You can collect names, dates of events, and places for only so long before you yearn to know more about your ancestor’s story. When there just are not many folks left to pose your questions to, you will certainly wish you had been more interested earlier when the right people were around to share with you. All may not be lost though if pieces of your ancestor’s story were captured in the local newspaper. Hopefully, the following finds will encourage you to begin your own newspaper research journey.
Newspaper articles can fill in missing details about your ancestor’ education, residence, employment, and travels. The article, “Holmes Resided Here,” gives the details about each of these. Thomas H. Holmes, an American mining engineer from Chihuahua, graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology once lived in Washington, D. C. His former residence is given. In three short paragraphs you learn about his education, where he lived and much more.
Most people researching their family history search for obituaries in newspapers, but how many think to look for the memoriam one year after ancestor’s death? “In Memoriam,” was published on December 18, 1920, exactly one year after the death of Melissa Johnson Gordon. It names her children and their spouses.
When an estate is probated, you can often find a notice that was required to be published in the paper. Emma Campbell died on Oct 2, 1918 without naming an executor of her estate. The probate notice in the newspaper shows that her son, Fred, filed a petition to be named executor. It is wonderful to find these probate notices because they point directly toward probate records that can be found online or in the courthouse or archives where you can learn more. You should search the newspaper for probate notices as readily as you search obituaries for family members.
The next event to document on the timeline after your ancestor’s death and births of children would be marriage. Remember more events planned around the marriage could also have received publicity such as a pre-nuptial, engagement party, or reception. Miss Helen Morton Young and Miss California Marion Wilson were honored at a dinner given by Mrs. L. B. Jorgenson of Los Angeles in April of 1909. Miss Young was visiting friends, and this dinner would have given her the chance to see more of them. Miss Wilson was being honored due to her marriage to Mr. Ellis Paul Gray.
In this particular case, the article was more a notice about the dinner party rather than a marriage announcement. You might find a photo of the bride and groom in an engagement notice or marriage announcement.
Did your ancestor play a sport in school? If so, you will definitely search the sport section of newspapers for mentions. In “Coleville Defeats Oroville,” Coleville beats Oroville 22-0 on Oroville’s turf. The manager, coach, team members and the positions they played are all mentioned. Wouldn’t it be great to collect the articles from the sports section that highlight your ancestor and the team they played on?
What details have you discover about your ancestor in the newspaper?