Search Historical Obituaries with a Keyword to Find Specific Family Information

The past few months I’ve enjoyed delving into my Mayflower ancestry and discovering new relatives who are also descendants of my Pilgrim grandparents. This research has led to articles about all seven of these Pilgrims, the last of which is Thomas Rogers (1571-1621), my 10th great-grandfather.

Thomas came to New England with his son Joseph, and the rest of his children came on later voyages. We have records of at least one of his other children, John, coming to Plymouth about 1630. Sadly, Thomas died the first winter in Plymouth, leaving his children orphans. According to FamilySearch, both Joseph and John had children.

Interested in learning more about other descendants that came through this line, I decided to search GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives for “Thomas Rogers” with the keyword “Mayflower.”

A screenshot of GenealogyBank's search page showing a search for Thomas Rogers and "Mayflower"
Source: GenealogyBank

I decided to search specifically in GenealogyBank’s “Historical Obituaries” collection, as I’ve had good luck in the past finding new relatives using those types of records.

The first obituary of the search results was that of John H. Paine (1883-1962), a lawyer from Harwich, Massachusetts.

An obituary for John Paine, Boston Herald newspaper article 2 July 1964
Source: GenealogyBank, Boston Herald (Boston, Massachusetts,) 2 July 1964, page 41

John was a former attorney, banker, land title administrator and justice of the peace in Harwich, and was a descendant of four Mayflower Pilgrims: William Brewster, Thomas Rogers, Stephen Hopkins, and William White. This means I am doubly related to him – William Brewster and Thomas Rogers are my ancestors, too.

John Paine was very well-connected. A graduate of Boston University Law School, he served in many prestigious public service positions and was a member of several elite organizations in the Harwich community.

An obituary for John Paine, Boston Herald newspaper article 2 July 1964
Source: GenealogyBank, Boston Herald (Boston, Massachusetts), 2 July 1964, page 41

This article also gave me the name of his wife: Mildred Williams Paine (1893-1985). Mildred and John had one child, Robert Valmer Paine (1921-1942) , who was sadly killed in action in World War II.

To find more details about John’s life, I searched GenealogyBank with his name and the keyword “Harwich.”

A screenshot of GenealogyBank's search page showing a search for John Paine and "Harwich"
Source: GenealogyBank

From the results of this search, I found that John’s obituary also appeared in the Boston Record American.

An obituary for John Paine, Boston Record American newspaper article 3 July 1964
Source: GenealogyBank, Boston Record American (Boston, Massachusetts), 3 July 1964, page 6

This article gave me one other interesting detail about John’s life: he edited a history of Harwich which was written by his father, Josiah Paine.

By making a quick search of Google using the search: “history of Harwich, MA + Josiah Paine” I was able to locate the book in question.

Photo: cover of the book "A History of Harwich, Barnstable County, Massachusetts" by Josiah Paine
Source: Google Books

It’s a great day for genealogy!

Genealogy Tip: Using keywords to search obituaries in GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives can help you find specific articles about your family, or locate new relatives who share a common ancestor that you weren’t aware of previously.

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3 thoughts on “Search Historical Obituaries with a Keyword to Find Specific Family Information

  1. looking for history of Oscar William smith, he was my grandfather. he lived in Hinton West Virginia and worked on the railroad. He passed away in 1952. If anyone has information to share, please contact me at- billsmith@suddenlink,net.

  2. Looking for Isaac Comer born abt 1820 in ??? Pennsylvania, married Lavinia died Feb 13, 1881. Cannot fine his birth

  3. William – Thank you for contacting GenealogyBank.com about your search for Oscar William Smith. We would be happy to help you with your search on GenealogyBank.com. You can call our toll free number for assistant. Another search you may try is FamilySearch.org, or call the Hinton West Virginia Library. They may have a collection of newspapers during that time, or they may have information about the family.

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