Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Obituaries/Death Notices

The more dancing with the ancestors I do, the more I learn. Go figure. Ha! Seriously, I just sort of stumble along, finding what I find, and discovering new ways to find information as I go along. Yeah, I know, I could buy a how to book about genealogy and make dancing with the ancestors a wee bit easier. I didn't, I haven't, and maybe one day I will. For now, I kind of like this stumbling along willy-nilly.

Anyhow, what I discovered recently was . . . obituaries and death notices are a great source of information.

Recently I went out to CA to visit a first cousin on my dad's side and go through old, I'm talking some of them over 100 years old, family photos, letters, and whatnot! Included in the whatnot was a bunch of death notices various relatives had saved over the years. Woo-hoo!

In reading the obituaries/death notices, I found out that my great-great grandparents were Presbyterians and that my great-grandparents were Methodist, and that my grandmother's family was Church of Christ. Talk about some religious disparity. And, my great-great grandmother's family was, at some point, Baptist. Oy! So, down the line, probably through the marriages, the religious affiliation changed somewhat. My father, the son of a Methodist father and Church of Christ mother, actually went to both churches every Sunday and, just to be a bit of an overachiever, went to the Catholic and Episcopalian churches every now and then since he had friends in those churches, and to the synagogue. 

I also learned that great Aunt Euphemia had, by 1935 when her half-sister Olive Mae died, remarried . . . for the third time. How did I learn this? Why, let me just type out a snippet of the death notice . . .

She is survived by her daughter Mrs. Martha Smith of Nashville, and six sisters, Mrs. Mary Clark and Mrs. J. F. Bridwell of Chester, PA; Mrs. J. C. Morgan of St. Louis; Mrs. C. B. Hoffman, Mrs. J. F. Mitchell and Mrs. Clara E. Smith of Nashville.

In order of appearance the sisters are . . . Mary "Mollie" Smith-Clark, Francis Ida Smith-Bridwell, Euphemia Smith-Cofer-Hock-Morgan, Octavia Smith-Hoffman, Osie Lee Smith-Mitchell (my grandmother), and Clara Smith (she never married, but the newspapers always seem to put the Mrs in front of female names). 

So, by having the death notice, I was able to figure out Aunt Euphemia's third marriage and, hopefully, that information will help me track her a bit further. Hopefully!

The death notice of my Aunt Octie (that's what I called her) husband listed his sisters. Using that information, I was able to track down his parents name, as well as who his sisters married. Woo-hoo! 

So, when dancing with the ancestors don't discount the obituaries/death notices. They can be a treasure trove of information that just might help you trace your family back a bit farther.

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