Genealogy Tips: Using Newspapers to Fill in Ancestors’ Missing Life Events

Missing information can be frustrating when you’re filling in your family tree. You may have your ancestors’ birth and death dates, but be missing key details like where they were born or when they were married. Fortunately, there’s no better resource for life events than newspapers.

William Brundage (1802-1853) is my third cousin, five times removed.

This is how his record appeared in the family tree on FamilySearch.

A record for William Brundage, from FamilySearch
Source: FamilySearch

As you can see from the image above, I have William’s birth and death dates, as well as his place of birth, but no place of death or burial – so I decided to search GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives to see if I could fill in those missing pieces of information. I knew that my Brundage line lived in both Westchester County, New York, and Greenwich, Connecticut. “Stanwich” is a neighborhood in Greenwich. Greenwich, Connecticut, and Westchester County, New York, share a common border.

I started by searching for the last name “Brundage” with the keyword “Westchester.”

A screenshot of GenealogyBank's search page showing a search for "Brundage" and "Westchester"
Source: GenealogyBank

The second search hit result was a newspaper notice from May 1856 that mentioned William Brundage:

“Pursuant to an order of Lewis C. Platt, Surrogate of the County of Westchester, notice is hereby given, according to law, to all persons having claims against the estate of WILLIAM BRUNDAGE, late of the town of North Castle, in said county, deceased, to present the same with the vouchers thereof, to the undersigned, Administrator of all and singular the goods, chattels and credits of the said deceased, at his place of residence, in the town of North Castle, on or before the 3d Monday of April, A.D. 1856.”

An article about the estate of William Brundage, Westchester Herald newspaper article 20 May 1856
Source: GenealogyBank, Westchester Herald (Ossining, New York), 20 May 1856, page 5

I wanted to be sure this newspaper article was referring to the right William Brundage, so I referred back to my family tree. It says that his father, David Brundage (1768-1839) was born in the Stanwich section of Greenwich, Connecticut, and that he died in North Castle, New York.

A record for David Brundage, from FamilySearch
Source: FamilySearch

After noting William’s father’s place of death, I notice a final detail that builds my confidence that this newspaper notice does refer to the correct William Brundage. The article names Harrison Brundage as the administrator of William’s estate, and a quick scan of William’s listed siblings in FamilySearch confirms that Harrison Brundage (1811-1891) was William’s brother.

A record for the Brundage siblings, from FamilySearch
Source: FamilySearch

Digging deeper, I found them all listed in the 1850 census.

William Brundage (1802-1853) (see line #21) and his mother Elizabeth (Lockwood) Brundage (1772-1857) (see line #22) were both living with his brother Harrison Brundage (1811-1891), the head of the household and his family (see lines #14-19) at their home in North Castle, New York. By 1850 the father David Brundage (1768-1839) had already died.

A record of the Brundage family from the 1850 U.S. Census, from FamilySearch
Source: FamilySearch, 1850 Census. North Castle, Westchester County, New York.
“United States Census, 1850,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 9 April 2016), New York > Westchester > image 18 of 54; citing NARA microfilm publication M432 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

Now that I have the published newspaper notice of the probate of William’s estate in North Castle that states he was “late of the town of North Castle, in said county, deceased”; the listing of Harrison Brundage, likely his brother, as the administrator of his estate; and the 1850 census record showing them living together as one household just three years before his death – I can confidently fill in the missing information in my family tree.

Use GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives to fill in missing information for your own ancestors. Newspapers are a great resource for finding the sometimes difficult-to-find details in birth, marriage, and death dates and places.

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