Your Immigrant Ancestor: Genealogy Research Tips

Introduction: Gena Philibert-Ortega is a genealogist and author of the book “From the Family Kitchen.” In this blog post, Gena shows how historical newspapers can help you learn more about your immigrant ancestors and what their immigration experience was like.

What is your ethnic background? Who was your first immigrant ancestor? Newspapers are a great resource for learning more about our individual ancestors as well as the social history of their time. How did your ancestor come to the United States? What was life like when they arrived? Whether you use the newspaper for photos, passenger lists, articles, or some historical background, there’s a good chance you can learn more about your immigrant ancestor by searching an online newspaper database such as GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives.

Immigrants Arriving in America

Ellis Island wasn’t the only arrival port for immigrants in the United States, but over time it has become synonymous with immigration. This short notice and image of Ellis Island in a 1907 North Dakota newspaper proclaims that a million Europeans a year entered the United States.

Ellis Island, Landing Place of Immigrants, Evening Times newspaper article 16 July 1907

Evening Times (Grand Forks, North Dakota), 16 July 1907, page 12

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Ship lists printed in the newspaper are a great source of information, such as this example from an 1897 New York newspaper.

Incoming Steamers, New York Tribune newspaper article 24 May 1897

New York Tribune (New York, New York), 24 May 1897, page 12

Once you have searched on your immigrant ancestor’s name, the passenger ship they sailed to America on or their country of origin, narrow your search on GenealogyBank’s Search Results page by using the category “Passenger Lists” to focus on just those types of articles.

screenshot of GenealogyBank's search results page showing the "Passenger Lists" category

In the absence of finding a passenger list with your ancestor’s name and the ship they arrived on, consider the ports and modes of transportation available to them. Research their lives in the United States in your effort to learn more about their journey.

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Photos Tell a Story

Images are one way to search historical newspapers. GenealogyBank’s Search Results page lets you narrow your search to articles that contain images by clicking on the “Photos & Illustrations” category.

screenshot of GenealogyBank's search results page showing the "Photos & Illustrations" category

Exploring old photos in newspapers is a great way to learn more about immigrants during the time period that your ancestor came to America. All types of images of newly arrived immigrants graced the pages of newspapers.

photos of immigrants, Anaconda Standard newspaper article 26 December 1920

Anaconda Standard (Anaconda, Montana), 26 December 1920, page 1

Photos of immigrants wearing their native costumes can be found in newspapers, and there can also be photos telling the stories of individual families. For example, the following photo focuses on one particular Dutch family and its 15 members, mostly children of the family. Whoever wrote this newspaper caption had a great sense of humor when they proclaimed: “No nation can beat the Dutch in this wonderful matter of human productivity.” Note that the father’s complete name, Hendrik Feyen, is listed. As a whole, they are referred to as the Feyen family and the wife/mother is referred to only by her first name. When conducting searches for your ancestor, make sure to conduct multiple searches and take into account variations of your ancestors’ names.

Family of Hollanders (the Feyen family) Added to U.S. Population, Twin Falls News newspaper article 26 April 1921

Twin Falls News (Twin Falls, Idaho), 26 April 1921, page 6

If your family immigrated as a group, make sure to search on every name in that family group including a search on just the surname. It’s important not to make assumptions about newspaper articles. For example, in this article about immigrant women traveling to meet up with fiancés living in the United States, the names of the women—but not their beaus—are listed, and where they are from. It would be easy to assume that women would not be mentioned as readily as male partners, but that is not always the case.

article about immigrants Emma Mayenberg and Elsie Becker, Trenton Evening Times newspaper article 13 October 1922

Trenton Evening Times (Trenton, New Jersey), 13 October 1922, page 16

Other types of articles about an individual may not be obvious sources of immigration information. Don’t forget about interviews with older family members and what those can tell you about the person’s life. Anyone who had an unusual story, lived to a ripe old age, or was married for 50+ years may have found themselves the subject of a biographical newspaper article that included their immigration experiences.

GenealogyBank’s Ethnic Newspaper Archives

Searching all possible newspapers is a great idea for researching your ancestor—but don’t forget that GenealogyBank’s Ethnic Newspaper Archives are especially helpful because it’s in the ethnic newspapers that an immigrant community might be written about in more detail than a newspaper serving the general public. Readers of ethnic newspapers would be interested in people from their homeland, so it makes sense that the story of your immigrant ancestor might be featured there.

What’s your ethnic background? Good chance you can learn more about your immigrant ancestor as well as what immigration was like by searching historical newspapers.

Related Immigrant Ancestor Articles:

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Connecticut Archives: 151 Newspapers for Genealogy Research

Connecticut, the southernmost state in New England, is the third smallest state in the nation—yet the fourth most densely populated. The state is named after the large river (the Connecticut River) which flows through its middle, emptying into Long Island Sound. This name comes from an Algonquian Indian word for “long tidal river.”

photo of Western Barndoor Hill, Connecticut

Photo: Western Barndoor Hill, Connecticut. Credit: Sphilbrick; Wikimedia Commons.

If you are researching your ancestry from Connecticut, you will want to use GenealogyBank’s online Connecticut newspaper archives: 151 titles to help you search your family history in “The Constitution State,” providing coverage from 1755 to Today. There are more than 8 million newspaper articles and records in our online CT archives to trace your family tree!

Dig deep into the online archives and search for obituaries and other news articles about your ancestors in these recent and historical Connecticut newspapers online. Our CT newspapers are divided into two collections: Historical Newspapers (complete paper) and Recent Obituaries (obituaries only).

Search Connecticut Newspaper Archives (1755 – 2002)

Search Connecticut Recent Obituaries (1988 – Current)

Here is our complete list of online Connecticut newspapers in the archives. Each newspaper title in this list is an active link that will take you directly to that paper’s search page, where you can begin searching for your ancestors by surnames, dates, keywords and more. The CT newspaper titles are listed alphabetically by city.

City Title Date Range Collection
Ansonia, Derby, and Seymour Valley Gazette 12/6/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Bethany, Orange and Woodbridge Amity Observer: Web Edition 11/5/2012 – Current Recent Obituaries
Bethany, Orange and Woodbridge Amity Observer 12/6/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Bridgeport Connecticut Post 5/21/2001 – 6/30/2002 Newspaper Archives
Bridgeport Republican Farmer 4/25/1810 – 8/11/1876 Newspaper Archives
Bridgeport American Telegraphe 4/8/1795 – 6/6/1804 Newspaper Archives
Bridgeport Connecticut Courier 8/3/1814 – 6/14/1826 Newspaper Archives
Bridgeport Spirit of the Times 10/6/1830 – 9/26/1832 Newspaper Archives
Bridgeport Bridgeport Herald 3/7/1805 – 1/9/1806 Newspaper Archives
Bridgeport Bridgeport Advertiser 6/5/1806 – 1/5/1809 Newspaper Archives
Bridgeport Bridgeport Gazette 6/27/1810 – 1/9/1811 Newspaper Archives
Bridgeport Bridgeport News 3/15/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Bridgeport Connecticut Post 9/18/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Bridgeport Bridgeport News, The: Web Edition 3/14/2012 – Current Recent Obituaries
Bristol Bristol Press 12/28/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Cheshire Cheshire Herald 10/22/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Danbury Danbury Gazette 8/3/1813 – 4/19/1814 Newspaper Archives
Danbury Republican Journal 7/1/1793 – 1/6/1800 Newspaper Archives
Danbury Connecticut Intelligencer 1/31/1810 – 11/7/1810 Newspaper Archives
Danbury Day 5/19/1812 – 12/15/1812 Newspaper Archives
Danbury News-Times 3/14/1996 – Current Recent Obituaries
Darien Darien Daily Voice 5/28/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Darien Darien Times 6/19/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Darien Darien News-Review 10/15/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Easton Easton Daily Voice 6/30/2010 – 6/7/2012 Recent Obituaries
Easton Easton Courier 12/1/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Fairfield Fairfield Gazette 10/26/1786 – 9/23/1789 Newspaper Archives
Fairfield Fairfield Citizen News 1/17/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Fairfield Fairfield Daily Voice 5/3/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Fairfield Fairfield Sun 9/18/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Glastonbury Rivereast News Bulletin 9/4/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Greenwich Greenwich Post 10/2/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Greenwich Greenwich Daily Voice 6/30/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Greenwich Greenwich Citizen 11/8/2002 – 4/17/2013 Recent Obituaries
Greenwich Greenwich Time 8/8/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Hamden Hamden Journal 12/7/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Hartford Connecticut Courant 10/29/1764 – 12/28/1876 Newspaper Archives
Hartford Hartford Daily Courant 2/3/1840 – 10/25/1914 Newspaper Archives
Hartford American Mercury 7/12/1784 – 6/25/1833 Newspaper Archives
Hartford Connecticut Mirror 7/10/1809 – 12/15/1832 Newspaper Archives
Hartford Times 1/1/1817 – 9/2/1876 Newspaper Archives
Hartford Religious Inquirer 11/10/1821 – 11/7/1835 Newspaper Archives
Hartford Patriot and Eagle 3/7/1835 – 12/30/1837 Newspaper Archives
Hartford Hartford Gazette 1/13/1794 – 3/19/1795 Newspaper Archives
Hartford Times and Weekly Advertiser 1/12/1829 – 12/28/1829 Newspaper Archives
Hartford Hartford Times 2/6/1832 – 8/16/1864 Newspaper Archives
Hartford Connecticut Observer 1/11/1825 – 10/3/1831 Newspaper Archives
Hartford Commercial Record 1/25/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Hartford Hartford News 4/4/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Hartford Hartford Courant 7/9/1991 – Current Recent Obituaries
Hartford Hartford Advocate 11/7/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Kensington Berlin Citizen 6/2/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Litchfield Litchfield Monitor 12/21/1784 – 7/1/1807 Newspaper Archives
Litchfield Litchfield Republican 5/19/1819 – 6/13/1856 Newspaper Archives
Litchfield Witness 8/14/1805 – 6/24/1807 Newspaper Archives
Litchfield Litchfield Gazette 3/16/1808 – 5/17/1809 Newspaper Archives
Litchfield Litchfield Journal 4/8/1818 – 10/20/1818 Newspaper Archives
Litchfield Sun 4/25/1835 – 4/13/1839 Newspaper Archives
Manchester Journal Inquirer 3/8/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Meriden Record-Journal 12/8/1997 – Current Recent Obituaries
Meriden North Haven Citizen 3/18/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Middlefield Town Times 6/30/2000 – Current Recent Obituaries
Middletown Middlesex Gazette 11/8/1785 – 1/23/1834 Newspaper Archives
Middletown Constitution 12/29/1841 – 12/30/1879 Newspaper Archives
Middletown Sentinel and Witness 1/1/1823 – 8/7/1833 Newspaper Archives
Middletown Daily Constitution 7/10/1872 – 8/5/1876 Newspaper Archives
Middletown Connecticut Spectator 4/20/1814 – 4/10/1816 Newspaper Archives
Milford Milford Mirror 11/30/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Monroe Monroe Courier 3/8/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Mystic Mystic Pioneer 3/12/1859 – 3/2/1867 Newspaper Archives
Mystic Mystic River Press 1/11/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
New Britain Herald 12/1/2000 – Current Recent Obituaries
New Canaan New Canaan Daily Voice 5/28/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
New Canaan New Canaan News-Review 11/5/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
New Canaan New Canaan Advertiser 8/8/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
New Haven New Haven Register 10/23/1878 – 12/31/1900 Newspaper Archives
New Haven Columbian Register 1/5/1813 – 12/30/1876 Newspaper Archives
New Haven Connecticut Journal 10/23/1767 – 2/24/1835 Newspaper Archives
New Haven Connecticut Herald 11/1/1803 – 3/30/1889 Newspaper Archives
New Haven Daily Herald 3/12/1836 – 12/30/1843 Newspaper Archives
New Haven New Haven Palladium 7/19/1861 – 12/31/1863 Newspaper Archives
New Haven New-Haven Gazette, and Connecticut Magazine 2/15/1786 – 6/18/1789 Newspaper Archives
New Haven New-Haven Gazette 5/13/1784 – 2/9/1786 Newspaper Archives
New Haven Visitor 10/30/1802 – 10/25/1803 Newspaper Archives
New Haven New-Haven Chronicle 4/25/1786 – 9/11/1787 Newspaper Archives
New Haven Connecticut Gazette 9/20/1755 – 1/12/1767 Newspaper Archives
New Haven Black Coalition Weekly 3/6/1972 – 9/14/1972 Newspaper Archives
New Haven Fairfield County Weekly 2/17/2000 – Current Recent Obituaries
New Haven New Haven Register 1/3/1988 – Current Recent Obituaries
New Haven New Haven Advocate 11/5/1998 – Current Recent Obituaries
New London Connecticut Gazette 11/18/1763 – 5/29/1844 Newspaper Archives
New London New London Daily Chronicle 4/26/1848 – 12/31/1864 Newspaper Archives
New London Morning News 11/8/1844 – 4/25/1848 Newspaper Archives
New London New London Democrat 3/21/1845 – 4/12/1873 Newspaper Archives
New London People’s Advocate 8/26/1840 – 4/26/1848 Newspaper Archives
New London Bee 6/14/1797 – 6/23/1802 Newspaper Archives
New London Weekly Oracle 10/22/1796 – 12/30/1799 Newspaper Archives
New London Republican Advocate 1/2/1822 – 12/10/1828 Newspaper Archives
New London New London Daily Star 1/5/1857 – 8/16/1860 Newspaper Archives
New London New-London Summary 9/29/1758 – 9/23/1763 Newspaper Archives
New London True Republican 7/1/1807 – 2/24/1808 Newspaper Archives
New London Day, The: Archive 7/24/2003 – 12/29/2006 Recent Obituaries
New Milford New Milford Spectrum 10/10/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Newtown Newtown Bee 1/1/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Norwalk Independent Republican 6/17/1802 – 4/6/1803 Newspaper Archives
Norwalk Norwalk Citizen News 12/13/2002 – 11/11/2013 Recent Obituaries
Norwalk Norwalk Daily Voice 4/1/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Norwich Norwich Courier 11/30/1796 – 8/16/1876 Newspaper Archives
Norwich Norwich Aurora 5/15/1839 – 9/29/1876 Newspaper Archives
Norwich Norwich Packet 11/11/1773 – 2/9/1802 Newspaper Archives
Norwich Connecticut Centinel 2/16/1802 – 10/13/1807 Newspaper Archives
Norwich Norwich Republican 10/1/1828 – 4/15/1835 Newspaper Archives
Norwich Weekly Register 11/29/1791 – 8/19/1795 Newspaper Archives
Norwich Norwich Morning Bulletin 10/16/1860 – 8/13/1887 Newspaper Archives
Norwich Native American 3/4/1812 – 6/23/1813 Newspaper Archives
Norwich True Republican 6/20/1804 – 11/5/1806 Newspaper Archives
Norwich Religious Messenger 6/11/1831 – 9/8/1832 Newspaper Archives
Norwich Canal of Intelligence 2/21/1827 – 10/28/1829 Newspaper Archives
Norwich Bulletin 1/28/1999 – Current Recent Obituaries
Oxford Oxford Gazette 3/6/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Redding Redding Pilot 1/1/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Ridgefield Ridgefield Press 6/12/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Sharon Rural Gazette 6/9/1800 – 7/13/1801 Newspaper Archives
Shelton Shelton Extra 3/6/2008 – 3/17/2011 Recent Obituaries
Shelton Shelton Herald 12/6/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Southbury Voices 8/2/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Southington Plainville Citizen 8/27/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Southington Southington Citizen 5/14/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Stamford Stamford Advocate 4/5/1829 – 9/24/1903 Newspaper Archives
Stamford Advocate 1/17/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Stamford Stamford Daily Voice 6/30/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Stonington Impartial Journal 10/8/1799 – 3/6/1804 Newspaper Archives
Stonington Journal of the Times 10/10/1798 – 9/17/1799 Newspaper Archives
Stonington-Port Patriot 7/24/1801 – 2/11/1803 Newspaper Archives
Stratford Stratford Star 12/6/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Suffield Impartial Herald 6/14/1797 – 6/11/1799 Newspaper Archives
Torrington Register Citizen 10/25/2007 – 8/2/2009 Recent Obituaries
Trumbull Trumbull Times 12/6/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Waterbury Republican-American 6/25/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Watertown Town Times 8/31/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Weston Weston Forum 12/17/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Weston-Easton Weston-Easton Daily Voice 5/28/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Westport Westport News 9/17/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Westport Westport Daily Voice 5/11/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Willimantic Willimantic Journal 10/5/1865 – 12/13/1866 Newspaper Archives
Wilton Wilton Daily Voice 5/28/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Wilton Wilton Bulletin 10/2/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Windham Windham Herald 3/12/1791 – 12/31/1812 Newspaper Archives
Windham Advertiser 5/7/1818 – 3/11/1819 Newspaper Archives
Windham Register 3/13/1817 – 1/1/1818 Newspaper Archives
Windham Political Visitant 5/15/1820 – 5/15/1820 Newspaper Archives

You can either print or create a PDF version of this Blog post by simply clicking on the green “Print/PDF” button below. The PDF version makes it easy to save this post onto your desktop or portable device for quick reference—all the Connecticut newspaper links will be live.

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Missouri Archives: 92 Newspapers for Genealogy Research

Missouri entered the Union as the 24th state on 10 August 1821. Historically, it was the launching point for America’s westward expansion: the Oregon Trail, Pony Express, and Santa Fe Trail all started in Missouri. This historic role Missouri played as America’s portal to the West is commemorated by the famous Gateway Arch monument in St. Louis. An interesting feature of this geographically-varied state is that it is adjacent to the confluence of the nation’s three greatest rivers: the Mississippi, Missouri, and Ohio.

Gateway Arch St. Lois Missouri

Photo: Gateway Arch, St. Louis, Missouri. Credit: Matt Kozlowski; Wikimedia Commons.

If you are researching your ancestry from Missouri, you will want to use GenealogyBank’s online Missouri newspaper archives: 92 titles to help you search your family history in “The Show Me State,” providing coverage from 1808 to Today. There are more than 10 million newspaper articles and records in our online MO archives to trace your family tree!

Dig deep into the online archives and search for obituaries and other news articles about your ancestors in these recent and historical MO newspapers online. Our Missouri newspapers are divided into two collections: Historical Newspapers (complete paper) and Recent Obituaries (obituaries only).

Search Missouri Newspaper Archives (1808 – 1949)

Search Missouri Recent Obituaries (1988 – Current)

Here is our complete list of online Missouri newspapers in the archives. Each newspaper title in this list is an active link that will take you directly to that paper’s search page, where you can begin searching for your ancestors by surnames, dates, keywords and more. The MO newspaper titles are listed alphabetically by city.

City Title Date Range Collection
Ashland Boone County Journal 5/13/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Aurora Aurora Advertiser 2/26/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Bellefontaine Neighbors Northeast County Journal 12/22/2004 – 8/27/2008 Recent Obituaries
Belton Star Herald 12/14/2006 – 5/11/2011 Recent Obituaries
Bethany Bethany Republican-Clipper 10/26/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Blue Springs Blue Springs Journal 10/29/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Boonville Boonville Daily News 4/2/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Bowling Green People’s Tribune 5/4/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Brookfield Linn County Leader 10/5/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Byrnes Mill Meramec Journal 10/24/2004 – 12/2/2008 Recent Obituaries
California California Democrat 10/15/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Camdenton Lake Sun Leader 5/23/1999 – Current Recent Obituaries
Carthage Carthage Press 10/3/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Chesterfield Chesterfield Journal 10/27/2004 – 3/19/2008 Recent Obituaries
Chillicothe Constitution-Tribune 4/6/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Farmington Farmington Press 2/12/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Festus Jefferson County Journal 10/24/2004 – 9/7/2011 Recent Obituaries
Festus News Democrat Journal 10/24/2004 – 11/15/2008 Recent Obituaries
Florissant, Black Jack North County Journal – Northwest Edition 11/24/2004 – 4/13/2011 Recent Obituaries
Fredericktown Democrat News 1/31/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Fulton Fulton Sun 3/26/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Grandview Jackson County Advocate 1/4/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Greenfield, Miller Vedette 1/13/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Hannibal Missouri Courier 1/18/1849 – 12/28/1854 Newspaper Archives
Hannibal Hannibal Courier-Post 12/9/1997 – Current Recent Obituaries
Harrisonville Democrat-Missourian 2/2/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Hazelwood Hazelwood-Bridgeton Journal 12/22/2004 – 3/13/2008 Recent Obituaries
Independence, Blue Springs, Grain Valley Examiner 9/18/1997 – Current Recent Obituaries
Jefferson City Jefferson City News-Tribune 3/5/1999 – Current Recent Obituaries
Joplin Joplin Globe 1/27/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Kansas City Kansas City Star 9/18/1880 – 6/10/1949 Newspaper Archives
Kansas City Kansas City Times 5/1/1884 – 1/31/1896 Newspaper Archives
Kansas City Rising Son 1/16/1903 – 12/28/1907 Newspaper Archives
Kansas City Cosmopolita 8/22/1914 – 11/15/1919 Newspaper Archives
Kansas City Northeast News 8/22/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Kansas City Kansas City Star 1/2/1991 – Current Recent Obituaries
Kansas City Kansas City Star, The: Blogs 9/29/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Kirksville Kirksville Daily Express 8/2/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Kirkwood Kirkwood-Webster Journal 10/20/2004 – 2/1/2009 Recent Obituaries
Lake Ozark Lake Today 5/6/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Laurie West Side Star 4/13/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lebanon Lebanon Daily Record 2/6/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lee’s Summit Lee’s Summit Journal 2/19/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Macon Macon Chronicle-Herald 1/11/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Maryville Maryville Daily Forum 1/20/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Mexico Mexico Ledger 10/2/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Moberly Moberly Monitor-Index and Democrat 3/27/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Monett Monett Times 3/24/1999 – Current Recent Obituaries
Neosho Neosho Daily News 10/5/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Noel, Lanagan McDonald County Press 11/12/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
O’Fallon O’Fallon Journal 10/20/2004 – 4/13/2011 Recent Obituaries
Oakville Oakville-Mehlville Journal 10/20/2004 – 7/25/2007 Recent Obituaries
Overland Overland-St. Ann Journal 12/22/2004 – 9/17/2008 Recent Obituaries
Park Hills Daily Journal 6/20/2000 – Current Recent Obituaries
Raytown Raytown Post 5/9/2007 – 3/26/2008 Recent Obituaries
Rolla Rolla Daily News 1/14/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Sedalia Sedalia Times 8/31/1901 – 12/19/1903 Newspaper Archives
Sedalia Sedalia Democrat 7/1/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Seymour Webster County Citizen 2/3/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
St. Charles St. Charles Journal 2/2/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
St. James St. James Leader Journal 10/2/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
St. Joseph Saint Joseph Telegraph 4/7/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
St. Joseph St. Joseph News-Press 10/5/2000 – Current Recent Obituaries
St. Louis St. Louis Republic 5/31/1888 – 12/31/1900 Newspaper Archives
St. Louis Daily Missouri Republican 3/1/1841 – 5/30/1888 Newspaper Archives
St. Louis St. Louis Palladium 1/10/1903 – 10/5/1907 Newspaper Archives
St. Louis Daily Commercial Bulletin 5/18/1835 – 12/31/1838 Newspaper Archives
St. Louis Weekly St. Louis Pilot 1/6/1855 – 11/15/1856 Newspaper Archives
St. Louis Missouri Gazette and Public Advertiser 7/26/1808 – 9/18/1818 Newspaper Archives
St. Louis St. Louis Enquirer 3/17/1819 – 12/18/1824 Newspaper Archives
St. Louis St. Louis Clarion 12/18/1920 – 4/2/1921 Newspaper Archives
St. Louis Tri-Weekly Missouri Republican 5/2/1853 – 3/23/1858 Newspaper Archives
St. Louis Southwest City Journal 10/20/2004 – 12/23/2008 Recent Obituaries
St. Louis St. Louis Post-Dispatch 1/1/1988 – Current Recent Obituaries
St. Louis Press Journal 10/20/2004 – 12/31/2008 Recent Obituaries
St. Louis West County Journal 2/9/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
St. Louis South County Journal 2/9/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
St. Louis North County Journal – Overland Edition 11/24/2004 – 8/31/2011 Recent Obituaries
St. Louis Southwest County Journal 10/27/2004 – 1/27/2009 Recent Obituaries
St. Louis Citizen Journal 1/19/2005 – 3/11/2008 Recent Obituaries
St. Louis South City Journal 10/27/2004 – 7/25/2007 Recent Obituaries
St. Louis St. Louis American 2/1/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
St. Louis South Side Journal 10/27/2004 – 4/13/2011 Recent Obituaries
St. Louis North Side Journal 10/27/2004 – 4/23/2008 Recent Obituaries
St. Louis Tri-County Journal 10/20/2004 – 1/21/2009 Recent Obituaries
St. Peters St. Peters Journal 10/20/2004 – 4/13/2011 Recent Obituaries
St. Robert Pulaski County Mirror 1/7/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Town and Country Mid-County Journal 10/20/2004 – 4/13/2011 Recent Obituaries
Warrenton Warrenton Journal 2/9/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Washington Die Washingtoner Post 11/17/1870 – 11/14/1878 Newspaper Archives
Waynesville Daily Guide 3/25/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Wentzville Wentzville Journal 10/20/2004 – 1/2/2011 Recent Obituaries

You can either print or create a PDF version of this Blog post by simply clicking on the green “Print/PDF” button below. The PDF version makes it easy to save this post onto your desktop or portable device for quick reference—all the Missouri newspaper links will be live.

Articles about Missouri Newspapers & Genealogy Research:

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How to Uncover Vital Record Clues in Old Newspapers

Introduction: Scott Phillips is a genealogical historian and owner of Onward To Our Past® genealogy services. In this blog post, Scott starts off searching old newspapers for clues to help him find his ancestor’s birth record—and finds so much information that he ends up filling out a new branch of his family tree!

We all know the frustration we feel when, in working on our genealogy, we can’t find an elusive—but important—vital record for one of our ancestors. I suggest that one good approach is to search for genealogical clues in the historical newspapers from your ancestor’s era.

The good news is that, at times, these clues are waiting to be found in all kinds of locations throughout the newspapers. Let me give you a few examples of what I mean, based on searches I’ve done in GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives.

Clues about the Birth of My Cousin

While I have a wealth of information on one of my first cousins twice removed, Joseph Vicha, I have been unable to find his actual birth document to verify the year he was born. So I set out to see what clues to his birth I might find in the newspapers. My first discovery was this divorce notice in an 1899 Cleveland newspaper, which provided me with two very useful genealogy clues. It seems that Mrs. Barbara Vicha was seeking a legal separation, divorce, and alimony from Joseph Vicha. This old news article not only lists their wedding date as 13 June 1896, it also notes that Barbara was seeking the return of her maiden name of Vomasta.

divorce notice for Joseph and Barbara Vicha, Cleveland Leader newspaper article 8 August 1899

Cleveland Leader (Cleveland, Ohio), 8 August 1899, page 10

These two clues—her maiden name and their wedding date—enabled me to do a follow-up search at Ancestry.com, where I found the marriage license for their marriage—which in turn gave me the additional information of the year of his birth!

Enter Last Name










Investigating More of My Family Tree

As is so often the case in genealogy, I then became interested in finding out more about not only Joseph, but his wife, Barbara (Vomasta) Vicha. One thing led to another and, several hours later, I had learned a substantial amount about this interesting family. It was like opening a picture window to life in the early Czech community of Cleveland, all through one family.

As I continued my genealogy research I discovered that Barbara remarried after her divorce from Joseph. Not surprisingly it was to another Czech, with the surname of Vlk. I then did a search on Barbara Vlk and found this helpful obituary in a 1936 Cleveland newspaper. It is for a man named John Vonasta [Vomasta], and mentions that he was the “beloved brother of Barbara Vlk.” This obituary also lists two nieces, complete with their married names: Edna Carroll and Gladys Baldy [Baldi].

obituary for John Vomasta, Plain Dealer newspaper article 9 October 1936

Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), 9 October 1936, page 23

I followed up these clues with a search of one of the City Directories for Cleveland, Ohio, dated 1891. In it I read that while the head of the household, Vaclav (later James) Vomasta, was a laborer, his son John Vomasta was listed as a cigar maker. Both were reported as living on Rock Street, which was deep in the heart of one of the largest Czech neighborhoods in Cleveland. It must have been a hardscrabble life for Vaclav since in the 1910 U.S. Census he is listed as a “(street) shovel” at the age of 65.

Discovering More Genealogy Clues…

There was another clue in John Vomasta’s obituary. Did you notice that last line? It reads: “New Haven (Conn.) papers please copy.” This was the Cleveland editors’ way of letting the New Haven editors know this obituary would be of interest to their own readers. Why would a Cleveland cigar maker’s death be of interest to readers in New Haven, Connecticut? This led me to additional searches, in which I discovered that John Vomasta was listed as a tenant in New Haven, Connecticut, in the 1920 and 1930 U.S. Censuses.

I wondered why a cigar maker might be drawn to New Haven, Connecticut—and so I did a bit of searching on the cigar industry there. GenealogyBank’s newspapers did not disappoint me as there were literally hundreds of search results on this topic. It seems that there was quite a flourishing cigar industry in New Haven in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

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One example is this article from an 1899 New Haven newspaper. This article features F. D. Grave and his “Judge’s Cave” Cigar company. The occasion was the imminent move of his “well known cigar factory” to a “magnificent four-story building at Nos. 204 to 210 State Street,” and the “excellent dinner and musical entertainment” he gave for his 285 employees to celebrate the move. Could this have been where John Vomasta worked? After all, the 1920 and 1930 U.S. Census returns for him list his address as 440 State Street, just up the street from F. D. Grave’s cigar factory.

article about F. D. Grave and his "Judge's Cave" cigar company, New Haven Register newspaper article 6 January 1899

New Haven Register (New Haven, Connecticut), 6 January 1899, page 7

As I continued researching this family, I discovered a variety of life’s occurrences. One of the daughters, who was once Gladys Baldi, had remarried—only to have this husband tragically die in an automobile accident slightly less than 14 months after they were married. Wanting to be complete in my genealogy research, but not expecting to find much from a marriage of less than 1 ½ years, I was interested when I found this 2001 obituary for Gladys K. Glaser in a Kansas City newspaper. This obituary provided me with the fact that, in spite of the short duration of her second marriage, their union produced a daughter, in addition to the son she had from her first marriage. I also learned that at the time of her passing she had seven grandchildren, six great-grandchildren, a nephew—and her sister Edna was still alive.

obituary for Gladys Glaser, Kansas City Star newspaper article 19 February 2001

Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Missouri), 19 February 2001

With this helpful obituary providing me with Gladys’s survivors’ full names and places of residence, I now had many more clues to follow up on:

  • Sister Edna Carroll in Kelley Island, Ohio
  • Son (from Gladys’s first marriage) Bill Baldi in Shawnee, Kansas
  • Married Daughter (from Gladys’s second marriage) Bonnie Edwards in Kent, Ohio
  • Nephew Roger Carroll (Edna’s son) in Ravenna, Ohio
  • Plus those seven grandchildren and six great-grandchildren to track down!

Just think: I began this search looking for one simple vital statistic that I found to be elusive: the birth year for my relative Joseph Vicha—but came away with a whole new branch of our family tree growing right before me, and many more clues for additional family history research.

Now before I get back to looking for Joseph Vicha’s birth document—which is what I started off trying to find and would still like to track down—let me ask: what have been some of the best clues in historical newspapers that you have found for your genealogy and family history?

Related Genealogy Clues Articles:

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Revolutionary War Veteran’s Obituary Was Short—but Said a Lot

William Walcutt was there—a stalwart throughout the American Revolutionary War. He enlisted at Valley Forge 7 May 1778 “while yet a youth.” He was only 17 years old, having turned 17 just a month and a half earlier.

When he died at the age of 73, his one-paragraph obituary detailed his military service during the Revolutionary period.

obituary for William Walcutt, Ohio State Journal newspaper article 29 June 1833

Ohio State Journal (Columbus, Ohio), 29 June 1833, page 3

The soldier’s obituary states that he fought at the battles at Lexington and Trenton, and was later captured at the battle of Camden. It also reports the key fact that he:

…afterwards joined Morgan’s celebrated corps of grenadiers, served throughout the glorious campaign in the Southern States, and was present at the capture of Yorktown, and the surrender of Lord Cornwallis.

Brigadier General Daniel Morgan’s Southern campaign was one of the decisive turning points of the war, especially the Battle of Cowpens.

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According to Wikipedia:

“Morgan chose to make his stand at Cowpens, South Carolina…As the British forces approached, the Americans, with their backs turned to the British, reloaded their muskets. When the British got too close, they turned and fired at point-blank range in their faces. In less than an hour, [British Colonel Banastre] Tarleton’s 1,076 men suffered 110 killed and 830 captured. The captives included 200 wounded. Although Tarleton escaped, the Americans captured all his supplies and equipment, including the officers’ slaves. Morgan’s cunning plan at Cowpens is widely considered to be the tactical masterpiece of the war and one of the most successfully executed double envelopments of all of modern military history.”

When William Walcutt died in Columbus, Ohio, he was honored and remembered for his service in the American Revolution with an inscription telling about it on his tombstone.

photo of the tombstone of William & Anna Macy Walcutt

Photo: tombstone of William & Anna Macy Walcutt. Source: US GenWeb, Ohio.

The inscription reads:

William Walcutt of Maryland, 1761-1833. A soldier of the Revolution. Joined the Army at Valley Forge under Gen. Morgan. Participated in all the principal battles and was present at the surrender of Cornwallis.

Don’t let your Revolutionary War ancestors be forgotten. Find their stories in GenealogyBank’s newspaper archives, and preserve and pass them down in the family.

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How to Research Old Newspaper Headlines for Family History

Introduction: Mary Harrell-Sesniak is a genealogist, author and editor with a strong technology background. In this blog post, Mary shows how searching for headlines in old newspapers turns up articles that provide a glimpse into our ancestors’ world and their daily lives.

From iconic happenings of the past to lesser-known events, reading old newspaper headlines helps us share the day-to-day experiences of our ancestors. Reading the news that they read is one way to walk in their footsteps.

For example, imagine being in Vermont on 8 November 1860, picking up your local paper, and seeing this newspaper headline announcing Abraham Lincoln as the new president.

Glorious News! Abraham Lincoln Elected President!! St. Albans Messenger newspaper article 8 November 1860

St. Albans Messenger (St. Albans, Vermont), 8 November 1860, page 2

So why not become a newspaper headline hunter and query GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives to see what was happening in your ancestors’ lives? Knowing the events that were happening that affected their lives, and the news that they were talking about with their family and friends, helps provide a glimpse into their world and into the past.

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Abolishing Slavery

Headline hunters weave fascinating circumstances into life stories. They’re constantly on the search for a bold or unusual newspaper headline that leads to something interesting.

In their search for headlines, they select major historical events, along with what was happening in the outside world during particular time periods. Sometimes they’ll stumble on a major event they never heard of, leaving one to wonder why it is not included more in history books.

For example, manumission (the freeing of slaves) occurred in many parts of the world long before the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution (adopted 6 December 1865) abolished slavery in the U.S.—and the movement continued long after.

For example, a search on the terms “slavery abolished” pulled up this 1794 newspaper article about the French Colonies.

article about slavery being abolished in the French Colonies, Farmers’ Library newspaper article 13 May 1794

Farmers’ Library (Rutland, Vermont), 13 May 1794, page 3

That search also found this 1879 article about African King Mtesa (or Mutesa) of the Kingdom of Buganda abolishing slavery throughout his dominions.

Slavery Abolished in Africa, Cincinnati Commercial Tribune newspaper article 13 September 1879

Cincinnati Commercial Tribune (Cincinnati, Ohio), 13 September 1879, page 2

Women’s Suffrage

Another movement not fully addressed in history books is women’s suffrage, underscoring the importance of newspaper research to clarify historical events.

A search on the term “suffragettes” found this old newspaper headline.

article about suffragettes being arrested in Great Britain, Fort Worth Star-Telegram newspaper article 1 March 1908

Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Fort Worth, Texas), 1 March 1908, page 5

This headline reports that women were humiliated, harassed and often treated as criminal offenders. Imagine how a young girl of today would feel if she learned that her great grandmother was jailed, merely for wanting to vote!

These two headlines introduce articles reporting that California granted females the right to vote in 1911, but the quest for national equality took until 26 August 1920, when the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was adopted.

Suffrage Wins in California, Boston Journal newspaper article 13 October 1911

Boston Journal (Boston, Massachusetts), 13 October 1911, page 12

Tennessee Approves Suffrage Amendment, Bellingham Herald newspaper article 18 August 1920

Bellingham Herald (Bellingham, Washington), 18 August 1920, page 3

For an interesting timeline of how the women’s suffrage movement progressed, see the National Women’s History Museum’s Woman Suffrage Timeline (1840-1920).

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Timely Timelines

You can locate many interesting timelines in newspapers, either as feature articles or related to historical events. Search for them using the keywords “timeline,” “this day in history” or “famous headlines.”

article about historical newspaper headlines, Boston Record American newspaper article 29 October 1961

Boston Record American (Boston, Massachusetts), 29 October 1961, page 39

You may wish to construct your own timeline with historical newspaper headlines. Pick a subject and locate pertinent newspaper headlines and their corresponding articles. Categories are only limited by your imagination.

  • Art & Artists
  • Civil Rights
  • Disasters (Hindenburg, Titanic, volcanoes, etc.)
  • Famous People (explorers, presidents & first ladies, the rich & famous, etc.)
  • Laws (age of majority, child labor, education, immigration, manumission & slavery, suffrage, etc.)
  • Entertainment (movies, music, plays, etc.)
  • Eras (Roaring Twenties, Victorian Age, etc.)
  • Genealogy Research (Alex Haley’s Roots, lineage societies, technological advances, etc.)
  • Great Discoveries (gold, medical advances, vaccines, etc.)
  • Migrations (immigration, westward expansion)
  • Sports & Events (competitions, Olympics, World Series, world fairs, etc.)
  • States, Territories & County Formations
  • Wars & Military Events

Here’s a timeline of important events that the Charlotte Observer published in 1907.

timeline of important historical events, Charlotte Observer newspaper article 30 May 1907

Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, North Carolina), 30 May 1907, page 8

Your genealogy software may have overlays or add-ons to create a timeline, or you can make one in a spreadsheet or with one of the free tools found on the Web. Many timeline “how-to” articles are written for teachers, but the concept applies equally to family historians.

Here are two helpful timeline articles:

Before & After Headlines

An effective tool for teaching family history is to compare before and after newspaper headlines.

For example, here is a newspaper ad from the steamer company White Star Line, advertising cross-Atlantic voyages on its huge new ship Titanic (misspelled as “Titantic”), just two months before the steamer’s ill-fated maiden voyage.

cruise ad from the White Star Line for their new steamer "Titanic," Evening Star newspaper advertisement 13 February 1912

Evening Star (Washington, D.C.), 13 February 1912, page 17

By contrast, here is one of the many shocking headlines the world saw after the “unsinkable” Titanic hit an iceberg and sank in the early morning hours of 15 April 1912.

Ship's Band Plays "Nearer My God to Thee" as Titanic Sinks, Winston-Salem Journal newspaper article 19 April 1912

Winston-Salem Journal (Winston-Salem, North Carolina), 19 April 1912, page 1

Here is another jarring example of contrasting old newspaper headlines. The first is a straightforward headline about the “famous dirigible navigator” Dr. Hugo Eckener arriving in America for a series of conferences on expanding dirigible service between Europe and the U.S. Eckener announced that the Hindenburg dirigible would soon resume its transatlantic flights, and declared:

By the end of the summer, I am certain we will have convinced anyone who has any doubts about the safety of Zeppelin flights across the Atlantic.

Eckener Arrives on Air Mission; Will Visit Akron, Repository newspaper article 10 January 1937

Repository (Canton, Ohio), 10 January 1937, page 3

Less than four months after Eckener made his remark, the world saw headlines such as this in its newspapers.

Fire Wrecks Hindenburg, Trenton Evening Times newspaper article 6 May 1937

Trenton Evening Times (Trenton, New Jersey), 6 May 1937, page 1

Please share with us any of your favorite or surprising historical newspaper headlines found at GenealogyBank!

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Because GenealogyBank Is Growing, Be Sure to Search Again Later

Recently, I checked in GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives for a few of my Sawyer relatives in Grafton County, New Hampshire—and didn’t find them. Bummer.

When I search in GenealogyBank and do not find my target relatives, I make a quick note to try again in a few weeks to see if I can find articles about them later.

Why?

Because GenealogyBank updates its archives and keeps adding millions of articles—in fact we update over 3,000 newspapers every day. What is not there today might be added to GenealogyBank tomorrow.

Case in point: Not finding my Sawyer family, I next decided to recheck GenealogyBank for the Schell family of North Adams, Massachusetts.

I had searched for them in the past, but found nothing.

Bang—this time I found them.

I discovered quite a few articles about H. Horton Schell’s business and fraternal association activities, several obituaries and this wedding announcement.

wedding announcement for Marion Spencer and Harlan Schell, Springfield Republican newspaper article 12 February 1935

Springfield Republican (Springfield, Massachusetts), 12 February 1935, page 7

Great. This article gives me the details of the wedding of my cousin Harlan Horton Schell (1907-2001) along with a photograph of his wife Marion Rudman Spencer (1908-1992).

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Digging deeper, I found the obituary of her father, Albert Edmund Spencer (1876-1965). Good catch, as this gives me his middle name: “Edmund.” That’s a good clue for further searches.

obituary for Albert Spencer, Boston Herald newspaper article 5 February 1965

Boston Herald (Boston, Massachusetts), 5 February 1965, page 29

Continuing to search, I found this much longer obituary with many more details about his life and family.

obituary for Albert Spencer, Springfield Union newspaper article 5 February 1965

Springfield Union (Springfield, Massachusetts). 5 February 1965, page 7

See: http://bit.ly/1phoLVG

Genealogy Search Tip: If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. GenealogyBank’s search page includes an “Added Since” feature with a drop-down menu that lets you search on content added in the past one, two or three months.

screenshot of GenealogyBank's search page for its newspaper archives

Good luck with your own genealogy searches!

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Genealogy: A Brief History of Obituaries & Death Notices

Newspapers have been publishing obituaries for hundreds of years, making it easy for bereaved family and friends to learn the details of the life of the deceased as well as the funeral arrangements.

GenealogyBank has put this information from the past 300 years online, allowing genealogists to find their relatives within a few clicks.

300 years?

That’s a lot of obituaries, resulting in the largest collection online.

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Have obituaries really changed much over the course of three centuries?

Yes—of course they have, and so have newspapers.

But the basic rule of thumb has always been true: famous people get long obituaries and not-so-famous people get short ones.

Back in the days before the linotype machine (invented in 1886), the type for printing each day’s newspaper was set by hand. That took time and so, realistically, newspapers were generally only four pages long.

Fewer pages meant that there had to be a balance between the length of the news articles and the number and size of the advertisements. That’s why you see old obituaries that are brief—just one line announcing that some individuals had died—with longer, more detailed obituaries about people the editor thought would be of more general interest.

For example, look at the information packed into this brief obituary:

obituary for Ephraim Crofoot, Constitution newspaper article 3 March 1852

Constitution (Middletown, Connecticut), 3 March 1852, page 3

This is a short obituary, but we learn that Ephraim Crofoot died on 24 February 1852 in Middletown, Connecticut. We also learn that he was 51 years old and likely was a lawyer, as indicated by the title “Esq.” [Esquire] following his name.

Now look at these obituary examples:

various obituaries, New Hampshire Sentinel newspaper article 28 April 1826

New Hampshire Sentinel (Keene, New Hampshire), 28 April 1826, page 3

The opening paragraph has three brief obituaries:

  • In this town, of consumption, Dr. Joseph Wheeler, aged 46
  • Mrs. Sarah Sturtevant, wife of the late Mr. Cornelius S., aged 88
  • An infant child of Mr. John Phelps

Now contrast that last brief obituary for the infant child of John Phelps with the final obituary in this column—also for an infant who had died:

In Fitzwilliam, an infant daughter of Mr. Geo. Damon. Deacon Oliver Damon and wife have lived in Fitzwilliam 42 years, and this [is] the first instance of mortality that has occurred in his family or among his descendants (25 in all) during that time. Printers in Massachusetts are requested to notice this death.

Both were infants that died. Neither obituary gave the name of the child. One obituary was so brief it only gave the name of the father, even though the child died in Keene, New Hampshire, where the newspaper was published.

The other obituary named the father as well, but also provided more details. This infant’s death was “news”—this was the first death in the family of Deacon Oliver Damon in 42 years. This was big and the editor knew his readers would want to know about it. He even inserted the line “Printers in Massachusetts are requested to notice this death,” indicating to other newspaper editors the importance of this obituary in case they wanted to run it in their own newspapers.

The New Hampshire Sentinel published on 28 April 1826 may have only been four pages long, but the editor used his judgment as to how much copy (how many lines) he would give to each story.

Obituaries can be long or short. The size of the obituary was determined by the importance of the person who had died, the story to be told, and the time the newspaper editor and reporters had to research and write about the deceased. As towns grew into cities it became common for the family itself to write the obituary, so that the newspaper would publish more information about their relatives.

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Inside the newspaper industry these user-supplied obituaries became known as “Death Notices”—articles written by the family or friends and supplied to newspapers. The articles written by the newspaper staff continued to be called “Obituaries.”

Obituary columns in newspapers have carried all types of headers: Obituaries, Deaths, Died, In Remembrance, Memorials, etc.

For genealogists and the general public, the terms Death Notice and Obituary are synonymous. Most family historians refer to all biographical articles about the recently deceased as obituaries, regardless of who wrote them or how long/short they are.

Over time newspapers came to view these family-supplied articles as paid classified advertisements, and they began charging accordingly. It is customary now for most newspapers to charge by the word count, the inclusion of photographs, and the number of insertions.

Obituaries are critical for genealogists. Long or short, they contain the information and clues we need to document our family tree.

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New Family Story Find: My 18th Century Uncle Jonathan Dore

Last year I wrote about my relative Elizabeth (Meader) Hanson (1684-1737) who, along with her children, was kidnapped by Abenaki Indians on 7 September 1724 and taken to the Indians’ village along the St. Francis River in Canada. They were held there for over two years. (See: Find & Preserve Your Family’s Stories.)

Powerful. Memorable. That story has been told and retold in our family for the past 290 years. Every night when we were young we asked our grandfather to tell us that story. We loved it. It was real—it was our family story.

Indian Raids Continued

Recently I found this 1749 newspaper article with a report from Timothy Brown about his attempts to learn more about—and to free—captives still held by the Indians.

He was able to get in and around the Abenaki village and learned about multiple captives, including this specific reference:

There is also a Boy who was taken from Rochester in New Hampshire, with the Indians at St. Francois, his Name is Jonathan Dore.

article about Jonathan Dore being taken captive by Abenaki Indians, Boston Post Boy newspaper article 10 July 1749

Boston Post Boy (Boston, Massachusetts), 10 July 1749, page 2

Jonathan Dore?
Rochester, New Hampshire?
St. Francis Indians?

This is sounding just like the story of my relative Elizabeth Hanson, who was also taken prisoner by the Abenaki Indians from St. Francis.

This Jonathan Dore has to be one of my relatives, too—the same Jonathan Dore who was my 5th-great uncle.

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New England Had Had Enough

The Abenaki and the French were taking American women and children captive so that they could sell them back to their families.

It was time to stop these atrocities—and that was one of the reasons the French & Indian War was launched (1754-1763).

Attack on Fort William Henry

During the war there was an attack on Fort William Henry in August of 1757.

The following account comes from Terror in Rochester by Linda Sargent, 2008:

“The fort was manned by the British, including many New Hampshire men. The siege had ended and the British had surrendered the fort to the French who were being aided by the Indians. There are various accounts of what happened next, but British soldiers were massacred after they had surrendered.

“One man who managed to escape from the fort was from Dover, NH. When he returned to Dover, he told how he had been pursued by Indians. One of them had caught up to him and lifted his tomahawk.

“When their eyes met, under the war paint and Indian dress he recognized the eyes of a young boy he had known well when he worked as a teamster logging on the Salmon Falls River and visiting at the Dore’s home in Rochester. He knew this white Indian was Jonathan Dore. Jonathan recognized him, as well, and dropped his tomahawk to his side and left. No one believed the man’s story when he returned to Dover.”

See: http://bit.ly/Vj2ZVD

Jonathan Dore had been sighted again, 11 years after he was taken by the Abenaki.

New Englanders Settle the Score

The Abenaki had been terrorizing New Englanders for decades. The old scores were settled on 4 October 1759 when Robert Rogers and his Rangers attacked the Indians’ village.

The following account comes from Wikipedia:

“Rogers and about 140 men entered the village, which was reportedly occupied primarily by women, children, and the elderly, early that morning, slaughtered many of the inhabitants where they lay, shot down many who attempted to flee, and then burned the village. Rogers and his men endured significant hardships to reach the village from the British base at Fort Crown Point in present-day New York, and even more hardship afterwards. Chased by the French and vengeful Indians, and short on rations, Rogers and his men returned to Crown Point via the Connecticut River valley.”

Jonathan Dore Witnessed Rogers’ Attack on the Abenaki Village

Digging deeper into GenealogyBank’s archives, I found out more of the story.

Jonathan Dore, Aberdeen Daily News newspaper article 5 January 1905

Aberdeen Daily News (Aberdeen, South Dakota), 5 January 1905, page 2

The above historical newspaper clipping is only part of the long account about Jonathan Dore that appeared in the Aberdeen Daily News. The whole article gives a good overview of what had happened to Jonathan Dore.

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According to the article, Jonathan Dore (1734-1797)—my 5th-great uncle—was kidnapped on “Salmon Falls Road in Rochester [New Hampshire]” by the Abenaki on 26 June 1746, when he was only 12 years old!

Jonathan Dore married an Abenaki Indian woman and they had two children. When Major Robert Rogers attacked their village in 1759 to avenge the attack on Fort William Henry, Jonathan Dore “witnessed the massacre.”

Everyone in the village was killed and it was set on fire. “Among the ruins he found the bodies of his wife and children. He buried them in one grave and with them his attachment to the Indians.”

In 1760 Jonathan Dore returned home to Rochester, New Hampshire. His family had moved across the Salmon Falls River to Lebanon, Maine, where he also settled.

The newspaper article concluded:

He settled in Lebanon, Me., married again and spent there the remainder of his days, famous for his marksmanship, especially with the bow and arrow, and known to every one as “Indian Dore.”

Wow—we would have loved to have heard that family story as kids!

Our “uncle” was not much older than we were when he was captured by the Indians, and then held captive for over 13 years—what a great story.

Preserve your family’s stories.

Find them in the old newspapers in GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives—preserve those stories and pass them down to the rising generation.

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Commemorating V-J Day: 14 August 1945

Introduction: Scott Phillips is a genealogical historian and owner of Onward To Our Past® genealogy services. In this blog post, Scott searches old newspapers to find stories about the day Japan announced its surrender, ending World War II.

A few days ago I happened to notice an obituary in my local newspaper for Theodore “Dutch” Van Kirk. I read that this gentleman passed away in Stone Mountain, Georgia, at the age of 93. I was curious to learn why this obituary would be in my local paper when Stone Mountain, Georgia, is well over 700 miles away.

photo of the World War II bomber Enola Gay after the Hiroshima mission

Photo: the Enola Gay bomber after the Hiroshima mission. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

I soon discovered that his death was news across the entire United States—his obituary was published coast to coast. For example, this obituary was published in a California newspaper.

obituary for Theodore Van Kirk, Tri-Valley Herald newspaper article 31 July 2014

Tri-Valley Herald (Pleasanton, California), 31 July 2014

As this obituary explains:

Theodore ‘Dutch’ Van Kirk [was] a navigator who guided the Enola Gay bomber over Hiroshima during World War II to drop the first nuclear bomb in the history of warfare… Van Kirk was the last surviving member of the Enola Gay’s 12-member crew, which was responsible for dropping the atomic bomb on Aug. 6, 1945 that killed 80,000 people and hurried the war’s end eight days later.

The phrase “hurried the war’s end eight days later” refers to the fact that the announcement of Japan’s surrender was made on 14 August 1945 (which, due to time zone differences, was actually August 15 in Japan), in effect ending WWII.

This article from an Illinois newspaper presents Van Kirk’s own words describing the world-altering event he and his fellow Enola Gay crew members participated in that day.

article about the WWII bomber Enola Gay and the atomic bombig of Hiroshima, Register Star newspaper article 7 August 2005

Register Star (Rockford, Illinois), 7 August 2005, page 11

“Dutch” died just two weeks shy of the 69th anniversary of the declaration of “V-J Day” (Victory over Japan Day), commemorating the Japanese surrender which marked the end of World War II. Note: although Japan’s surrender was announced in the U.S. on 14 August 1945, the formal surrender ceremony took place aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay on September 2—so both days can be called V-J Day.

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Intrigued by Van Kirk’s story, I began to look for more historical information on V-J Day in GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives to see how the news was reported—and to learn what our ancestors might have been doing that day.

Here is what the front page of this Louisiana newspaper looked like on Victory over Japan Day.

Japs Surrender Unconditionally, Advocate newspaper article 15 August 1945

Advocate (Baton Rouge, Louisiana), 15 August 1945, page 1

This photo spread from a California newspaper shows Americans celebrating the good news of Japan’s surrender and the ending of the war: streets jammed with huge, happy crowds, with celebrations of all types.

photos of people in San Diego celebrating V-J Day, San Diego Union newspaper article 15 August 1945

San Diego Union (San Diego, California), 15 August 1945, page 2

And speaking of end of war celebrations, on page three of that same newspaper was an article reporting that floodlights were lit at night after four years of darkness, almost every store in nearby towns was shuttered for the holiday—and from weeping telephone operators to an elevator attendant giving out free whisky to his riders, the whole of America seemed engaged in some type of revelry.

article about people in San Diego celebrating V-J Day, San Diego Union newspaper article 15 August 1945

San Diego Union (San Diego, California), 15 August 1945, page 3

And why shouldn’t America have been celebrating with wild abandon? As the headline of this Ohio newspaper declared: the soldiers would finally be coming home!

Japs Delay Reply to MacArthur's Orders on Surrender Procedure, Plain Dealer newspaper article 16 August 1945

Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), 16 August 1945, page 1

Seven and a half million men (and women) coming home at last! I know my father, a 1st lieutenant in the U.S. Army, was among those men. While Dad fought throughout Europe, he and his men all had a terrible feeling of foreboding should they have to fight on the shores of Japan. But now they all knew that they’d be coming home.

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While many Americans had been waiting out every second of time for V-J Day to finally arrive, this Texas newspaper article cleverly pointed out that a Mr. and Mrs. B. M. Day had enjoyed V. J. Day for 12 years already! It seems that their daughter was Vera Janice Day, and some smart reporter caught that cute tidbit amongst all the other excitement!

Vera Janice Has Been V-J Day Twelve Years, Dallas Morning News newspaper article 16 August 1945

Dallas Morning News (Dallas, Texas), 16 August 1945, section II, page 7

This Oregon newspaper article reported that Portland was already planning how to celebrate V-J Day even before Japan announced its surrender: “City fathers have no objection to John Q. Citizen’s celebrating in any manner he chooses so long as the peace is kept. ‘I am not interested in stopping people from showing their exuberance,’ the mayor said, ‘as long as property is not destroyed and the laws are observed.’” Sounds to me like Portland was surely going to rock for V-J Day!

Citywide Plans Underway--V-J Day Pattern like V-E, Oregonian newspaper article 11 August 1945

Oregonian (Portland, Oregon), 11 August 1945, page 4

Also on the home front, the impending end of the war was going to mean the end to rationing. Two days before V-J Day, a Massachusetts newspaper published this article listing many of the everyday items that were being rationed for the duration of the war, such as gasoline, tires, shoes, food and fuel oil. The old newspaper article speculated when that rationing might end after the formal surrender of Japan. Another family story I recall is that after my Dad returned home from the war, my Mom explained to him how challenging it was to live with rationing—and my Dad responded, with a chuckle: “I’d have traded anyone on the home front anything for the bullets and K-Rations!”

Life Will Begin Again for Civilians Not Long after Japs Fold for Good, Springfield Republican newspaper article 12 August 1945

Springfield Republican (Springfield, Massachusetts), 12 August 1945, page 1

As we commemorate V-J Day today, I hope you will take a moment to reflect on what your ancestors might have been doing 69 years ago. I’d love to read your comments here!

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