Which of Your Ancestors Would You Invite to Your Family Reunion?

Introduction: Mary Harrell-Sesniak is a genealogist, author and editor with a strong technology background. In this guest blog post, Mary fantasizes about being able to invite some of her famous ancestors—including flight pioneers the Wright brothers—to a family reunion.

I’ve got a number of friends who get excited about fantasy football.

Whereas this is quite a snoozer for me, I see their point. They love to discuss and theorize about favorite football players—which is not unlike family historians when they get together, who assert their knowledge about favorite genealogical finds. And genealogists love to discuss their favorite ancestors!

Nobody can really speak for their ancestors, of course, but you can—in a round-about way—introduce them at your next family reunion. Someone could present a written report on their favorite ancestor, or the more theatrical members at your reunion could re-enact times and events surrounding your more noteworthy (or notorious) ancestors.

So if you could invite any relation (direct or otherwise) to your next family reunion, who would it be?

The Wright Brothers

One of my choices would be my latest cousin discovery: aviation pioneers Wilbur and Orville Wright, who share Edmund Freeman (1737-1813) and Martha Otis (1737-1790) as mutual ancestors.

I’d love to ask the Wright brothers if they were apprehensive about their flying machine when it first took flight. I’ve read the patents and various reports about their incredible aviation invention, but it would be wonderful to get their first-hand accounts.

Patent No. 821, 393 of 2 May 1906 (available for viewing at Google Patents):

To all whom it may concern:

Be it known that we, ORVILLE WRIGHT and WILBUR WRIGHT, citizens of the United States, residing in the city of Dayton, county of Montgomery, and State of Ohio, have invented certain new and useful Improvements, in Flying-Machines, of which the following is a specification.

Our invention relates to that class of flying-machines in which the weight is sustained by the reactions resulting when one or more aeroplanes are moved through the air edgewise at a small angle of incidence, either by the application of mechanical power or by the utilization of the force of gravity.

This old newspaper article from 1903 reports that the Wright brothers’ flying machine flew three miles against the wind.

A Flying Machine Goes Three Miles against the Wind, Fort Worth Star-Telegram newspaper article, 18 December 1903

Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Fort Worth, Texas), 18 December 1903, page 1

If Orville Wright were alive, I’d love to see him fly his hydro-aero-boat invention. This 1913 newspaper article describes him, not as an aviator, but as a “noted birdman,” and reports that Wilbur Wright had been stricken with scarlet fever. What fun that Orville’s flying boat was tested on “Mad River”!

Orville Wright Perfects New Flying Boat, Evening Times newspaper article 5 December 1913

Evening Times (Grand Forks, North Dakota), 5 December 1913, page 10

Accused Witch Lydia Gilbert

Another on my list of ancestors I’d invite to my family reunion would be accused witch Lydia, wife of Thomas Gilbert. This travesty occurred in October of 1651, reportedly in Hartford, Connecticut (not Salem, Massachusetts). At the time, Lydia and her husband were living in the household of Henry Stiles. A neighbor, Thomas Allyn, was present when a gun discharged, slaying Stiles. Allyn was found guilty of “homicide by misadventure” but three years later, Lydia and others were accused at a Court of Oyer and Terminer of having caused the deed by witchcraft.

Poor Lydia. Wouldn’t you love to hear from her and to reassure her that witchcraft trials were finally put to rest when Governor Phils dissolved this particular Court on 29 October 1692. (Note: that didn’t put an end to all Courts of Oyer and Terminer, a term easily searchable in GenealogyBank. Such courts were authorized to oversee certain criminal cases.)

GenealogyBank’s newspaper archives don’t date to 1651 (although they do contain the first newspaper published in America, Publick Occurrences, in 1690), but there are various references to witch trials contained in the old newspapers, including this photo of the Old Witch House taken in 1914.

Oldest Building in Salem, Mass., Anaconda Standard newspaper article 26 June 1914

Anaconda Standard (Anaconda, Montana), 26 June 1914, page 1

Oyster Cracker Inventor Adam Exton and Wife Elizabeth Aspden

Although not household names today, British immigrants Adam Exton (1823-1887) and wife Elizabeth Aspden (1821-1894) were well known in Trenton, New Jersey, during their lifetime. Adam Exton was the inventor of the oyster cracker, a recipe which became immensely popular. I’d love to invite both of them to my family reunion as well.

I’d like to inquire why Adam Exton didn’t patent this particular invention, as it was soon stolen—and to this day some still disclaim him as the inventor of the delicious invention. However, this piece of family provenance is substantiated in a 1917 newspaper article written by his nephew, also named Adam Exton, who worked in the cracker factory and knew his uncle personally.

Life History of Oyster Crackers, Trenton Evening Times newspaper article 31 May 1917

Trenton Evening Times (Trenton, New Jersey), 31 May 1917, page 4

If you’d like to know more about this topic, search the Web for “Adam Exton’s cracker factory.” The factory still exists and has been renovated into condominiums, known as the Trenton Lofts.

So as family reunion season approaches, consider inviting a few “virtual” ancestors to the party, and don’t forget to search GenealogyBank’s historical archives for the family trivia. You might even uncover a news report of a previous family reunion. When I input “family reunion” into GenealogyBank’s search box, almost 100,000 matches return! Many of these old news articles include old family reunion photos that show the whole family the way they were in the past. What great find to share with the rising generation at your next family get-together so that the young ones can see their ancestors’ faces.

GenealogyBank search box for "family reunion"

GenealogyBank search box for “family reunion”

So which ancestors would you place on your “fantasy ancestral team”? Please share your more extraordinary ancestral finds with us!

Capital Punishment in the 1700s: Women Burned at the Stake

If you committed murder in 1755 you were dealt with severely. However, the punishment for the crime was not always the same for a man as it was for a woman.

notice of a 1755 execution in Massachusetts, Evening Post newspaper article 22 September 1755

Evening Post (Boston, Massachusetts), 22 September 1755, page 4

In this article from an old 1700s newspaper, we learn that a man and a woman servant were found guilty of the murder of their master. The woman was burned at the stake for the crime.

Meanwhile the man was hanged on the gallows, and then later his body was hung in the town square by a chain.

Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, CGL, the Legal Genealogist, will be speaking this Saturday to the Seattle Genealogical Society about the differences in applying the law and punishments between men and women throughout history. Her remarks are entitled: “Don’t Forget the Ladies—A Genealogist’s Guide to Women and the Law.” Get the event details at the Seattle Genealogical Society website here: http://seattlegenealogicalsociety.org/content/seminars.

More Obituaries Online in the Obituary Archives!

I love it. GenealogyBank is always growing, adding more obituaries online every day. Here are some examples of the content we will be adding to our Recent Newspaper Obituaries archive in the next few weeks.

This obituary preview list showcases new content from eight U.S. states: Florida, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. And there’s always more coming online in the archives. Stay tuned!

South Florida Times (Ft. Lauderdale, FL)

  • Obituaries:  12/31/2010 – Current

Mountain Advocate (Barbourville, KY)

  • Obituaries:  09/13/2012 – Current

Herald (Chicopee, MA)

  • Obituaries:  03/13/2007 – Current

Reminder (East Longmeadow, MA)

  • Obituaries:  03/13/2007 – Current

Springfield Reminder (Springfield, MA)

  • Obituaries:  03/13/2007 – Current

Grand Island Independent (Grand Island, NE)

  • Death Notices:  01/02/2007 – Current

Omaha World-Herald (Omaha, NE)

  • Death Notices:  09/04/2005 – Current

Adirondack Journal (Warrensburg, NY)

  • Death Notices:  04/10/2012 – Current

Burgh (Plattsburgh, NY)

  • Death Notices:  04/10/2012 – Current

Denpubs.com (Elizabethtown, NY)

  • Death Notices:  04/10/2012 – Current

News Enterprise (North Creek, NY)

  • Death Notices:  04/10/2012 – Current

North Countryman (Altona, NY)

  • Death Notices:  04/10/2012 – Current

Times of Ti (Ticonderoga, NY)

  • Death Notices:  04/10/2012 – Current

Valley News (Elizabethtown, NY)

  • Death Notices:  04/10/2012 – Current

News & Observer – Blogs (Raleigh, NC)

  • Obituaries:  12/07/2009 – Current

Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise (Bartlesville, OK)

  • Death Notices:  02/10/2009 – Current

Murfreesboro Vision (Nashville, TN)

  • Obituaries:  01/15/2009 – Current

Nashville Pride (Nashville, TN)

  • Obituaries:  01/02/2009 – Current

Irish American Genealogy & Family History Facts Infographic

Irish American Genealogy & Family History Facts Infographic

In celebration of Irish Heritage Month, here are some interesting facts about Irish ancestry in America.

Irish American Population Statistics

  • There are 34.5 million people who claim Irish ancestry in America
  • Approximately 11% of the total United States population is Irish American
  • There are over 7 times more people of Irish descent in the United States than the entire population of Ireland

History of Irish Immigration to America

There were 2 major waves of Irish immigration to America.

  1. The first immigration period was in the Colonial era of the 18th century. These people set sail from the northern provinces of Ireland looking for new lives as American pioneers. The migration consisted of approximately 250,000 Scots-Irish who were predominately Protestant. The major ports of entry for these incoming Irish immigrants were in New York and Philadelphia.
  1. The second wave of immigration was between 1846 and 1900. During this period approximately 2,873,000 people fled to America from the southern provinces of Ireland. This was primarily due to the Great Irish Potato Famine, which caused poverty and starvation throughout Ireland. These new arrivals were predominately of Catholic denomination. The major American ports of entry were in New York and Boston. The Irish also arrived on trains and ships from Canada, which was then called British North America.

Origins of the Saying “Luck of the Irish”

During the 1848-1855 California Gold Rush many Irish immigrants headed out West to mine silver & gold. Many Americans said the immigrants’ mining success was due to luck, not skill—hence the saying “Luck of the Irish.”

Common Irish Surnames

Here is a list of the top 10 most common Irish last names and their meanings:

  • Murphy – Sea Battlers
  • Kelly – Bright-headed Ones
  • O’Sullivan – Hawkeyed Ones
  • Walsh – Welshmen
  • O’Brien – Noblemen
  • Byrne – Ravens
  • Ryan – Little Kings
  • O’Connor – Patrons of Warriors
  • O’Neill - From a Champion, Niall of the Nine Hostages
  • O’Reilly – Outgoing People, Descendants of Reilly

Percentage of Irish Americans by State

The Northeastern United States has the highest concentration of Irish Americans. The following 9 states all have more than 15% Irish ancestry in their total populations. The states are listed in descending order from highest to lowest total Irish population percentages. Massachusetts has the highest percentage in the United States with 22.5% of its residents claiming Irish ancestry.

  1. Massachusetts
  2. New Hampshire
  3. Rhode Island
  4. Delaware
  5. Connecticut
  6. Vermont
  7. Pennsylvania
  8. New Jersey
  9. Maine

The following 9 U.S. states also have high Irish American populations of 12-14%. Montana has the highest in this range with 14.8% of its population claiming Irish ancestry.

  1. Montana
  2. Iowa
  3. Nebraska
  4. Wyoming
  5. New York
  6. Missouri
  7. Ohio
  8. Colorado
  9. Illinois

11% to 11.9% of the residents in the following 7 states claim Irish ancestry.

  1. Oregon
  2. Maryland
  3. Kansas
  4. Washington
  5. Minnesota
  6. Nevada
  7. West Virginia

The remaining states have less than 11% Irish ancestry in their total populations.

Famous Americans Who Are a Wee Bit Irish

From presidents to outlaws, there have been many famous Irish Americans throughout U.S. history. Here are a few of them:

  • John F. Kennedy a.k.a. JFK: 35th President of the United States
  • Henry Ford: Founder of Ford Motor Company
  • Barack Obama: 44th President of the United States
  • William Henry McCarty Jr. a.k.a. Billy the Kid: Outlaw
  • Judy Garland: Actress & Singer
  • Bill O’Reilly: TV Host & Political Commentator
  • Conan O’Brien: TV Host & Comedian
  • Grace Kelly: Actress & Princess of Monaco
  • Walter Elias Disney a.k.a. Walt Disney: Film Producer & Co-founder of the Walt Disney Company
  • Danica Patrick: NASCAR Driver
  • Eddie Murphy: Actor & Comedian
  • Mel Gibson: Actor & Film Producer

Top Irish Genealogy Records

The top genealogy records to trace your Irish roots are:

Did You Know?

Civil registration in Ireland didn’t begin until 1864, although some non-Catholic marriages were recorded as early as 1845. Fortunately for genealogists, Irish American newspapers routinely published the news of Irish births, marriages and deaths for more than half a century before Ireland started recording them.

Got a little Irish in you? Discover your Irish American ancestry at http://www.genealogybank.com/gbnk/ethnic/irish_american/

Follow GenealogyBank on social media with hashtag #IrishHeritage for more Irish American genealogy facts throughout Irish Heritage Month.

Sources:

http://www.biography.com/people/groups/famous-irish-americans

http://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/facts_for_features_special_editions/cb13-ff03.html

http://www.edwardtodonnell.com/

http://www.energyofanation.org/waves_of_irish_immigration.html

http://www.irishcentral.com/roots/The-10-most-popular-Irish-last-names-2-133737553.html?page=3

http://names.mongabay.com/ancestry/st-Irish.html

http://www.udel.edu/soe/deal/IrishImmigrationFacts.html

http://www.wikipedia.org/

23 Million Newspaper Records for all 50 U.S. States Just Added!

Did you realize that every day GenealogyBank adds more records from over 3,000 newspapers from all 50 states? Our archivists and digital experts are gathering and digitizing more of America’s newspapers and putting them online continuously.

In the past month alone we added over 23 million newspaper records—that is more than 5 million records every week!

Here is a glimpse of just some of the new newspaper content that has recently been added to GenealogyBank. Since we can’t list all 3,000 newspapers here, we have selected a representative sample to give you a sense of GenealogyBank’s dynamic growth. Dig into our rapidly expanding newspaper archives and uncover your family history now!

Newspapers marked with an asterisk (*) are new to GenealogyBank.

State City Newspapers

Date Range

Collection

Alaska Anchorage Anchorage Daily News

1/2/1971–12/30/1972

Newspaper Archives

California San Diego Evening Tribune

9/2/1912–9/29/1936

Newspaper Archives

California San Diego San Diego Union

4/20/1881–12/23/1930

Newspaper Archives

California San Francisco Bay Citizen, The*

06/01/2010–Current

Recent Obituaries

Colorado Denver Denver Post

7/4/1903–5/22/1917

Newspaper Archives

Colorado Denver Denver Rocky Mountain News

11/30/1890–10/1/1898

Newspaper Archives

Colorado Golden Arvada Press*

08/30/2012–Current

Recent Obituaries

Colorado Golden Golden Transcript*

06/07/2012–Current

Recent Obituaries

Colorado Golden Wheat Ridge Transcript*

05/12/2012–Current

Recent Obituaries

Colorado Lakewood Lakewood Sentinel*

05/18/2012–Current

Recent Obituaries

Colorado Thornton Northglenn-Thornton Sentinel*

05/18/2012–Current

Recent Obituaries

Colorado Westminster Westminster Window*

05/18/2012–Current

Recent Obituaries

District of Columbia Washington Daily Union

05/01/1845–12/31/1853

Newspaper Archives

District of Columbia Washington (DC) Evening Star

4/11/1877–12/31/1922

Newspaper Archives

Georgia Marietta Marietta Journal

1/15/1961–12/8/1978

Newspaper Archives

Idaho Idaho Falls Post Register*

01/24/2013–Current

Recent Obituaries

Illinois Belleville Belleville News-Democrat: Blogs*

05/22/2009–Current

Recent Obituaries

Illinois Chicago Chicago Sun-Times: Blogs*

02/20/2008–Current

Recent Obituaries

Illinois Elburn Elburn Herald*

10/09/2008–Current

Recent Obituaries

Illinois Springfield Daily Illinois State Register

1/1/1856–1/14/1892

Newspaper Archives

Louisiana Baton Rouge Advocate

10/1/1943–5/15/1958

Newspaper Archives

Louisiana Baton Rouge State Times Advocate

3/3/1933–9/15/1969

Newspaper Archives

Louisiana New Orleans NOLA Defender*

03/13/2010–Current

Recent Obituaries

Maryland Baltimore Sun

8/9/1922–9/3/1922

Newspaper Archives

Massachusetts Boston Boston Herald

7/2/1855–9/19/1972

Newspaper Archives

Massachusetts Boston Boston Herald: Blogs*

10/28/2006–Current

Recent Obituaries

Massachusetts Boston Boston Traveler

9/1/1855–8/7/1951

Newspaper Archives

Massachusetts Springfield Republican, The: Web Edition Articles*

11/16/2012–Current

Recent Obituaries

Massachusetts Springfield Springfield Daily News

1/24/1914–11/6/1919

Newspaper Archives

Massachusetts Springfield Springfield Republican

01/18/1920–01/18/1920

Newspaper Archives

Massachusetts Westfield Westfield News, The*

12/13/2011–Current

Recent Obituaries

Michigan Ann Arbor Ann Arbor Daily Argus

11/17/1898–12/31/1906

Newspaper Archives

Michigan Ann Arbor Ann Arbor Daily Times

10/5/1907–4/7/1908

Newspaper Archives

Michigan Ann Arbor Michigan Argus

10/31/1879–12/20/1907

Newspaper Archives

Michigan Ypsilanti Ypsilanti Commercial

3/11/1864–8/18/1898

Newspaper Archives

Mississippi Hattiesburg Petal News, The*

04/21/2011–Current

Recent Obituaries

Nebraska Omaha Omaha Star*

01/07/2011–Current

Recent Obituaries

Nebraska Omaha Omaha World Herald

11/1/1981–11/30/1983

Newspaper Archives

Nevada Boulder City Boulder City Review*

11/05/2009–Current

Recent Obituaries

New Jersey Leonia Leonia Life*

01/22/2010–Current

Recent Obituaries

New York Hastings-on-Hudson, Dobbs Ferry Rivertowns Daily Voice*

08/02/2011–Current

Recent Obituaries

New York New York Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper

04/01/1871–10/21/1871

Newspaper Archives

New York New York New Yorker Volkszeitung

02/18/1894–02/28/1900

Newspaper Archives

New York Westchester County Newsday: Westchester County Edition*

05/02/2012–Current

Recent Obituaries

North Carolina Charlotte Charlotte Observer, The: Blogs*

11/09/2006–Current

Recent Obituaries

North Carolina Greensboro Greensboro Daily News

4/14/1945–9/30/1977

Newspaper Archives

North Carolina Greensboro Greensboro Record

2/22/1950–4/10/1981

Newspaper Archives

North Carolina Reidsville Eden Daily News, The*

02/13/2013–Current

Recent Obituaries

Ohio Cincinnati Cincinnati Post

1/7/1886–6/4/1920

Newspaper Archives

Oregon Hood River Hood River News*

08/09/2001–Current

Recent Obituaries

Pennsylvania Philadelphia Philadelphia City Paper*

06/29/2006–Current

Recent Obituaries

South Carolina Charleston Charleston Courier*

8/14/1860–2/15/1861

Newspaper Archives

South Carolina Charleston Charleston News and Courier

11/04/1897–07/16/1913

Newspaper Archives

South Carolina Charleston Evening Post

9/29/1914–8/29/1921

Newspaper Archives

Texas Fredericksburg Fredericksburg Standard-Radio Post*

08/07/2002–Current

Recent Obituaries

Vermont Middlebury Addison County Independent*

12/27/2006–Current

Recent Obituaries

Vermont St. Johnsbury Caledonian

8/12/1854–6/25/1897

Newspaper Archives

Vermont St. Johnsbury Caledonian-Record

11/25/1908–1/14/1925

Newspaper Archives

Virginia Richmond Richmond Times Dispatch

2/1/1948–12/31/1986

Newspaper Archives

Washington Bellingham Bellingham Herald, The: Blogs*

01/15/2008–Current

Recent Obituaries

Washington Forks Forks Forum*

12/15/2010–Current

Recent Obituaries

Wisconsin Chippewa Falls Chippewa Herald, The: Blogs*

06/21/2012–Current

Recent Obituaries

Wisconsin Milwaukee Wahrheit

09/05/1896–09/05/1896

Newspaper Archives

Thousands More Recent Obituaries from 13 States Coming Soon!

GenealogyBank is adding 21 new newspapers with thousands more obituaries to its Recent Obituaries archives to help with your family history research.

GenealogyBank's search form for Recent Newspaper Obituaries

GenealogyBank’s search form for Recent Newspaper Obituaries

These newspapers are from 13 states: California, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Massachusetts, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.

You can view our entire Recent Obituaries archives here: http://www.genealogybank.com/gbnk/obituaries/

These newspapers will be added in the next few weeks.

Bay Citizen (San Francisco, CA)

  • Obituaries:  06/01/2010 – Current

Arvada Press (Golden, CO)

  • Obituaries:  08/30/2012 – Current

Golden Transcript (Golden, CO)

  • Obituaries:  06/07/2012 – Current

Lakewood Sentinel (Lakewood, CO)

  • Obituaries:  05/18/2012 – Current

Northglenn-Thornton Sentinel (Thornton, CO)

  • Obituaries:  05/18/2012 – Current

Westminster Window (Westminster, CO)

  • Obituaries:  05/18/2012 – Current

Wheat Ridge Transcript (Golden, CO)

  • Obituaries:  05/12/2012 – Current

Post Register (Idaho Falls, ID)

  • Obituaries:  01/24/2013 – Current

Belleville News-Democrat: Blogs (Belleville, IL)

  • Obituaries:  05/22/2009 – Current

Chicago Sun-Times: Blogs (Chicago, IL)

  • Obituaries:  02/20/2008 – Current

Elburn Herald (Elburn, IL)

  • Obituaries:  10/09/2008 – Current

Boston Herald: Blogs (Boston, MA)

  • Obituaries:  10/28/2006 – Current

Boulder City Review (Boulder City, NV)

  • Obituaries:  11/26/2009 – Current

Newsday: Westchester County Edition (NY)

  • Obituaries:  05/02/2012 – Current

Charlotte Observer: Blogs (Charlotte, NC)

  • Obituaries:  11/09/2006 – Current

Eden Daily News (Reidsville, NC)

  • Obituaries:  02/13/2013 – Current

Hood River News (Hood River, OR)

  • Obituaries:  08/09/2001 – Current

Philadelphia City Paper (Philadelphia, PA)

  • Obituaries:  06/29/2006 – Current

Addison County Independent (Middlebury, VT)

  • Obituaries:  12/27/2006 – Current

Bellingham Herald: Blogs (Bellingham, WA)

  • Obituaries:  01/15/2008 – Current

Chippewa Herald: Blogs (Chippewa Falls, WI)

  • Obituaries:  06/21/2012 – Current

Clues in Petitions: Did Your Ancestors Petition the Government?

Introduction: Mary Harrell-Sesniak is a genealogist, author and editor with a strong technology background. In this guest blog post, Mary writes about our ancestors’ petitions to the government, an often-overlooked source of family history information.

From the establishment of companies, to divorces, to relief from tobacco weighing, the right to petition the government “for a redress of grievances” is a constitutionally-protected right in the U.S., ever since the Bill of Rights came into effect on 15 December 1791.

These petitions that our ancestors sent to their government, reports of which can be found in old newspapers, can be a valuable source of family history information.

Here is an example of several petition notices published in a 19th century Virginia newspaper.

citizens' petitions to the government, Richmond Whig newspaper article 1 January 1850

Richmond Whig (Richmond, Virginia), 1 January 1850, page 2

Many genealogists have not yet discovered their ancestral petitions—but in all likelihood, family historians will be able to locate them with a little digging into newspaper archives.

When our ancestors petitioned the government, a typical procedure was to have a public representative or prominent citizen present their case in front of Congress.

In this example, Mr. Wayne (i.e., General “Mad” Anthony Wayne) presented a petition “praying compensation” for Revolutionary War surgeon John Davis, who, according to The Life of John Davis (William Watts Hart Davis, 1886), served valiantly under Wayne at the Battles of Monmouth, Morristown, etc.

petition by John Davis, Massachusetts Spy newspaper article 1 December 1791

Massachusetts Spy (Worcester, Massachusetts), 1 December 1791, page 2

This historical newspaper article also reports on similar pleas for Revolutionary War service compensation that were referred to the Secretary of War. We can also review a variety of other requests: Philip Bush had lost a certificate, the Branch Pilots of Pennsylvania wished an increase in their fees, and Mr. Wicks prayed compensation for a vessel and cargo damaged during the late war.

Some petitioners’ names were not identified in the news articles, probably due to the publisher’s need to conserve space. To make further identification in such cases, search archives of official congressional papers.

Petition requests are valid evidence for genealogical proofs. Whether or not the petitions were granted is another story. But whatever the outcome, our ancestors’ pleas are a treasure trove of data waiting to be mined. There are so many government petitions that (in my humble opinion) this is a project waiting to be tackled.

Wouldn’t it be great to have an indexed book on petitions, divided into subtopics, such as debt relief or the Temperance movement?

The crusade against drinking sparked a number of petitions in 19th century America. For example, in 1850 a “Mr. W.” presented fifteen petitions from citizens of Massachusetts, asking that the spirit ration of the Navy be abolished.

petition against Navy's liquor ration, Daily National Intelligencer newspaper article 1 January 1850

Daily National Intelligencer (Washington, D.C.), 1 January 1850, page 2

Were these concerned Massachusetts citizens members of the group that met at Gibbs’ Hotel in Boston, where Sons of Temperance meetings were held?

Gibbs' Hotel advertisement, Boston Herald newspaper 1 January 1850

Boston Herald (Boston, Massachusetts), 1 January 1850, page 3

I haven’t yet completed the research, but my hunch is that Gibbs’ Hotel is where the teetotalers of the temperance petitions were meeting. My suspicion was enhanced after discovering this delightful old 1800s poem.

poem dedicated to J. B. Gibbs, Norfolk Democrat newspaper 29 March 1850

Norfolk Democrat (Dedham, Massachusetts), 29 March 1850, page 3

To locate petitions in GenealogyBank, search using the “Legal, Probate & Court” category in the Newspaper Archives.

GenealogyBank's search form for legal, probate and court notices

GenealogyBank’s search form for legal, probate and court notices

Include keywords such as pension, military or relief, along with an ancestor’s surname.

Have fun searching for petitions in GenealogyBank. Some are serious, and others are not.

Here’s an example of a petition I found in the “not so serious” category—and I see that some things never change.

This 1810 Georgia petition shows that, the same then as now, lawyers—as much as we need them—tend to infuriate us!

“We pray your honorable body to make such laws as to dispense with and totally obliterate the most useless pests that ever disgraced the human society, to wit, the lawyers, who have so successfully learnt the trade of living.”

Georgia petition against lawyers, Connecticut Herald newspaper article 2 January 1810

Connecticut Herald (New Haven, Connecticut), 2 January 1810, page 6

Yes, petitions in old newspapers can help us a great deal with our family history searches. And if, every now and then, one of our ancestor’s petitions manages to give us a chuckle or put a smile on our face—so much the better!

9 More Recent Newspaper Obituary Collections Coming Soon!

GenealogyBank will soon be adding nine more newspapers to its Recent Obituaries Collection dating from 2002 to today.

GenealogyBank Recent Obituaries Search Results

GenealogyBank Recent Obituaries Search Results

GenealogyBank is constantly expanding its online archives to offer you more records for your family history research. These upcoming additions provide expanded obituaries coverage for the following 8 U.S. States: Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Texas and Washington.

Here is the list of the recent obituaries coming online:

NOLA Defender (New Orleans, LA)

  • Obituaries: 03/13/2010 – Current

Republican: Web Edition Articles (Springfield, MA)

  • Obituaries: 11/16/2012 – Current

Westfield News (Westfield, MA)

  • Obituaries: 12/13/2011 – Current

Petal News (Hattiesburg, MS)

  • Obituaries: 04/28/2011 – Current

Omaha Star (Omaha, NE)

  • Obituaries: 01/07/2011 – Current

Leonia Life (Leonia, NJ)

  • Obituaries: 01/22/2010 – 11/18/2011
  • Notes: Missing June 2010 through September 2011

Rivertowns Daily Voice (Hastings-on-Hudson, Dobbs Ferry, NY)

  • Obituaries: 08/02/2011 – Current

Fredericksburg Standard-Radio Post (Fredericksburg, TX)

  • Obituaries: 08/07/2002 – Current

Forks Forum (Forks, WA)

  • Obituaries: 12/15/2010 – Current

New Newspaper Content Added Every Day! Here Is the Latest List

With an annual subscription to GenealogyBank you get a gift every day of the year: more content to research your family history, because every day we put more newspapers online.

illustration of a man reading a newspaper; Leslie’s Illustrated Weekly Newspaper, art by Norman Rockwell

Credit: Library of Congress, LC-USZC4-696

Leslie’s Illustrated Weekly Newspaper, art by Norman Rockwell.

Read the newspapers your ancestors read. Find the stories of your family in GenealogyBank.

We’re growing our online newspaper archives every day so that you can discover more about your genealogy.

Here is a peek at the newspaper content we added today.

State City Newspaper

Issues

Pages

Start

End

DC Washington Evening Star

        237

      8,225

8/17/1919

10/31/1921

DC Washington Daily Union

        155

          627

7/1/1852

12/31/1852

Illinois Springfield Daily Illinois State Register

    2,315

      9,438

1/2/1869

6/30/1887

Louisiana Baton Rouge Advocate

          68

      1,572

10/1/1943

5/15/1958

Louisiana Baton Rouge State Times Advocate

        102

      4,601

3/3/1933

9/15/1969

Massachusetts Boston Boston Herald

        207

      3,232

12/10/1948

9/19/1972

Massachusetts Boston Boston Traveller

        449

    17,934

7/1/1946

8/7/1951

Michigan Ann Arbor Ann Arbor Daily Argus

        297

      2,062

11/17/1898

12/31/1906

Michigan Ann Arbor Ann Arbor Daily Times

             2

            16

10/5/1907

4/7/1908

Michigan Ann Arbor Michigan Argus

        521

      3,984

10/31/1879

12/20/1907

Michigan Ypsilanti Ypsilanti Commercial

        963

      5,552

3/11/1864

8/18/1898

North Carolina Greensboro Greensboro Daily News

    1,134

    47,028

4/14/1945

3/31/1975

North Carolina Greensboro Greensboro Record

        296

    10,894

4/20/1955

10/25/1971

Ohio Cincinnati Cincinnati Post

        121

      1,020

1/7/1886

6/4/1920

South Carolina Charleston Evening Post

             7

            88

11/13/1916

8/29/1921

Virginia Richmond Richmond Times Dispatch

        697

    41,367

2/1/1948

12/31/1986

3,000+ U.S. Newspaper Archives Just Got More Content!

It is another busy year for the GenealogyBank team as we continue to rapidly grow our online archives to offer you the best U.S. newspaper coverage for your genealogy research. We are pleased to announce that we recently added more back issues and articles to more than 3,000 newspapers from all 50 U.S. states! Now you can enjoy even more content to investigate your family history with our expanded newspaper coverage across the entire United States.

It would be too lengthy to list them all, but here is a partial list of the new newspapers we added, and the expansion to some of our existing titles: over 60 newspapers from 11 states. This gives you just a taste of the rapid growth of GenealogyBank’s online U.S. newspaper archives!

In fact, we are adding more newspapers right now, as we do each and every day to help you do better genealogy research.

Dig in and tell us what you find.

State City Newspaper

Coverae

Collection

Alabama Mobile Alabama Staats-Zeitung

02/08/1917–02/08/1917

Newspaper Archives

California Martinez Martinez News-Gazette*

01/06/2009–Current

Recent Obituaries

California San Diego Evening Tribune

9/29/1908–12/31/1914

Newspaper Archives

California San Diego San Diego Union

05/12/1871–07/17/1905

Newspaper Archives

District of Columbia Washington Daily Union

01/02/1846–12/31/1850

Newspaper Archives

District of Columbia Washington Evening Star

3/7/1913–2/9/1921

Newspaper Archives

Illinois Chicago Chicago Crusader*

11/26/2011–Current

Recent Obituaries

Illinois Peoria Journal Star

4/1/1951–3/31/1953

Newspaper Archives

Illinois Springfield Daily Illinois State Journal

1/9/1907–3/23/1913

Newspaper Archives

Illinois Springfield Daily Illinois State Register

4/1/1915–12/3/1922

Newspaper Archives

Indiana Gary Gary Crusader*

12/03/2011–Current

Recent Obituaries

Louisiana Baton Rouge State Times Advocate

3/1/1933–7/30/1975

Newspaper Archives

Louisiana New Orleans Advocate, The: New Orleans Edition*

10/22/2012–Current

Recent Obituaries

Maine Biddeford Justice de Biddeford

09/16/1897–03/02/1950

Newspaper Archives

Maine Sanford Justice de Sanford

04/29/1926–12/06/1928

Newspaper Archives

Maryland Baltimore American and Commercial Daily Advertiser

12/28/1850–06/30/1853

Newspaper Archives

Massachusetts Boston American Traveller*

05/02/1862–10/21/1862

Newspaper Archives

Massachusetts Boston Boston Herald

1/1/1851–12/30/1972

Newspaper Archives

Massachusetts Boston Boston Traveller

10/1/1945–12/31/1951

Newspaper Archives

Massachusetts Boston Boston Traveller*

10/02/1854–03/31/1864

Newspaper Archives

Michigan Ann Arbor Ann Arbor Daily Argus*

11/16/1898–6/24/1907

Newspaper Archives

Michigan Ann Arbor Ann Arbor Daily Times

10/15/1903–5/2/1908

Newspaper Archives

Michigan Ann Arbor Ann Arbor Daily Times*

9/1/1903–12/29/1906

Newspaper Archives

Michigan Ann Arbor Ann Arbor News-Argus*

6/25/1907–5/2/1908

Newspaper Archives

Michigan Ann Arbor Michigan Argus*

10/17/1879–12/27/1907

Newspaper Archives

Michigan Ann Arbor True Democrat*

12/19/1845–3/8/1849

Newspaper Archives

Michigan Ypsilanti Ypsilanti Commercial*

4/17/1869–8/25/1898

Newspaper Archives

New Jersey Collingswood Retrospect, The*

01/06/2012–Current

Recent Obituaries

New Jersey Egg Harbor City Egg Harbor Pilot

10/17/1908–02/20/1915

Newspaper Archives

New Jersey Newark Newark Daily Advertiser

12/28/1864–12/29/1866

Newspaper Archives

New York New York Courrier des Etats-Unis

11/17/1859–01/26/1885

Newspaper Archives

New York New York Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper

06/04/1870–10/28/1871

Newspaper Archives

New York New York New Yorker Volkszeitung*

01/14/1894–02/27/1898

Newspaper Archives

New York Plattsburgh Burgh, The*

08/05/2011–Current

Recent Obituaries

New York Skaneateles Skaneateles Press*

08/04/2011–Current

Recent Obituaries

North Carolina Greensboro Greensboro Daily News

7/30/1939–2/12/1973

Newspaper Archives

North Carolina Greensboro Greensboro Record

9/13/1946–7/14/1964

Newspaper Archives

Ohio Cincinnati Cincinnati Post

6/17/1885–6/26/1897

Newspaper Archives

Oklahoma Bethany Bethany Tribune*

12/07/2012–Current

Recent Obituaries

Oklahoma Fairland American, The*

10/04/2012–Current

Recent Obituaries

Oklahoma Nowata Nowata Star*

10/03/2012–Current

Recent Obituaries

Oklahoma Perry Perry Daily Journal*

12/04/2012–Current

Recent Obituaries

Oklahoma Vinita Vinita Daily Journal, The*

11/10/2012–Current

Recent Obituaries

Oklahoma Weatherford Weatherford Daily News*

11/27/2012–Current

Recent Obituaries

Pennsylvania Erie Erie Tageblatt

03/07/1899–04/20/1903

Newspaper Archives

Pennsylvania Harrisburg Unparteyische Harrisburg Morgenroethe Zeitung

02/03/1831–02/03/1831

Newspaper Archives

Pennsylvania Jeannette Jeannette Spirit, The*

11/15/2012–Current

Recent Obituaries

Pennsylvania Ligonier Ligonier Echo, The*

04/21/2011–Current

Recent Obituaries

Pennsylvania Monroeville North Journal*

04/12/2012–Current

Recent Obituaries

Pennsylvania Monroeville Times Express, The*

04/14/2011–Current

Recent Obituaries

Pennsylvania Penn Hills Plum Advance Leader*

11/08/2012–Current

Recent Obituaries

Pennsylvania Pittsburgh Druid

01/15/1929–03/01/1929

Newspaper Archives

Pennsylvania Pittsburgh National Labor Tribune

01/11/1941–08/18/1945

Newspaper Archives

Pennsylvania Scottdale Independent-Observer, The*

04/21/2011–Current

Recent Obituaries

Pennsylvania South Hills South Hills Record*

11/07/2012–Current

Recent Obituaries

South Carolina Charleston Charleston News and Courier

2/21/1895–4/13/1910

Newspaper Archives

South Carolina Charleston Evening Post

5/26/1899–6/20/1922

Newspaper Archives

Tennessee Spring Hill Advertiser News, The*

05/14/2007–Current

Recent Obituaries

Texas Jasper Jasper Newsboy, The*

12/28/2005–Current

Recent Obituaries

Virginia Richmond Richmond Times Dispatch

6/11/1944–9/15/1986

Newspaper Archives

Washington Ocean Shores North Coast News, The*

03/24/2009–03/23/2012

Recent Obituaries

Wisconsin Milwaukee Wahrheit

12/22/1906–06/25/1910

Newspaper Archives