Sunday, January 11, 2009

A Great Newspaper Find and Tips for Searching

In the spring of 2005 I ran across the following:

From Geneva Advertiser 19 June 1894

(Abstracted from classified Legal Notices)

Malantha Marsh, Wallace Hall and Lyman Baker, Phelps, N. Y.
Mary Crittenden, Ypsilanti, Mich.
Charles Holman, Owasso, Mich.
Hattie Weston, Alma, Mich.
E. Burt Garlock, Jefferson City, Missouri
Cyrus Garlock, Mary C. Garlock, W. F. Garlock, Port Gibson, N. Y.
Christina Densmore and Reuhama Corbin, Albion, N. Y.
Howard Burt, Newark, N. Y.
J. Hall Burt, West Kendall, N. Y.
Harriet Briggs, Jamestown, N. Y.
Almira Sweet, Oil City, Pa.
Roswell Baker, Knowlesville, N. Y.
Alice Jeffery, Tehama, Cal.
Benjamin F. Myers, Ithaca, Mich.
Hannah Carlisle, Sioux City, Iowa
Othniel Hall, Comfort Hall, Jessie Baker, Evelyn Hibbard, Porter Grover, Caroline P. Whitney, Percy Cook, Minard Cook, John Cook, and all others, heirs at law and next of kin of LAURA CARTER, deceased.

Ann Lawson, Augusta, N. Y.
Caroline Field, Geneva, N. Y.
Mary E. Tulett, Anna W. Tulett, Laura L. Tulett and Clarence E. Tulett, all of the Town of Fayette, N. Y.,
who are interested, as creditors, next of kin, heirs at law, legatees, or otherwise, in the estate of LAURA CARTER. late of the town of Geneva, Ontario County NY.

Some kind soul had transcribed this and put it on the web for me to find! I have bolded the two names that jumped out at me, two of my great-grand-aunts, daughters of David Glover and Tamesin Hall. I had no idea who Laura Carter might be but I noticed several other Hall's and there was Roswell Baker who had been in my tree for years as an unrelated person that I knew was somehow tied to the Carlisle family.

From this small item in an old paper I was eventually able to fill in several generations of the descendants of of Capt. William Hall and Reuhama Andrews/Andros. I never would have looked at the will of Laura Carter had I not found this one small mention in an old newspaper.

The draw back to newspaper research is that you find out very few good things. Happy items make the paper far less often than sad times. Births merit a quick line - son born to, weddings and anniversaries get a nice write up if the family submitted the information. But mostly you find death notices, accident reports and arrests. All of these are wonderful for filling in and untangling family lines but often make me sad.

Since finding this I have been hooked on newspaper searches. The newspaper article above was transcribed. Here are some tips for searching old newspapers online:

  • When searching old papers be sure to use every conceivable spelling of a surname.

  • Search by known addresses. In my husband's family some of the family homes were passed down through the family for 100 years. You may find spelling variations this way that otherwise wouldn't occur to you.

  • Be sure to put your search terms in quotes, ie: "500 Carbon". Do not include St., Ave., or Rd. as sometimes they may have been spelled out and other times omitted.

  • The optical readers that search engines use sometimes get hung up on old and faded type so use creative searches. 500, 506, and 509 may all look the same to the search engine. When looking for articles about my Hollington family I found twice as many articles by changing the i to l - Holllngton. Interchange a, e, and o to generate more hits. Try interchanging the number 0 and the letter o.

  • Try search first by given and surname, then add a middle initial, add the middle name and then begin again with surname and given name, etc.

  • In small town papers search for just a surname with various spellings. This can have big payouts in in city papers. Most of the Grabowski's in Syracuse are related but when searching just by surname I restrict the number of years I'm searching to making sorting through all of the hits manageable.

  • If you still do not find the marriage notice or obituary you are seeking you can try searching for terms like were wed, wedding, death, funeral, etc but restrict the dates of the search as much as possible. I have had only limited success searching this way.

A slightly different version of this post first appeared at The Apple Doesn't Fall Far From the Tree on 2 January 2006. Since that time I have learned how to create links ;-), I no longer have a subscription to and wish I could afford it again, and I have added some more tips for searching.


Tex said...

Your tip about searching newspapers by address is one of the best I've found, too. It's just amazing how many times addresses were published in earlier newspapers and searching by address will pick up misspelled names and more. As you say, you do have to think about how the address is printed--are the numbers are spelled out and/or the direction--NW or northwest.

Creativity--the lifeblood of genealogists.

Miriam Robbins said...

Thanks for the tips on newspaper searches, Apple. I just signed up (again) for GenealogyBank.

Anonymous said...

Awesome blog. I love the scanned images you have. Just wish there were more hours in my neck muscles (I mean days). Very interesting.

Charley "Apple" Grabowski said...

Tex - Having my husband's relatives pass the houses down through the generations really helped fill in the generations.

Miriam - I've never tried GenealogyBank. Right now I'm saving my pennies so I can return to Michigan. Perhaps I'll try them later in the year.

generationsgoneby - Thanks!