John Adams & Thomas Jefferson: Intertwined in Life – and Death

Introduction: Duncan Kuehn is a professional genealogist with over eight years of client experience. She has worked on several well-known projects, such as “Who Do You Think You Are?” and researching President Barack Obama’s ancestry. In this blog post, Duncan searches old newspapers to learn more about the remarkable coincidence of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson – friends and ex-presidents – both dying on 4 July 1826, the nation’s 50th anniversary.

John Adams, the nation’s 2nd president, and Thomas Jefferson, the 3rd president, were a large presence in one another’s life – a lifelong personal connection that continued to the day they both died: 4 July 1826, the 50th anniversary of the young country they were instrumental in creating and leading.

portrait of John Adams, 2nd president of the United States, by Asher B. Durand

Portrait: John Adams, 2nd president of the United States, by Asher B. Durand. Credit: U.S. Naval Historical Center; Wikimedia Commons.

John Adams (1735-1826) and Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), were friends and companions as they fought for independence from the British government. Although Jefferson was ultimately the author of the Declaration of Independence, Adams was initially favored to draft it and was on the writing committee – from which position he convinced the other members that Jefferson was the right man for the job. After the Declaration was written, Adams was perhaps the loudest and most assertive of its supporters and was hailed as a champion to the cause – which only increased the goodwill between the two men.

portrait of Thomas Jefferson, 3rd president of the United States, by Rembrandt Peale

Portrait: Thomas Jefferson, 3rd president of the United States, by Rembrandt Peale. Credit: New York Historical Society; Wikimedia Commons.

Their individual personalities and political opinions about how the new government should function, however, proved to be radically different. John Adams was aggressively in favor of a strong federal government and his bold, pushy demeanor alienated many. Thomas Jefferson was refined and gentile. He strongly defended the rights of the individual states over the rights of the federal government. The two men clashed constantly on political issues.

Both ran for the office of president of the United States after George Washington. Adams won the office in 1796 with the most votes and, as was customary at the time, Jefferson was made vice-president after receiving the second-highest number of votes. It was a political role Jefferson despised. He ended up beating Adams for the presidential office in the 1800 election and set to work undoing as much of Adams’s work as he could. He called it the “Revolution of 1800.”

In their latter years, they were able to set aside their differences and repair the relationship, maintaining a strong, steady correspondence for the last 14 years of their lives. On 4 July 1826, the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, they both lay in their sick beds. Jefferson died first, but Adams didn’t know that when he said his last words: “Jefferson survives.” Adams, being older, was one of the longest-living presidents. He died just months shy of his 91st birthday. Of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, only Charles Carroll was still living after Adams and Jefferson died.

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In the midst of celebrating the nation’s 50th anniversary, Americans marveled that these two great leaders and friends died together on such an important day – the only time in U.S. history two presidents have died on the same day.

As the following newspaper obituary noted:

The coincidence is a remarkable one. It seems as though Divine Providence had determined that the spirits of these great men…should be united in death, and travel into the unknown regions of eternity together!

Death of Thomas Jefferson, Hampshire Gazette newspaper article 12 July 1826

Hampshire Gazette (Northampton, Massachusetts), 12 July 1826, page 2

The importance of the 4th of July was also emphasized in this obituary.

Death of John Adams, Salem Observer newspaper article 8 July 1826

Salem Observer (Salem, Massachusetts), 8 July 1826, page 2

Obituaries – of ordinary citizens as well as famous people – help provide the details of our ancestors’ lives. GenealogyBank’s deep newspaper archive of over 1.7 billion records holds story after story about the people who built this nation, along with their births, marriages, and deaths. Find your ancestors’ stories today and see what they’ve done.

Note: FamilySearch International (FamilySearch.org) and GenealogyBank are partnering to make over a billion records from 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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Remembering the Amazing Life of Maya Angelou

Calling someone a “Renaissance” person is an overused – and overblown – term these days. If a rock guitarist paints a portrait, the critics gush that he is a “Renaissance man.” However, America – and the whole world – truly did lose a Renaissance woman on 28 May 2014 when the remarkable Maya Angelou died.

Born in poverty on 4 April 1926 in St. Louis, Angelou experienced and accomplished more in her 86 years than is almost imaginable. In alphabetical order, she was an: activist, actress, artist, author, dancer, director, composer, cook, editor, journalist, mother, musician, nightclub performer, playwright, poet, professor, prostitute, producer, screenwriter, singer, speaker, streetcar conductor and waitress.

photo of Maya Angelou giving a speech during the Barack Obama 2008 presidential campaign, 18 September 2008

Photo: Maya Angelou giving a speech during the Barack Obama 2008 presidential campaign, 18 September 2008. Credit: Talbot Troy; Wikimedia Commons.

An advocate for women in general and African American women in particular, Angelou was also active in the Civil Rights Movement. She was a friend of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Nelson Mandela, and a mentor to Toni Morrison and Oprah Winfrey. She maintained a large circle of friends and associates, including prominent politicians, activists, entertainers and writers. Angelou recited her poem “On the Pulse of Morning” at President Bill Clinton’s inauguration in 1993.

photo of Maya Angelou reciting her poem “On the Pulse of Morning” at President Bill Clinton’s inauguration, 19 January 1993

Photo: Maya Angelou reciting her poem “On the Pulse of Morning” at President Bill Clinton’s inauguration, 19 January 1993. Credit: Office of the White House; Wikimedia Commons.

She produced and directed movies, plays and television programs. Angelou wrote seven autobiographies (including I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, 1969), several volumes of essays and poetry, and could speak seven languages. She was recognized, appreciated and praised, receiving more than 50 honorary degrees and dozens of awards – including nominations for a Pulitzer Prize, Tony Award, and Emmy Award; winning three Grammys; and receiving the National Medal of Arts, the Lincoln Medal, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

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The astonishing extent of Angelou’s life accomplishments was mentioned prominently in her obituaries, such as this one from the Associated Press published in a Vermont newspaper – note she is immediately identified as a “renaissance woman.”

obituary for Maya Angelou, Bennington Banner newspaper article 29 May 2014

Bennington Banner (Bennington, Vermont), 29 May 2014

The Renaissance aspect of Angelou’s long life was also featured in the lead of this newspaper obituary.

obituary for Maya Angelou, Blade newspaper article 29 May 2014

Blade (Toledo, Ohio), 29 May 2014

Angelou spent much of her childhood in Stamps, Arkansas, and this Arkansas newspaper published an extensive obituary about her, with this lead.

obituary for Maya Angelou, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette newspaper article 29 May 2014

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (Little Rock, Arkansas), 29 May 2014

Obituaries are a key resource for family history research. Although vital statistics can be found in government and other official records, it is newspaper articles – and especially obituaries – that go beyond the names and dates to provide the stories of our ancestors, to help us get to know them as real people.

For example, later in the above obituary comes this little tidbit from Angelou.

obituary for Maya Angelou, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette newspaper article 29 May 2014

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (Little Rock, Arkansas), 29 May 2014

The obituary from the Ohio newspaper above provided this detail about her first name.

obituary for Maya Angelou, Blade newspaper article 29 May 2014

Blade (Toledo, Ohio), 29 May 2014

This obituary from a West Virginia newspaper provided a story about the close relationship that Angelou maintained with Coretta Scott King, widow of the slain civil rights leader.

obituary for Maya Angelou, Charleston Gazette newspaper article 29 May 2014

Charleston Gazette (Charleston, West Virginia), 29 May 2014

And finally, this obituary from a North Carolina newspaper provided an insight into Angelou’s character.

obituary for Maya Angelou, Charlotte Observer newspaper article 29 May 2014

Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, North Carolina), 29 May 2014

It isn’t just obituaries that provide stories about our ancestors. GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives – more than 6,700 titles from 1690 to today – have more than 3,400 articles about Maya Angelou.

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Of particular interest in these online newspaper archives is GenealogyBank’s African American Newspaper Archives. From that collection we gain the following perspectives on Maya Angelou.

This African American Kansas newspaper said this of Angelou.

article about Maya Angelou, Wichita Times newspaper article 18 November 1976

Wichita Times (Wichita, Kansas), 18 November 1976, page 3

This African American New York newspaper reported on one of Angelou’s many speaking engagements.

article about Maya Angelou, Sojourner-Herald newspaper article 1 May 1998

Sojourner-Herald (Albany, New York), 1 May 1998, page 3

This African American Michigan newspaper reported on another of her speaking engagements.

article about Maya Angelou, Afro-American Gazette newspaper article 20 December 1993

Afro-American Gazette (Grand Rapids, Michigan), 20 December 1993, page 1

This African American newspaper from Wisconsin reviewed Angelou’s 1969 autobiography.

article about Maya Angelou, Soul City Times newspaper article 8 October 1970

Soul City Times (Milwaukee, Wisconsin), 8 October 1970, page 13

As these examples from GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives have shown, obituaries and other newspaper articles can give us a fuller understanding of Maya Angelou’s remarkable life, broad experiences, and many achievements. Genealogy is about so much more than mere statistics; names and dates don’t tell the complete story of a person’s life. To better understand our ancestors’ lives and the times they lived in, we need the stories forever preserved in online newspaper archives.

Note: FamilySearch International (FamilySearch.org) and GenealogyBank are partnering to make over a billion records from 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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Looking for His Obituary – There Was His Face Looking Back at Me

Genealogists benefit from having access to GenealogyBank’s deep newspaper archives with their millions of obituaries, because obituaries detail the lives of our family – immediate relatives as well as distant cousins. Obituaries can include dates of birth, marriage information, and even where a missing relative might be buried – but it’s a real bonus when they contain a picture of them.

The Springfield Republican published the obituary of Joseph Merrick in 1898. In this primary record we learn about his personality, his livelihood, and – because of this etching – I am also able to see him and get a better sense of who he was.

obituary for Joseph Merrick, Springfield Republican newspaper article 23 February 1898

Springfield Republican (Springfield, Massachusetts), 23 February 1898, page 10

The obituary goes on to detail all of the places Joseph lived. It lists his birth in West Springfield, Massachusetts, and tells how he became one of the early entrepreneurs in the Connecticut Valley. These are good clues to help me locate other records on Joseph, and they help me form a timeline of his life.

It tells his story.

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At GenealogyBank, we are interested in the story. Joseph Merrick started off as a young milkman at the age of 20, and died having a post office named after him. His is only one of the more than 1 billion stories contained in GenealogyBank. With over 1.7 billion documents in our archives, your ancestors have plenty of stories to tell. Sign up today and discover their stories.

Note: FamilySearch International (FamilySearch.org) and GenealogyBank are partnering to make over a billion records from 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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Oregon Archives: 61 Newspapers for Genealogy Research

On Valentine’s Day, Oregon celebrated the 156th anniversary of its statehood. Originally carved out of the Oregon Country, Oregon entered the Union as the 33rd state on 14 February 1859. Today, it is the 9th largest state in the nation, and the 27th most populous.

photo of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest of southwest Oregon

Photo: Kalmiopsis Wilderness in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest of southwest Oregon. Credit: U.S. Forest Service; Wikimedia Commons.

If you are researching your family roots in Oregon, you will want to use GenealogyBank’s online OR newspaper archives: 61 titles to help you search your family history in the “Beaver State,” providing news coverage, family stories and vital statistics from 1850 to Today. There are currently more than 58 million newspaper articles and records in our online Oregon archives!

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

Search Oregon Newspaper Archives (1850 – 1987)

Search Oregon Recent Obituaries (1988 – Current)

Here is our complete list of online Oregon 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 OR newspaper titles are listed alphabetically by city.

City Title Date Range* Collection
Albany Albany Democrat-Herald 7/11/1999 – Current Recent Obituaries
Ashland Ashland Daily Tidings 1/5/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Astoria Daily Astorian 5/28/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Baker City Baker City Herald 1/1/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Beaverton Beaverton Valley Times 6/14/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Bend Bulletin 7/1/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Brookings Curry Coastal Pilot 4/27/2000 – Current Recent Obituaries
Canby Canby Herald 1/29/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Cannon Beach Cannon Beach Gazette 5/2/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Clackamas Clackamas Review 6/26/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Coos Bay World 3/2/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Corvallis Corvallis Gazette-Times 7/11/1999 – Current Recent Obituaries
Enterprise Wallowa County Chieftain 6/13/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Estacada Estacada News 7/11/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Eugene Oregon State Journal 3/12/1864 – 12/25/1880 Newspaper Archives
Eugene Register-Guard 12/22/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Forest Grove Forest Grove Leader 5/13/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Forest Grove Forest Grove News Times 7/26/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Gresham Outlook 6/27/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Hermiston Hermiston Herald 2/28/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Hillsboro Hillsboro Argus 2/4/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Hillsboro Hillsboro Tribune 6/26/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Hood River Hood River News 8/9/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
John Day Blue Mountain Eagle 8/1/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Keizer Keizertimes 9/10/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Klamath Falls Herald and News 12/1/2000 – Current Recent Obituaries
La Grande Observer 6/19/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lake Oswego Southwest Community Connection 8/28/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lake Oswego Lake Oswego Review 6/21/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lake Oswego West Linn Tidings 6/21/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lakeview State Line Herald 7/12/1879 – 6/5/1880 Newspaper Archives
Lebanon Lebanon Express 5/5/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Madras Madras Pioneer 10/17/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Molalla Molalla Pioneer 1/29/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Newberg Newberg Graphic 6/26/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Ontario Argus Observer 1/7/1999 – Current Recent Obituaries
Pendleton East Oregonian 7/11/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Portland Oregonian 2/4/1861 – 12/31/1987 Newspaper Archives
Portland Weekly Oregonian 12/4/1850 – 11/15/1862 Newspaper Archives
Portland Portland New Age 4/14/1900 – 3/30/1907 Newspaper Archives
Portland Daily Oregon Herald 2/12/1871 – 10/9/1872 Newspaper Archives
Portland Democratic Standard 8/30/1854 – 2/16/1859 Newspaper Archives
Portland Liberator 3/7/1903 – 5/30/1903 Newspaper Archives
Portland Oregonian 1/3/1988 – Current Recent Obituaries
Portland Boom! Boomers & Beyond 1/29/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Portland Bee 7/31/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Portland Oregonian, The: Web Edition Articles 10/16/2012 – Current Recent Obituaries
Portland Portland Tribune 1/2/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Prineville Central Oregonian 2/5/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Redmond Redmond Spokesman 1/16/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Salem Capital Press 7/3/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Sandy Sandy Post 10/24/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Scappoose South County Spotlight 9/30/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Seaside Seaside Signal 3/25/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Sherwood Sherwood Gazette 2/1/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
St. Benedict St. Josephs-Blatt 1/3/1938 – 1/3/1938 Newspaper Archives
The Dalles Dalles Chronicle 3/1/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Tigard Regal Courier 10/29/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Tigard Tigard-Tualatin-Sherwood Times 7/5/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Wilsonville Wilsonville Spokesman 6/26/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Woodburn Woodburn Independent 6/26/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries

*Date Ranges may have selected coverage unavailable.

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 Oregon newspaper links will be live.

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February 2015 Update: GenealogyBank Just Added 26 Million Records!

Every day, GenealogyBank is working hard to digitize more U.S. newspapers and obituaries, expanding our burgeoning collection to give you the largest newspaper archives for family history research available online from the 1600s up to today. We’ve just added 26 million more U.S. genealogy records, vastly increasing our news coverage from coast to coast!

screenshot of GenealogyBank's homepage announcing the addition of 26 million more records in February 2015

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

  • A total of 49 newspaper titles from 19 U.S. states
  • 21 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
Alabama Alabaster Alabaster Reporter* 08/10/2008–Current Recent Obituaries
Alabama Alexander City Alexander City Outlook, The* 01/12/2003–Current Recent Obituaries
Alabama Andalusia Andalusia Star-News, The* 07/02/2002–Current Recent Obituaries
Alabama Atmore Atmore Advance, The* 11/09/1999–Current Recent Obituaries
Alabama Brewton Brewton Standard, The* 10/08/2014–Current Recent Obituaries
Alabama Clanton Clanton Advertiser* 06/24/2008–Current Recent Obituaries
Alabama Columbiana Pelham Reporter* 07/15/2009–Current Recent Obituaries
Alabama Demopolis Demopolis Times* 04/10/2002–Current Recent Obituaries
Alabama Greenville Greenville Advocate, The* 01/05/2000–Current Recent Obituaries
Alabama Madison Madison County Record* 04/30/2010–Current Recent Obituaries
Alabama Russellville Franklin County Times, The* 10/06/2014–Current Recent Obituaries
Alabama Selma Selma Times-Journal, The* 10/02/2014–Current Recent Obituaries
Alabama Tallassee Tallassee Tribune* 02/27/2013–Current Recent Obituaries
Alabama Troy Messenger, The* 08/01/1999–Current Recent Obituaries
Alabama Wetumpka Wetumpka Herald, The* 10/06/2014–Current Recent Obituaries
Arkansas Denson Denson Tribune 10/01/1943–04/11/1944 Newspaper Archives
Arkansas McGehee Rohwer Outpost 06/23/1945–06/23/1945 Newspaper Archives
California San Francisco Corriere del Popolo 10/15/1918–10/09/1947 Newspaper Archives
California San Francisco San Francisco Chronicle 4/12/1944–12/31/1984 Newspaper Archives
California San Luis Obispo San Luis Obispo Daily Telegram 10/12/1953–10/12/1953 Newspaper Archives
Colorado Denver Denver Rocky Mountain News 11/29/1911–11/30/1919 Newspaper Archives
Florida Miami Miami Herald 1/1/1929–2/25/1929 Newspaper Archives
Georgia Columbus Columbus Daily Enquirer 7/25/1941–12/26/1942 Newspaper Archives
Georgia Macon Macon Telegraph 5/1/1944–12/31/1945 Newspaper Archives
Idaho Boise Idaho Statesman 11/19/1955–11/19/1955 Newspaper Archives
Illinois Highland Highland Union 10/25/1901–10/25/1901 Newspaper Archives
Illinois Springfield Daily Illinois State Journal 9/6/1934–6/30/1974 Newspaper Archives
Illinois Springfield State Journal-Register 7/1/1974–1/15/1986 Newspaper Archives
Illinois Springfield State Journal-Register* 8/12/1974–6/15/1979 Newspaper Archives
Kentucky Lexington Lexington Herald 8/1/1939–4/30/1940 Newspaper Archives
Michigan Dowagiac Dowagiac Daily News* 07/23/2009–Current Recent Obituaries
Mississippi Natchez Natchez Democrat, The* 07/14/1999–Current Recent Obituaries
New York New York Courrier des Etats-Unis 12/24/1873–12/30/1874 Newspaper Archives
New York New York Cristoforo Colombo 01/06/1891–09/03/1893 Newspaper Archives
New York New York Jewish Messenger 03/08/1872–09/12/1902 Newspaper Archives
New York New York New Yorker Volkszeitung 01/08/1894–03/21/1920 Newspaper Archives
New York New York Vorwarts 05/03/1913–08/16/1913 Newspaper Archives
North Carolina Charlotte Charlotte Observer 2/12/1933–12/31/1935 Newspaper Archives
Pennsylvania Erie Erie Tageblatt 09/09/1899–10/29/1914 Newspaper Archives
Pennsylvania Reading Der Pilger Durch Welt und Kirche 01/17/1874–01/17/1874 Newspaper Archives
Pennsylvania Reading Readinger Postbothe und Berks, Schuylkill und Montgomery Caunties Advertiser 07/13/1822–07/13/1822 Newspaper Archives
Rhode Island Providence Providence Journal* 12/23/1981–Current Recent Obituaries
Tennessee Elizabethton Elizabethton Star* 04/08/2014–Current Recent Obituaries
Utah Topaz Topaz Times 02/17/1945–02/17/1945 Newspaper Archives
Washington Bellingham Bellingham Herald 1/1/1948–1/30/1948 Newspaper Archives
Washington Olympia Morning Olympian 10/1/1951–10/31/1951 Newspaper Archives
Washington Seattle Seattle Daily Times 12/20/1895–12/30/1899 Newspaper Archives
Wisconsin Milwaukee Wahrheit 01/05/1895–01/08/1910 Newspaper Archives
Wisconsin Rice Lake Chronotype, The* 01/04/2001–Current 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 newspaper links will be live.

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RootsTech 2015 Presentation: The Future of Genealogy – Indexed Obituaries

Are you attending the RootsTech 2015 genealogy conference this upcoming Thursday-Saturday, February 12-14? GenealogyBank.com and FamilySearch International are teaming together to present a class on the power of indexed obituaries, and we’d like to invite you to join us!

The one-hour presentation, intended for all audience levels, will be this Thursday, February 12, at 4:30 p.m. in Ballroom B at the Salt Palace Convention Center, Salt Lake City, Utah. The co-presenters will be Ross Allred, GenealogyBank Director, and John Alexander, FamilySearch Manager.

photo of the RootsTech genealogy conference

Credit: mormonnewsroom.org

Whether you are going to RootsTech in person or following along at home, there’s an important first step you can take to get the most out of this important family history event: download the free RootsTech 2015 App. With the RootsTech conference app you can create your class schedule, learn more about the presenters and exhibitors, follow the conference via social media channels, and network with others. The RootsTech conference app is available for Apple, Android, and other mobile devices.

The Future of Genealogy – Indexed Obituaries

The presentation Ross and John will be making is Session ID RT1913 and entitled “The Future of Genealogy – Indexed Obituaries: Learn How FamilySearch and GenealogyBank Have Partnered in Creating an Indexed Obituary Collection.” You can download the class syllabus here: http://bit.ly/1DATW5B.

Attendees will learn about the massive collection of obituaries (projected 500+ million obituaries in the U.S.) that are currently being indexed and published through the partnership of GenealogyBank and FamilySearch.

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Obituaries tell the stories of people’s lives with a “treasure trove” of precious family information “locked away” in newspapers. Obituaries, unlike any other resource, have the ability to add incredible dimensions to an individual’s family history research. The unique life stories written, dates documented, and generations of family members mentioned are often only found within an obituary. The average obituary can contain the names of over 10 family members of the deceased – parents, spouse, siblings, children, grandchildren, and other relatives and friends.

Ross and John will present actual obituaries and show the number of familial relationships they contain, examine the multi-generational family tree information, and illustrate the life stories behind the names. They will demonstrate that through the power of obituaries, genealogists can find clues to help overcome the brick walls they encounter in their genealogical research. Examples will be taken from GenealogyBank and FamilySearch Current and Historical Obituary collections.

Speaker Bios

photo of Ross Allred, Director of GenealogyBank.com

Photo: Ross Allred, Director of GenealogyBank.com

Ross L. Allred is currently serving as Director of GenealogyBank.com at NewsBank, inc. Ross currently manages Content Enhancement and Business Development at GenealogyBank and is Director over ObitsArchive.com. Ross has also served in additional roles in Marketing and Product since joining NewsBank in 2010. Prior to joining NewsBank, Ross was Interactive Marketing Director at WorldVitalRecords.com, a FamilyLink.com company, and held multiple positions at Ancestry.com including Self-Publishing Sr. Marketing Manager, Sr. Cross-Sell Manager and E-Marketing Campaign Manager. Ross holds an Interactive Marketing Communications Certificate from the University of Utah and B.S. in Accounting from Brigham Young University.

John K. Alexander heads the Newspaper and Obituary Publication efforts for FamilySearch. John has been with FamilySearch for over four years working as a Project Manager on Records Publication. John received an MA in History from the University of Utah in 2009 and a MLIS from the University of Washington in 2013. He is also a certified PMP. John worked at the University of Utah’s Marriott Library from 2006-2009.

Company Overviews

GenealogyBank.com, a division of NewsBank inc., is one of the largest and fastest growing exclusive searchable newspaper archives online for genealogy research. GenealogyBank.com is home to over 6,700+ fully-searchable U.S. newspapers from 1690-today and more than 1.5+ billion genealogy records. Our online newspaper archive is one of the most comprehensive genealogy websites in the United States helping people discover, preserve and share their family history. It provides information on millions of American families, with newspaper articles that provide first-hand accounts of your ancestors’ lives that simply can’t be found in other genealogy resources: obituaries, birth and marriage notices, photographs, hometown news and more. In addition to its newspapers, GenealogyBank features more than 380,000 historical books and documents from 1749-1994 that include military records, widow claims, orphan petitions, land grants, casualty lists, funeral sermons, biographies and much more. Discover the stories, names, dates, places and events that have shaped your family story at GenealogyBank.com.

FamilySearch International is the largest genealogy organization in the world. FamilySearch is a nonprofit, volunteer-driven organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Millions of people use FamilySearch records, resources, and services to learn more about their family history. To help in this great pursuit, FamilySearch and its predecessors have been actively gathering, preserving, and sharing genealogical records worldwide for over 100 years. Patrons may access FamilySearch services and resources free online at FamilySearch.org or through over 4,600 family history centers in 132 countries, including the main Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Come Join Us!

Whether you’re able to attend in person, or will be following presentations online from your home, we hope you can join Ross and John for their presentation this Thursday. Come see for yourself the power of indexed obituaries!

Also make sure you drop by booth #1129 and say hello to our friendly staff. See you there – or online!

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Alabama Revolutionary War Veteran Dead at 106

In 1853, centenarian William Wicker passed away in Pike County, Alabama. He was 106. This American Revolutionary War veteran had been one of the first settlers to move to Alabama after its introduction into the union on 14 December 1819.

obituary for William Wicker, Daily Alabama Journal newspaper article 28 January 1853

Daily Alabama Journal (Montgomery, Alabama), 28 January 1853, page 2

Wicker enlisted into the military at 17, along with his father Robert Wicker. They served together with various South Carolina regiments during the length of the Revolutionary War. Wicker’s biggest firefight came during the Battle of Eutaw Springs, the last major Southern conflict against the British. After the Revolutionary War ended, Wicker lived in South Carolina and Georgia, before spending his final years in Alabama.

The Battle of Eutaw Springs is remembered as one of the bloodiest Southern battles during the Revolutionary War. Disney picked up this story and produced a television series in the 1950s known as The Swamp Fox, detailing the achievements of Wicker’s commanding officer General Francis Marion – who was known as the “Swamp Fox.” While Wicker’s likeness is not put directly into the show, most of the episodes cover events similar to the ones he would have been present for.

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From a young age, William Wicker knew he wanted to defend his country. Thanks to the Daily Alabama Journal, William Wicker’s memory lives on in old news print. Did any of your ancestors serve in the Revolutionary War? Where did they ultimately settle down? Perhaps like William, they too are some of the early settlers of the American South and Midwest.

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Note: FamilySearch International (FamilySearch.org) and GenealogyBank are partnering to make over a billion records from 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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What Were Your Ancestor’s Last Words?

Introduction: Mary Harrell-Sesniak is a genealogist, author and editor with a strong technology background. In this blog post, Mary takes a fascinating look at some of the last words people said before they died – both famous and not-so-famous.

When a person breathes their last, the grieving often ask: “What were his or her last words?”

For some people in these final cherished moments of life, their dying wish is to impart memorable quotes or words of wisdom to those left behind. These last words are great fun to read and contemplate.

Many are quoted in newspapers, so if you are lucky you might find your ancestor’s last words.

Religious Expressions

Many obituaries report the deceased’s devotion to, or love of, God.

One example was reported in this death notice for Miss Anna Harmon, who died at the age of 30. She said:

I wish I might – I hope I do resign myself to Christ, for time and for eternity!

obituary for Anna Harmon, Vermont Gazette newspaper article 24 January 1804

Vermont Gazette (Bennington, Vermont), 24 January 1804, page 3

In 1831, Caesar Low told his wife that he was going to die. His death notice reported that “spiritual light seemed to increase in his soul” and noted his last statements just before he died as follows:

“Glory to God – Hallelujah to God, hallelujah – Oh, my dear Father! My Heavenly Father! He is my Father.” Then pointing to heaven, he said: “Yes, I am coming, I am coming!” His final words were:

See Jesus! See Jesus! How shall I act in Heaven?

obituary for Caesar Low, Liberator newspaper article 29 October 1831

Liberator (Boston, Massachusetts), 29 October 1831, page 176

Instructions or Words of Wisdom

Although not reported in her obituary, noted abolitionist and suffragette Lucy Stone (1818-1893) left advice for her only daughter with her dying words, Alice Stone Blackwell.

obituary for Lucy Stone, Springfield Republican newspaper article 19 October 1893

Springfield Republican (Springfield, Massachusetts), 19 October 1893, page 5

Lucy encouraged Alice to “make the world better,” which she did.

last words of Lucy Stone, Oregonian newspaper article 28 September 1986

Oregonian (Portland, Oregon), 28 September 1986, page 167

By the time of her mother’s death, Alice (1857-1950) had become editor of the Woman’s Home Journal and recording secretary for the National American Woman Suffrage Association. During her life she championed many causes, including Russian freedom and world peace – and unlike her mother, was able to celebrate the passage of the 19th amendment in 1920 (see the National Archives).

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Alice’s last words were not recorded – but many would like to think she was thinking of her mother when she passed.

photo from the obituary for Alice Blackwell, Boston Herald newspaper article 16 March 1950

Boston Herald (Boston, Massachusetts), 16 March 1950, page 27

Appropriate Sayings

Joseph Medill (1823-1899), editor of the Chicago Tribune (who must have read hundreds of last words during his career), appears to have contemplated his own final utterance. Shortly before he passed, his physician heard him comment: “My last words shall be, what is the news?”

obituary for Joseph Medill, Dallas Morning News newspaper article 17 March 1899

Dallas Morning News (Dallas, Texas), 17 March 1899, page 2

Bat Masterson (1853-1921), another newspaper man, is quoted as having written a lengthy statement. It didn’t appear in his obituaries, but was widely cited years later.

obituary for Bat Masterson, Estrella newspaper article 5 November 1921

Estrella (Las Cruces, New Mexico), 5 November 1921, page 4

Masterson’s last words were:

There are those who argue that everything breaks even in this old dump of a world of ours. I suppose these ginks hold that because the rich man gets ice in the summer and the poor man gets it in the winter things are breaking even for both!

Bat Masterson's last words, Greensboro Record newspaper article 30 September 1964

Greensboro Record (Greensboro, North Carolina), 30 September 1964, page 9

How It Feels to Die

Others use their last words to express feelings about death and dying.

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For example, Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861) responded “beautiful” to a question about how she felt, and William Hunter (1718-1783), the famous Scottish physician and anatomist, said:

If I had strength enough left to hold a pen, I would write what a pleasant and easy thing it is to die.

article about some famous people's last words, Oregonian newspaper article 28 September 1986

Oregonian (Portland, Oregon), 28 September 1986, page 167

Jane Austen (1775-1817), author of Pride and Prejudice and other novels, didn’t feel the same. She was reportedly asked if there was anything she wanted. Her reply was:

Nothing but death.

Jane Austen's last words, Oregonian newspaper article 28 September 1986

Oregonian (Portland, Oregon), 28 September 1986, page 167

U.S. Presidents’ Last Words

Some of the most-quoted last words are from famous people, such as U.S. presidents.

Modern-day writers like to report that President John Adams, who died on the same day as President Thomas Jefferson on 4 July 1826, said for his final words: “Thomas Jefferson survives.”

As in all statements about history and ancestry, historical newspapers are one of the best ways to check the facts. For his last words, did Adams say, “Thomas Jefferson survives” or did he actually say “It is a great and glorious day”?

article about the last words of John Adams, Spectator newspaper article 14 July 1826

Spectator (New York, New York), 14 July 1826, page 1

Watch for a follow-up article offering more U.S. presidents’ last words, in celebration of the upcoming Presidents’ Day – and by all means, let us know what last words your ancestors are reported to have said!

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Captain Alden Howell: Last Confederate Officer

When Alden Howell passed away in 1947 at the age of 106, he was the last surviving commissioned officer of the Army of the Confederate States of America.

obituaryr for Alden Howell, San Luis Obispo Daily Telegram newspaper article 21 March 1947

San Luis Obispo Daily Telegram (San Luis Obispo, California), 21 March 1947, page 9

It’s a good thing that there were multiple obituaries about this centenarian. Each historical obit gives us more of the details of his life.

For example, see this old obituary in the Greensboro Record.

obituary for Alden Howell, Greensboro Record newspaper article 21 March 1947

Greensboro Record (Greensboro, North Carolina), 21 March 1947, page 10

We learn that he was a captain of “Company B of North Carolina’s Sixth Regiment,” that when he enlisted he had been “attending law school,” and that after the war he resumed his studies and received “his degree in 1866.”

We also pick up this critical piece of genealogical information: he “was a descendant of John Alden,” the famous ship’s cooper on the Mayflower, signer of the Mayflower Compact, and best known for marrying Priscilla Mullins. A great clue.

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In his ripe old age Howell was called upon to give advice, as reported in the Morning Olympian.

Confederate Veteran (Alden Howell) Gives Advice on Life, Morning Olympian newspaper article 19 February 1941

Morning Olympian (Olympia, Washington), 19 February 1941, page 1

“Don’t get mad. Don’t use cuss words. Never complain.”

Good advice – even now.

Even in this feel-good news article we pick up more genealogical details. He was an attorney and banker in Waynesville, North Carolina. He retired “15 years ago and moved [to Los Angeles],” and this critical statement: “He and his seven-year-old grandson, Kenneth Brimmer, jointly cut a birthday cake Tuesday” – a good clue that both he and his grandson were born on February 18th.

Genealogy Tip: Track down every newspaper article. Don’t stop with the first news article or obituary you find about your relative. Each one might contain the critical clue or fact that you need to build your family tree. Take those clues, verify the facts and document your family history.

Note: FamilySearch International (FamilySearch.org) and GenealogyBank are partnering to make over a billion records from 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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January 2015 Update: GenealogyBank Just Added 8 Million Records!

Every day, GenealogyBank is working hard to digitize more U.S. newspapers and obituaries, expanding our burgeoning collection to give you the largest newspaper archives for family history research available online from the 1600s up to today. We’re getting off to a great start this 2015, just completing the addition of 8 million more U.S. genealogy records, vastly increasing our content coverage from coast to coast!

screenshot of GenealogyBank's home page announcing the addition of eight million more records

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

  • A total of 52 newspaper titles from 18 U.S. states
  • 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
Arkansas Denson Denson Tribune* 03/19/1943–06/02/1944 Newspaper Archives
California Manzanar Manzanar Free Press 07/14/1943–09/06/1944 Newspaper Archives
California Newell Newell Star 02/15/1945–02/15/1945 Newspaper Archives
California Newell Tulean Dispatch 03/31/1943–03/31/1943 Newspaper Archives
California San Francisco Corriere del Popolo 10/8/1918–12/6/1928 Newspaper Archives
California San Luis Obispo San Luis Obispo Daily Telegram 1/1/1951–10/31/1952 Newspaper Archives
Colorado Amache Granada Pioneer 06/09/1943–06/09/1943 Newspaper Archives
Florida Miami Miami Herald 6/13/1926–9/19/1928 Newspaper Archives
Florida Winter Garden West Orange Times, The* 02/06/2014–Current Recent Obituaries
Georgia Columbus Columbus Daily Enquirer 12/30/1940–6/28/1941 Newspaper Archives
Georgia Jesup Press-Sentinel, The* 09/13/2007–Current Recent Obituaries
Georgia Macon Macon Telegraph 5/14/1934–2/29/1944 Newspaper Archives
Kansas Wichita Wichita Eagle 11/2/1973–12/31/1974 Newspaper Archives
Kentucky Lexington Lexington Herald 2/6/1938–3/28/1939 Newspaper Archives
Maryland Baltimore Sun 4/4/1920–4/23/1920 Newspaper Archives
Missouri St. Louis Westliche Post* 03/13/1932–03/13/1932 Newspaper Archives
New York Adams Jefferson County Journal* 08/27/2014–Current Recent Obituaries
New York New York Courrier des Etats-Unis 6/22/1850–7/31/1890 Newspaper Archives
New York New York Cristoforo Colombo 01/08/1891–05/24/1892 Newspaper Archives
New York New York Gaelic American 10/20/1906–10/27/1906 Newspaper Archives
New York New York Jewish Messenger 1/10/1862–12/26/1902 Newspaper Archives
New York New York New Yorker Volkszeitung 01/24/1920–01/25/1920 Newspaper Archives
New York New York Vorwarts 06/18/1921–09/30/1922 Newspaper Archives
North Carolina Andrews Andrews Journal, The* 12/04/2008–Current Recent Obituaries
North Carolina Charlotte Charlotte Observer 11/1/1933–6/29/1934 Newspaper Archives
North Carolina Clemmons Clemmons Courier, The* 01/06/2011–Current Recent Obituaries
North Carolina Hillsborough News of Orange County, The* 08/27/2003–Current Recent Obituaries
North Carolina Littleton Lake Gaston Gazette-Observer* 07/08/2003–Current Recent Obituaries
North Carolina Mebane Mebane Enterprise, The* 09/17/2003–Current Recent Obituaries
North Carolina Murphy Cherokee Scout* 04/20/2007–Current Recent Obituaries
North Carolina Troy Montgomery Herald* 06/20/2003–Current Recent Obituaries
North Carolina Warrenton Warren Record, The* 07/08/2003–Current Recent Obituaries
North Carolina Yanceyville Caswell Messenger, The* 08/27/2003–Current Recent Obituaries
North Dakota Bismarck Staats-Anzeiger* 07/07/1931–07/07/1931 Newspaper Archives
Ohio Toledo Toledo Express* 03/31/1932–03/31/1932 Newspaper Archives
Pennsylvania Erie Erie Tageblatt 4/22/1903–10/31/1904 Newspaper Archives
Pennsylvania Philadelphia Philadelphia Demokrat* 12/21/1907–12/21/1907 Newspaper Archives
Pennsylvania Reading Der Pilger Durch Welt und Kirche 12/31/1870–12/26/1874 Newspaper Archives
Pennsylvania Reading Readinger Postbothe und Berks, Schuylkill und Montgomery Caunties Advertiser* 08/03/1816–07/27/1822 Newspaper Archives
Pennsylvania State College Centre Daily Times 3/1/1982–2/28/1983 Newspaper Archives
Utah Topaz Topaz Times 10/30/1942–2/9/1943 Newspaper Archives
Virginia Altavista Altavista Journal* 10/08/2003–Current Recent Obituaries
Virginia Appomattox Times-Virginian* 10/08/2003–Current Recent Obituaries
Virginia Brookneal Union Star, The* 10/02/2003–Current Recent Obituaries
Virginia Chatham Star-Tribune* 10/02/2003–Current Recent Obituaries
Virginia Emporia Independent-Messenger* 07/08/2003–Current Recent Obituaries
Virginia Lawrenceville Brunswick Times-Gazette* 07/08/2003–Current Recent Obituaries
Virginia South Hill South Hill Enterprise* 01/07/2004–Current Recent Obituaries
Virginia Wirtz Smith Mountain Eagle* 10/06/2004–Current Recent Obituaries
Washington Bellingham Bellingham Herald 9/3/1945–4/28/1947 Newspaper Archives
Washington Olympia Morning Olympian 7/23/1950–5/30/1952 Newspaper Archives
Wisconsin Milwaukee Wahrheit 06/22/1895–04/26/1902 Newspaper Archives

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