How to Find Your Cousins Using Only a Last Name and a Hometown

In my last few posts, I’ve shared strategies I used to find records on my Sniffen cousins from Westchester County, New York. Today I’m using a different strategy: I’m simply searching GenealogyBank for the last name “Sniffen” with the keyword “Westchester” to see what other Sniffen cousins I can find that might not be in my notes.

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

This search came up with several interesting Sniffen cousins.

The following Westchester County news article mentions a meeting of the Women’s Afternoon Euchre Club at which Mrs. D. Austin Sniffen won second prize.

An article about Helen Sniffen, New York Tribune newspaper article 11 March 1899
Source: GenealogyBank, New York Tribune (New York, New York), 11 March 1899, page 16

After a quick FamilySearch query for “D Austin Sniffen” I found my cousin David Austin Sniffen (1873-1950) of White Plains, Westchester County, New York, and his first wife Helen (Farley) Sniffen (1867-), to which this article probably refers.

This next article from the New York Tribune writes about an upcoming “sociable” at the White Plains Presbyterian Church at which many of my Sniffen cousins would participate.

An article about the Sniffen family, New York Tribune newspaper article 16 January 1897
Source: GenealogyBank, New York Tribune (New York, New York), 16 January 1897, page 12

According to this article:

“The idea will be to reproduce, as far as possible, old-time customs, costumes and cooking. Old-time songs and hymns, pitched by a tuning fork, will be sung, after which Miss Addie Sniffen, daughter of Deacon Theodore Sniffen, will give piano solos… selections of music arranged for eight hands [will] be played by Deacon Henry O. Sniffen and his wife, Charles Sniffen and Miss Julia Sniffen.”

My Sniffen cousins likely referred to in this article include the young pianist Adeline B. Sniffen (1875-) and her father Deacon Theodore Sniffen (1848-1938), Deacon Henry O. Sniffen (1870-1941), Charles E. Sniffen (1854-), and Julia E. Sniffen (1882-).

This is an important find. With so many of my cousins actively attending this specific church, I can focus on that church and its records to get more of the details of their lives.

Next, I found an obituary mentioning my cousin Allan Mead Sniffen (1796-1873) and his wife Eliza Ann (Lawrence) Sniffen (1805-1870).

An obituary for Eliza Sniffen, New York Herald newspaper article 26 January 1880
Source: GenealogyBank, New York Herald (New York, New York), 26 January 1880, page 9

This obituary reports:

“SNIFFEN. – On Wednesday, January 21, 1890, Eliza A. Lawrence, wife of the late Allen M. Sniffen, in the 76th year of her age.”

A good find. I did not have her date of death – now thanks to this obituary record I can add that information to the family tree.

Genealogy Tip: Search using one of your family surnames and the name of the town or county where they lived to discover cousins you may not already know about. By bringing together every possible cousin, you can extend and map out the family tree – lining up the information until you can confirm or exclude each one from your family tree.

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8 thoughts on “How to Find Your Cousins Using Only a Last Name and a Hometown

  1. A John “Tys” Sniffen is a good friend of one of our sons. Lives in California, born in Wisconsin. May be your relative.

  2. This may possibly be the death date of your Adeline B. Sniffen.

    New York, Death Index, 1880-1956
    Name: Adeline B. Sniffen
    Death Date: 20 Jul 1923
    Death Place: White Plains, New York, USA
    Certificate Number: 44677

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