March 28, 2013

Small town Newspapers -- Read the social items

Many small town newspapers reported the comings and goings of locals, perhaps an item about their dog running away, what they served their guests for dinner.  Those things do add up to a broader picture of the times, local traditions and your family plus their neighbors.

But an item like this from Catskill, NY can prove most helpful.

                          Leonard Hopkins of NYC was a recent guest 
                                   of his sister Mrs. Harry Allchin

Not only does it provide her maiden name, but links her with a brother.

As more and more small papers are being digitized, stay on the lookout for these tidbits regarding the families you are researching.

March 18, 2013

DIgitized Newspapers: A Wonderful Resource

I am finding that the more I search old newspapers, the more good information I am finding.  In particular, they can be helpful for that period between 1880 and 1900  -- a missing census, lack of vital records in many areas. What I’ve come to learn is that you should search for your target person but also for their immediate family members.

I had found a reference to the Putnam County, NY family of Lewis Ludington and his wife Polly Townsend indicating that their daughter Emily had married Philip Rountree. In the census records of 1860, 1870 and 1880  she was single, living with family members in Carmel, NY.  In the 1891 Michigan obituary of her brother James. she was listed as: Mrs Philip Rountree, formerly of Milwaukee, now resident of San Francisco.

But what really confused me is that she is buried in the family plot at the Raymond Hill Cemetery as Mrs Victor Tull.  I checked Family Search, websites about the Ludingtons, the Putnam County newspapers, but I found nothing that helped me.

Eventually I decided to search for the second husband, Victor E Tull, and that’s when I found an 1892 Santa Cruz, Calif marriage record for Victor and MRS EMILY ROUNTREE.  That confirmed to me that she was indeed Emily Ludington – and I assumed she had been widowed. I still could not find the elusive Mr Rountree. He was not buried at the Raymond Hill Cemetery.

March 7, 2013

Were Your Ancestors Good Employers?

While searching old newspapers for a family member’s death notice, I happened upon a long obituary for Irish immigrant William Weir (1826-1921).  Having been the oldest resident of Carmel, NY when he died at age 95, William was given a prominent final story on the front page of the Putnam County Courier.  He was not a member of the family I was searching for -- but had long been their property manager.

What struck me was that he held that position with the family from 1856 until 1913, a span of 57 years !!! That would indicate to me that the Ludingtons treated him well-- and, of course, that William did his job very well.   

When is the last time you heard of anyone keeping one employer for that long?  Another nice way to learn something about ancestors indirectly.