Episode 429 - NEHGS Researcher’s Supreme Court Passion Project Blows Up! Plus, 19th Century Kidnapping Mystery Solved By DNA

podcast episode Jul 25, 2022

Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. This week, the show begins its 10th year! Thanks so much to all of you who have made this possible! David begins by sharing what he learned about a cemetery he was about to explore. Then, in Family Histoire News, David reveals a new NEHGS database from the War of 1812. It could be a game changer for researchers! Next, a 19 year old has assembled a massive collection of World War II material including uniforms, ephemera, metals, and other treasures. Where is this museum? In his basement! David will tell you more. Connecticut witches are now getting attention after exoneration of witches in other states. Hear about this spellbinding project. Did you know that sliced bread was once illegal? (Honest!) David explains why, when, and where.

Next, Fisher visits with Sarah Dery, Head Researcher at NEHGS and AmericanAncestors. Sarah took on a passion project to better educate herself on African American research. Hoping to simply write a blog about the ancestors of new Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, her findings have blown up! Hear all about it from Sarah.

In Segment 3, Fisher visits with Terri O’Connell, a Chicago woman, who has long known about a kidnapping that took place in her family in the late 19th century. Wouldn’t you know that with DNA… what happened to that kidnapped child is now an open book!

David then returns for another couple of questions on Ask Us Anything.

That’s all this week on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show!


Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Segment 1 Episode 429

Fisher: And welcome America, to America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. I am Fisher, your Radio Roots Sleuth, on the program where we shake your family tree, and watch the nuts fall out. Well, as usual, great guests today. We’re going to be talking to Sarah Dery. She is with the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. She took on a passion project to expand her skills and the whole thing blew up. You’re going to want to hear all about that. Plus, Terri O’Connell from Chicago is here talking about how DNA gave her an answer to a kidnapping that had happened to her family in the 19th century. Hey, if you haven’t signed up for our Weekly Genie Newsletter yet, you know, we talk about this all the time but so many of you have refused to do it! Get on this right now. It’s free! It’s just a blog from me each week, links to past and present shows and links to stories that you’ll appreciate as your family’s historian. Right now, it’s time to head out to Boston, Massachusetts, my good friend David Allen Lambert is standing by. He is the Chief Genealogist there at the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. David, greetings, happy summer to you, my friend!

David: Hey! It would have been an even better day for me today. I was going to go on an adventure with a former co-worker to find a cemetery.

Fisher: Ooh.

David: So, we started digging into it and it turns out, back in the early ‘60s a contractor removed the stones, lost the bones.

Fisher: Ohh!

David: So, it is now a blacktop industrial park.

Fisher: Oh, that’s too bad. That is not fun. That’s not a good way to start our 10th year of Extreme Genes, my friend.

David: Well, I’ve got a good one. Its 210 years in the making. It is now the newest database on American Ancestors and the General Society of the War of 1812, all the membership applications from the year 1854 down to 1979, that’s over 170,000 records to search and it’s for the first 5200 members. I’m excited about it because I’m the registrar for the Massachusetts Society of the War of 1812.

Fisher: This is very big because it’s on your site at AmericanAncestors.org. So, if you’ve got a membership there then this is really easy to search 5200 members, 170,000 records, some of these people I would imagine would be children or grandchildren of the 1812 soldier.

David: Oh, absolutely and a lot of great grandchildren as well.

Fisher: And what’s really fun about these applications too Dave is all the sources that they have to provide over the years to tell us where they got that information. And I would imagine some of it would include family notes and Bible pages, right?

David: Exactly. That’s one of the reasons that a lot of them are more than just four pages, which would be the front and back of page one and two, and page three and four. It includes obviously, the name and the dates, also baptisms, marriage intentions, deaths and burials, even the other family names like spouses and their information is included. So, it’s a great way to start off researching. I wasn’t even aware that I had an ancestor in the War of 1812, until somebody mentioned that my ancestor was 5’4” and wasn’t very tall.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: And I said, how could a 44-year-old be in the War of 1812? And then I realized that I had been looking in the Massachusetts State Troops. He was in the regular US Army. He was an artificer, someone who cared for the cannons if they got broken on the cannon carriages. He got bounty land in 1818, in Illinois. We know he never moved there, but I spent over 30 years researching him, never knowing until recently that he was in the War of 1812.

Fisher: Well, this new database can help other people have the same experience, so good luck with that. What else do you have for us today, David?

David: Well, going a little fast forward to World War II, I want to talk about a young man who is a college student. His name is Adam MacMillan. He’s going to West Chester University and he has a collection in his basement in Cranbury Township, New Jersey, worthy of an actual museum.

Fisher: Really?

David: And this is amazing because he had three great uncles in World War II, local veterans have given him medals, and helmets, and uniforms, and ephemera, and it’s quite amazing. But what he’s done recently, he travelled with Bob Gibson who was a D-Day veteran who was about the same age as Adam. There’s a great story in the Philadelphia Inquirer about their visit to Normandy.

Fisher: Wow! What a great trip and what an experience for a young guy.

David: Exactly. So, if he lives to be in his 90s, just think, he’d be like someone now in their 90s saying that they took care of Civil War veterans at Gettysburg at the 75th or something like that.

Fisher: [Laughs] Something like that. That’s crazy.

David: It’s amazing. Well you know, we’ve been talking about witches. In fact, I just wrote recently about Elizabeth Johnson and vita brevis on American Ancestors who was the last exonerated witch in Massachusetts. Well, let’s go to another New England place. Add a great state of Connecticut, your home state, where they had no problem persecuting witches as well between 1647 and 1697.

Fisher: Right.

David: There are at least 46 people who were accused of witchcraft and 11 in fact, were executed.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: You hear about Salem all the time but not about the ones in Connecticut. Well, Alice Freeman decided to do a little research on Ancestry.com, confirm some family members and now she is working to lead the state of Connecticut to exonerate these 46 individuals.

Fisher: So, it’s just like they had done in Massachusetts. This is really interesting. I guess all the witches are getting a step up right now from all these descendents. I actually had an ancestor who helped the persecution of one of those witches who was executed. It’s crazy when you get into one of those stories and you have a personal connection to it and you just think, man what would that have all been like?

David: Well, you know, I’ve always heard the expression growing up, something is better than sliced bread. You know that sliced bread in World War II was an illegal commodity?

Fisher: No. What’s that about?

David: Let me use the way back machine and go back to 1928, that’s when the machine that first cut bread automatically was created. Well, you may remember as a kid, cut bread in wax paper.

Fisher: Hmm.

David: So, the main reason, they were worried about the wax paper consumption. Needless to say, the housewives were very upset over this and this ban on sliced bread in wax paper ultimately only lasted about three months.

Fisher: During World War II?

David: During World War II, yeah.

Fisher: That’s amazing. That’s a great little story. I had no idea.

David: That’s all I have from Beantown this week. And don’t forget, if you’re not a member of American Ancestors, we’d like to invite you to join and save $20, use the coupon code EXTREME on AmericanAncestors.org.

Fisher: Magnificent David. Thank you so much. We will talk to you at the backend of the show. And coming up next, an NEHGS researcher wanted to expand her skills and her project has just blown up. You’re going to want to hear all about it coming up when we return to Extreme Genes in three minutes.

Segment 2 Episode 429

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Sarah Dery

Fisher: And welcome back to America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth. And my next guest works not too far down the hall from my good friend David Allen Lambert at AmericanAncestors.org the home of course of the New England Historic Genealogical Society. Her name is Sarah Dery. And Sarah is a researcher there, and had this crazy idea in her head that she wanted to learn something more about a different kind of research than she was used to. And Sarah, hi, welcome to the show. It’s great to have you. Tell us about this.

Sarah: Thank you so much for having me. Yes, I am the research and library services manager at NEHGS. I’ve worked there for about five years now, and I help manage a team of about 20 researchers at the society. And this particular project was something that just kind of came to me as I was watching TV. Recently, Ketanji Brown Jackson had taken the oath to become a Supreme Court justice. Her ancestry had never been looked at. She probably knew her grandparents maybe, but nothing else was out there. So, I just wanted to try it to see if I could figure it out.

Fisher: And had you done African American research before? 

Sarah: No. So that was probably the main point. I wanted to see if I could do African American ancestry in Georgia.

Fisher: Ooh.

Sarah: I had never attempted African American ancestry before. And it’s something that’s always been put out there as very difficult. And I would agree that it is very difficult to do.

Fisher: Sure. Yes.

Sarah: So, my goal was to see if I could figure it out and write a blog post through American Ancestors.

Fisher: [Laughs] And it kind of blew up for you, didn’t it?

Sarah: It did, yes. So, it has now turned into two blog posts, an American Ancestors feature magazine article, and a front page article in the Sunday edition of the Boston Globe.

Fisher: [Laughs] That’s kind of crazy, isn’t it?

Sarah: It is. Yeah. We’ve also designed a website with all of my research through AmericanAncestors.org and its blown up, which is amazing.

Fisher: Now, she has a connection to Massachusetts too because she attended Harvard, right?

Sarah: She did. She graduated from Harvard where she met her husband Patrick. Patrick Graves Jackson is her husband and he is old Boston. So he is referred to as a Boston Brahmin.

Fisher: Okay.

Sarah: It’s just an old Boston family that goes back generations. So, he’s affiliated with Boston, him and his family.

Fisher: Yes. Very accessible information on him I would imagine as well. 

Sarah: Yeah. His family goes back multiple generations related to very notable historical figures and that was sort of the juxtaposition of what the article was talking about.

Fisher: Right.

Sarah: Patrick Graves Jackson was very well known. Ancestry Ketanji Brown Jackson not known at all.

Fisher: Not so well. Yeah.

Sarah: Right.

Fisher: So, you went back to Georgia records.

Sarah: I did.

Fisher: And how far back were you able to take the new Supreme Court justice’s lines?

Sarah: So, one line on her paternal side we were able to take back to 1820s where the family was enslaved on a plantation in Georgia. We were able to trace the enslaver and their family, and to see how the enslaved ancestors of Ketanji’s family may have come into possession of this family. So we were able to expand most of the lines back to slavery.

Fisher: Yeah, looks pretty full.

Sarah: Yeah. It was just a matter of trying to connect the enslaved ancestor to an enslaver. And that was the difficult part was trying to find them in specific genealogical records. The Freedmen's Bureau records were a great resource for us.

Fisher: Right.

Sarah: And we were able to find a work agreement from 1867 that listed the enslaver and the enslaved on this work agreement. And it explained what they were going to do with the land and how these ancestors were going to continue to live there and work. It was very interesting to see that type of record for her family.

Fisher: Yeah, I can only imagine. So, what kind of surprises did you find in there? First of all, you’re educating yourself and this starts to expand in both directions; maternal line, paternal line, what did you learn about her ancestors that kind of made you go, wow?

Sarah: There were a lot of things. I think the first thing that was sort of shocking to me was that Georgia did not start civil registration records until 1919.

Fisher: Wow! Yeah. [Laughs]

Sarah: Yeah. So, anything before that, birth, marriage, death records, they’re just not there. So that was difficult. Where we would get back to her grandparents and to make that jump to her great grandparents we tried to look at census records that would show the families together. We noticed that all of her ancestors stay in the same area and they all live around each other, which was great. We were able to kind of categorize the family and trace them from census record to census record. But it was very difficult to find vital records that would list parents or a sibling that might be the informant or something. So, that was sort of the first item that was very tricky to understand. And then the second item would be that we had to contact people on the ground. I became friendly with a lot of town clerks. [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs]

Sarah: And a lot of librarians.

Fisher: I’ll bet.

Sarah: And they were lovely to me, and they were willing to help and they searched records in person and that really helped me throughout this entire process was that I was just checking off the boxes of what was available and where I could find it. And if I needed to call Meghan in the town clerk office, then I would and she would help me. So, that was sort of another part of the process was that yes, I was looking at things online and using all of the available databases, but a large majority of the research had to happen in Georgia. And I physically could not go there so I had to reach out and make friends with everybody.

Fisher: Oh, absolutely. Well, you know, really we’re talking about as we always do the fun of research is you’re trying to find puzzle pieces. I don’t think the reward center of the brain is stimulated any differently than when you’re putting together a jigsaw puzzle, you know?

Sarah: Right.

Fisher: Except in this case you start in the center and you move out and there are no edges, right, it just keeps going and going until you’re stuck. And you’ve really taken this a long, long way. Which puzzle piece would you say was your big “Ah ha!” moment?

Sarah: Oh boy.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Sarah: You know, Ketanji has common surnames in her family.

Fisher: Um hmm.

Sarah: She has Brown, Anderson, Ross, and Green. Those are common names. And all of her ancestors lived in Georgia. They all stayed in the same few counties in Georgia. But I think the “Ah ha” moment was when we were able to expand a few of her lines back to an enslaver. And we were able to see the ancestors’ names on record.

Fisher: Sure.

Sarah: And we were able to see an X above their name that showed their mark on a document. That was sort of the “Ah ha” moment that this was good and we were doing something positive for her to be able to identify where her family came from. You know, a lot of times in her comments and speeches she talks about her family and her ancestry and that she was one generation removed from slavery. And she was. All of her grandparents and great grandparents were born into slavery. So, it’s very interesting to be able to give that information to her, but also to other African American families that are in the same scenario where they want to learn more and they know it’s a difficult past and they’re just kind of stuck and they don’t know where to start.

Fisher: Well, this is fun.

Sarah: So, take it from me, you can do it. [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs] Well, clearly. Yeah. Absolutely. Now the question I guess a lot of people would ask is have you heard from the Supreme Court justice yet?

Sarah: We have not. Like I said, her husband’s family is from Massachusetts, I would imagine that they get the Boston Globe.

Fisher: Sure.

Sarah: But hopefully it makes it to her desk and she’s able to see the work that we’ve been able to put together for her, and hopefully it puts a smile on her face.

Fisher: Absolutely. I would imagine being in the Supreme Court right now, there’s not a lot of smiles going on so this might be a great thing for her to know that somebody took an interest in her and her people and went back and made these discoveries.

Sarah: Um hmm. Yeah. And it just started with her mentioning a Maya Angelou poem in one of her speeches where she talks about being the gift of a slave. And she is the embodiment of hope right now. She’s the first African American woman to be sworn in, and she’s also the first public defender to be sworn in. We’ve never had a public lawyer on the Supreme Court before so she sort of started from nothing, and here she is.

Fisher: Well, this is great. What are you going to do from here now? I mean, you’ve obviously done this to educate yourself a little bit and you’ve had quite a ride out of it. What’s next?

Sarah: Get back to work. [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs]

Sarah: A lot of things have been pushed aside the last four months where I’ve been working on this. And I hope to reconnect with my everyday tasks. Like I said before, I manage a team of 20 researchers.

Fisher: Yeah.

Sarah: And people contact us to help with their ancestry all the time. So I have a really good advantage where I listen to the patron tell us about their family tree, and then I experience the other side of it when we knock down those brick walls through our research team. So, I’m hoping to get back to work and as far as a big project, I don’t have anything on my plate.

Fisher: [Laughs]

Sarah: Just kind of ride this wave I guess.

Fisher: Yes. It will appear when it appears, right, your next thing.

Sarah: Yes.

Fisher:  That’s so great. Congratulations Sarah. That’s a lot of fun and we look forward to hear more from you somewhere down the line.

Sarah: Thank you.

Fisher: And coming up next, an ordinary person with an extraordinary find, a 19th century kidnapping solved by DNA, when we return in five minutes.  

Segment 3 Episode 429

Host: Scott Fisher with guest Terri O’Connell

Fisher: One of the crazier stories I’ve heard in a while came to my attention through a woman in Chicago. Her name is Terri O’Connell. Twenty one years a genie, and Terri, welcome to Extreme Genes! I’m really excited to share this story with everybody because it’s incredible. At what point in your research did you discover that you had a kidnapping in your family?

Terri: I’ve probably known most of my genealogical time. It was a story that my grandmother and her sisters always talked about. They always wondered what happened to Harry, who was their mother’s brother.

Fisher: And Harry was how old when he was kidnapped?

Terri: He was an infant. This was the late 1890s. He was born roughly between 1895 and 1898 in Ohio. So, after Harry was born his mother Suzie had to go into the hospital. There’s many different stories as to why she went into the hospital, but she went into the hospital and her husband John was bringing Harry back and forth to the hospital to nurse daily. In doing so, he couldn’t work. He couldn’t provide for his family. So, he went next door to Suzie’s best friend who had just lost a baby and asked her if she would care for the baby and if she would wet-nurse for the baby, and she agreed. Every day he would wake up in the morning, he would go over and check on the baby and make sure that this woman had everything she needed then he would go to work and, you know, go about his day. And every day everything was fine. On the day Suzie was due to come home from the hospital, he got up and went to go check on the baby and the house was empty.

Fisher: Oh, my gosh! So, this has been a mystery now for 120 years or so, and along comes our good friend DNA.

Terri: Right. So, this past March I have a cousin Tim, who lives in Tennessee and he descends from this family as well, and he found something rather odd in his DNA.

Fisher: Okay.

Terri: He found this match and this match had all these Norwegian names, except for one and it happened to be Hilton, which was Harry’s last name.

Fisher: Oh, wow! Okay, so the match had other people who had Hilton on their tree, and that’s how he was able to figure out that this might be the connection you were looking for all these years?

Terri: Well, when he found it he was very adamant. I really don’t think it has to do with the missing baby. He sent me an email saying, go in your DNA matches, look for this gentleman John and take a look at his tree, then come back and tell me what you think. And I emailed him back and I’m like, Oh my gosh, the missing baby! And he was like, “No, I don’t think it’s him.” I was so excited but it was March and March is my big time because I focus on Irish research. So, I really didn’t have time to play with DNA, and we went back and forth through emails. And Tim was a trooper all month kept going and looking for records, trying to find things, and every once in a while he would email me a little update. Well, just after St. Patrick’s Day passed I got another email from him and it said, “Hey, I’m back to thinking we’re on to the missing baby here.” And I’m like, Oh my gosh, that’s cool. Keep me updated. I’m still really busy. He was like, okay, that’s cool.

Fisher: Right. [Laughs]

Terri: So, another week or so passed and I happen to have gotten sick from being overworked through March. I was sitting on my couch and I was like, I should go take a look at all this DNA stuff and see what I can find because obviously I’m intrigued. We have this 120 year old kidnap case, everybody wants to know what happened to poor Harry and it’s unfolding in front of us.

Fisher: Sure.

Terri: So, I pulled up my tree and I went and looked at this gentleman John who is now our genetic cousin. I mean we’re just trying to fit him in.

Fisher: What is the relationship for John? Have you figured that out or what is it predicted by Ancestry?

Terri: Um, I want to say John might be like a second cousin.

Fisher: That would be about right, I mean for that time period especially if you sharing great grandparents.

Terri: Right. So, I looked at John’s tree and I thought, okay, so I know that we’re matching on the sly. Obviously, it’s going to be the Hilton DNA because that’s the only other name in John’s tree that’s going to connect to my tree and it’s going to connect to Tim’s tree as well.

Fisher: Sure.

Terri: Now, here’s the interesting part. So, John and I share the Hilton DNA, and we’re sharing the Scarlinger DNA, but Tim, the cousin who found all this only shares the Hilton DNA, though, he also descends from that Scarlinger line as well.

Fisher: Well, you’re not sharing it. That’s all it means. You didn’t inherit the same DNA.

Terri: Right, exactly. So, without the two of us, we wouldn’t have been able to put it together.

Fisher: Yeah. So, now have you been in touch with John and have you figured out who Harry was, what the new name was?

Terri: [Laughs] So, we have emailed with John back and forth, Tim and myself. So, this is what we know of Harry’s life. Harry moved to Iowa. The woman that he put down as his next of kin we are assuming is the woman that took him. The name isn’t the same but it looks close.

Fisher: Sure.

Terri: He never changed his name. He went by Harry Hilton.

Fisher: He went by Harry Hilton the whole time? How did he even know his name? They must have told him obviously.

Terri: [Laughs] So, we were like, okay, this makes absolutely no sense. Who kidnaps a child and doesn’t change his name, especially as a baby?

Fisher: Yeah. [Laugh] who does kidnap.... so did you find them in the census records? What is that showing?

Terri: So, there’s been a couple of records that Tim has found. He’s been on that search and he’s found some military stuff like draft cards. I don’t think he found them in the census yet. The only thing that we can figure out is that because of this woman who took him, was best friends with Suzie, and according to family stories the only thing that comforted her about Harry being gone, was that she knew he was loved.

Fisher: Um hmm. Yes.

Terri: So, on the flip side, my thought process is that she really loved Suzie so much that she also just loved this baby, and after losing her own, couldn’t give up another.

Fisher: Of course.

Terri: She probably just told him that maybe his parents died and she promised to take care of him.

Fisher: Oh, that makes sense. Yeah, your parents died, I’m taking care of you and your real name is this. Okay.

Terri: Yes. It’s the only thing that makes sense to me.

Fisher: Yeah, that does make sense. That would fit very nicely, but to find him in the family grouping in the 1900 census, the 1910 census before he’s an adult. I mean, that would be really interesting to see, wouldn’t it?

Terri: It would and I have to go look. I know I have a ton of emails from Tim of the things he found when we were going through this, last March. It would be very interesting because we do have addresses from the draft cards.

Fisher: Sure.

Terri: And we know that he was career military. The first marriage didn’t last. John’s family story tells us that Harry did marry again and there are other children out there. We just haven’t found them yet.

Fisher: You just haven’t found them yet. Have you seen photographs of him yet?

Terri: Of Harry? We have.

Fisher: Wow! What was that like the first time you laid eyes on the picture of the baby that was kidnapped?

Terri: I can’t remember if it was a military picture or not, but my cousin sent it to me and he sent it with a picture of another one of the Hilton brothers. And they all have this like little point in their eyebrow.

Fisher: Okay. [Laughs] That’s the distinguishing feature, huh, the little point in the eyebrow.

Terri: It is and Harry totally had it.

Fisher: Okay. And he was a full brother to the others, so that’s really interesting.

Terri:  Yeah. But what is really weird, so John and Suzie, all of their kids are registered, all their births in Ohio, and I found them, but Harry’s is not.

Fisher: Ha! But you’ve got the DNA, so you know for a fact there’s no question as to who his parents were.

Terri: We’ve got the DNA. Yeah. Unless, the only other way it could go is if John had an affair with one of Suzie’s siblings.

Fisher: Yes.

Terri: That would be the only other way he could have both of the DNA.

Fisher: Uh, yes that would be true, I suppose. Nonetheless, it would come in a little differently though. The DNA match would be off if that were the case.

Terri: Yes.

Fisher: I don’t think that would be it. You know, that’s really cool. A 120-year-old cold-case solved by DNA, and just by an ordinary person with an extraordinary find. Well done! I’m impressed Terri.

Terri: Thank you. The family feels the same way. They’re like, we can’t believe that you guys figured this out. [Laughs]

Fisher: [Laughs] Well, it’s been part of your family lore for literally over a century, and now we have these amazing tools that you could do this stuff with, and really anybody can learn how to do it. It’s an amazing process and so much fun and it’s life changing, that’s the thing.

Terri: It really, truly is.

Fisher: Terri thanks so much for coming on and sharing your story. I really appreciate it.

Terri: Oh, thanks for having me.

Fisher: And coming up next, David Allen Lambert returns as we go through another round of Ask Us Anything, answering your questions on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show in three minutes.  

Segment 4 Episode 429

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: All right, back on the job here at Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth with David Allen Lambert from the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. Dave, or first question today comes from Randal in Darien, Connecticut and he writes, "Fisher and Dave, I have a clipping of a death notice of my great grandfather. It was in an envelope, but that was it. He lived in a small town and I surprised there wasn't anything more. Any suggestions?" Yeah.

David: Well, first off, there may have been more things in that envelope. Did one of your cousins get to it before you?

Fisher: Yeah.

David: Small towns usually, at least long ago had very extensive obituaries. But it's not just a death notice which could occur when the paper was going to press. Your ancestor may have died and they would probably follow it up with a longer obituary the next week.

Fisher: Right.

David: Who knows what they did with that. Did it go in the family bible? Did it just happen to get lost? Did they not buy the paper that week? I mean, for whatever reason that could be one of it. But there's also other parts, the person's last days that you would find in the paper. Now, first off, if the person had taken ill or was killed in an accident, you may find something in the newspaper about the accident or their illness before the obituary or death notices were even recorded.

Fisher: Sure.

David: Then of course you have the death notice. Like I said before, it could be when somebody is quickly getting notice out to family and friends or the community that someone had died and there's going to be a funeral shortly. Then you get your obituary, especially with small town papers, you're usually going to get something that's front page news or in a typical section in the paper. But you also get other things. After the funeral has occurred, you may actually get who was there, what flowers were there.

Fisher: [Laughs]

David: You know, it's always amazing to know what roses and daisies were put on the casket, but you don't get the maiden name of the sister in law that you've been looking for, for years who's there with her husband. [Laughs]

Fisher: Right.

David: And then lastly, you could get something that would be a card of thanks that is often published in the newspaper, thanking people for their sympathy and for flowers and being so kind to the family during that time. So you could find a variety of things other than just a death notice or a typical obituary. And where do you want to start for that? You want to start looking online. No better place with over 770 million pages already indexed and imaged, Newspapers.com by Ancestry.

Fisher: Yeah, I mean this is a great ad for that.

David: It really is, but it's a great database.

Fisher: No question. And there are other places as well that have different papers that may be from the same town. You can also find it online for free at ChroniclingAmerica.LOC.gov. And you know, when you consider how many places now are putting out images of newspapers. I know for instance in Utah, they have done a great job digitizing theirs and its available through the state of Utah. So that's free online for you to find obituaries and all kinds of colorful material there as well. Here's the other thing too and that is, if you aren't able to find those things through the usual databases online, some of these things have not yet been digitized or indexed. So you can go to a local archive and grab the microfilm and start going through that.

David: Or you can get the old newspaper morgue books, which are the large bound editions of the papers. Unfortunately, newspapers after the 1890s to the 1930s are on wood pulp.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: And sometimes when you turn those pages, you get multiple copies in your hand, because it just disintegrates. So maybe you need to wait for it to be digitized, but you may be able to work with an archivist locally, so you can find what need.

Fisher: Yeah. So there are so many different places that you can go to, to give these newspaper things. If you already have the dates, that's when it's really helpful, because then if you're actually going to go to some paper archive, then you can go to the exact dates that you're looking for. So, thanks for that question, Randal. We appreciate it. We've got another question coming up next when we return with Ask Us Anything on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show in three minutes.

Segment 5 Episode 429

Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert

Fisher: All right, back at it on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. We're doing Ask Us anything. I'm Fish, that's Dave. And Dave, our second question today come from Austin, Texas, it's from LaRae. And she says, "Hello boys." Hello LaRae. "I have some Quakers who go back to Guilford County, North Carolina. Where might I find some records of my people there?"

David: Ooh. Well, if she's looking for church records, which I would assume the first thing she needs.

Fisher: Yeah.

David: I would take a look at FamilySearch.org. You never know what may already be digitized at your fingertips or available at an affiliate library near you or at a family history library.

Fisher: We should mention also, Dave, that Quaker records are fantastic! [Laughs]

David: Oh, absolutely fantastic!

Fisher: They are accessible. They go way back, many of them go from North Carolina back to New England. My wife had people in Pasquotank County, North Carolina. But they will not only say the names of all the people in the family and when they were born and when they died and when they got married and where, but if they go move someplace, they're going to make mention of that. And if they came in from somewhere, they will say where they came from. If they're going out somewhere, they'll say where they are going. And they do that with approval of the local pastor. So, at the end of the day, you are in such great luck that you have this Quaker ancestry.

David: You know, and I’ll tell you, go to Ancestry.com. There’s a collection of Quaker meeting records from 1681 to 1935. There’s 7.6 million searchable names.

Fisher: Yeah. And so, the Quaker families are really pretty easy to put back together and trace back pretty much to their Quaker roots. And you know, Dave, last week I think we were talking a little about the double dates, do you remember that?

David: Oh sure.

Fisher: Boy we see that all the time in the Quaker records.

David: Absolutely. And the other thing you find with Quakers and you know how much I love cemeteries, the Quakers believed in very simplistic cemetery markers. Sometimes not even with names on them. Sometimes they’re just white marble or small slate markers. That way, it didn’t differentiate one member of the meeting versus somebody else.

Fisher: Right, right, right. I get that. So, basically you don’t have the leaders with a glorious tombstone and somebody else with very little. So they were all kind of the same. They were very humble people and they did a great job with their record keeping. And so, once again, you’re really, really lucky to have those. I think I’ve taken my wife’s side back at least four to five generations from North Carolina back to the beginning in the roots in New England when they came over from there. And then back to England, too. The English did a pretty good job with the Quakers.

David: Oh yeah. And the non conformist English records dealing with Quakers go back into the 16th century. I have Quakers from New Hampshire and a couple of them I can trace back, back into England. It’s amazing.

Fisher: Yeah. And there are a lot of letters that survived. For instance, people would be on missions over there for the Quaker faith. So there’s some very well known people and descriptions of persecution and things they went through over there and successes they had. I’m just absolutely continually amazed by the history that you can find with Quaker ancestors.

David: Very true. And I’ll tell you, you talk about persecution within the faith itself. If you got in trouble within the Quaker meeting, that page is very lengthy with lots of detail, especially if you’re drummed out of the meeting or even better yet, if you arrive to a meeting from another place, you may find out where they came from before they settled in the town that you’ve taken for granted that they’ve always been there.

Fisher: Yeah, yeah there’s so much stuff to be found there. So get on it and good luck with that Loray and thank you for the question. Of course we’ll do more this next week on Ask Us Anything. Dave thanks so much for joining us. We’ll see you then.

David: All right, my friend, until then.

Fisher: Well, I think that covers us for this week. Thanks to Sarah Dery from the New England Historic Genealogical Society for coming on and talking about her amazing discoveries concerning the background of Supreme Court Justice, Ketanji Brown Jackson. Also to Terri O’Connell of Chicago talking about how DNA solved the mystery of the kidnapped baby that’s been in her family since the late 19th century. Unbelievable! If you missed any of it, of course catch the podcast. All you have to do is say, “Alexa, play Extreme Genes.” And we’re right there. Hey, we’ll talk to you next week. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we’re a nice, normal family!


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