Family History Finds: Finding Your Ancestors in the Newspapers

Newspapers are an incredible resource for learning details about your ancestors’ lives. Simple searches can yield surprising insights. Expanded searches might result in genealogical breakthroughs. Check out these real-life discoveries from™.

The Indiana Weekly Messenger: April 19, 1893

Mystery Solved: One researcher sought details on an ancestor for months. Anna Miller was orphaned at age four and raised by an aunt. They moved from Pennsylvania to Idaho, but at age 12, Anna disappeared from the records. After an exhaustive search, the family discovered a marriage announcement for Anna. It was published in a Pennsylvania newspaper in 1892 (even though Anna hadn’t lived in Pennsylvania for more than a decade). Anna sent wedding announcements to old friends in Pennsylvania, and the local paper reported the news. The article named her new husband – Fred G. Mock. With that new detail, Anna’s descendants discovered another newspaper in Idaho announcing the “Death of Mrs. F. G. Mock.” The announcement referred to Anna by her husband’s name. Following the trail of clues found in newspapers led to answers in the life of Anna Miller. 

The Morning News: August 23, 1909

Family Reunion Treasure: Talk about striking genealogical gold! The Pierson family from Delaware held a family reunion in 1909. The local paper reported on the reunion and named all 325 attendees, even charting how they were all related! 

Newspapers Reveal Ancestor’s Death 2000 Miles from Home: David McKissick from New Alexandria, Pennsylvania, appeared in the 1850 Census as a 20-year-old man. Despite extensive searches, he wasn’t found in any more Pennsylvania records. While searching™, McKissick’s descendant discovered an article published in the Sacramento Bee in 1876. It said a newly arrived traveler died in a hotel, and when searching his belongings, they discovered a letter to David McKissick from “The Old Home” in New Alexandria. This tip led family members to California probate records, where they found proof that David McKissick was their ancestor. They had no idea David had traveled 2,000 miles from home!

Family Bible Records in the Paper: Wish you could track down the family bible? The Wade family discovered answers to their family history mystery when records from an ancestor’s family bible were published in a 1904 Maryland newspaper. The records dated back to the 1700s and revealed answers to birth dates, death dates, and family marriages.

The Daily News: October 27, 1913

Breaking Through Brick Walls: Have you hit a brick wall in your genealogy? Your immigrant ancestor may have changed their name after arriving in America. Or, you may want to learn where your immigrant ancestors came from. A search in the newspaper might reveal clues that take you back to the old country. In 1913, the Volturno ocean liner caught fire in the North Atlantic and sank. A young immigrant, Joseph Zelotske, was on board after returning from a visit to his homeland of Croatia. Zelotske survived, and this newspaper clipping provided information, including that his wife and four children remained in the old country. These are priceless details for genealogists.

Making Up For the 1890 Lost Census: The loss of the 1890 Census records in a fire is devastating for family historians. Newspapers can fill in the blanks by providing proof of residence, births, deaths, and other family details. The Gelschlichter family lost three children within three weeks during a diphtheria outbreak in 1892. The children were not recorded in census records, and their birth and death records were not found. With this newspaper article, descendants can learn more about the family.

Wilkes-Barre Times Leader: December 23, 1892™ is a fantastic resource for helping uncover your family’s stories. Tell us about your discoveries in the comments below and make new ones today on™!

Share using:

Related Posts

23 thoughts on “Family History Finds: Finding Your Ancestors in the Newspapers

    1. Obituary of Mrs. Warner Stuckey is in The Times-Mail, Bedford, Indiana · Monday, April 03, 1967

    1. Try Put in name, place and year of birth, place and year of death and LOTS of records come up. Good luck!

      1. Walter Wilkinson born 19/05/1896 Kerang Victoria Australia died 12/09/1966 Nyora Victoria

  1. What is the possibility of getting both the Evening News and Tonawanda News from North Tonawanda, NY? The lack of that paper is keeping me from a subscrirr.

    1. Have you tried the local library? Librarians will often search for you, if you can give them enough information to narrow down the years – and a donation to the library helps a lot.

  2. Death record or obituary for: John Cushing [Cushan]
    (b ca 1812) Ireland
    d ca1868. Lived in Rensselaer County NY or Cohoes, District 05, Watervliet, Albany, NY

    Death record or obituary of Elizabeth (Eliza) Kelly Cushing [Cusshin] – spouse of John.
    B ca 1820 Ireland
    D ca 1866 also lived in Rensselaer County NY or Cohoes, District 05, Watervliet, Albany, NY

  3. Need information of my grandfather Ephraim Williams of Harris county Lulu Williams of Harris county their obituary dearth records marriage or birth records

  4. Death of my grandmother Cassie Evelyn Anderson between 1939-1944 in Savannah, Georgia. She was born 1916-1917 in Ohio. Her mother’s name was Jessie Mae Evans.

  5. Hi my name is Danielle and I need help with my family tree, it’s mostly family from Elmira, NY. The Fosters’. I’m the daughter of Paul Foster and Donna Lester. Looking fir anything that I can find out. When I look myself up, I do not find anything. Born in Arnot Ogden Memorial Hospital but have a dept of vital statistics birth certificate.
    Weird. And no school records even though I attended Hendy Avenue elementary school from.1981 – 1982 or 1983. And Michael A. Cohen Elementary from 1984-1987 or 1988. Elmira heights. I lived on Cleveland avenue on the west side but grew up with grandparents from the Court (Hawthorne) off of Davis Highway. Right by the old cemetery and the prison. Any info would be appreciated.

    1. Hi. I live in Connecticut but was born in Rochester, New York. I went to school here in CT. One evening, I went to a ‘meeting’ at the West Haven Historical Society. They had all these booklets that were designated by years. They were our SCHOOL RECORDS. Since I grew up in the 1960’s and 1970’s everything was handwritten in cursive. The attendance and the grade one earned were recorded. The children were listed in two separate columns, with the boys in one column and the girls in the other column. That happened to be the way we lined up in the morning outside before we were called in. I also know that our town LIBRARY keeps high school YEARBOOKS. I also wonder if your town’s Health Department. may have Immunization Records. I didn’t know what year my grandparents were born, so I looked up the cemetery where they were interred. Not only did I find the information that I was looking for, but a whole listing of 20+family members (?cousins–etc)….Good luck with your search. Sincerely, Barbara

    2. “Born in Arnot Ogden Memorial Hospital but have a dept of vital statistics birth certificate.”

      Hospitals might issue an unofficial “birth certificates” as a sort of memento, but the official birth certificates are issued by the state’s Department of Health and kept by its department of vital records.

      Where have you been searching?

  6. Looking for my Aunt Lillie Mae/May Owens, born between 1912-1914, possibly in the Holston District, Smyth or Washington County, Virginia. Her parents were James Wilson Owens and Martha Lucinda Smiley Owens. Last seen in Virginia between 1939-1940. Also, she with a man, Sam Mallin/Mallen/Malin. Thank you.

  7. Just came across this info on Pierson huge family reunion in 1909 in Delaware & have saved to my tree. My husband was Paul Bassett Pierson 1943-2006-Plainfield, N.J.. Don’t know if this will lead to anything but excited to have the chance to look at it. I am Marian Lee Hill Pierson 1941- B Chicago. FIL was Kenneth Belden Pierson 1916-2006 N.J.

Comments are closed.