Ohio Archives: 194 Newspapers for Genealogy Research

Originally part of early America’s “Northwest Territory,” Ohio joined the nation as the 17th state on 1 March 1803. Ohio is the country’s 34th largest state, and the 7th most populous. It’s largest city is the capital, Columbus.

photo of an Ohio welcome sign on Highway 52

Photo: Ohio welcome sign on Highway 52. Credit: Andreas Faessler; Wikimedia Commons.

If you are researching your ancestry from Ohio, you will want to use GenealogyBank’s online OH newspaper archives: 194 titles to help you search your family history in “The Buckeye State,” providing coverage from 1795 to Today. There are more than 118 million articles and records in our online Ohio archives!

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

Search Ohio Newspaper Archives (1795 – 1991)

Search Ohio Recent Obituaries (1985 – Current)

illustration of the state flag of Ohio

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

Here is a list of online Ohio 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 OH newspaper titles are listed alphabetically by city.

Ohio Population Fact

The 500-mile radius surrounding Columbus, OH, houses 50% of the state’s population. GenealogyBank’s archives span Columbus news from the 1800s to today.

City Title Date Range* Collection
Ada Ada Icon 04/28/2012 – Current Recent Obituaries
Akron Akron Beacon Journal: Blogs 08/15/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Akron Akron Beacon Journal 01/07/1985 – Current Recent Obituaries
Akron Summit County Beacon 01/03/1877 – 12/25/1889 Newspaper Archives
Amherst Amherst News-Times 10/20/2012 – Current Recent Obituaries
Ashtabula Star Beacon 10/30/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Athens Athens Messenger 09/01/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Avon, Avon Park Sun Sentinel 02/05/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Bay Village West Shore Sun 04/22/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Beachwood Sun Press 04/25/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Beavercreek News-Current 09/14/2012 – Current Recent Obituaries
Bellbrook, Sugarcreek Sugarcreek-Bellbrook Times 08/28/2012 – Current Recent Obituaries
Bellefontaine Weekly Currents 01/09/2014 – Current Recent Obituaries
Bellevue Bellevue Gazette 10/23/2012 – Current Recent Obituaries
Bellville Bellville Star 11/21/2013 – Current Recent Obituaries
Berea News Sun 09/04/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Bexley Bexley News 09/17/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Bluffton Bluffton Icon 10/04/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Bluffton Bluffton News 12/30/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Bowling Green Sentinel-Tribune 02/06/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Brunswick Brunswick Sun 09/18/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Cadiz Cadiz Informant 01/09/1818 – 01/09/1818 Newspaper Archives
Canton Repository 02/23/1878 – 03/08/1953 Newspaper Archives
Canton Canton Repository 03/30/1815 – 12/28/1905 Newspaper Archives
Canton Canton Daily News 04/09/1917 – 04/09/1917 Newspaper Archives
Canton Daily Repository and Republican 06/11/1873 – 06/21/1873 Newspaper Archives
Canton Repository 10/01/1999 – Current Recent Obituaries
Chagrin Falls, Solon Chagrin Solon Sun 11/27/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Chillicothe Fredonian 02/19/1807 – 08/10/1813 Newspaper Archives
Chillicothe Scioto Gazette 08/02/1801 – 12/26/1839 Newspaper Archives
Chillicothe Weekly Recorder 07/05/1814 – 12/27/1820 Newspaper Archives
Chillicothe Supporter 01/05/1809 – 01/20/1818 Newspaper Archives
Chillicothe Ohio Herald 07/27/1805 – 11/15/1806 Newspaper Archives
Cincinnati Cincinnati Herald 02/13/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Cincinnati Whig 04/13/1809 – 05/02/1810 Newspaper Archives
Cincinnati Cincinnati Post 07/01/1882 – 12/30/1922 Newspaper Archives
Cincinnati Catholic Telegraph 03/06/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Cincinnati Cincinnati Daily Gazette 01/01/1835 – 01/03/1883 Newspaper Archives
Cincinnati Centinel of the North-Western Territory 05/23/1795 – 03/05/1799 Newspaper Archives
Cincinnati Liberty Hall 12/23/1805 – 12/30/1814 Newspaper Archives
Cincinnati Cincinnati Daily Enquirer 01/04/1861 – 09/30/1876 Newspaper Archives
Cincinnati Colored Citizen 05/19/1866 – 05/19/1866 Newspaper Archives
Cincinnati Philanthropist 05/06/1836 – 10/28/1840 Newspaper Archives
Cincinnati Cincinnati Commercial Tribune 01/01/1869 – 12/31/1890 Newspaper Archives
Cincinnati Cincinnati Chronicle and Literary Gazette 02/17/1827 – 10/24/1829 Newspaper Archives
Cincinnati Spirit of the West 07/26/1814 – 04/15/1815 Newspaper Archives
Cincinnati Cincinnati Volksfreund 02/18/1863 – 12/28/1904 Newspaper Archives
Cincinnati Cincinnati Advertiser 01/26/1819 – 09/26/1827 Newspaper Archives
Cincinnati Cincinnati Republikaner 12/01/1858 – 03/23/1861 Newspaper Archives
Cincinnati Western Spy and Hamilton Gazette 06/04/1799 – 12/25/1805 Newspaper Archives
Cincinnati Cincinnati Post 04/02/1990 – Current Recent Obituaries
Cincinnati Cincinnati Daily Times 07/01/1871 – 12/30/1876 Newspaper Archives
Circleville Circleville Herald 07/01/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Cleveland Plain Dealer 04/07/1845 – 05/31/1991 Newspaper Archives
Cleveland News and Herald 04/02/1887 – 04/18/1905 Newspaper Archives
Cleveland Plain Dealer, The: Web Edition Articles 10/15/2012 – Current Recent Obituaries
Cleveland Plain Dealer 06/02/1991 – Current Recent Obituaries
Cleveland Cleveland Gazette 08/25/1883 – 05/20/1945 Newspaper Archives
Cleveland Cleveland Tri-Weekly Leader 11/19/1863 – 11/19/1863 Newspaper Archives
Cleveland Aliened American 04/09/1853 – 04/09/1853 Newspaper Archives
Cleveland Cleveland Leader 06/01/1854 – 12/31/1913 Newspaper Archives
Cleveland Sendbote 01/05/1927 – 06/26/1952 Newspaper Archives
Clinton Ohio Register 06/26/1813 – 12/05/1815 Newspaper Archives
Clyde Clyde Enterprise 12/17/2012 – Current Recent Obituaries
Columbus Ohio Statesman 09/05/1837 – 11/02/1852 Newspaper Archives
Columbus Columbus Dispatch 07/16/1985 – Current Recent Obituaries
Columbus Worthington News 09/25/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Columbus German Village Gazette 11/07/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Columbus Columbus Standard 07/27/1901 – 07/27/1901 Newspaper Archives
Columbus Ohio State Journal 10/13/1825 – 10/09/1860 Newspaper Archives
Columbus Northwest Columbus News 01/08/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Columbus Daily Reporter 01/09/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Columbus Other Paper 07/10/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Columbus Northland News 09/13/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Columbus Olentangy Valley News 09/18/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Columbus Lantern, The: Ohio State University 08/03/1998 – Current Recent Obituaries
Columbus Times 09/17/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Columbus Whitehall News 09/19/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Columbus Tri-Village News 09/19/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Columbus Big Walnut News 09/12/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Columbus ThisWeek Community Newspapers 05/09/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Columbus Westland News 09/19/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Columbus Tri-weekly Ohio Statesman 03/19/1845 – 08/09/1847 Newspaper Archives
Columbus Lutherische Kirchenzeitung 01/01/1910 – 01/01/1910 Newspaper Archives
Columbus Ohio Monitor 01/13/1820 – 02/12/1835 Newspaper Archives
Columbus Booster 09/12/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Columbus Daily Ohio Statesman 08/11/1847 – 12/29/1865 Newspaper Archives
Columbus Gahanna News 09/17/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Columbus Crisis 01/31/1861 – 01/19/1870 Newspaper Archives
Columbus Free American 03/19/1887 – 03/19/1887 Newspaper Archives
Columbus Daily Ohio State Journal 03/13/1839 – 11/22/1876 Newspaper Archives
Dayton Minority Report 01/01/1969 – 12/18/1970 Newspaper Archives
Dayton Ohio Republican 11/01/1813 – 10/02/1816 Newspaper Archives
Dayton Democratic Herald 05/07/1835 – 08/12/1837 Newspaper Archives
Dayton Dayton Daily News 02/01/1990 – Current Recent Obituaries
Delaware Sunbury News 10/19/2012 – Current Recent Obituaries
Delaware Delaware News 09/27/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Delaware Delaware Gazette 10/01/2012 – Current Recent Obituaries
Dublin Dublin News 09/18/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Eaton Register Herald 10/17/2012 – Current Recent Obituaries
Elyria Elyria Republican 02/12/1835 – 12/27/1837 Newspaper Archives
Englewood Englewood Independent 10/23/2012 – Current Recent Obituaries
Fairborn Fairborn Daily Herald 08/25/2012 – Current Recent Obituaries
Fairfield Fairfield Echo 12/07/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Findlay Courier 03/17/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Fostoria Review Times 07/14/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Fredericktown Knox County Citizen 12/11/2013 – Current Recent Obituaries
Galion Galion Inquirer 10/22/2012 – Current Recent Obituaries
Gallipolis Gallipolis Daily Tribune 10/14/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Gallipolis, Pomeroy Sunday Times Sentinel 04/23/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Gates Mills Sun Messenger 09/14/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Georgetown News Democrat 11/21/2013 – Current Recent Obituaries
Green Suburbanite 11/02/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Greenville Daily Advocate 07/06/2012 – Current Recent Obituaries
Grove City Grove City News 09/19/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Hamilton JournalNews 10/05/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Hilliard Hilliard Northwest News 09/17/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Hillsboro Times-Gazette 11/01/2013 – Current Recent Obituaries
Huber Heights Huber Heights Courier 08/27/2012 – Current Recent Obituaries
Ironton Ironton Tribune 10/02/2014 – Current Recent Obituaries
Jackson Jackson County Times-Journal 07/01/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lakewood Sun Post-Herald 10/28/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lancaster Independent Press 09/12/1812 – 09/12/1812 Newspaper Archives
Lancaster Political Observatory, and Fairfield Register 09/08/1810 – 09/15/1810 Newspaper Archives
Lebanon Western Star 02/13/1807 – 07/11/1820 Newspaper Archives
Lebanon Western Star 01/04/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lima Lima News 08/01/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Logan Logan Daily News 08/05/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
London Madison Press 10/20/2012 – Current Recent Obituaries
Marblehead Peninsula News 10/25/2013 – Current Recent Obituaries
Marietta Western Spectator 10/30/1810 – 01/25/1812 Newspaper Archives
Marietta American Friend 04/24/1813 – 06/19/1818 Newspaper Archives
Marietta Ohio Gazette and Virginia Herald 04/24/1806 – 12/09/1811 Newspaper Archives
Mason Pulse-Journal 01/05/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Massillon Independent 08/06/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
McArthur Vinton County Courier 07/30/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Mechanicsburg Telegram 02/24/2014 – Current Recent Obituaries
Medina Medina Sun 05/17/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Middletown Middletown Journal 08/06/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Minster Community Post 09/04/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Mt. Gilead Morrow County Sentinel 10/24/2012 – Current Recent Obituaries
New Albany New Albany News 09/17/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
New Lexington Perry County Tribune 07/30/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
New Philadelphia Times Reporter 07/17/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
New Richmond Philanthropist 01/01/1836 – 02/26/1836 Newspaper Archives
North Baltimore North Baltimore News 08/25/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Norwalk Norwalk Reflector 05/31/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Oberlin Oberlin News-Tribune 11/01/2012 – Current Recent Obituaries
Oxford Oxford Press 11/18/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Painesville Painesville Telegraph 09/25/1822 – 12/31/1845 Newspaper Archives
Parma Parma Sun Post 02/17/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Pickerington Pickerington Times-Sun 09/18/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Piqua Piqua Daily Call 08/07/2012 – Current Recent Obituaries
Plain City Plain City Advocate 10/20/2012 – Current Recent Obituaries
Pomeroy Daily Sentinel 10/17/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Portsmouth Community Common 12/20/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Portsmouth Portsmouth Daily Times 10/11/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Ravenna Portage County Democrat 04/05/1854 – 03/28/1855 Newspaper Archives
Reynoldsburg Reynoldsburg News 09/19/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Ripley Ripley Bee 11/22/2013 – Current Recent Obituaries
Sandusky Daily Commercial Register 04/24/1848 – 04/24/1867 Newspaper Archives
Sandusky Sandusky Register 12/04/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Sidney Sidney Daily News 09/13/2012 – Current Recent Obituaries
Springfield Springfield News-Sun 10/03/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
St. Clairsville Ohio Federalist and Belmont Repository 08/15/1816 – 12/11/1817 Newspaper Archives
St. Clairsville Impartial Expositor 03/25/1809 – 03/25/1809 Newspaper Archives
St. Marys Evening Leader 04/02/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Steubenville Jefferson Democrat and Farmers’ and Mechanics’ Advocate 05/25/1831 – 02/06/1833 Newspaper Archives
Steubenville Steubenville Herald 11/05/1812 – 06/23/1827 Newspaper Archives
Strongsville Sun Star Courier 10/29/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Swanton Swanton Enterprise 04/14/2014 – Current Recent Obituaries
Tipp City Weekly Record Herald 11/22/2013 – Current Recent Obituaries
Toledo Blade 09/24/1996 – Current Recent Obituaries
Toledo Toledo Express 03/31/1932 – 03/31/1932 Newspaper Archives
Troy Troy Daily News 09/14/2012 – Current Recent Obituaries
Upper Arlington Upper Arlington News 09/17/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Urbana Spirit of Liberty 04/04/1816 – 04/04/1816 Newspaper Archives
Urbana Urbana Daily Citizen 11/18/2013 – Current Recent Obituaries
Vandalia Vandalia Drummer News 08/30/2012 – Current Recent Obituaries
Wapakoneta Wapakoneta Daily News 03/10/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Warren Trump of Fame 11/05/1812 – 08/07/1861 Newspaper Archives
Washington Court House Record-Herald 11/01/2013 – Current Recent Obituaries
Waverly Pike County News Watchman 07/02/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Wellington Wellington Enterprise 11/05/2012 – Current Recent Obituaries
West Union People’s Defender 11/12/2013 – Current Recent Obituaries
Westerville Westerville News & Public Opinion 09/17/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Williamsburg Western American 07/29/1814 – 09/07/1816 Newspaper Archives
Wilmington Wilmington News Journal 07/26/2013 – Current Recent Obituaries
Wooster Wooster Republican 06/16/1853 – 12/26/1872 Newspaper Archives
Xenia Greene County Torch-Light 07/01/1841 – 12/26/1850 Newspaper Archives
Xenia Greene County Journal 10/02/1863 – 02/05/1864 Newspaper Archives
Xenia Ohio Standard and Observer 01/27/1900 – 01/27/1900 Newspaper Archives
Xenia Daily Gazette 08/10/2012 – Current Recent Obituaries
Youngstown Daily Legal News 06/24/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries

*Date Ranges may have selected coverage unavailable.

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Antonia Novello: First Woman, and Hispanic, Surgeon General

On 9 March 1990 President George H. W. Bush appointed Antonia Coello Novello, M.D., to be surgeon general of the United States. With this appointment Dr. Novello achieved the honor of two historic firsts: the first woman, and the first Hispanic, surgeon general. She served with distinction until 30 June 1993.

photo of Vice Admiral Antonia C. Novello, M.D., M.P.H., Dr.P.H. (USPHS); 14th Surgeon General of the United States

Photo: Vice Admiral Antonia C. Novello, M.D., M.P.H., Dr.P.H. (USPHS); 14th Surgeon General of the United States. Credit: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Wikimedia Commons.

While surgeon general, Dr. Novello, a pediatrician, worked hard to improve the health of women, children and minorities. Her primary emphasis with children was on preventing smoking, drinking, drug abuse, and AIDS. She also focused on immunization campaigns and injury prevention. She became a fierce critic of the tobacco industry, accusing them of specifically targeting minors with such advertising campaigns as “Joe Camel.”

The following four newspaper articles are about Dr. Novello, her accomplishments, and her career as surgeon general. The first article reports on her appointment, and the second article profiles her and some family members. The other two articles discuss some of the health campaigns she undertook, including her first major address on smoking.

Surgeon General (Antonia Novello) Sworn In, Trenton Evening Times newspaper article 10 March 1990

Trenton Evening Times (Trenton, New Jersey), 10 March 1990, page 46

According to this old newspaper article:

Novello declared her motto would be “good science and good sense,” and thanked President Bush for an appointment she said should be an inspiration to women and minorities.

“The American dream is well and alive,” Novello, the first woman and first Hispanic to serve as surgeon general, said at a White House ceremony. “Once a dream, it is now my pledge: to be a good doctor for all who live in this great country.”

This next newspaper article reminds us how much fun genealogy can be – and provides a valuable search tip. The Novello family lived in Lorain, Ohio, about 30 miles west of Cleveland, and so the Plain Dealer newspaper published a profile of the family. Not only did the family have three doctors spread over two generations, but it also featured Surgeon General Novello’s brother-in-law: Don Novello, better known as Father Guido Sarducci of Saturday Night Live fame!

Enter Last Name

And the genealogy search tip? Remember to do a wide geographic search for news articles about your ancestors. Although Surgeon General Novello was sworn-in and served in Washington, D.C., articles about her were published all around the country – including Lorain, Ohio.

article about Surgeon General Antonia Novello's family, Plain Dealer newspaper article 18 March 1990

Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), 18 March 1990, page 10

According to this news article:

[Antonia’s husband Joseph] Novello takes his family’s prominence in stride, a product of his upbringing. His parents were always “more proud of accomplishment than celebrity.’ These days they have both.

This next historical newspaper article reports on one of Surgeon General Novello’s primary campaigns: warning young people about the dangers of smoking.

article about Surgeon General Antonia Novello's anti-smoking campaign, Mobile Register newspaper article 1 June 1990

Mobile Register (Mobile, Alabama), 1 June 1990, page 5

According to this article:

She [Novello] quotes an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association as saying an estimated 1 billion packs of cigarettes are sold annually to children under 18 years of age.

This next news article reports on Surgeon General Novello winning a case against a brewing company that offended Native Americans by calling its beer “Crazy Horse.”

article about Surgeon General Antonia Novello's case against a beer company, Augusta Chronicle newspaper article 7 November 1992

According to this article:

“It is time we clamp the lids down on profits made at the expense of people’s pride and dignity,” Ms. Novello told a meeting of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society.

“I probably feel better about this victory for all of us than almost anything else that has happened while I’ve been surgeon general,” she said.

Come search GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives, offering more than 6,700 newspapers online, and find your own ancestors’ stories. Start your 30-day trial now!

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The Nelson Shipwreck & Captain Hagney: Name Research Tips

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 Captain Hagney and the sinking of the schooner “Nelson” on Lake Superior in 1899, using various search tips to get good results.

Searching newspapers for an ancestor’s name that doesn’t seem to have a standard spelling can be a challenge for family historians. Here is an interesting case study about the captain of a sunken ship that may help you research those difficult ancestor names. Recently this ship, the schooner Nelson, was found under more than 200 feet of water in Lake Superior. There were several newspaper articles about the shipwreck discovery, but they had various spellings of the captain’s name – including “Haganey” and “Hagginey.”

The Story of the Sinking of the Nelson

The shipwreck story goes like this. On 15 May 1899, the schooner Nelson was overloaded with coal, in addition to the 10 people on board. There was a terrific storm on Lake Superior and ice accumulated on the ship, causing it to sit even lower in the water. The waves began to crash over the edges of the ship. The Nelson was being towed by the steamer A Folsom along with the Mary B Mitchell. At some point the towing line either broke or was cut. Shortly after, the Nelson tilted and the stern popped up out of the water as the entire vessel almost immediately went under. The captain placed his crew, his wife, and his toddler son into the lifeboat. Then he dove into the water to join them. Unfortunately, the lifeboat was still tethered to the Nelson and it was dragged down to the bottom of the lake by the sinking ship. The captain, who never reached the lifeboat, watched helplessly as his ship and family were lost. He clung to a piece of the wreckage and was found unconscious along the shore. The storm’s violent 50 mile-per-hour winds prevented any rescue efforts by the other two ships. Nine lives were lost; only the captain survived.

My Search for the Captain

This is a compelling story of a heroic effort by the captain of the Nelson that just wasn’t enough to save his family or crew, and I wanted to learn more details.

As always, I searched for contemporary records to find out more. I started by looking into GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives. I ran this search:

screenshot of GenealogyBank's search box showing a search for the schooner "Nelson"

I entered the name of the ship in quotation marks as a keyword. You do not necessarily need to use a person’s name to search on GenealogyBank – a keyword search is often effective. I also entered a date range from the date of the accident to several months after the event. When the search results came back I sorted the results with the oldest article first, as I prefer to read articles in chronological order.

I found many newspaper articles from all over the United States telling the story of the accident. Here are three of those articles.

This article refers to Captain “Haganney.”

article about the shipwreck of the schooner "Nelson," Elkhart Weekly Review newspaper article 17 May 1899

Elkhart Weekly Review (Elkhart, Indiana), 17 May 1899, page 1

This historical newspaper article refers to Captain “Hagney.”

article about the shipwreck of the schooner "Nelson," Anaconda Standard newspaper article 15 May 1899

Anaconda Standard (Anaconda, Montana), 15 May 1899, page 1

This old news article also refers to Captain “Hagney.”

article about the shipwreck of the schooner "Nelson," Bay City Times newspaper article 15 May 1899

Bay City Times (Bay City, Michigan), 15 May 1899, page 3

Using these old newspaper articles, I discovered that much of the information in the present-day articles about the discovery of the shipwreck reflected the information given in those 1899 articles. However, I found some inconsistencies as well. Perhaps most importantly, the old articles make no mention of the captain’s heroic effort to save his family and crew. A typical comment from those 1899 articles is that “The Nelson disappeared as suddenly as one could snuff a candle,” suggesting that the captain did not have time to do anything. I also find that Captain Haganey/Hagginey (as spelled in the modern newspaper articles) is spelled differently in the 1899 articles:  “Haganney” and “Hagney.”

Enter Last Name

After learning about the shipwreck, I now wanted to know more about the captain himself – but there were so many spellings of his name I wasn’t sure which was correct. A quick search of census records on FamilySearch.org told me that he was the son of John and Mary Hagney from Oswego, New York. He also had siblings: Ellen, Thomas, William, and Mary.

Going back to GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives, I narrowed my search using the name as it appeared in the census: “Hagney.” This search turned up several articles that told me a great deal about the captain.

One of the first I found was this very sad newspaper article. It appears that on the same day the Nelson when down with Captain Hagney’s entire family, his friends from New York were frantically trying to reach him with the sad news that his mother had just died. The unfortunate man lost his one remaining parent and his wife and child.

article about the shipwreck of the schooner "Nelson," Saginaw News newspaper article 15 May 1899

Saginaw News (Saginaw, Michigan), 15 May 1899, page 6

The Captain Searches for His Family

Immediately after the Nelson accident, Captain Hagney refused to give up hope. As this old news article explains, he wasn’t willing to give up on his family – and spent hours and days combing the beach for any sign of his loved ones:

Capt. Hagney is now engaged in patrolling the beach with the help of the crews of life saving stations here and at Deer Park. The broken yawl, some parts of the cabin, a lady’s hat, a man’s cap and a mattress are all that have yet been found.

article about the shipwreck of the schooner "Nelson," Plain Dealer newspaper article 19 May 1899

Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), 19 May 1899, page 10

Hagney was understandably distraught, as reported in these next two newspaper articles. This Ohio newspaper article’s headline, “Capt. Hagney in Bad Shape,” says it all, and reports that he had been hospitalized:

The doctors class his trouble as nervousness and insomnia.

article about Captain Hagney's trauma after the shipwreck of the schooner "Nelson," Plain Dealer newspaper article 24 May 1899

Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), 24 May 1899, page 8

This Michigan newspaper article reports that Hagney’s condition is serious.

article about Captain Hagney's trauma after the shipwreck of the schooner "Nelson," Saginaw News newspaper article 24 May 1899

Saginaw News (Saginaw, Michigan), 24 May 1899, page 2

The Previous Life of Captain Hagney

The 1900 census shows him safely ensconced at the home of a family member in Toledo, Ohio, where he was working as an agent for the seamen’s union.* As tragic as all of this was, I still wanted to know more about Hagney. He had a life before the shipwreck of the Nelson and one after, so I ran some more searches. I started with changing the spelling from Hagney to Hageny. I figured this would be a common misspelling even though I hadn’t seen it in any of the records so far. This search did produce results, and I found a series of articles about his life back in New York a decade before the accident.

Enter Last Name

Ten years previously, in 1889, Andrew got into some difficulty with the law. As this New York newspaper reports, there was a trial after some union trouble involving strikes, “scabs” and violence:

Andrew Hageny, William Putman, and Michael Donovan were charged with a murderous assault upon Jesse Josephs, mate of the schooner John Scheutte of Toledo, at the dock in this port…Josephs was dragged a mile into the suburbs, pounded with belaying pins and thrown into the cellar of a burned house; he managed to crawl to an adjoin house.

They were all found guilty of assault in the second degree, with a second, upcoming trial for coercion and conspiracy in forcing some “scabs” to leave another ship.

article about Andrew Hagney being convicted for assault, Watertown Daily Times newspaper article 20 July 1889

Watertown Daily Times (Watertown, New York), 20 July 1889, page 5

This “Andrew Hageny” seems to be the same man as the later Captain Andrew Hagney of the Nelson, based on location, occupation, and name, but more evidence is always wanted – so I kept searching the archives. I found this earlier newspaper article about the assault on sailor Jesse Josephs, and learned that Andrew Hageny’s brother Thomas was also involved. This lends credence to the belief that this Andrew Hageny is the same as the later Captain Andrew Hagney, since I knew from my earlier research on the census that Andrew Hagney had a brother named Thomas.

article about Thomas Hagney being charged for assault, Watertown Daily Times newspaper article 17 May 1889

Watertown Daily Times (Watertown, New York), 17 May 1889, page 3

But how did Andrew become a ship’s captain with this background of conviction for assault, especially when we find that he had been sentenced to four years in prison?

Intrigued, I kept searching for answers – and found this newspaper article two years into Andrew’s prison sentence, indicating that Governor Hill had promised to pardon him.

article about Andrew Hagney being pardoned by Governor Hill, Watertown Daily Times newspaper article 25 November 1891

Watertown Daily Times (Watertown, New York), 25 November 1891, page 8

And that was indeed what happened – Governor Hill pardoned him. So that was how he got out of prison early, and presumably set about setting his affairs in order. I was unable to find any newspaper articles reporting Andrew getting in trouble with the law again. He must have worked hard and stayed out of trouble, because in a few years he was entrusted as a ship’s captain.

The Post-Shipwreck Life of Captain Hagney

But what happened to Captain Andrew Hagney after the shipwreck of the Nelson? Was he able to recover from the trauma? It took some searching to find a newspaper article to answer this question. I had to go back to the other spellings of his name, and eventually found his obituary by searching under the spelling “Haganey.”

obituary for Andrew Hagney, Cleveland Leader newspaper article 23 February 1912

Cleveland Leader (Cleveland, Ohio), 23 February 1912, page 10

Captain Andrew Hagney appears to have remained in Toledo for the rest of his short life. He remarried and fathered three more children. He died at age 52 in 1912, while visiting his in-laws in New Mexico.

Captain Hagney’s life was full of tragic and challenging experiences. While it must have been difficult to live, searching for his life story provides an opportunity for us to learn about ancestor name search tips, and demonstrates how much we can learn about the lives of our ancestors simply by continuing to dig in the archives..

Genealogy Tips:

Many of us have ancestors with unusual names, or names that appear in records with different spellings. When searching on GenealogyBank, the search engine will look for exactly what you type. Therefore, if you know of an alternative spelling of your ancestor’s name – or if you can guess at one – you may end up finding even more articles. And if you stumble across an article that seems to be about your ancestor, but the name was spelled differently than you thought, it could still be them. Keep searching for additional information to help you determine if that record or article is the right person.

Another thing you might notice is the location of these articles. They appear from places all over the United States: Cleveland, Ohio; Saginaw, Michigan; Watertown, New York; Elkhart, Indiana; Anaconda, Montana; and Bay City, Michigan. While some of these locations make sense because Andrew had a connection with them, some do not – such as Montana and Indiana. Keep in mind that news travels, and reports about the ancestor you are looking for could be in any newspaper in the country. If you don’t find what you are looking for in your ancestor’s local area, don’t hesitate to search nationwide. This is always a good approach to take, even if your initial searches do find articles in your ancestor’s hometown, because many more articles might be out there. Best of luck in your family history searches!

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* “United States Census, 1900,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MMD2-KFQ: accessed Dec. 2014), Andrew Hagney in household of Robert V. French, Port Lawrence Township, Precinct F Toledo city Ward 10, Lucas, Ohio, United States; citing sheet 8A, family 159, NARA microfilm publication T623, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.; FHL microfilm 1241298.

Related Articles:

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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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A 1930s Secret Santa: the Christmas Story of Mr. B. Virdot

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 learn more about a wonderful Christmas story from the midst of the Great Depression: one man in Canton, Ohio, decided to do something to help his struggling neighbors that Christmas. And he did it anonymously.

There’s no doubt the sting of the Great Depression years was felt by families of all socio-economic levels in the United States. The severe economic downturn was a great equalizer and affected everyone – from the formerly well-off, country club member business man to the common laborer. That pain of crushing poverty would have felt even harsher during the holidays.

In 1933 one man in Canton, Ohio, decided to do something to help his neighbors at Christmas. Secretly under an assumed name, this man placed a newspaper ad, opened a bank account with $750, and proceeded to give away this money to those in need. While many families after the fact wrote letters thanking him, it wasn’t until 70 years later that the identity of this mysterious “Secret Santa” and the full impact of his generosity were uncovered through family history research.

The Christmas Gift

A week prior to Christmas, on 18 December 1933 in the Canton Ohio Repository, an advertisement was published titled “In Consideration of the White Collar Man” that invites those having financial difficulties to receive a check by sending a letter to B. Virdot, General Delivery, providing information about their circumstances.

an ad to help people financially struggling at Christmas during the Great Depression, Repository newspaper advertisement 18 December 1933

Repository (Canton, Ohio), 18 December 1933, page 3

That newspaper advertisement was not the only mention of this holiday gift in the paper that day. On the front page, a story about B. Virdot provides more information about the advertisement which ran only that one day. It begins:

A Canton man who was toppled from a large fortune to practically nothing but whom returning prosperity has helped fight back to wealth and comfort, has a Christmas present waiting for 75 deserving fellow townsmen.

Enter Last Name

The old news article continues on to say that this Christmas gift is one with no “strings, no embarrassment,” $10 to 75 families in need.* The holiday gift is meant for “men, like the giver, have once held responsible positions, have been deprived of their income through general economic conditions, but who hesitate to knock at charity’s door for aid.” The historical news article explains that the name “B. Virdot” is fictitious but the donor is a local businessman who has known financial difficulties and, with the help of others, has recovered and now wants to share that gift with others.

Man Who Felt Depression's Sting to Help 75 Unfortunate Families, Repository newspaper article 18 December 1933

Repository (Canton, Ohio), 18 December 1933, page 1

News of this Christmas gift was carried in other newspapers, with coverage continuing well after the fact. For example, in the early part of 1934 notice of B. Virdot’s generosity was printed in this Pennsylvania newspaper.

Once Hit by Hard Times, He Now Opens His Purse, National Labor Tribune newspaper article 24 February 1934

National Labor Tribune (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), 24 February 1934, page 5

The Family History

Normally, the touching Christmas story would end there: impoverished families receive generous gift from anonymous donor. What more could be said, in a case like that with no real name to track down? Letters written requesting assistance are ephemeral, and easily thrown away once read.

Enter Last Name

Fast forward 70 years when Ted Gup, a writer and newspaper reporter, was given a suitcase by his mother. The suitcase, belonging to his maternal grandfather, held family history documents that were of interest to Gup. But once opened, he also found letters from 1933, written by 150 people whose surnames he recognized as coming from his hometown  of Canton, Ohio, and all addressed to B. Virdot – a name unknown to him.** Why did his grandfather have these letters?

Through research and talking with his mother, Gup learned the magnitude of those letters. The true identity and miraculous secret kept all those years was that “B. Virdot” was his grandfather, Sam Stone, a Jewish Romanian immigrant who knew all too well about hardship. Amazingly, his selfless act not only helped people he didn’t know but also helped once-wealthy businessmen who were his acquaintances – but they never knew the identity of their benefactor.

Gup’s book, A Secret Gift: How One Man’s Kindness – and a Trove of Letters – Revealed the Hidden History of the Great Depression (2011), tells the story of not only his own family but also the present-day families of those helped by the B. Virdot checks. The research used to piece together these stories includes methods familiar to family historians: oral interviews, vital records, land records, and of course newspapers.

Another Lasting Legacy

Often when we research family history its impact is felt by us and those family members that we share it with. One of the big lessons of the story of B. Virdot/Sam Stone and the research done by his grandson is that it’s a mistake to not take into consideration our ancestor’s community. Friends, neighbors and acquaintances all had an impact on their lives. Ted Gup, by following up with the descendants of those check recipients, many of whom knew nothing about that aspect of their ancestor’s life, also gave back something important to those families, as his grandfather had done 70 years ago. He gave them the story of an event in the family’s life. By providing them the information from the letter, written in their ancestor’s own words, and the research of what happened after the gift, those families received something much more valuable.

You can read more about Ted Gup’s book at his website A Secret Gift. Copies of some of the letters can be found on the website. The letters and Gup’s research were donated to the Stark County Historical Society at the William McKinley Presidential Library in Canton. A list of the letter writers can be found on their Curator’s Corner blog.

Related Articles:

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* Originally the checks were to be $10 to 75 families, but because of the demonstrated need, 150 families received a $5 check which still was generous for the time.
** Gup’s book explains that the letters in the suitcase represent everyone who received a check. It is not known if there were other letters from people who were not chosen to receive a check.

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December Update: GenealogyBank Added 3 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 3 million more U.S. genealogy records, vastly increasing our content coverage from coast to coast!

screenshot of GenealogyBank's home page showing the accouncement of 3 million more genealogy records being added in December

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

  • A total of 39 newspaper titles from 20 U.S. states
  • 13 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 Dadeville Dadeville Record, The* 09/08/2010–Current Recent Obituaries
Alabama Eclectic Eclectic Observer, The* 04/04/2013–Current Recent Obituaries
Alabama Luverne Luverne Journal, The* 06/03/2010–Current Recent Obituaries
Arizona Poston Poston Chronicle 02/26/1943–05/16/1945 Newspaper Archives
Arkansas McGehee Rohwer Outpost 10/24/1942–07/21/1945 Newspaper Archives
Arkansas McGehee Rohwer Relocator* 08/01/1945–11/09/1945 Newspaper Archives
California Altedena AltadenaPoint* 01/10/2008–Current Recent Obituaries
California Manzanar Manzanar Free Press 04/21/1945–05/26/1945 Newspaper Archives
California Newell Tulean Dispatch* 05/30/1942–10/30/1943 Newspaper Archives
California Sacramento Sacramento Bee 1/16/1959–1/17/1959 Newspaper Archives
California San Francisco Corriere del Popolo 03/13/1917–03/13/1917 Newspaper Archives
California San Luis Obispo San Luis Obispo Daily Telegram 1/2/1947–12/30/1950 Newspaper Archives
Colorado Amache Granada Bulletin* 10/14/1942–10/24/1942 Newspaper Archives
Colorado Amache Granada Pioneer 11/01/1941–09/08/1945 Newspaper Archives
Colorado Denver Rocky Shimpo 06/02/1944–12/31/1945 Newspaper Archives
Florida Miami Miami Herald 5/5/1926–11/30/1926 Newspaper Archives
Georgia Augusta Augusta Chronicle 6/4/1983–10/7/2003 Newspaper Archives
Georgia Columbus Columbus Daily Enquirer 4/1/1935–12/29/1940 Newspaper Archives
Georgia Macon Macon Telegraph 11/1/1938–8/28/1942 Newspaper Archives
Kansas Wichita Wichita Eagle 6/30/1971–11/30/1972 Newspaper Archives
Kentucky Lexington Lexington Herald 1/1/1935–1/31/1938 Newspaper Archives
Louisiana New Orleans Times-Picayune 1/22/1936–12/2/1936 Newspaper Archives
Michigan Cassopolis Cassopolis Vigilant* 07/23/2009–Current Recent Obituaries
Michigan Edwardsburg Edwardsburg Argus* 07/20/2009–Current Recent Obituaries
New Jersey Trenton Trenton Evening Times 2/15/1946–11/11/1973 Newspaper Archives
New York New York Arbeiter Zeitung 09/23/1892–12/23/1892 Newspaper Archives
New York New York Vorwarts 11/25/1922–11/25/1922 Newspaper Archives
North Carolina Charlotte Charlotte Observer 1/1/1931–10/26/1933 Newspaper Archives
Ohio Bellville Bellville Star, The* 11/21/2013–Current Recent Obituaries
Ohio Mechanicsburg Telegram, The* 02/24/2014–Current Recent Obituaries
Pennsylvania Erie Erie Tageblatt 02/24/1914–02/24/1914 Newspaper Archives
Pennsylvania State College Centre Daily Times 1/2/1981–10/31/1984 Newspaper Archives
Utah Topaz Topaz Times 09/26/1942–08/31/1945 Newspaper Archives
Virginia Chase City News-Progress, The* 02/23/2012–Current Recent Obituaries
Washington Bellingham Bellingham Herald 11/28/1941–8/30/1945 Newspaper Archives
Washington Bremerton Kitsap Sun: Web Edition Articles* 08/27/2014–Current Recent Obituaries
Washington Olympia Morning Olympian 4/1/1945–11/27/1950 Newspaper Archives
Wisconsin Appleton Appleton Volksfreund 06/23/1921–06/29/1922 Newspaper Archives
Wisconsin Milwaukee Wahrheit 01/05/1901–12/26/1903 Newspaper Archives

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Filling In My Family Tree with Stories in Old Newspapers

Introduction: Scott Phillips is a genealogical historian and owner of Onward To Our Past® genealogy services. In this blog post, Scott shares some of the family stories he’s learned by searching through old newspapers—stories that help him get to know his ancestors better than just the names and dates on a family tree.

Everyone who enjoys working on their family history knows that nothing enhances your family tree and attracts more family to your work than the stories you weave together in your research! My family tree is full of interesting stories—and I am always on the lookout for more of them to add to our family history every opportunity I get. One of the best places I have found for discovering these stories is in historical newspapers—and GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives are my “go to” source for those newspapers.

GenealogyBank’s newspapers have given me some of the biggest leads in my genealogy work, as well as having added real sparkle to, and interest in, our family tree.

Enter Last Name










My Great Grandfather the Union Man

It was a newspaper discovery that really helped me break down the brick wall that was my maternal great grandfather, Joseph K. Vicha. My breakthrough genealogical find was this 1896 newspaper article that stated: “J. K. Vicha of the Clothing Salesmen’s union was nominated and elected by acclamation.” With this tidbit of knowledge that my great grandfather had been the president of the Central Labor Union, I was able to begin following his career through the years.

article about Joseph Vicha being elected president of the Central Labor Union, Plain Dealer newspaper article 9 January 1896

Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), 9 January 1896, page 3

It was then with particular interest that I read an article from the same date but published in a different Cleveland newspaper, titled “Peanut Reform. How the Central Labor Union Regards the School Bank.” It seems that with my great grandfather as president, the Central Labor Union was protesting the establishment of savings accounts at public schools…something that I well remember from my own younger school days. I guess he must not have been successful in his protest on this matter!

article about the Central Labor Union protesting the establishment of savings accounts at public schools, Cleveland Leader newspaper article 9 January 1896

Cleveland Leader (Cleveland, Ohio), 9 January 1896, page 8

My Mother’s First Engagement

Another fascinating fact I found concerned my own mother. While I was looking for any possible newspaper articles regarding her marriage to my dad, I happened to find this 1942 article. It was a brief story regarding an engagement announcement made by my grandmother for my mother, Laverne Evenden. However, I quickly noticed it was to a man she never ended up marrying. What a fun family find! Plus it brought a great opportunity for me to hear the whole story of what happened from my mom later on.

engagement notice for Laverne Evenden and Lincoln Christensen, Plain Dealer newspaper article 4 January 1942

Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), 4 January 1942, page 50

My Cousin & Minnie

Of course one of my all-time favorite story finds in the newspaper for my family tree—as regular readers of this blog have heard me talk about before—was the story of one of my cousins, Joseph Kapl, who as a zookeeper was almost trampled to death by the “loveable” Minnie the elephant!

article about zookeeper Joseph Kapl and Minnie the elephant, Plain Dealer newspaper article 23 March 1915

Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), 23 March 1915, page 4

The West Side “Dean”

In one instance I was able to find, in an obituary, wonderful details about the life of another of my ancestors, Dr. J. J. Kotershall. While I am accustomed to finding worthwhile genealogical information in obituaries, Dr. Kotershall’s held some real gems. His 1945 obituary explained that he was “instrumental in bringing to Cleveland the city’s first X-ray units in 1903.” It also reported: “Born in Cleveland of Bohemian parentage, Dr. Kotershall had spent the major part of his practice among the Bohemian, Slavic, Polish, and German groups on the West Side.” The old news article even listed where he attended college and conducted his internship. It was a real gold mine.

obituary for Dr. Joseph Kotershall, Plain Dealer newspaper article 11 December 1945

Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), 11 December 1945, page 6

Pictures of the Pretty Twins

On another occasion I was working on a branch of our family tree that included two sisters, Josephine and Florence. I had the feeling they might be twins since their births were listed as the same on the 1920 U.S. Census. Then I discovered a 1937 article with the headline “Twins Choose Dissimilar Careers.” This old newspaper article confirmed my suspicion that the sisters were indeed twins, plus it featured photographs of the twins as well—and provided a very complete review of their formative years. The best, however, might have been the fact that it also listed their parents and home address.

article about the twins Florence and Josephine Kotershall, Plain Dealer newspaper article 7 June 1937

Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), 7 June 1937, page 3

Enter Last Name










A Genuine Country Fair

In addition to our ancestors’ stories that we can find in newspapers, there are also those stories we can discover that add to our understanding of places and events in our own lives. For instance, as a youngster I remember when the week of the county fair was something that my buddies and I looked forward to all year long. The rides, the midway, the games, the booths, the animals, and naturally the food! In just a few minutes of searching in the newspapers I found an 1896 article showing that the fair began as the “West Cuyahoga County Fair” and was advertised in the newspaper back then as “a genuine country fair.”

article about the West Cuyahoga County Fair in Ohio, Plain Dealer newspaper article 16 September 1896

Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), 16 September 1896, page 10

As this 1927 newspaper advertisement shows, it is evident that the fair had become “the” fair since it was billed as simply the “Cuyahoga County Fair” complete with horse racing and the King’s Rodeo.

ad for the Cuyahoga County Fair in Ohio, Plain Dealer newspaper advertisement 28 August 1927

Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), 28 August 1927, page 10

It was even more fun when I came across a 1967 news article. Oh, how that one brought back memories! My best boyhood friend Matt and I would marvel at the sideshow barkers while we tried to make up our minds as to which show we would spend some of our hard-earned paper route money to see! Those were the days!

article about the sideshow barkers at the Cuyahoga County Fair in Ohio, Plain Dealer newspaper article 18 August 1967

Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), 18 August 1967, page 8

Over and over, newspapers provide us with key leads, great stories, and many details about the times of both our own lives and our ancestors.

What are some of your favorite stories you have found in the newspapers as you work on your genealogy and family history? I’d love to hear them so please leave a comment!

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Where Did My Ancestors Work? Newspapers Reveal Occupations

Introduction: Scott Phillips is a genealogical historian and owner of Onward To Our Past® genealogy services. In this blog post, Scott shows how old newspapers can tell you a lot about your ancestors’ occupations and workplaces, and thereby better understand their lives and the times in which they lived.

Everyone works. They say the only things you can’t avoid are death and taxes, but I’d have to add “working” to that list. And in our genealogy this is a good thing. Searching for information about our ancestors’ occupations and work can add significantly to our family trees. This is especially true when you work with the thousands of newspapers in GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives.

We can gain some exciting and interesting insights into the lives of our ancestors when we add their occupations to our usual family research. As a matter of fact, my family tree is peppered with some wonderful discoveries that came as the result of researching the occupations and workplaces of my ancestors.

One of the aspects of my youth that I regret is that I neither paid close enough attention to, nor asked enough questions about, the work of several of my ancestors who are now gone.

Enter Last Name










Uncle Chuck

One example is my uncle Chuck. I remember from my youth and family stories that he worked for a company with the name of Acme-Cleveland, but not much more. So not long ago I decided to do some research to see if I could learn more about one of my favorite uncles.

When I searched on the company name “Acme Cleveland,” GenealogyBank’s search results page showed 2,600 hits. One of those results was this 1978 newspaper article which gave a detailed history of the company, explaining that its roots go all the way back to 1896. It also mentioned that the headquarters were at one time considered “to be one of the most modern manufacturing plants in the United States.” This is a fact I never knew when we would drive by and I would always shout in the car, as though my parents and sisters didn’t know: “That’s where Uncle Chuck works!” In the last paragraph of this old newspaper article they even quoted my uncle.

National Acme Division of Acme-Cleveland, Plain Dealer newspaper article 19 July 1978

Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), 19 July 1978, page 23

 My Great-Great-Grandfather Frederick Evenden

In another instance, I decided to do some occupational research on my mother’s family. She lost her dad when she was only 12 so I didn’t have much to go on—but one of the stories my mother had shared was that her paternal grandfather, Frederick Evenden (1851-1918) had worked for a firm by the name of Chandler and Rudd. I began my newspaper search and soon found several advertisements for Chandler and Rudd published in an 1876 newspaper. It immediately sounded like a wonderful grocery store. Listed in the advertisements were enticing entries for cheese, nuts, fruit, etc. What a cornucopia of edible offerings!

food ads for grocer Chandler & Rudd, Cleveland Leader newspaper advertisements 28 November 1876

Cleveland Leader (Cleveland, Ohio), 28 November 1876, page 8

Then I found this Chandler and Rudd advertisement in a 1907 newspaper for Easter week. It was fun to see they were offering some of the same Easter treats we can get today, such as Cream Easter Eggs, Marshmallow Eggs, and Chocolate Covered Almonds, plus some others I was unfamiliar with—like Sunshine Candies, Nut Puffs, and Chocolate Covered Fig Squares.

Easter ad for grocer Chandler and Rudd, Plain Dealer newspaper article 18 March 1907

Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), 18 March 1907, page 9

My Grandfather-in-Law Pasquale D’Aquila

On my wife’s side of the family we are blessed to have many family members who owed their livelihoods to the iron mining industry. My wife’s paternal grandfather, Pasquale D’Aquila, was one of those men who toiled away in the austere conditions of the open pit iron ore mines of Northern Minnesota. This was only after he had spent a few years in the mines of Minas Gerais, Brazil; then Western Canada; and then Montana. Sadly, Pasquale passed away long before I joined the family, so I did some newspaper research on what it was like in the mines in his day.

Enter Last Name










I first found this 1902 newspaper article. In addition to saying Hibbing, Minnesota, was “what is known in the expressive vernacular of the street as a ‘crackerjack,’” the article also stated: “Hibbing is at present the theater of greatest iron mining activity on the planet.”

Hibbing Theater of Big Iron Production, Duluth News-Tribune newspaper article 19 October 1902

Duluth News-Tribune (Duluth, Minnesota), 19 October 1902, page 2

But of course it wasn’t all “crackerjack”—the mining work was hard and dangerous, as were other types of work such as railroads and sawmills. This 1903 newspaper article reported that more than 1,000 “casualties among the working people of Minnesota” had occurred in the past year.

Many Accidents During the Year, Duluth News-Tribune newspaper article 3 October 1903

Duluth News-Tribune (Duluth, Minnesota), 3 October 1903, page 2

Sometimes it was dangerous just getting to work in the mines in those days, as reported in this 1911 newspaper article. The Scranton Mine was one of the mines Pasquale worked in, and the article explained an accident in detail—and reported that the men involved were John Lampi, Emil Jackson, and John Fari.

article about a train accident at the Scranton Mine, Duluth News-Tribune newspaper article 11 November 1911

Duluth News-Tribune (Duluth, Minnesota), 11 November 1911, page 3

Here’s another mining accident, reported in this 1916 newspaper article. The Albany Mine was another mine in which Pasquale worked, and this article explained how a dozen railroad cars, each filled with 50 tons of ore, broke loose and wrecked in the mine.

article about a train accident at the Albany Mine, Duluth News-Tribune newspaper article 5 November 1916

Duluth News-Tribune (Duluth, Minnesota), 5 November 1916, page 8

This 1918 newspaper article reported another danger my ancestor faced: the scourge of Spanish influenza. This article explained that the area was under consideration for the imposition of martial law to combat the spread of this flu. The article detailed the situation in Grand Rapids, Gilbert, Hibbing, Aitkin, and Virginia, Minnesota, even listing an entire paragraph of the names of all those who died from the flu in Grand Rapids alone. No doubt, it had to have been a challenging life in a tough environment.

article about the Spanish flu, Duluth News-Tribune newspaper article 12 November 1918

Duluth News-Tribune (Duluth, Minnesota), 12 November 1918, page 9

These many articles from the historical newspapers of GenealogyBank have added immensely to my family tree and my genealogy work. So when you get into your family history work, be sure to do some of your searching on the occupations and companies of your ancestors. These articles really add some wonderful depth and richness to your family tree!

Do you know what type of work your ancestors did for a living? Share their occupations with us in the comments.

Related Ancestor Occupation Research Articles:

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How to Uncover Vital Record Clues in Old Newspapers

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

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

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

Clues about the Birth of My Cousin

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

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

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

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

Enter Last Name










Investigating More of My Family Tree

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

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

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

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

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

Discovering More Genealogy Clues…

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

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

Enter Last Name










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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related Genealogy Clues Articles:

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GenealogyBank Just Added 6 Million More Genealogy Records!

Every day, GenealogyBank is working hard to digitize more newspapers and obituaries, rapidly expanding our content to give you the most comprehensive newspaper archives and largest obituary collection for family history research available online. We just completed adding 6 million more U.S. genealogy records, vastly increasing our content coverage from coast to coast!

screenshot of GenealogyBank's homepage announcing the addition of 6 million more genealogy records

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

  • A total of 42 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 Birmingham Birmingham Courier* 08/19/1899–09/12/1903 Newspaper Archives
Alabama Cullman Nord Alabama Colonist* 07/01/1881–07/01/1881 Newspaper Archives
Alaska Anchorage Alaska Dispatch News* 07/10/2014–Current Recent Obituaries
Alaska Anchorage Alaska Dispatch* 10/15/2009–Current Recent Obituaries
California Marin Sausalito Marin Scope* 09/16/2009–Current Recent Obituaries
California Novato Novato Advance* 08/26/2009–Current Recent Obituaries
California San Francisco Corriere del Popolo 01/04/1916–07/25/1935 Newspaper Archives
California San Francisco San Francisco Chronicle 12/5/1908–9/1/1927 Newspaper Archives
California San Luis Obispo San Luis Obispo Daily Telegram 4/6/1934–12/31/1937 Newspaper Archives
California San Rafael San Rafael News Pointer* 03/10/2010–Current Recent Obituaries
Connecticut Stamford Stamford Advocate 4/5/1829–12/31/1841 Newspaper Archives
Georgia Macon Macon Telegraph 5/1/1932–5/20/1934 Newspaper Archives
Georgia Marietta Marietta Journal 4/14/1871–11/15/1990 Newspaper Archives
Georgia Toccoa Toccoa Record, The* 06/24/2004–Current Recent Obituaries
Idaho Boise Idaho Statesman 8/16/1931–12/31/1933 Newspaper Archives
Iowa Perry Perry Chief* 06/06/2014–Current Recent Obituaries
Iowa Story City Story City Herald* 06/11/2014–Current Recent Obituaries
Kentucky Lexington Lexington Herald 10/4/1929–12/31/1930 Newspaper Archives
Louisiana New Orleans New Orleans States 6/1/1920–6/1/1920 Newspaper Archives
Mississippi Biloxi Daily Herald 1/21/1937–3/27/1937 Newspaper Archives
New Jersey Egg Harbor City Egg Harbor Pilot 06/22/1872–07/20/1872 Newspaper Archives
New York New York Arbeiter Zeitung* 11/28/1874–05/19/1878 Newspaper Archives
New York New York Cristoforo Colombo 02/04/1892–08/20/1892 Newspaper Archives
New York New York Eco D’Italia* 01/01/1890–12/31/1896 Newspaper Archives
New York New York Fiaccola* 09/05/1912–02/10/1921 Newspaper Archives
New York New York Freiheit* 12/26/1903–12/26/1903 Newspaper Archives
New York New York Fur Worker* 09/01/1917–04/01/1931 Newspaper Archives
New York New York Progresso Italo-Americano 01/09/1886–12/27/1889 Newspaper Archives
New York New York Vorwarts 01/02/1915–10/29/1921 Newspaper Archives
North Carolina Charlotte Charlotte Observer 6/1/1928–5/31/1929 Newspaper Archives
North Carolina Greensboro Greensboro Record 5/6/1908–5/6/1908 Newspaper Archives
Ohio Cleveland Sendbote* 01/05/1927–06/26/1952 Newspaper Archives
Oregon Cannon Beach Cannon Beach Gazette* 05/02/2008–Current Recent Obituaries
Oregon Hermiston Hermiston Herald, The* 02/28/2001–Current Recent Obituaries
Oregon Seaside Seaside Signal* 03/25/2010–Current Recent Obituaries
South Dakota Aberdeen Aberdeen American 11/5/1924–11/21/1924 Newspaper Archives
South Dakota Aberdeen Aberdeen Daily News 6/29/1911–1/23/2000 Newspaper Archives
South Dakota Aberdeen Aberdeen Journal 3/3/1922–3/3/1922 Newspaper Archives
South Dakota Eureka Eureka Post* 06/06/1912–06/06/1912 Newspaper Archives
Vermont St. Albans St. Albans Daily Messenger 3/31/2006–3/31/2006 Newspaper Archives
Washington Bellingham Bellingham Herald 5/2/1935–6/29/1937 Newspaper Archives
Wisconsin Milwaukee Milwaukee Herold und Seebote* 01/01/1901–01/01/1901 Newspaper Archives

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