also known for his indirect roles in the tragedies of the 1889 Johnstown Flood and the deadly Homestead Strike in 1892. Carnegie, no matter how benevolent, was not a universally-liked man during his time.

While he spent his working years building Carnegie Steel, his later years were devoted to philanthropy including establishing thousands of libraries in the United States, the United Kingdom and other English-speaking countries. Carnegie wrote that the rich had a moral obligation to distribute their wealth, and that is what he did—and continues to do long after his death in 1919, thanks to endowments set up during his lifetime.*

Was your town granted money for a Carnegie library? To secure a new library, communities had to write a letter requesting funding. They were then provided a form to fill out with questions about the community’s present library and finances. Funding for a Carnegie library was not an outright gift. Those seeking funding were required to provide the land and funding for the continued operation and maintenance of the library each year, about 10% of the initial funding amount.**

Though these conditions made some communities angry, who saw them as a drain on taxpayer money, others understood the educational opportunity made possible by the offer of a Carnegie library. The first Carnegie library in the United States was opened in 1902 in New York City.

Here is an example of an announcement in an old newspaper for the approval of a library in the California town of Nevada City.

Carnegie Library for Nevada City, Evening News newspaper article 29 February 1904

Evening News (San Jose, California), 29 February 1904, page 1

This library building still stands and now houses the Doris Foley Library for Historical Research, a research facility for Nevada County history.

While some of those Carnegie-funded libraries still exist and function as active libraries, including the one pictured below in the Southern California town of Beaumont, there are many that have not stood the test of time or were converted to other uses.

photo of the Carnegie library in Beaumont, California

Photo: Carnegie-funded library in Beaumont, California. Credit: Gena Philibert-Ortega.

In some cases a city’s growing population meant that a bigger library was eventually needed. This happened in San Diego, whose booming population outgrew its cramped library (opened in 1902) over the decades. That San Diego library was the first Carnegie library in California.

photo of the Carnegie library in San Diego about to be demolished, San Diego Union newspaper photograph 17 July 1952

San Diego Union (San Diego, California), 17 July 1952, page 3

Interested in learning more about Carnegie libraries? Here are some websites for Carnegie libraries and images:

Want to know even more about Carnegie libraries? The Andrew Carnegie Collection housed at the Carnegie Mellon University Libraries includes documents regarding Carnegie libraries.

* History Channel. Andrew Carnegie. http://www.history.com/topics/andrew-carnegie. Accessed 31 March 2013.

** Determining the Facts. Reading 2: Obtaining a Carnegie Library http://www.nps.gov/nr/twhp/wwwlps/lessons/50carnegie/50facts3.htm. Accessed 31 March 2013.

Have You Participated in a DNA Study for Ancestry Research?

Have you tried a genetic DNA study as an approach to learning more about your family history?

If so, have you made family connections that you wouldn’t have found otherwise?

It is essential that you participate in a DNA study as soon as possible. Doing so will save time, and give you a clearer picture of your family history that will bridge the gaps where other genealogical records simply have not survived.

In the past, I avoided participating in a genetic DNA study because of the high cost and the sense that it wouldn’t prove anything about my ancestry.

Well, times have changed.

The cost of participating in DNA studies has dropped to very affordable levels and the results are surprising. DNA testing will allow you to clearly see how distinct groups with your surname are or are not related to you.

Genetic DNA Testing for Genealogy Image

Image Credit: Image by jscreationzs at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Imagine being able to sort through records for our family searching not just the surname coupled with a place of birth—but being able to narrow our search to the correct DNA haplogroup, Y-DNA 12 or deeper identifiers so that we can limit our search results to only our relatives.

If you were not sure which Miller, Stark or Sawyer individuals written up in thousands of obituaries were your relatives, knowing which DNA group they fell in would quickly help you to focus on the ones that you are related to.

A few months ago I heard from a researcher in Scotland who was spearheading a study of “Kemp” lines from Ireland, and in particular the Kemp families of County Cavan, Ireland. He wanted to determine if they were all related or if they actually were separate, unrelated families.

A quick search of other DNA projects found a Kemp study already underway, organized by Andrew Kemp in Australia. Efforts were made to find more Kemp men from all parts of the world who would be willing to participate. Seventy-five agreed and the results are still coming in.

I have been researching my Kemp family from County Cavan for the past 50 years. In piecing together the family tree I found that over the past 250 years my family—like so many Irish American families—has been continuously growing and migrating around the world, settling in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Germany and all across the United States.

As I looked at the big picture I could see that there were large concentrations of Kemp families in England, Germany, Sweden and almost everywhere I looked. Were they all related? It is going to take a long time to examine each Kemp household and see how they connect to each other. Since the bulk of the historical family records simply did not survive, there just aren’t records that would prove how these Kemp groups were or were not related—until now.

Unbelievable.

The results of the genetic DNA study were clearly showing which of the Kemp groups are in fact related.

For example: there is the Johann Conrad Kemp group. He was born in Germany in 1685 and settled in Frederick County, Maryland. The DNA study reports that his descendants are in the E1b1b1 haplogroup.

There is a Kemp family group in County Cork, Ireland. A look at the results for all of the descendants participating in this DNA study shows that they are in the R1b1a2 group.

So—the County Cork group and the Germany/Frederick County Kemp groups are not related.

Knowing where not to look for family connections will save genealogists a lot of time.

What about the large Kemp family in England? Over 25 living descendants have participated in this DNA project and all of them are also in the R1b1a2 haplogroup.

So the County Cork, Ireland, Kemp family group clearly should look to England to document their family connections.

There is a Kemp line in the Bahamas. Since that is a part of the British Commonwealth, perhaps they are also descended from a Kemp line in England. But, DNA testing shows that they fall in the I1 haplogroup common to Scandinavia. So, another completely separate Kemp family line.

Where did my Scotch-Irish County Cavan Kemp line fall?

They are all in the R1a1 haplogroup.

So—they are not related to the English, Maryland/German or Bahamian Kemp groups.

But, look at this genetic testing find: they are related to the Kemp family of Wake County, North Carolina.

The Wake County Kemp family descends from Richard Kemp who was born about 1715 in Scotland and settled in Wake County. His descendants have spread across the southern states. They are in the R1a1a haplogroup.

There are no surviving old genealogical records that can help genealogists connect the multiple Kemp lines, but DNA is now clearly showing us which groups are or are not related.

In the decades ahead we will be able to use the basic DNA haplogroups and full DNA sequencing as additional data that we can search on to extend our family trees.

What a great day for genealogy!

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?

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?

Sunday Blue Laws, Old Family Memories & U.S. Legislative History

Introduction: Scott Phillips is a genealogical historian and owner of Onward To Our Past® genealogy services. In this guest blog post, Scott explains how “Blue Laws” turned Sundays into very special family days during his childhood.

Sundays always loom large for me each week. I love them now and I really loved them when I was growing up. I am not sure about you, but for me Sunday was a significant family day. I have marvelous memories of our Sundays when I was a youngster. Mom, Dad, grandpa and grandma always said keeping Sundays as family days had a lot to do with what are called “Blue Laws.”

Do you remember these old laws? They are the laws that regulated commerce—and historically other activities—on Sundays. I well remember going to church as a youngster and having everything in town closed up tighter than a drum. Not a single shop was open in my hometown except after twelve noon—and then it was only our one pharmacy and only for a limited number of “essential” items.

So it was that we went right home from church, I fought with my sisters over who got the Sunday newspaper funny pages first, and reveled in the aromas from the kitchen while Mom prepared Sunday supper. If we were lucky the day included a leisurely Sunday Drive and almost always grandparents or other family members over to our house to share in this important meal. Then, if we had been “good” all week, we gathered in the basement around the TV and as a family watched our favorite programs like Disney’s Wonderful World of Color and Bonanza. I remember well my Dad relishing in what he called “do-nothing Sunday afternoons” because all the stores were closed.

While I was working on my family history the other day, I happened across an old article from a 1978 newspaper that explained some of the history of Blue Laws. I was interested to see that, at least according to this newspaper article, the first Blue Law was enacted all the way back in 321 AD by Roman emperor Constantine. Now that is old!

Blue Laws Not New to World, Dallas Morning News newspaper article 18 December 1978

Dallas Morning News (Dallas, Texas), 18 December 1978, page 65

This got me intrigued and it wasn’t long until I came across an article from a 1919 newspaper (published on a Sunday by the way) reporting that the origin of the term Blue Laws came from the fact that they were originally printed on blue paper. However, this “fact” as reported here has been relegated to the category of myth, although this article does highlight the extensive Blue Laws during the 1600s that were some of the most restrictive laws in American history.

The Origin and Nature of the Early Blue Laws Afford Amusing Reading, Sun newspaper article 21 December 1919

Sun (Baltimore, Maryland), 21 December 1919, part 3 page 11

I was enchanted by another historical article in a 1925 newspaper from a regular column that featured “Sunday Drives.” That really took me back, and made me happy to realize that Sunday drives were evidently universal enough to warrant a regular column in such a large newspaper.

Sunday Auto Drive on the Highways of Dallas County, Dallas Morning News newspaper article 17 May 1925

Dallas Morning News (Dallas, Texas), 17 May 1925, page 1

It was also fun to read an article from a 1961 newspaper about Walt Disney’s first color television show. That took me back to our big, old black and white TV, antennas on the roof, adjusting rabbit ears on top of the set, fiddling with the horizontal and vertical knobs, waiting for tubes to warm up, and finally the grand day we got our first color TV. As best I can recall we always had just one TV until the day I came home from college.

Disney Opens Color TV, Omaha World Herald newspaper article 24 September 1961

Omaha World Herald (Omaha, Nebraska), 24 September 1961, page 111

Today, most Blue Laws have been repealed and my Sundays aren’t quite as calm and relaxing as they were in my youth. However, there are still remnants of Blue Laws around us. For instance, in my home state of Indiana you still cannot buy a car on Sunday nor can you purchase alcoholic beverages by the bottle. Sunday drives are a bit shorter now with near $4-a-gallon gas prices, but they still happen. I’m happy to say Sunday Supper still demands full attention in our home—and I always do my best to keep it a family day, especially around Easter.

How about you? Do you remember Blue Laws and do you think they helped make Sundays special and more family oriented? Are there any Blue Laws where you live? I hope you will let me know!

Eleanor Roosevelt’s ‘My Day’ Newspaper Column: A Public Diary

Introduction: Gena Philibert-Ortega is a genealogist and author of the book “From the Family Kitchen.” In this guest blog post, Gena writes about Eleanor Roosevelt’s popular and long-running newspaper column, “My Day.”

When you think of Franklin Delano Roosevelt what comes to mind? Maybe it’s the fact that he was the only U.S. president to be elected to four terms. Maybe you’re familiar with the programs he helped to establish during the Depression, such as the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Maybe you remember the words from his speech after the attack on Pearl Harbor, calling it “a date which will live in infamy.” Our 32nd president led the nation during the difficult times of the Great Depression and World War II.

What do you know about his wife, Eleanor Roosevelt? She was a crusader for many political and social issues, including women’s and civil rights. Mrs. Roosevelt has a long list of accomplishments in her own right apart from being a first lady. Starting in late 1935 she became one of the most-documented first ladies in U.S. history, due to the fact that she began a syndicated newspaper column that she personally wrote. Eleanor worked on her column “My Day” six days a week, from 1935 to 1962, writing about her daily activities and giving her views on a range of subjects.

This 1935 newspaper notice announced the upcoming “My Day” newspaper column.

Roosevelt Columns, Plain Dealer newspaper article 30 December 1935

Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), 30 December 1935, page 7

Many of Eleanor Roosevelt’s newspaper columns read like diary entries. In some cases, they resemble a letter to a dear friend—filled with her thoughts, conversations and opinions.

Her newspaper columns addressed many different topics; not all were especially poignant. For example, in one early column she discusses how much sleep she got and describes eating a tray of food by herself in her room. But looking at the totality of the columns helps paint a picture of the United States through the mid-20th century, reflecting the important issues our families faced such as war, poverty and racism. These “My Day” columns provide researchers with a social history of life during this time.

One issue that Eleanor Roosevelt was passionate about was civil rights. In her 21 February 1936 column, she mentions that she and her husband enjoyed a concert by African American singer Marian Anderson.

My Day in the White House by Eleanor Roosevelt, Seattle Daily Times newspaper article 21 February 1936

Seattle Daily Times (Seattle, Washington), 21 February 1936, page 6

Three years later in February 1939 Eleanor Roosevelt quit the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) over their refusal to allow Marian Anderson to perform in Constitution Hall. At that time the Hall was segregated and the DAR refused to allow African Americans to perform there.

In her resignation letter, Mrs. Roosevelt stated:

“However, I am in complete disagreement with the attitude taken in refusing Constitution Hall to a great artist. You have set an example which seems to me unfortunate, and I feel obliged to send in to you my resignation. You had an opportunity to lead in an enlightened way and it seems to me that your organization has failed.”

You can view a copy of that DAR resignation letter on the National Archives website.

Thanks to the support of Eleanor Roosevelt and other like-minded individuals, Marian Anderson eventually sang at Constitution Hall at the invitation of the DAR in 1942.

photo of Eleanor Roosevelt and Marian Anderson

Photo: Eleanor Roosevelt and Marian Anderson in Japan. Credit: Flickr: The Commons, U.S. National Archives.

Mrs. Roosevelt’s 27-year newspaper column spanned her time as first lady, when she became a widow, and when she worked with the United Nations. One of her only breaks from writing the columns was in the days following her husband’s death on 12 April 1945.

In her last column, which ran 26 September 1962, Eleanor was once again addressing the issue of civil rights. In that column she discussed the issue of desegregating the schools, saying:

“In the same way, we must realize that however slow the progress of school integration in the South, analogous situations exist over and over again in the Northern states. There the problem of school desegregation is closely tied to desegregation of housing; certainly we are not doing any kind of job that we could hold out as an example to our Southern neighbors.”

With that discussion Eleanor’s “My Day” column came to an end.* She died two months later on 7 November 1962 at the age of 78.

* “My Day” by Eleanor Roosevelt, 26 September 1962. Available on the website My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt. Prepared by the Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project.