Eugenie Caroline Kemp (1842-1845) was only three years old when she died – and until recently, I didn’t even know she had existed. I discovered her when I was doing a search in GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives about one of my ancestors.
I was searching for information about Rufus Crosby Kemp (1813-1856). My research notes said that he was born in Maine in 1813 and died in 1856 in New York City. So – he lived in at least two U.S. states: Maine and New York.
Looking for him in GenealogyBank’s archives, I knew by experience that typing his full name into the search box probably wouldn’t get me the record results I wanted.
But, let’s try that full name archive search anyway and see what we can find about Rufus.
Genealogy Search Tip:
Typing in the first name, middle name and surname was just “too much information.” In the early 19th century, newspaper editors rarely referred to individuals in print by their full names – they shortened the name to what fit the character space available in that day’s newspaper.
So – I searched for Rufus in the newspaper archives again, this time typing in his name as Rufus C. Kemp to give a wider scope of possible articles, and I limited the search date range to 1810-1870.
OK. That search returned 24 record results.
Let’s see what they tell us.
Looking at the first result…
Hmm – that’s not good news.
It seems that he and his business partners Benjamin L. Mann and Albert Whitney were having a tough go in their business – “Whitney, Kemp & Co.” was insolvent.
This newspaper article gave key new information: in 1841 Rufus Kemp was living in Boston, Massachusetts, and operated a business in the area.
What did the next search result, an obituary, show?
Obituary for Rufus Kemp
OK. This is also our target Rufus Kemp.
His obituary tells us that by 1856 he was living in New York City at 259 Fourth Avenue (which is by Union Square) and that he died on Monday, 20 October 1856.
The obituary gives his age (“43d year of his age”) and tells us that he was a member of the Olive Branch Lodge, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, No. 31.
The next newspaper article gives us more information on his business.
This advertisement tells us that his business was well located, next to the Eastern Stage House – an important Boston hotel in the early 19th century.
The next search result also gives me key information that I didn’t have: the exact date of his marriage to Ann Maria Moynihan (1815-1907).
We now know that they were married on Wednesday, 3 September 1834 in Boston.
Great – I can add that information to my family tree.
Obituary of Rufus’s Daughter
I kept opening up each search result – and then I found this: the obituary notice of little Eugenie Caroline Kemp (1842-1845).
Who was she?
I had no record of her – but there she was.
She was 3 years and 7 months old when she died on 29 December 1845.
Now I have a new member to add to our family tree!
If I had given up after my first newspaper archive search attempt, I wouldn’t have found her. Also, if I had stopped looking at the articles after finding Rufus Kemp’s obituary and marriage announcement, I wouldn’t have found her. It was by adjusting my ancestor search from her father’s full name, Rufus Crosby Kemp, to Rufus C. Kemp, and by continuing to look at every article, that I found more information – and critically – that I found Eugenie Caroline Kemp.
Keep searching the historical archives and be flexible in how you search for your ancestors. If you search only using your target ancestor’s full name, you might miss the key articles you need to document your family tree.
Better to search the archives using several variations: with only the surname; the first and last name; or first name, middle initial, and last name.
And – when you get your search results – be sure to open and read each one of them. You just might find a new twig on the Family Tree – like little Eugenie Caroline Kemp (1842-1845).
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