Brave Women of the American Revolutionary War Era

Introduction: Gena Philibert-Ortega is a genealogist and author of the book “From the Family Kitchen.” In this blog article, Gena searches old newspapers to find stories of some brave American women and their deeds during the Revolutionary War.

When we think of the American Revolutionary War we reflect on the sacrifices and bravery exhibited by the men of the era. We tell the stories of heroes like George Washington and John Paul Jones. But what did women do during the Revolutionary War era? What were these early American women like? We tend to believe that they were “just housewives,” more “delicate” than women of a latter era. Sure, they were tough due to lack of technology, access to medical care, and the hardships they faced. But how tough were they?

Illustration: “Heroism of Miss Elizabeth Zane” depicts Elizabeth Zane’s legendary feat of retrieving gunpowder during the siege of Fort Henry during the American Revolutionary War

Illustration: “Heroism of Miss Elizabeth Zane” depicts Elizabeth Zane’s legendary feat of retrieving gunpowder during the siege of Fort Henry during the American Revolutionary War. Lithograph by Nagel and Weingaertner, 1851. Source: Library of Congress.

When we look at our Revolutionary War foremothers, in some cases they were so tough that they kicked butt and didn’t bother to take names. Yes, that’s right. Our Revolutionary War-era foremothers were TOUGH!

Hannah Gaunt

My first introduction to this was from my own family history research: the story of Hannah Gaunt of South Carolina, daughter of Israel Gaunt who was a Quaker. Now let me set the scene for you. It seems that Israel was known to have some money. During the war, three Tories decided to go over to the Gaunt house to relieve Israel of that money. After sunset, the would-be robbers rode up to Israel’s home and asked for lodging. The Gaunts refused their request. One of the men, a guy named Hubbs, rode up to the kitchen door and asked Mrs. Gaunt for some water. When Mrs. Gaunt went to get the water, Hubbs jumped into action and entered the house. Mrs. Gaunt yelled to her husband so that he could lock the other doors, preventing the other two outlaws from getting in. Suddenly Hubbs drew his pistol and aimed it at Mr. Gaunt’s chest.

Now, let’s stop there. Here is Mr. Gaunt with a pistol to his chest while his wife and daughter look on, seemingly helpless. Two other outlaws who would do them harm are outside waiting for their chance to grab the family’s money. What do you do?

Well if you are Hannah Gaunt you leap into action: you wrestle the bad guy for his gun and pin him to the ground. According to this later 1859 newspaper article recounting the episode:

…she held him with an iron gripe [sic], notwithstanding his violent struggles to release himself, and his plunging his spurs again and again into her dress and her limbs. While the Amazonian damsel thus pinned him down, her father snapped two loaded muskets at his head…

article about Hannah Gaunt, Weekly Wisconsin Patriot newspaper article 22 January 1859

Weekly Wisconsin Patriot (Madison, Wisconsin), 22 January 1859, page 3

Mary Hooks Slocumb

So was Hannah Gaunt the only woman who had a fighting spirit? Certainly not; we know that some women during the American Revolutionary War fought on the battlefields, while others protected their homes. Newspapers reported on these brave women’s exploits.

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This 1851 newspaper article, a review of Mrs. Elizabeth F. Ellet’s 1850 three-volume book The Women of the American Revolution, recounts one of the stories from that book involving a very brave woman: Mary Hooks Slocumb. One night after having a dream where she saw her soldier husband injured from battle, she took to her horse and rode all night alone, approximately 60 miles, to reach the battle where her husband’s unit was. Although he was not one of the injured, many others were – and Mary ignored the sounds of cannon fire and tended to their needs. So that readers would not get the impression that Mary was anything but a lady, the article added:

Though Mrs. Slocumb could ride a horse, shoot a pistol, or take part in many masculine employments, she was not inattentive to many feminine duties…

article about Mary Hooks Slocumb, Daily National Intelligencer newspaper article 19 June 1851

Daily National Intelligencer (Washington, D.C.), 19 June 1851, page 3

Elizabeth Zane

Women volunteered to do all sorts of tasks to help the Revolutionary War effort, often at great risk. This 1849 newspaper article recounted the story of Elizabeth Zane’s bravery during a British attack on the American Fort Henry. After two days of holding the enemy at bay, the patriots were running out of gunpowder. They needed someone to run through enemy fire to a nearby block-house and retrieve more. At first, when asked, none of the men would volunteer. Finally a boy said he would do it, which of course prompted the men to volunteer. The men then started arguing about who should go – when the sister of Colonel Silas Zane (who was in the outside block-house) volunteered. Another of her brothers was in the fort, and he didn’t want her to run the risk.

The old newspaper article reports:

Her brother thought she would flinch from the enterprise, but he was mistaken. She had the intrepidity to dare, and the fortitude to bear her up in the heroic risk of her life.

Her brother tried to talk her out of it, but Elizabeth was resolute. She ran to the block-house unharmed, and then returned to the fort with the precious extra gunpowder through a volley of enemy bullets.

article about Elizabeth Zane, Semi-weekly Eagle newspaper article 11 October 1849

Semi-weekly Eagle (Brattleboro, Vermont), 11 October 1849, page 1

Mrs. Porter Philbrook

The bravery and heroism of American women during the Revolution continued to be discussed long after the fighting ended. Newspaper obituaries and memoirs noted those women and their acts of valor during the Revolutionary War period. Even latter-day women who displayed strength and cunning were likened to their Revolutionary mothers, as in this case involving an 1850 home burglary that resulted in the capture of the culprit by the lady of the house, Mrs. Porter Philbrook of Wilton, New Hampshire.

In telling of her bravery in apprehending a burglar while her husband was away, this 1850 newspaper article said she performed:

“a deed of daring”…which would not be unworthy of the bravest of the “women of the Revolution.”

As Mrs. Philbrook was preparing to retire for the night, she heard a noise and found a burglar breaking in – whom she confronted and subdued.

article about Mrs. Porter Philbrook, National Aegis newspaper article 25 December 1850

National Aegis (Worcester, Massachusetts), 25 December 1850, page 2

What did your Revolutionary War-era ancestress do? Probably more than you imagine. While you might think that these women sat at home and waited, more likely they were involved in something to assist in the war effort. In some cases they were true heroines.

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Hungarian-Born Revolutionary War Vet Dies

I found this interesting obituary for John Baker (1741-1826).

obituary for John Baker, Boston Traveler newspaper article 3 May 1826

Boston Traveler (Boston, Massachusetts), 3 May 1826, page 3

It says that Baker:

was a native of Hungary, came to this country with [British General John] Burgoyne, and deserted from his army and joined the Americans, in whose service he continued his aid till the close of the revolution.

Is there more to know?

On its website, the Johannes Schwalm Historical Association describes itself this way:

JSHA is a nonprofit organization dedicated to researching those German auxiliary troops (generically called Hessian) who remained in America after the Revolutionary War, became loyal citizens, made cultural contributions and were the progenitors of any thousands of Americans living today.

An article in Hessians, the JSHA journal, gives more possible details about John Baker:

John Baker (Johann Becker) a so-called Hessian, is said to be buried in Westfield [Massachusetts]. He could have been Johann Becker, drummer (tambour) with Captain Ahler’s Company of the von Rhetz Regiment of the Brunswick Army. He was from Friedersdorf and born in 1749. He deserted (date unknown) and joined the American forces.

Article citation: Webler, Robert M. “German (so called Hessian) soldiers who remained in Massachusetts and neighboring states, particularly after the Battles of Bennington and Saratoga.” Hessians: Journal of the Johannes Schwalm Historical Association, Issue number 9 (2006), pages 82–88.

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A Reminder: Records do not always agree. In this example, the obituary pegs his birth year as about 1841, while the Hessians article suggests “He could have been Johann Becker, drummer… [who] was from Friedersdorf and born in 1749.”

Since this might not be the same person and we don’t know the basis for Webler’s statement that Baker was born in 1749, I have used the earlier birth year suggested by his obituary notice for his life dates.

Are you a descendant of Revolutionary Ward soldier John Baker? If so, please contact us – we’d like to know more.

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Revolutionary War Ancestry: Our Top 6 How-to Posts

With the Fourth of July approaching, America prepares to celebrate Independence Day – and genealogists’ thoughts turn to their Revolutionary War ancestry. There are many good sources of information about this crucial period in American history, including historical newspaper archives, museums, and various Revolutionary War and military websites that can tell you about the times your ancestors lived in, the roles they played, and details of their individual lives.

This blog post highlights some of the past articles we’ve published on the GenealogyBank Blog about researching Revolutionary War ancestors. Just click on the title of any article that interests you to read the full blog post. Also, please note that in addition to the 27 Colonial newspapers listed in the graphic below, we just added 450+ newspaper titles from the 1700s and 1800s to GenealogyBank’s archives, creating one of the most comprehensive online resources for researching your Colonial and Revolutionary period ancestry on the web.

list showing 27 Colonial American newspapers in GenealogyBank's online collection

Painting: "Washington Crossing the Delaware," by Emanuel Leutze (1851)

Painting: Washington Crossing the Delaware, by Emanuel Leutze (1851). Source: Wikimedia Commons.

screenshot of the Daughters of the American Revolution website

Source: Daughters of the American Revolution

photo of Philipse Manor

Photo: Philipse Manor. Source: Library of Congress.

obituary for Isaac Van Wart, Barre Gazette newspaper article 31 July 1840

Barre Gazette (Barre, Massachusetts), 31 July 1840, page 2

obituary for Mary Wyckoff, Minerva newspaper article 29 May 1797

Minerva (New York, New York), 29 May 1797, page 3

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You Can Find the Names of Your Ancestors’ Ancestors in Obituaries

Joanna (Kellogg) Goodman’s (1742-1831) obituary does just this – it provides the name of her ancestor from 170 years before her. Her old 1800s obituary states:

She was a great-grand daughter of Joseph Kellogg [1626-1708], one of the first settlers of Hadley, and she and her ancestors lived on the narrow lot, south of the road to Northampton, which was granted to Joseph Kellogg, 170 years ago.

obituary for Joanna (Kellogg) Goodman, Boston Recorder newspaper article 7 September 1831

Boston Recorder (Boston, Massachusetts), 7 September 1831, page 143

These are some great details about her family history – telling us about her ancestor Joseph Kellogg, and that she lived on the same property that had been in the family for 170 years.

Joanna’s gravestone still stands in the Old Hadley Cemetery in Hadley, Massachusetts.
Click here to see it.

Note this old obituary calls her the “relict” of her husband Stephen Goodman – a once-common term for “widow.”

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Our obituary archives can give you the names of your ancestors’ ancestors, allowing you to trace your family tree centuries back. Find and document the lives of your ancestors in GenealogyBank’s Historical Obituary Archives (1704–1999) and Recent Obituary Archives (1977–Today) now.

Find and document your ancestors’ stories – don’t let them be lost to your family.

Note: FamilySearch International (FamilySearch.org) and GenealogyBank are partnering to make over a billion records from recent and historical obituaries searchable online. The tremendous undertaking will make a billion records from over 100 million U.S. newspaper obituaries readily searchable online. The newspapers are from all 50 states and cover the period 1730 to the present.  Find out more at: http://www.genealogybank.com/family-search/

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Georgia Archives: 141 Newspapers for Genealogy Research

The last of the original Thirteen Colonies and named after Great Britain’s King George II, Georgia was established in 1732. Its most populous city is Atlanta, the state capital. Georgia is the nation’s 24th largest state, and the 8th most populous.

photo of the Georgia State Capitol building in Atlanta, Georgia

Photo: Georgia State Capitol building in Atlanta, Georgia. The dome is covered with gold leaf mined from the north Georgia city of Dahlonega. Credit: J. Glover (AUtiger); Wikimedia Commons.

If you are researching your ancestry from Georgia, you will want to use GenealogyBank’s online GA newspaper archives: 141 titles to help you search your family history in the “Peach State,” providing coverage from 1763 to Today. There are more than 69 million articles and records in our online Georgia archives!

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

Search Georgia Newspaper Archives (1763 – 2003)

Search Georgia Recent Obituaries (1985 – Current)

illustration of the state flag of Georgia

Illustration: state flag of Georgia. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Here is a list of online Georgia 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 GA newspaper titles are listed alphabetically by city.

City Title Date Range* Collection
Acworth Bright Side, The [Kennesaw-Acworth Edition] 6/1/2011 – 12/1/2013 Recent Obituaries
Albany Albany Herald 10/20/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Alpharetta, Roswell Revue & News 1/5/2006 – 10/14/2009 Recent Obituaries
Americus Americus Times-Recorder 6/23/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Athens Southern Banner 3/23/1833 – 1/4/1865 Newspaper Archives
Athens Athens Banner-Herald 6/10/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Atlanta Jeffersonian 6/17/1909 – 11/17/1910 Newspaper Archives
Atlanta Weekly Defiance 10/24/1882 – 2/24/1883 Newspaper Archives
Atlanta Atlanta Age 1/13/1900 – 1/13/1900 Newspaper Archives
Atlanta Atlanta Daily World 2/23/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Atlanta Emory Wheel, The: Emory University 8/25/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Atlanta Atlanta Jewish Times 4/28/2006 – 3/13/2009 Recent Obituaries
Atlanta Atlanta Journal-Constitution 1/1/1985 – Current Recent Obituaries
Atlanta Maroon Tiger, The: Morehouse College 8/25/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Augusta Augusta Chronicle 1/7/1792 – 11/30/2003 Newspaper Archives
Augusta Daily Constitutionalist 3/19/1833 – 12/31/1869 Newspaper Archives
Augusta Augusta Herald 7/17/1799 – 12/28/1815 Newspaper Archives
Augusta Southern Centinel, and Universal Gazette 11/28/1793 – 5/31/1798 Newspaper Archives
Augusta Mirror of the Times 10/31/1808 – 10/28/1811 Newspaper Archives
Augusta Weekly Constitutionalist 9/26/1860 – 1/12/1876 Newspaper Archives
Augusta Loyal Georgian 1/20/1866 – 2/15/1868 Newspaper Archives
Augusta Georgia Gazette and General Advertiser 2/5/1816 – 3/11/1816 Newspaper Archives
Augusta Colored American 12/30/1865 – 1/13/1866 Newspaper Archives
Augusta Augusta Union 1/27/1900 – 1/27/1900 Newspaper Archives
Augusta Augusta Chronicle 1/1/1994 – Current Recent Obituaries
Bainbridge Bainbridge Post-Searchlight 10/3/2014 – Current Recent Obituaries
Blue Ridge News Observer 3/28/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Canton Cherokee Tribune 11/21/1998 – Current Recent Obituaries
Carrollton Times-Georgian 5/8/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Cartersville Bartow Neighbor 12/30/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Cartersville Daily Tribune News 8/11/1998 – Current Recent Obituaries
Chatsworth Chatsworth Times 11/17/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Clayton Clayton Tribune 11/21/2013 – Current Recent Obituaries
Cleveland White County News 7/19/2012 – Current Recent Obituaries
Columbus Columbus Daily Enquirer 9/24/1858 – 12/13/1945 Newspaper Archives
Columbus Columbus Ledger 1/3/1903 – 12/31/1922 Newspaper Archives
Columbus Columbus Daily Sun 9/1/1865 – 2/28/1873 Newspaper Archives
Columbus Columbus Tri-Weekly Enquirer 11/27/1855 – 9/21/1858 Newspaper Archives
Columbus Sunday Herald 10/17/1897 – 5/12/1900 Newspaper Archives
Columbus Columbus Weekly Enquirer 1/3/1887 – 5/6/1899 Newspaper Archives
Columbus Columbus Weekly Ledger 5/21/1903 – 6/4/1903 Newspaper Archives
Columbus Columbus Chronicle 1/27/1900 – 1/27/1900 Newspaper Archives
Columbus Ledger-Enquirer 6/8/1993 – Current Recent Obituaries
Columbus Ledger-Enquirer: Blogs 8/3/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Conyers Rockdale Citizen 2/28/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Cordele Cordele Dispatch 12/16/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Cornelia Northeast Georgian 4/12/2013 – Current Recent Obituaries
Covington Newton Citizen 11/16/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Cumming Forsyth County News 2/16/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Cumming Forsyth Herald 3/23/2006 – 11/30/2009 Recent Obituaries
Dahlonega Dahlonega Nugget 1/4/2012 – Current Recent Obituaries
Dallas Paulding County Sentinel 7/8/2009 – 4/9/2010 Recent Obituaries
Dalton Daily Citizen 9/29/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Darien Darien Gazette 1/4/1819 – 9/2/1828 Newspaper Archives
Dawsonville Dawson News & Advertiser 6/5/2013 – Current Recent Obituaries
Decatur Decaturish.com 11/6/2013 – Current Recent Obituaries
Decatur DeKalb Neighbor 4/22/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Douglasville Douglas County Sentinel 5/21/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Douglasville Douglas Neighbor 3/2/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Duluth Johns Creek Herald 1/5/2006 – 12/10/2009 Recent Obituaries
Dunwoody Dunwoody Crier 3/3/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Elberton Elberton Star & Examiner 8/2/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Fayetteville Today in Peachtree City 5/2/2012 – Current Recent Obituaries
Fayetteville Fayette Chronicle 8/25/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Fayetteville Fayette County News 12/2/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Griffin Daily Chattanooga Rebel 6/9/1864 – 9/17/1864 Newspaper Archives
Griffin Griffin Daily News 5/17/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Hartwell Hartwell Sun 7/7/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Jackson Jackson Progress-Argus 10/23/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Jasper Pickens County Progress 10/7/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Jesup Press-Sentinel 9/13/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Jonesboro Clayton News Daily 10/10/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
LaGrange LaGrange Daily News 1/1/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lake Lanier Lakeside on Lanier 8/1/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lavonia Franklin County Citizen 8/2/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lawrenceville Gwinnett Daily Post 3/16/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Loganville Loganville Tribune 7/25/2007 – 10/21/2009 Recent Obituaries
Louisville Louisville Gazette 5/12/1802 – 3/2/1811 Newspaper Archives
Louisville Louisville Courier 8/21/1811 – 10/30/1811 Newspaper Archives
Louisville American Standard 5/14/1812 – 5/14/1812 Newspaper Archives
Macon Macon Telegraph 2/1/1860 – 12/31/1945 Newspaper Archives
Macon Macon Weekly Telegraph 11/1/1826 – 6/30/1909 Newspaper Archives
Macon Georgia Messenger 1/4/1825 – 8/28/1845 Newspaper Archives
Macon Macon Sentinel 1/27/1900 – 1/27/1900 Newspaper Archives
Macon Macon Daily Herald 5/8/1865 – 5/8/1865 Newspaper Archives
Macon Macon Telegraph 8/18/1994 – Current Recent Obituaries
Marietta Marietta Journal 9/18/1868 – 10/31/1998 Newspaper Archives
Marietta Cobb County Times 10/5/1916 – 3/26/1925 Newspaper Archives
Marietta Chattanooga Daily Rebel 2/23/1864 – 4/22/1864 Newspaper Archives
Marietta Marietta Daily Journal 12/7/1998 – Current Recent Obituaries
McDonough Henry Daily Herald 10/10/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Milledgeville Georgia Journal 12/12/1809 – 9/22/1835 Newspaper Archives
Milledgeville Southern Recorder 2/13/1821 – 3/21/1865 Newspaper Archives
Milledgeville Reflector 11/12/1817 – 2/2/1819 Newspaper Archives
Milledgeville Georgia Argus 7/5/1808 – 2/14/1816 Newspaper Archives
Milledgeville Milledgeville Republican 3/20/1816 – 3/27/1816 Newspaper Archives
Milledgeville Union-Recorder 10/24/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Monroe Walton Tribune 1/1/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Moultrie Moultrie Observer 7/5/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Mt. Zion Missionary 1/28/1820 – 5/16/1825 Newspaper Archives
Newnan Newnan Times-Herald 10/12/1996 – Current Recent Obituaries
Peachtree Corners Weekly 6/5/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Richmond Hill Bryan County Now 3/22/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Sandy Springs Sandy Springs Neighbor 10/27/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Savannah Columbian Museum 3/22/1796 – 10/3/1822 Newspaper Archives
Savannah Savannah Tribune 12/4/1875 – 12/28/1922 Newspaper Archives
Savannah Georgian 1/4/1819 – 1/1/1833 Newspaper Archives
Savannah Savannah Republican 3/21/1807 – 12/31/1851 Newspaper Archives
Savannah Savannah Daily Advertiser 12/8/1868 – 4/23/1875 Newspaper Archives
Savannah Georgia Gazette 4/7/1763 – 11/25/1802 Newspaper Archives
Savannah Public Intelligencer 4/18/1807 – 10/18/1808 Newspaper Archives
Savannah Royal Georgia Gazette 8/12/1779 – 12/27/1781 Newspaper Archives
Savannah Southern Patriot 7/26/1805 – 3/24/1806 Newspaper Archives
Savannah Georgia Republican and State Intelligencer 9/4/1802 – 10/22/1805 Newspaper Archives
Savannah Savannah Wholesale Prices Current 3/18/1819 – 5/18/1820 Newspaper Archives
Savannah Savannah Weekly Echo 8/26/1883 – 2/10/1884 Newspaper Archives
Savannah Georgia Journal and Independent Federal Register 12/25/1793 – 1/1/1794 Newspaper Archives
Savannah Gazette of the State of Georgia 2/13/1783 – 2/13/1783 Newspaper Archives
Savannah Savannah Tribune 8/13/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Savannah West Chatham Neighbor 4/28/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Savannah Coastal Senior 6/1/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Savannah Business in Savannah 3/31/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Savannah Coastal Antiques and Art 7/1/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Savannah Savannah Morning News 7/1/1999 – Current Recent Obituaries
Savannah Closeup 11/11/1999 – Current Recent Obituaries
Senoia East Coweta Journal 11/11/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Sparta Farmer’s Gazette 6/17/1803 – 8/8/1807 Newspaper Archives
Springfield Effingham Now 10/26/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
St. Mary’s Tribune & Georgian 11/3/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Thomaston Thomaston Times 10/9/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Thomasville Thomasville Times-Enterprise 11/14/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Thomson Jeffersonian 12/1/1910 – 10/8/1914 Newspaper Archives
Tifton Tifton Gazette 7/25/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Toccoa Toccoa Record 6/24/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Valdosta Valdosta Daily Times 9/5/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Washington Monitor 10/7/1800 – 8/6/1814 Newspaper Archives
Washington News 2/23/1816 – 4/9/1819 Newspaper Archives
Waycross Waycross Journal-Herald 8/25/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
West Point West Point Times-News 10/6/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Winder Barrow County News 2/3/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Woodstock Cherokee Ledger-News 8/18/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries

*Date Ranges may have selected coverage unavailable.

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True Love Stories: 3 Married Couples with Lasting Bonds

Introduction: Duncan Kuehn is a professional genealogist with over nine years of client experience. She has worked on several well-known projects, such as “Who Do You Think You Are?” In this blog post, Duncan searches GenealogyBank’s recent obituaries collection and uncovers three heartwarming stories of couples who were married a very long time together – and died within hours of one another.

Being married for decades is a marvelously romantic experience. Few things are as adorable as seeing an elderly couple shuffling hand-in-hand down the sidewalk. Many elderly couples have been together longer than they were single. They form an inseparable bond and friends can’t think of one without the other. The death of one of them is devastating to the other.

For an astonishing percentage of long-married couples, the loss of one spouse means the other is soon to follow. Sometimes this even occurs when the second is unaware of the passing of the first. Here are three of these beautiful love stories that I found while looking through GenealogyBank’s online collection of Recent Newspaper Obituaries.

John and Marilyn Jenkins

John Jenkins served in the Navy during World War II. After returning home at the age of 19, he asked his mother to give legal permission for him to marry his high school sweetheart, Marilyn. The young couple worked at her parents’ grocery store for a time. John then got a job working at the post office. The work did not suit him and he quit without informing his wife. As many spouses can understand, this did not go over well with Marilyn when she later found out, and the couple argued. But eventually they worked things out and John found work in the insurance industry, while Marilyn worked as an elementary school teacher. John returned to the Navy for the Korean War.

obituary quote about an elderly couple who had their chairs moved together so that they could hold hands

The couple was quite social and loved to play games, square dance, and go camping. Even into their 70s, they were pulling a camper to Clearwater, Florida, to enjoy the outdoors. They also attended the Centenary Methodist Church and it played a big role in their lives. They had three children together.

However, their health eventually declined and they needed 24-hour care. John remained upbeat and optimistic, but Marilyn was in terrible pain.

According to their joint obituary:

Despite poor health and advancing years, [daughter Sue] Thomure believed her parents’ relationship remained an “epic” love story. “They were both very affectionate people,” she said. “They always loved hugs and kisses. They were outwardly affectionate with each other and with us. In fact, when they first started getting ill and elderly, their chairs were apart. We had to move their chairs next to each other so they could hold hands.”

obituary for John and Marilyn Jenkins, Daily Journal newspaper article 14 March 2015

Daily Journal (Park Hills, Missouri), 14 March 2015

After 67 years together, Marilyn died on 26 February 2015. Upon hearing the news, John replied: “Well, we done good and I’ll be along shortly.” By the next morning, he had indeed joined her in death.

Enrique and Emma Flores

Enrique and Emma dated for six years and were engaged for six years before finally marrying in 1953. Before marrying, they were able to save up for and completely furnish a home. Enrique served in the Army during the Korean War and made a career in the military, retiring in 1983. Emma spent most of her time raising their three children, but was also a substitute teacher. Although neither attended college, they valued education. Enrique even served as PTA president for their children’s school.

quote from an obituary about a loving couple that died within hours of each other

Religion played a major role in their lives. They said the rosary daily and it was one of the few things that Enrique could recall after dementia set it. Emma tried to care for Enrique but she struggled to care for his needs while battling through a second round of cancer, and he had to go into a nursing home. Her daughter took Emma to visit Enrique as often as she could.

According to their joint obituary, Enrique loved Emma’s visits:

[Enrique] would get so excited to see her and would always clap his hands. And he would repeatedly tell her, “I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you.”

These two long-time lovers were married for 69 years.

obituary for Enrique and Emma Flores, Corpus Christi Caller-Times newspaper article 2 March 2015

Corpus Christi Caller-Times (Corpus Christi, Texas), 2 March 2015

Sadly, it was Emma who died first on 1 March 2015. But within an hour of her death, the family was informed that Enrique had died at the nursing home without having received the news of his wife’s passing.

Enter Last Name

Marcus and Madelyn Yensen

I found a similarly touching love story in yet another joint obituary, this one for Marcus and Madelyn Yensen, a Salt Lake City couple that had been married for more than 74 years:

The pair met each other in 1940 at a dance studio when Marcus took a dance lesson from Madelyn. Just one month later, after a “whirlwind of romance’ – which included a date that ran past curfew and infuriated Madelyn’s mother – they were married, said their youngest son, Byron Yensen. “They were always together, and they were always very happy with each other,” [their daughter Carol] Bradford said.

obituary for Marcus and Madelyn Yensen, Deseret News newspaper article 25 April 2015

Deseret News (Salt Lake City, Utah), 25 April 2015

Marcus served in the Navy during WWII and then built a career as an engineer on the railroad. They had three children together. Madelyn was the social one while the more-quiet Marcus usually kept his thoughts to himself.

quote from an obituary about a loving couple that died within hours of each other

According to their obituary:

In his last months, Marcus had been fighting heart failure. Nurses told him he would die in March, but he clung to life, determined to at least live until April 1 so he could collect pension money for his wife, their youngest son said.

Marcus made it to April, clinging to life in a nursing home, but Madelyn died at home on April 7. Bradford went to the nursing home to tell her dad the sad news:

“I leaned over and whispered in his ear, ‘Mom has passed, and she’s waiting for you in heaven.’ I think after that, he knew he had accomplished what he needed, and he felt that he could let go.”

Marcus Yensen died at 9:30 that night.

“Being the gentlemen he always was, and showing the eternal love they had together, Marcus held the gates of heaven open so Madelyn could walk in first, then followed her.”

What is the longest marriage in your family tree? Do you have any heartwarming romantic stories to share? Tell us in the comments.

Note: FamilySearch International (FamilySearch.org) and GenealogyBank are partnering to make over a billion records from recent and historical obituaries searchable online. The tremendous undertaking will make a billion records from over 100 million U.S. newspaper obituaries readily searchable online. The newspapers are from all 50 states and cover the period 1730 to the present.  Find out more at: http://www.genealogybank.com/family-search/

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Genealogy Research with Military Records in Newspapers

Ever since the Revolutionary War, military records have been published in the nation’s newspapers – and researching these records can help you learn more about your ancestors and fill in details on your family tree.

This blog post highlights some of the past articles we’ve published on the GenealogyBank Blog about researching military records in newspapers. Just click on the title of any article that interests you to read the full blog post.

WWII casualty list, Plain Dealer newspaper article 22 February 1945

Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), 22 February 1945, page 11

article about WWI draft dodgers, Trenton Evening Times newspaper article 25 May 1921

Trenton Evening Times (Trenton, New Jersey), 25 May 1921, page 1

Civil War roster list for Seventeenth Pennsylvania Cavalry, Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper article 21 November 1862

Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), 21 November 1862, page 2

montage of Revolutionary War records from old newspaper articles

montage of Revolutionary War records from old newspaper articles

article about the Mexican-American War, Charleston Courier newspaper article 24 June 1847

Charleston Courier (Charleston, South Carolina), 24 June 1847, page 2

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Family Reunites after 90-Year Mystery in Springfield Solved

In this video, librarian Irene Nolan (Hamden Public Library, Connecticut) shares the story of how a family – separated for more than 90 years – was brought together once again with information from GenealogyBank.

This librarian was helping a family research their family tree. They had their grandfather’s first and last names. That was enough for Nolan to begin her search in GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives. Within 10 minutes she had located valuable genealogical information about the grandfather and his surviving relatives that facilitated the family’s reunion after nine decades of separation.

Enter Last Name

We can do this.
Start now and find your family – all of them – by finding their stories in old newspapers.

Tell us what you find out about your family in the comments section.

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June 2015 Update: GenealogyBank Just Added 37 Million More Records!

Every day, GenealogyBank is working hard to digitize more newspapers and obituaries, expanding our collection to give you the largest newspaper archives for family history research available online. We just completed adding 37 million more U.S. genealogy records, vastly increasing our content coverage from coast to coast!

screenshot of GenealogyBank's home page showing the announcement of 37 million records recently added to GenealogyBank's archives

Here are some of the details about our most recent U.S. newspaper additions:

  • A total of 46 newspaper titles from 20 U.S. states plus the District of Columbia
  • 26 of these titles are newspapers added to GenealogyBank for the first time
  • Newspaper titles marked with an asterisk (*) are new to our online archives
  • We’ve shown the newspaper issue date ranges so that you can determine if the newly added content is relevant to your personal genealogy research

To see our newspaper archives’ complete title lists, click here.

State City Title Date Range Collection
Alaska Anchorage Arctic Sounder* 06/28/2013–Current Recent Obituaries
California San Francisco San Francisco Chronicle 2/21/1982–2/23/1982 Newspaper Archives
California San Luis Obispo San Luis Obispo Daily Telegram 11/1/1952–10/30/1954 Newspaper Archives
California Stockton Record, The* 02/20/2015–Current Recent Obituaries
District of Columbia Washington (DC) Washington Times 8/14/1984–11/1/1989 Newspaper Archives
Florida Miami Miami Herald 10/11/1928–9/22/1929 Newspaper Archives
Georgia Columbus Columbus Daily Enquirer 3/19/1941–4/5/1943 Newspaper Archives
Georgia Macon Macon Telegraph 7/1/1944–10/31/1945 Newspaper Archives
Idaho Boise Idaho Statesman 1/7/1957–10/13/1957 Newspaper Archives
Illinois Rockford Register Star 10/1/2007–4/30/2008 Newspaper Archives
Indiana Evansville Evansville Courier and Press 1/2/1931–12/31/1937 Newspaper Archives
Kentucky Lexington Lexington Herald 4/1/1939–10/15/1973 Newspaper Archives
Kentucky Lexington Lexington Leader 7/1/1901–8/27/1975 Newspaper Archives
Kentucky Lexington Lexington Leader* 3/1/1912–8/30/1975 Newspaper Archives
Louisiana Baton Rouge Advocate Extra, The* 10/09/2014–Current Recent Obituaries
Louisiana Clinton Watchman, The* 12/18/2014–Current Recent Obituaries
Louisiana Greensburg St. Helena Echo* 12/18/2014–Current Recent Obituaries
Louisiana St. Francisville St. Francisville Democrat* 12/18/2014–Current Recent Obituaries
Louisiana Zachary Zachary Advocate and Plainsman, The* 10/09/2014–Current Recent Obituaries
Maryland Baltimore Sun 2/5/1903–12/19/1917 Newspaper Archives
Minnesota Wayzata Lakeshore Weekly News* 07/17/2014–Current Recent Obituaries
Mississippi Biloxi Daily Herald 1/1/1946–3/28/1953 Newspaper Archives
National National UPI NewsTrack* 04/26/2013–Current Recent Obituaries
New Hampshire Chester, Hampstead, Sandown Tri-Town Times: Web Edition Articles* 02/28/2013–Current Recent Obituaries
New Jersey Absecon, Pleasantville Current of Pleasantville, The* 04/23/2013–Current Recent Obituaries
New Jersey Atlantic City Atlantic City Weekly* 03/10/2005–Current Recent Obituaries
New Jersey Cape May Cape May Gazette, The* 09/09/2010–Current Recent Obituaries
New Jersey Egg Harbor Current of Downbeach, The* 05/19/2010–Current Recent Obituaries
New Jersey Egg Harbor Township Current of Egg Harbor Township, The* 06/02/2010–Current Recent Obituaries
New Jersey Galloway Current of Galloway Township, The* 04/08/2010–Current Recent Obituaries
New Jersey Hamilton Current of Hamilton Township, The* 05/26/2010–Current Recent Obituaries
New Jersey Linwood, Somers Point, Northfield Current of Linwood, Somers Point, Northfield* 07/20/2010–Current Recent Obituaries
New Jersey Middle Township Middle Township Gazette, The* 01/05/2011–Current Recent Obituaries
New Jersey Ocean City Ocean City Gazette, The* 04/12/2010–Current Recent Obituaries
New Jersey Upper Township Upper Township Gazette* 11/11/2010–Current Recent Obituaries
New Jersey Wildwood Wildwood Leader, The* 05/24/2010–Current Recent Obituaries
New York Middletown Times Herald-Record, The* 02/18/2015–Current Recent Obituaries
North Carolina Charlotte Charlotte Observer 1/1/1934–12/6/1935 Newspaper Archives
North Carolina Robbinsville Graham Star* 01/28/2009–Current Recent Obituaries
Oregon Medford Mail Tribune* 02/23/2015–Current Recent Obituaries
Pennsylvania State College Centre Daily Times 10/1/1982–11/30/1983 Newspaper Archives
South Carolina Charleston Charleston News and Courier 7/12/1971–9/30/1991 Newspaper Archives
South Carolina Charleston Evening Post 3/18/1971–3/19/1971 Newspaper Archives
South Carolina Charleston Post and Courier 9/1/1984–2/29/1996 Newspaper Archives
Washington Bellingham Bellingham Herald 5/1/1947–8/31/1948 Newspaper Archives
Washington Olympia Morning Olympian 1/1/1951–4/30/1952 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 newspaper links will be live.

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Researching Kids with Vintage Newspaper Ads of 100 Years Ago

Introduction: Mary Harrell-Sesniak is a genealogist, author and editor with a strong technology background. In this blog article, Mary shows how historical newspaper advertisements offer a fascinating insight into the stories of our ancestors’ lives – such as these old ads concerning children.

If you’re like most genealogists, you thrive by living vicariously through the lives of ancestors.

montage of ancestor photos with the caption: "Genealogists thrive on living vicariously through the lives of their ancestors."

We amass hordes of vital statistics on our ancestors – and then we look for detailed data about what happened in their lives. Who were their relatives, what did they do for a living, where did they live, when did all of this happen and why did they do what they did?

And for some of our ancestors, historical newspaper advertisements offer a fascinating insight into the personal stories of their lives.

Take, for instance, children.

Ads for Children

As every parent knows, we do our best to provide for our children – so it should come as no surprise to find old newspapers advertisements that are targeted toward children’s well-being. From schools to medical treatments, there is a wealth of information to be gleaned about what life was like back in their times.

Early American Schools

According to an article on the History of Public Schools at Wikipedia, by 1918 every U.S. state required students to complete elementary school. So what were parents to do if they wanted to arrange for more education beyond that level?

They turned to tutors and private educational institutions, such as the many featured in these 1915 Pennsylvania newspaper advertisements.

ads for schools and colleges, Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper advertisements 11 September 1915

Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), 11 September 1915, page 5

Of course, not every advertisement was for a traditional school, and not every ad was for children.

ad for the International School of Photo-Play Training, Oregonian newspaper advertisement 9 April 1915

Oregonian (Portland, Oregon), 9 April 1915, page 2

At the International School of Photo-Play Training in Portland, Oregon, you could learn movie acting. The allure of high salaries, such as Mary Pickford’s $2,000 a week or Charlie Chaplin’s $1,250 weekly pay, was a strong draw.

Mary Pickford was a huge star in 1915.

photo of Mary Pickford, Tulsa World newspaper article 7 February 1915

Tulsa World (Tulsa, Oklahoma), 7 February 1915, page 8

Juvenile Apparel (Clothing)

What would you guess your ancestors paid for their children’s clothing?

Enter Last Name

I’m not certain what the average national salary was a hundred years ago. The Social Security Administration maintains a chart of average salaries in the U.S., starting in 1951 (when it was $2,799.16), so it couldn’t have been much back in 1915 (see http://www.ssa.gov/oact/cola/AWI.html).

So in 1915 newspaper advertisements, when you see prices for juvenile apparel starting at a few dollars per item, that was considered expensive by many people. Note the Saturday specials for Joel Gutman & Company of Baltimore, Maryland, in the ad below:

  • Boys’ and girls’ footwear was on sale for $1.90, with high and lace shoes selling for $2.15
  • Boys’ suits were priced from $7.50 to $8.50, and overcoats from $10.00 to $13.00
  • Girls’ cloth dresses ranged from $1.67 to $2.85
  • Girls’ coats from $5.97 to $8.37
ad for children's clothing from Joel Gutman and Company, Sun newspaper advertisement 9 January 1915

Sun (Baltimore, Maryland), 9 January 1915, page 4

Medicine and Quackery

If you want to have a good laugh – or can handle being shocked at what happened in the past – take a look at the medical treatments available to our ancestors. Many of the medical treatments of yesteryear, such as the opiate paregoric (powdered opium), promised to cure everything from diarrhea to colic (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paregoric).

As seen in the ad below for castoria (castor oil) warning parents “Don’t Poison Baby,” the dangers of paregoric were known 100 years ago. Surprisingly, you could purchase it without a subscription until 1970, so it ended up in many household medicine cabinets.

ad for castoria (castor oil), Colorado Springs Gazette newspaper advertisement 7 July 1915

Colorado Springs Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colorado), 7 July 1915, page 5

If your children were “vertically challenged,” parents could arrange for magnetic wave treatments.

Dr. Charles I. White, who (in my humble opinion) should be added to the many lists of quack doctors, promised to double the growth of children by electrical treatment. Let’s hope none of your family was drawn in by the spurious medical advertisement shown below.

ad for the "magnetic wave" medical device, Riverside Independent Enterprise newspaper advertisement 16 January 1915

Riverside Independent Enterprise (Riverside, California), 16 January 1915, page 3

Delve into historical newspaper classified ads and let us know if you find information that helped with your family history research.

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