Genealogy Serendipity: Ancestor’s Bible & Journals Returned to Family

Let me tell you about my cousin Ransom and the kindness of a stranger who returned his long-lost Bible and journals through a serendipitous chain of events.

photo of Ransom Smith's Bible and journals

Photo of Ransom Smith’s Bible and journals by the author

Ransom Ferdinand Smith (1864-1940) lived in Woodstock, New Hampshire. He was a first cousin of my great-grandmother Frances Lila (Sawyer) Huse (1863-1958).

On Monday (Sept. 10th) I entered the details of Ransom F. Smith’s life on my family’s online tree site.

On Tuesday (Sept. 11th) I received this e-mail: “My search for Ransom F. Smith, married to Carrie and living in/around Grafton, N.H., from 1812-1922 led me to your family’s online tree. I acquired his Bible and 4 daily journals (3 small, 1 large) at an auction in MA about 30 years ago. They were in the bottom of a box lot of linens! If you are interested in having them, would you please email me.”

Imagine that—I put the family’s genealogy information online Monday. The very next day a woman is cleaning her house and unpacks a linen box she hadn’t looked at for 30 years. At the bottom of the box she finds a Bible and four journals, and tries to return them to the original owner’s family.

She Googled Ransom’s name…

Bingo—she found my online family genealogy page, contacted us, and mailed these priceless family records to us. Serendipity!

It’s a great day for genealogy

Monthly Update: GenealogyBank Just Added 24 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 24 million more U.S. genealogy records, vastly increasing our content coverage from coast to coast!

Here are some of the details about our most recent U.S. newspaper additions (we actually added new content to thousands of newspaper titles, but the following is a representative sample):

  • A total of 152 newspaper titles from 42 U.S. states and the District of Columbia
  • Newspaper titles marked with an asterisk (*) are new to our online archive
  • 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

If a recent addition to our archive interests you, simply click on that newspaper’s title: it is an active link leading to that paper’s search form on GenealogyBank.

State City Title Date Range

Collection

Alabama Mobile Mobile Register 11/19/1862–12/02/1869

Historical Newspapers

Arkansas Little Rock Arkansas Gazette 11/30/1882–10/20/1899

Historical Newspapers

Arkansas Little Rock Arkansas State Press 06/25/1943–10/04/1957

Historical Newspapers

California Riverside Press and Horticulturist* 1/31/1880–8/26/1902

Historical Newspapers

California Riverside Riverside Daily Press 06/10/1886–12/30/1922

Historical Newspapers

California Riverside Riverside Independent Enterprise 03/03/1891–12/31/1922

Historical Newspapers

California San Diego Evening Tribune 12/04/1895–12/30/1922

Historical Newspapers

California San Diego San Diego Union 7/1/1898–11/26/1983

Historical Newspapers

California San Francisco San Francisco Abend Post 11/02/1871–08/14/1873

Historical Newspapers

Colorado Colorado Springs Colorado Springs Gazette 10/11/1915–10/11/1915

Historical Newspapers

Connecticut Norwich Norwich Aurora 08/11/1866–08/11/1866

Historical Newspapers

Delaware Wilmington Advance* 09/22/1900–09/22/1900

Historical Newspapers

District of Columbia Washington Washington Bee 12/26/1885–11/23/1889

Historical Newspapers

District of Columbia Washington Evening Star 3/2/1857–10/15/1880

Historical Newspapers

Florida Tampa Tampa Tribune 01/02/1895–12/29/1922

Historical Newspapers

Georgia Augusta Augusta Chronicle 08/16/1794–01/04/1860

Historical Newspapers

Georgia Marietta Marietta Journal 04/07/1892–03/02/1922

Historical Newspapers

Georgia Savannah Georgian* 06/12/1823–11/24/1830

Historical Newspapers

Idaho Idaho Falls Idaho Falls Times 6/9/1892–6/9/1892

Historical Newspapers

Illinois Chicago Broad Axe 09/21/1901–02/20/1904

Historical Newspapers

Illinois East Moline Common Bond 03/16/1978–10/12/1978

Historical Newspapers

Illinois Highland Highland Union 01/24/1873–09/09/1910

Historical Newspapers

Illinois Rockford Crusader 10/07/1955–03/03/1971

Historical Newspapers

Illinois Rockford Daily Register 01/06/1873–01/30/1891

Historical Newspapers

Illinois Rockford Daily Register-Gazette 1/31/1891–6/27/1930

Historical Newspapers

Illinois Rockford Morning Star 3/20/1888–1/1/1979

Historical Newspapers

Illinois Rockford Register Star 12/2/1979–7/27/1992

Historical Newspapers

Illinois Rockford Register-Republic 6/11/1948–9/20/1963

Historical Newspapers

Illinois Rockford Rockford Weekly Register-Gazette* 5/5/1866–5/13/1871

Historical Newspapers

Illinois Springfield Daily Illinois State Journal 1/26/1872–12/31/1922

Historical Newspapers

Illinois Springfield Daily Illinois State Register 4/25/1849–6/30/1908

Historical Newspapers

Indiana Indianapolis Freeman 02/09/1889–02/09/1889

Historical Newspapers

Indiana Indianapolis Recorder 01/27/1900–01/27/1900

Historical Newspapers

Kansas Coffeyville Vindicator 11/10/1905–11/10/1905

Historical Newspapers

Kansas Kansas City American Citizen 08/31/1900–08/31/1900

Historical Newspapers

Kansas Kansas City Kansas Elevator 03/25/1916–09/02/1916

Historical Newspapers

Kansas Lawrence For Our People* 09/08/1971–09/08/1971

Historical Newspapers

Kansas Salina Salina Enterprise 12/24/1908–01/28/1909

Historical Newspapers

Kansas Topeka Herald of Kansas 01/30/1880–01/30/1880

Historical Newspapers

Kansas Topeka Kansas State Tribune* 10/06/1881–10/06/1881

Historical Newspapers

Kansas Weir City Weir City Eagle 03/16/1900–03/16/1900

Historical Newspapers

Kansas Wichita Kansas Weekly Journal 02/05/1981–02/05/1981

Historical Newspapers

Kansas Wichita Wichita Times 08/24/1972–11/20/1975

Historical Newspapers

Kentucky Frankfort Frankfort Argus 11/16/1831–11/16/1831

Historical Newspapers

Louisiana Baton Rouge Daily Advocate 1/2/1854–10/31/1906

Historical Newspapers

Louisiana Baton Rouge Daily State 08/01/1906–07/16/1910

Historical Newspapers

Louisiana Baton Rouge State Times Advocate 1/1/1909–2/28/1967

Historical Newspapers

Louisiana Baton Rouge Weekly Advocate 12/24/1845–10/31/1903

Historical Newspapers

Louisiana New Orleans Courrier de la Louisiane 10/15/1823–01/05/1824

Historical Newspapers

Louisiana New Orleans New Orleans Tribune 04/11/1865–04/11/1865

Historical Newspapers

Louisiana New Orleans Times-Picayune 02/18/1906–02/18/1906

Historical Newspapers

Louisiana New Orleans Weekly Pelican 11/26/1887–11/26/1887

Historical Newspapers

Maryland Baltimore Afro-American 12/14/1895–12/14/1895

Historical Newspapers

Maine Hallowell Maine Cultivator and Hallowell Gazette 09/25/1841–09/03/1842

Historical Newspapers

Maryland Bel Air National American 09/05/1856–08/10/1866

Historical Newspapers

Massachusetts Boston Boston Herald 7/2/1855–10/31/1932

Historical Newspapers

Massachusetts Boston Boston Post 04/29/1861–02/14/1870

Historical Newspapers

Massachusetts Nantucket Nantucket Inquirer 11/07/1838–11/28/1840

Historical Newspapers

Massachusetts New Bedford New-Bedford Mercury 10/26/1866–04/23/1869

Historical Newspapers

Massachusetts New Bedford Whaleman’s Shipping List and Merchants’ Transcript* 05/16/1843–10/23/1849

Historical Newspapers

Massachusetts Newburyport Newburyport Herald 05/31/1836–05/31/1836

Historical Newspapers

Massachusetts Quincy Patriot Ledger* 7/2/1917–12/29/1922

Historical Newspapers

Massachusetts Springfield Springfield Republican 01/01/1911–12/31/1922

Historical Newspapers

Massachusetts Springfield Springfield Union 1/4/1864–12/18/1987

Historical Newspapers

Massachusetts Worcester Massachusetts Spy 10/21/1870–12/29/1876

Historical Newspapers

Massachusetts Worcester National Aegis 12/13/1862–12/13/1862

Historical Newspapers

Michigan Adrian Daily Telegram 2/1/1904–12/22/1913

Historical Newspapers

Michigan Bay City Bay City Times 01/02/1889–12/30/1922

Historical Newspapers

Michigan Detroit Plaindealer* 01/13/1893–05/19/1893

Historical Newspapers

Michigan Jackson Jackson Citizen Patriot 07/11/1882–03/17/1902

Historical Newspapers

Michigan Sault Ste. Marie Evening News* 6/8/1907–12/28/1921

Historical Newspapers

Missouri Kansas City Rising Son 11/18/1904–08/09/1906

Historical Newspapers

Missouri Sedalia Sedalia Times 05/09/1903–05/09/1903

Historical Newspapers

Missouri St. Louis Missouri Gazette and Public Advertiser 10/5/1808–3/27/1813

Historical Newspapers

Montana Helena Helena Weekly Herald* 12/06/1866–11/25/1869

Historical Newspapers

Nebraska Omaha Omaha World Herald 11/16/1887–12/30/1941

Historical Newspapers

New Hampshire Dover Sun 10/26/1796–9/10/1808

Historical Newspapers

New Hampshire Portsmouth New-Hampshire Gazette 4/6/1847–4/6/1847

Historical Newspapers

New Hampshire Portsmouth Portsmouth Journal of Literature and Politics 05/14/1864–05/27/1876

Historical Newspapers

New Jersey Newark New Jersey Deutsche Zeitung 04/26/1880–10/14/1889

Historical Newspapers

New Jersey Trenton Sentinel 06/17/1882–11/13/1882

Historical Newspapers

New Jersey Trenton Trenton Evening Times 01/10/1884–08/20/1891

Historical Newspapers

New York Albany Albany Argus 11/21/1872–11/29/1886

Historical Newspapers

New York Auburn Auburn Journal and Advertiser 02/14/1840–07/12/1843

Historical Newspapers

New York Auburn Cayuga Republican* 03/31/1819–01/16/1833

Historical Newspapers

New York New York Commercial Advertiser 03/04/1861–03/04/1861

Historical Newspapers

New York New York Evening Post* 01/02/1823–12/31/1823

Historical Newspapers

New York New York New York Age 08/30/1890–03/07/1891

Historical Newspapers

New York New York New York Freeman 04/24/1886–01/29/1887

Historical Newspapers

New York Schenectady Cabinet* 01/20/1824–12/26/1854

Historical Newspapers

New York Utica Columbian Gazette 1/7/1805–2/28/1815

Historical Newspapers

North Carolina Greensboro Greensboro Daily News 6/1/1906–9/30/1906

Historical Newspapers

North Carolina Greensboro Greensboro Record 1/16/1923–6/30/1930

Historical Newspapers

North Carolina Hillsborough Hillsborough Recorder* 03/10/1824–05/10/1865

Historical Newspapers

North Carolina Winston-Salem Winston-Salem Journal 08/30/1898–09/30/1921

Historical Newspapers

Ohio Canton Canton Repository* 7/3/1884–12/28/1905

Historical Newspapers

Ohio Canton Repository 1/31/1898–5/19/1925

Historical Newspapers

Ohio Cleveland Cleveland Gazette 05/09/1885–11/25/1944

Historical Newspapers

Ohio Cleveland Plain Dealer 12/28/1883–03/24/1912

Historical Newspapers

Ohio Wooster Wooster Republican 08/06/1857–08/06/1857

Historical Newspapers

Oklahoma Langston Langston City Herald 04/30/1892–04/30/1892

Historical Newspapers

Oklahoma Oklahoma City Guide 03/30/1899–09/19/1901

Historical Newspapers

Oregon Portland Oregonian 09/15/1907–09/15/1907

Historical Newspapers

Pennsylvania Harrisburg Patriot 12/08/1903–12/29/1922

Historical Newspapers

Pennsylvania Philadelphia Illustrated New Age 6/25/1864–6/25/1864

Historical Newspapers

Pennsylvania Washington Washington Reporter 08/23/1848–12/20/1876

Historical Newspapers

Pennsylvania Washington Washington Review and Examiner 06/28/1823–06/28/1823

Historical Newspapers

Rhode Island Newport Newport Mercury 08/24/1872–12/07/1872

Historical Newspapers

Rhode Island Providence Providence Evening Press 09/19/1872–12/24/1872

Historical Newspapers

South Carolina Charleston Charleston Courier 01/01/1833–11/27/1858

Historical Newspapers

Texas Austin Austin City Gazette 08/25/1841–08/25/1841

Historical Newspapers

Texas Clarksville Standard 1/8/1852–10/2/1852

Historical Newspapers

Texas Dallas Dallas Morning News 4/5/1984–9/19/1984

Historical Newspapers

Utah Salt Lake City Salt Lake Telegram 08/12/1902–11/20/1914

Historical Newspapers

Vermont St. Albans St. Albans Daily Messenger 10/25/1872–10/07/1922

Historical Newspapers

Vermont St. Albans St. Albans Messenger 08/29/1918–08/29/1918

Historical Newspapers

Vermont Windsor Vermont Republican 03/05/1821–07/23/1821

Historical Newspapers

Virginia Alexandria Alexandria Gazette 02/03/1873–12/31/1875

Historical Newspapers

Virginia Norfolk Norfolk Gazette and Publick Ledger 11/09/1808–06/09/1813

Historical Newspapers

Virginia Richmond Enquirer 12/09/1873–08/22/1876

Historical Newspapers

Virginia Richmond Richmond Times Dispatch 1/27/1903–2/28/1943

Historical Newspapers

Virginia Richmond Richmond Whig 11/13/1840–09/05/1856

Historical Newspapers

Alaska Nome Nome Nugget, The* 01/06/2011–Current

Newspaper Obituaries

Arkansas Farmington Washington County Enterprise-Leader* 02/15/2012–Current

Newspaper Obituaries

Arkansas Gravette Westside Eagle Observer* 02/15/2012–Current

Newspaper Obituaries

Arkansas Pea Ridge Times of Northeast Benton County, The* 02/15/2012–Current

Newspaper Obituaries

California Cupertino La Voz Weekly: De Anza College* 05/15/2000–Current

Newspaper Obituaries

Florida Lakeland Ledger, The: Blogs* 07/17/2007–Current

Newspaper Obituaries

Georgia Woodstock Cherokee Ledger-News, The* 08/18/2010–Current

Newspaper Obituaries

Massachusetts Jamaica Plain Mission Hill Gazette* 01/16/2009–Current

Newspaper Obituaries

Michigan Detroit Detroit News, The: Web Edition Articles* 11/17/2011–Current

Newspaper Obituaries

Mississippi Oxford Oxford Eagle, The* 02/09/2012–Current

Newspaper Obituaries

Missouri Noel, Lanagan McDonald County Press, The* 11/12/2009–Current

Newspaper Obituaries

National National Christian Science Monitor, The* 05/07/1987–Current

Newspaper Obituaries

North Carolina Mount Olive Mount Olive Tribune* 10/06/2011–Current

Newspaper Obituaries

North Dakota Beulah Beulah Beacon* 01/06/2011–Current

Newspaper Obituaries

North Dakota Center Center Republican* 01/27/2011–Current

Newspaper Obituaries

North Dakota Garrison McLean County Independent* 01/06/2011–Current

Newspaper Obituaries

North Dakota Hazen Hazen Star* 01/06/2011–Current

Newspaper Obituaries

North Dakota McClusky McClusky Gazette* 01/06/2011–Current

Newspaper Obituaries

North Dakota New Town New Town News* 01/07/2011–Current

Newspaper Obituaries

North Dakota Parshall Mountrail County Record* 01/07/2011–Current

Newspaper Obituaries

North Dakota Turtle Lake McLean County Journal* 01/06/2011–Current

Newspaper Obituaries

North Dakota Underwood Underwood News* 01/06/2011–Current

Newspaper Obituaries

North Dakota Velva Velva Area Voice* 01/20/2011–Current

Newspaper Obituaries

North Dakota Washburn Leader-News, The* 01/06/2011–Current

Newspaper Obituaries

Ohio Bluffton Bluffton News* 12/30/2010–Current

Newspaper Obituaries

Ohio North Baltimore North Baltimore News* 08/25/2011–Current

Newspaper Obituaries

Tennessee Chattanooga Chattanooga Times Free Press* 04/01/2011–Current

Newspaper Obituaries

Texas Irving Irving Rambler, The* 07/02/2011–Current

Newspaper Obituaries

Wisconsin Brookfield Brookfield-Elm Grove NOW: Blogs* 01/14/2010–Current

Newspaper Obituaries

Wisconsin Hartland Living Lake Country: Blogs* 01/10/2011–Current

Newspaper Obituaries

GenealogyBank’s Genealogy Archive Expansion Keeps Rolling!

Old Historical Newspaper Vendor

GenealogyBank keeps expanding our online archives of historical newspapers, books, documents, and government records—continuously adding new material for your genealogy research at the astonishing rate of 10 more records every second.

In the next few weeks GenealogyBank will be adding more newspapers and filling in gaps for over 2,800 U.S. newspapers providing you more family history coverage online than ever before.

We are adding so many newspaper titles that there isn’t space to list every one that will soon be added into our genealogy archive. As such, we selected out only a few dozen of the newest paper titles and date ranges coming to GenealogyBank. These new research resources will be added to our archive over the course of the next few weeks.

Nome Nugget (Nome, AK)

  • Obituaries:  01/20/2011 – Current
  • Death Notices:  01/06/2011 – Current

La Voz Weekly: De Anza College (Cupertino, CA)

  • Obituaries:  05/15/2000 – Current

Ledger: Blogs (Lakeland, FL)

  • Obituaries:  07/17/2007 – Current

Cherokee Ledger-News (Woodstock, GA)

  • Obituaries:  08/18/2010 – Current
  • Death Notices:  08/18/2010 – Current

Bay Windows (Boston, MA)

  • Obituaries: 12/10/1998 – 2/2/2011

Mission Hill Gazette (Jamaica Plain, MA)

  • Obituaries:  01/16/2009 – Current

Detroit News: Web Edition Articles (MI)

  • Obituaries: 10/28/2005 – 12/30/2010

Oxford Eagle (Oxford, MS)

  • Obituaries:  02/22/2012 – Current
  • Death Notices:  02/09/2012 – Current

Mount Olive Tribune (Mount Olive, NC)

  • Obituaries:  02/22/2012 – Current
  • Death Notices:  10/06/2011 – Current

Beulah Beacon (Beulah, ND)

  • Obituaries:  01/13/2011 – Current
  • Death Notices:  01/06/2011 – Current

Center Republican (Center, ND)

  • Obituaries:  07/21/2011 – Current
  • Death Notices:  01/27/2011 – Current

Hazen Star (Hazen, ND)

  • Obituaries:  01/13/2011 – Current
  • Death Notices:  01/06/2011 – Current

Leader-News (Washburn, ND)

  • Death Notices:  01/06/2011 – Current

McClusky Gazette (McClusky, ND)

  • Obituaries:  04/14/2011 – Current
  • Death Notices:  01/06/2011 – Current

McLean County Independent (Garrison, ND)

  • Obituaries:  02/10/2011 – Current
  • Death Notices:  01/06/2011 – Current

McLean County Journal (Turtle Lake, ND)

  • Obituaries:  02/17/2011 – Current
  • Death Notices:  01/06/2011 – Current

Mountrail County Record (Parshall, ND)

  • Obituaries:  03/11/2011 – Current
  • Death Notices:  01/07/2011 – Current

New Town News (New Town, ND)

  • Obituaries:  03/11/2011 – Current
  • Death Notices:  01/07/2011 – Current

Underwood News (Underwood, ND)

  • Death Notices:  01/06/2011 – Current

Velva Area Voice (Velva, ND)

  • Obituaries:  04/12/2012 – Current
  • Death Notices:  01/20/2011 – Current

Chester County Press (Oxford, PA)

  • Obituaries: 1/21/2009 – 2/16/2011
  • Death Notices: 11/5/2008 – 1/19/2011

Delaware County Daily Times (Primos – Upper Darby, PA)

  • Obituaries: 4/1/1994 – 1/1/2009
  • Death Notices: 4/1/1994 – 3/23/1995

Chattanooga Times Free Press (Chattanooga, TN)

  • Obituaries:  04/01/2011 – Current
  • Death Notices:  04/01/2011 – Current

Irving Rambler (Irving, TX)

  • Obituaries:  08/20/2011 – Current
  • Death Notices:  07/02/2011 – Current

Living Lake Country: Blogs (Hartland, WI)

  • Obituaries:  01/10/2011 – Current

It’s a great day for genealogy!

48 More newspapers added to GenealogyBank

GenealogyBank adds 48 more newspapers
Search GenealogyBank now!

Kodiak Daily Mirror (Kodiak, AK) Death Notices: 02/01/2010 – Current
Birmingham Times (Birmingham, AL) Death Notices: 04/01/2010 – Current
Pinal Nugget, The (San Manuel, AZ) Death Notices: 05/14/2010 – Current
Midway Driller (Taft, CA) Death Notices: 10/05/2009 – Current
Oakland Post, The (Oakland, CA) Death Notices: 03/28/2010 – Current
Milford Beacon (Milford, DE) Death Notices: 10/23/2009 – Current
Times-Herald, The (Newnan, GA) Death Notices: 10/02/2009 – Current
Abbeville Meridional (Abbeville, LA) Death Notices: 10/02/2009 – Current
Rayne Acadian-Tribune (Rayne, LA) Death Notices: 10/06/2009 – Current
Richland Beacon-News (Rayville, LA) Death Notices: 10/08/2009 – Current
Hanson Express (Hanson, MA) Death Notices: 05/06/2010 – Current
North Attleborough Free Press, The (North Attleborough, MA) Death Notices: 10/03/2009 – Current
Coldwater Daily Reporter (Coldwater, MI) Death Notices: 10/02/2009 – Current
Jefferson Post (West Jefferson, NC) Death Notices: 10/05/2009 – Current
Atlanticville (Long Branch, Oakhurst, NJ) Death Notices: 12/29/2009 – Current
East Brunswick Sentinel (East Brunswick, NJ) Death Notices: 01/20/2010 – Current
Examiner (Millstone, Englishtown, Allentown, NJ) Death Notices: 03/08/2010 – Current
Hub, The (Red Bank, NJ) Death Notices: 01/05/2010 – Current
Independent, The (Middletown, Hazlet, NJ) Death Notices: 01/05/2010 – Current
North-South Brunswick Sentinel (North Brunswick, South Brunswick, NJ) Death Notices: 01/13/2010 – Current
Suburban (Old Bridge, NJ) Death Notices: 01/06/2010 – Current
Tri-Town News (Howell, Jackson, Lakewood, Plumstead, NJ) Death Notices: 01/16/2010 – Current
Daily Sparks Tribune, The (Sparks, NV) Death Notices: 11/12/2009 – Current
Cooperstown Crier, The (Cooperstown, NY) Death Notices: 04/21/2010 – Current
Courier, The (Bath, NY) Death Notices: 10/02/2009 – Current
Journal-Register, The (Medina, NY) Death Notices: 03/17/2010 – Current
Long Beach Herald (Long Beach, NY) Death Notices: 04/01/2010 – Current
Lynbrook – East Rockaway Herald (Lynbrook, NY) Death Notices: 03/28/2010 – Current
Riverdale Press, The (Bronx, NY) Death Notices: 10/02/2009 – Current
Villager, The (New York, NY) Death Notices: 10/02/2009 – Current
Antlers American, The (Antlers, OK) Death Notices: 03/27/2010 – Current
Express Star, The (Chickasha, OK) Death Notices: 03/17/2010 – Current
Daily Press, The (St. Marys, PA) Death Notices: 10/02/2009 – Current
Dispatch, The (Walterboro, SC) Death Notices: 10/02/2009 – Current
Blount Today (Maryville, TN) Death Notices: 12/23/2009 – Current
Morgan County News (Wartburg, TN) Death Notices: 04/22/2010 – Current
Bay City Tribune, The (Bay City, TX) Death Notices: 10/03/2009 – Current
Greenville Herald-Banner (Greenville, TX) Death Notices: 10/02/2009 – Current
Northeast Herald (San Antonio, TX) Death Notices: 10/18/2009 – Current
Journal Press, The (King George, VA) Death Notices: 10/02/2009 – Current
Shenandoah Valley-Herald (Woodstock, VA) Death Notices: 10/02/2009 – Current
Valley Banner, The (Elkton, VA) Death Notices: 10/02/2009 – Current
Warren Sentinel (Front Royal, VA) Death Notices: 01/16/2010 – Current
Progress-Index, The (Petersburg, VA) Obituaries: 10/31/2001 – 08/29/2005 Death Notices: 11/05/2001 – 08/29/2005

Statesman-Examiner (Colville, WA) Death Notices: 10/08/2009 – Current
Brookfield-Elm Grove NOW (Brookfield, WI) Death Notices: 10/04/2009 – Current
Kettle Moraine Index (Dousman, WI) Death Notices: 10/02/2009 – Current
Oconomowoc Enterprise (Oconomowoc, WI) Death Notices: 03/27/2010 – Current
Sussex Sun (Hartland, WI) Death Notices: 10/03/2009 – Current
.

Funeral Sermons – a core genealogical resource

GenealogyBank.com has over 7,000 funeral sermons – full text digital copies and excerpts.

These are a core source for genealogists searching for the details of their ancestor’s lives in Colonial America and the early Federalist period. (Photo, Ian Britton. FreeFoto.com).
It was common in Colonial America to have a funeral sermon printed and distributed “at the request of the family” to the mourners.
These slim pamphlets can range from six to thirty pages. While it was common for these to be printed – they were printed in small press runs, so it can be difficult for genealogists to locate copies. In many cases only one copy of the sermon – with its critical biographical information survives.

In my experience the earliest published funeral sermons that survive were for ministers and their wives. This practice expanded to include older members of the community and by the late 1700s to early 1800s it was common to see printed funeral sermons for children, men, women of all backgrounds and occupations.

Clergy routinely printed and circulated their sermons on all topics as a way to encourage the faithful to live better lives. I always assumed that the reason their funeral sermons survived while the others that may have been printed didn’t is that ministers/their wives were more widely known then regular townspeople.
Their funeral and other sermons were likely circulated to clergy in other cities; seminaries; townspeople in prior towns where they had been stationed etc. The wider the circulation – the more likely a copy would be preserved.
These sermons would not just be homilies to promote religious values but “news” – that people would want to read to be informed and reminded of the lives well lived by the ministers that had served them over the years. This would give more opportunities for people to have kept them – making it more likely for these fragile pamphlets to have survived.
Newspaper accounts of funerals vary – some give the complete sermon and some stories give brief details of the service – like this account of Mark Twain and his wife “listening” to the funeral service of her mother – Olivia (Lewis) Langdon, by telephone. (Inter-Ocean, 12 Jan 1891).
Another newspaper account gave the details of the “Most Impressive Funeral Service Ever Held” – the funeral of the Rev. Thomas Allen Horne. It was also the most unusual since he realized that he would soon pass away and had recorded his sermon to be played at the funeral.

His powerful remarks, in his own voice, made “grown men weep” and “women faint”. The family had a recording of the Rev. Horne and his late wife singing the old hymn “There is a Better Land“.

Tip: Click & Read this:

Imagine the impact in 1890 of listening to the funeral sermon of the deceased – recorded in his own voice; the shock in 1890 of hearing the recorded voices of he & his wife singing their funeral hymn – the poignant, personal remarks in his sermon – again recorded in his own voice. No doubt, that would have been the “Most Impressive Funeral Service Ever Held”.

Click Here to read the entire story: Charlotte (NC) News 15 March 1890.

GenealogyBank has thousands of funeral sermons – elegies, memorials etc. Many of these are full digital copies and others are the full sermon or excerpts that appeared in the newspapers.
Here are some typical examples of what you will find in GenealogyBank.
Harris, Thaddeus Mason, (1768-1842). A tribute of filial respect, to the memory of his mother, in a discourse, delivered at Dorchester, Feb. 8, 1801, the Lord’s day after her decease. Charlestown, MA: Printed by Samuel Etheridge, 1801. 20p.
The biographical and genealogical details of the late Rebekah (Mason) Wait (1738-1801) begin on page 16. We learn that she was born on 28 Dec 1738 – the daughter of Thaddeus Mason “of Cambridge, who survives her, in his 95th year.”

On page 17 we learn that she was married twice. She married her first husband, William Harris of Cambridge, MA on 20 Aug 1767. He died 30 Oct 1778. She married her second husband, Samuel Wait of Malden, MA on 2 Mar 1780. She died on 2 Feb 1801 “leaving behind her a widowed husband and five children (four by her first marriage and one by the second) to mourn their loss.”

Maxcy, Jonathan, (1768-1820). A funeral sermon, occasioned by the death of Mr. John Sampson Bobo a member of the Junior Class in the South-Carolina College, who was unfortunately drowned in the Congress River, near Columbia. Columbia, SC: Faust, 1819. 16p.

Moore, Martin, (1790-1866). Death of the saints precious in God’s sight a sermon delivered in Natick, June 13, 1819, occasioned by the death of Mrs. Hannah Coolidge, wife of Mr. William Coolidge, aetatis 40. Dedham, MA: Mann, 1819. 15p.

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