Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 231

Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 231
with Lisa Louise Cooke
July 2019

Listen now, click player below:

Download the episode (mp3)

In this episode:

  • The latest tech news from Google Earth, FamilySearch and MyHeritage
  • Alice’s Story – genealogy research with blogger Julianne Mangin
  • Cemeteries – both for ancestors and their pets

Please take our quick PODCAST SURVEY which will take less than 1 minute.  Thank you!

NEWS:

Google Earth News

Jennifer in California sent me a fascinating item recently , and she says “Thought you might get a kick out today’s blurb from Google, where they pat themselves on the back for what can be done with Google Earth. No argument from me; it’s amazing!”

So, what can be done with Google Earth besides all the family history projects that I teach here on the podcast and in the Premium videos? Well, Peter Welch and Weekend Wanderers in the UK are using Google Earth to find treasure!

Read all about it here
Visit the Weekend Wanderers website

FamilySearch Adds Audio

FamilySearch.org, the free and massive genealogy website from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints  has added a new way for you to add more memories to your tree.

In addition to photos you can now add audio both at the website and the FamilySearch FamilyTree and Memories apps which you can download from your mobile device’s app store.

So now as you’re selecting and uploading family photos to familysearch, you can also gather and record the stories that go with those photos. It’s sort of like being able to write on the back on the photograph, but in an even more personal way.

Your voice, and the voices of your relatives can now be part of your family’s history.

Read the article about adding audio

From the FamilySearch website: “Photos and audio attached to deceased ancestors can be viewed by other users on the FamilySearch Family Tree. To protect privacy, photos and audio attached to living people can be seen only by the person who added the memory unless that person shares the memory or album with another user.”

MyHeritage App update

Among the newly introduced features are Family Timelines, the ability to view family trees that you’re matched with, the ability to choose which information you extract from Smart Matches™, an improved research page, and more. Read all about it here

 

MAILBOX:

We received lots of great feedback on the article 3 Shocking Discoveries I’ve Made While Searching Cemeteries by Joy Neighbors

From Craig: “After finding my Paternal grandfather and great-grandfather, I looked for my Paternal GG Grandfather in the same area. No luck. I went to the R.B. Hayes library in Tiffin, Ohio and started looking at every page in the burial listing for the township I thought he would be in. And there he was – last name misspelled! (The “A” was changed to a “K”.) I was able to drive over to the cemetery and located his stone – still readable after his burial in 1885. I plan to go back to the area this summer to look for his wife, who was buried elsewhere (they were separated.) I wish I could get someone to update the lists with the correct spelling, to match the gravestone and census papers, but that seems impossible to do.”

From Ann:
“My brother Ray says we have visited more dead relatives than live ones. Trying now to visit the relatives above ground!”

From LeRoy:
Spent many hours walking, crawling, pushing through brush brambles and briers just to find and take pictures of tombstones. I regret only one such adventure. If I may. My sweetheart and I went to a small cemetery in New Jersey to gather family names and pictures for Billion Graves and our personal records. While I was taking pictures, my wife was clipping brush and bushes from the stone that identified her families plot.

We had a great day. I filled two clips of pictures and my sweetheart did a magnificent job on that stone. It was only a few hours later, when she started itching that I really “looked” at the pictures and realized that the brush that she cleared from that stone was poison ivy. Wouldn’t have been so bad, but when she found that I’m not affected by poison oak, ivy or sumac. She was not happy.

From Shirley:
I have recently started doing ancestry research and have been astounded at what I have found. No creepy tree stories. However, it is nice to know that some ancestors took special care to by buy family plots even though they knew eventually the girls might marry and want to be buried with their husband. I found it interesting that both my grandfather and my grandmother are both buried with their individual parents.

From Patsy:
Shirley’s  story jogged my memory. My mother died in 1934 when I was 4 years old. She is buried in her father’s plot rather than my paternal grandfather’s plot. I have wondered for years why the burial was arranged that way and imagine all sorts of situations. Were the families feuding? Was one family more financially able to foot the bill. Did my paternal grandfather not like my father? Hmmmm………

From Sharon:
I checked out this book from the local library about a month ago. Decided I needed my own copy. All genealogist should read it. It is very informative & entertaining.

From Marinell:
About 5 years ago I found the farm on which my gr great grandparents were buried. The tall granite marker with the parents’ names had been knocked over, the foot stones stacked and several large rocks were around the monument and it was in the middle of a field that was being planted and harvested. We made contact with the owner and received permission to have it raised.

In the meantime, I found an obituary for a son who was buried on the family farm. I also found an article about a woman who did dowsing, contacted her and she agreed to come perform the dowsing. I was videoing it when my phone went totally dead! I had never had that happen and it was charged. Thirty minutes later it came back on mysteriously!

She found 2 adult women, 2 adult men and three toddlers. After further search I found another obituary for a grown daughter buried there and 3 toddler grandchildren who died in 1882. She said that the large rocks would have marked the graves. Sadly, they had totally desecrated the family cemetery. But I was excited to learn all I did and was startled by the phone totally dying.

The free podcast is sponsored by RootsMagic

RootsMagic

Julianne and her momGEM: Genealogy Research with Julianne Mangin

We first talked to Julianne last year  in Genealogy Gems Podcast episode 219. In that episode we explored the tragic story of Julianne’s ancestors, the Metthe family. It was a riveting case study of the twists and turns that genealogy can take us on.GEM: Checking in with Julianne Mangin

Julianne had originally been a bit of a reluctant genealogist. But after a 30 year career in library science, including 14 years as a librarian and website developer for the Library of Congress in Washington DC, she could couldn’t help but try to find the truther in the piecemeal stories that she was told by her mother.

Julianne has continued to research and write at her Julianne Mangin blog, and I thought it would fun to check back in with her and see what she’s been up to.

Her latest blog series is called Alice’s Story. It follows the path of discovery she followed to uncover the story of a previously unknown aunt.

  1. Alice’s Story Part 1
  2. Alice’s Story Part 2the Exeter School
  3. Alice’s Story Part 3Final Resting Place

The research began where most good genealogical research begins: at the end of Alice’s life and her death certificate.

Institutional Records – But with few records and no first-hand interviews available, Julianne turned to researching the institutions themselves to dig deeper into Alice’s experience.
Resource:
Genealogy Gems Premium Video: Institutional Records (membership required)

State Census Records can help fill in the gaps between the federal census enumerations.  Search for “state census” in the card catalog:

Ancestry State Census

MyHeritage State Census

The free podcast is sponsored by MyHeritage

 MyHeritage

Resource:
State Censuses at the FamilySearch Wiki

“Copies of many state censuses are on microfilm at the Family History Library. The Family History Library’s most complete collections of state censuses are for Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin. However, censuses exist for the following states also: 

ArizonaArkansasCaliforniaColoradoDelawareDistrict of ColumbiaFloridaGeorgiaHawaiiIndianaLouisianaMaineMarylandMichiganMissouriNebraskaNevadaNew MexicoNorth CarolinaNorth DakotaOklahomaOregonRhode IslandSouthCarolinaSouthDakotaTennesseeTexasUtah
VirginiaWashington and Wyoming.

State, colonial, and territorial censuses at the Family History Library are listed in the Place Search of the FamilySearch Catalog under “STATE – CENSUS RECORDS”

Old Postcards are a great resource for images.
Resources:
Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast episode 16 and episode 76 feature strategies for finding family history on ebay. (Genealogy Gems Premium Membership required)

 

Become a Genealogy Gems Premium eLearning Member
Gain access to the complete Premium podcast archive of over 150 episodes and more than 50 video webinars, including Lisa Louise Cooke’s newest video The Big Picture in Little Details.
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Institutional Annual Reports – Julianne searched for annual reports to the Legislature for more details on the various institutions where Alice resided.
Resources:
Library of Congress Catalog

WorldCat.org
Google Books

Old Newspapers offered a counterbalance to the annual reports.
Resources:
Genealogybank

Newspapers.com
MyHeritage

“The institutions were like characters in the story.”

Also mentioned in this interview:
The Rhode Island Historic Cemetery Commission
Julianne’s Pet Cemetery Stories blog
Rags, War Hero

BAckblaze

You worked really hard on your family history – protect it with the Cloud backup service that Lisa uses: Backblaze.com/Lisa

Download the Show Notes PDF in the Genealogy Gems Podcast app. 

Guion Miller Roll for Native American Research

Today is the last day that the Native American records collections is available for free on Fold3.com. Many American families have a tradition of Native American ancestry. Here are some helpful tips when researching the Guion Miller Roll at Fold3.com.

guionmillerroll_featureimage_attributionneeded

Pub. by Standard Souvenirs & Novelties, Inc., Knoxville, TN. Courtesy of Boston Public Library via Flickr.com.

Purpose of the Guion Miller Roll

In our most recent post, “Eastern Cherokee Applications for Native American Research,” we shared how to find and use the Eastern Cherokee Applications at Fold3.com. Today’s post is on the Guion Miller Roll. It is a list of those who were eligible after having filled out the Eastern Cherokee Application. These eligible persons were made into a list and that list, or roll, is called the Guion Miller Roll.

Looking to see if your ancestor is found on the Guion Miller Roll is important because information on this roll is later than the information in the Dawes Rolls. New information (like names of additional family members) in the Guion Miller Roll may not have been on the Dawes Rolls. Additionally, not finding a targeted ancestor listed with their family on the later Guion Miller Roll could also narrow down a date of death.

Fold3.com has the Guion Miller Roll online and has titled it Guion Miller Roll. Ancestry.com also has this list, but at Ancestry it is called U.S., Records Related to Enrollment of Eastern Cherokee by Guion Miller, 1908-1910.

Insights into the Guion Miller Roll Publication

Take a look at the titles under the publication of Guion Miller Roll at Fold3.com.

If you are not a member of Fold3.com, you will first need to go to www.fold3.com. Click in the center of the homepage where it says Free Access to Native American Records. Next, on the left you will see Records from Archives. Go ahead and click that.

From the list now showing on your screen, choose Guion Miller Roll.

Native American records include Guion Miller Roll

Scroll to the bottom and click Learn more at the bottom right. You will be directed to a new screen. At this new screen, click Browse by title, over to the right.

guionmillerroll_2

You are directed to the publication titled Guion Miller Roll, and there is a list of five categories.

Let’s take a look at the list:

Fold3 offers the Guion Miller Roll

The categories under the Guion Miller Roll publication are:

  1. General Index to Eastern Cherokee
  2. Indexes, Rolls of Eastern Cherokee
  3. Miscellaneous Testimony Taken Before
  4. Report Submitted by Guion Miller
  5. Roll of Eastern Cherokee and Report On

Some of these publication titles are duplicates of other publication titles on Fold3. See this helpful image below:

guionmillerroll_new

Duplicates can actually be beneficial. As an example, in the last title called the Roll of Eastern Cherokee And Report on Exceptions, With Supplemental Roll (the title has been shortened on your screen, but that is the full name) there is something you may not have realized. This title is the same thing as the title Roll of Eastern Cherokees in the Eastern Cherokee Applications publication. Why would Fold3 have two of the same thing? There is one exception between these two nearly buy prescription medication online uk identical groups of records. The exception is: Eastern Cherokee Applications>Roll of Eastern Cherokees indicated in the top part of the image, has the roll numbers cut off in some of their digital images. In other words, if you had only looked at that one and not the Roll of Eastern Cherokee and Report on Exceptions, With Supplemental Roll under the Guion Miller publication, you would have missed that.

From time to time, a digital copy will be made of a record set that ends up being too dark, too blurry, or too crooked. When this happens, some of the information on the record will be cut off or simply not readable. It’s great when there is a second set of digital images because hopefully the second copy will not have these problems. As in all things, if there is ever more than one copy of something, check them both! You never know how they may differ in quality of copy.

Miscellaneous Testimony Taken Before

This title, Miscellaneous Testimony Taken Before, under the publication of Guion Miller Roll is filled with hints and clues for your genealogy story. I think it has been my most important find in the Guion Miller Roll publication.

Testimony relating to the Guion Miller Roll

Testimony relating to the Guion Miller Roll.

The testimonies are broken up into ten volumes. Within these volumes are short (or long) testimonies from the applicant, friends, family, or acquaintances regarding their belief that someone was or was not of Indian descent. Many of the testimonies include names and dates of vital events, as well as residences. Even though we must take these records with a grain of salt because individuals may have had something to gain financially, the information would be considered valuable clues. Each testimony indicates which application it attached to.

How to Find a Testimony Record Related to an Eastern Cherokee Application

There is no index by name for testimony volumes 1-9 at Fold3, so you would have to go volume-by-volume, then page-by-page to find your ancestor. That would take a very long time! But if you go to Ancestry.com to U.S., Records Related to Enrollment of Eastern Cherokee by Guion Miller, 1908-1910, you can search by name and you will find the image of the testimony there.

[Note: Volume 10 is broken down into three subcategories. These are Creek Testimony which includes an index on the fourth page of the roll, Poindexter Testimony with no index, and Sizemore Testimony, also with no index. The Poindexter testimonies and the Sizemore testimonies are those testimonies claiming their Native American heritage through those surnames.]

More on Native American Research

Using Native American collections for genealogy research can be challenging. We hope this has helped you to better understand the ins and outs for using the record collections at Fold3. For even more helpful tips, read:

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links and Genealogy Gems will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on these links (at no additional cost to you). Thank you for supporting Genealogy Gems!

Video #2 of our 25 Websites for Genealogy!

VIDEO & SHOW NOTES: Video #2 of our 25 Websites for Genealogy Playlist. In this video, my guest presenter Gena Philibert-Ortega covers top genealogy finding aids and society websites that are must-have for family history research. Even though some sound specific to a certain area, don’t be fooled. They have resources available for all genealogists.

Websites 5 through 12 of our 25  Websites for Genealogy

I’m Gina Philibert Ortega, and welcome to 25 Websites for Genealogy, What I’d like to do is talk to you about websites that are must-haves for your genealogical research. 

Some of these websites will be new to you, and others are going to be very familiar to you. In talking about the familiar websites, I want to get you thinking about them differently, explain a little bit more about what you can do at these websites, and how to get the most out of them.

In this series of 25 Websites for Genealogy, we’re going to be looking at websites in different categories. Our second category is the Finding Aids & Society Websites (#5 through 12). 

Download the ad-free Show Notes cheat sheet for this video here. (Premium Membership required.)

Websites #5: Cyndi’s List

https://www.cyndislist.com 

Cyndi’slist is a free genealogy website with more than 317,000 genealogy links, categorized & cross-referenced, in more than 200 categories.

Website #6: Linkpendium

https://www.linkpendium.com 

Linkpendium provides links to free and subscription websites that can help you with your genealogical research. The directory includes 10,000,000+ links to information about families around the world as well as helpful information about U.S. states and counties. The site emphasizes free resources provided by libraries, government agencies, genealogical and historical societies, and individuals.

Website #7: Conference Keeper

https://conferencekeeper.org

ConferenceKeeper.org is the most complete genealogy calendar of events anywhere!  Here you will find thousands of genealogy webinars, seminars, conferences, workshops, podcasts and more, from genealogy societies, libraries, and other organizations all around the world.

Website #8: New England Historic Genealogical Society (American Ancestors) 

https://www.americanancestors.org

AmericanAncestors.org databases include 1.4+ billion records for the United States, the British Isles, and continental Europe. And according to the website it also features:

  • one of the most extensive online collections of early American genealogical records,
  • the largest searchable collection of published genealogical research journals and magazines,
  • and the only online source for records from Boston’s Catholic Archdiocese.

Learn More: Early American Ancestor Records with NEHGS

Website #9: New York Genealogical and Biographical Society

https://www.newyorkfamilyhistory.org

Founded in 1869, the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society provides access to genealogical records, journals, periodicals, special collections, digital books and other free resources. In addition, they host educational events. 

Website #10: National Genealogical Society

https://ngsgenealogy.org

Known for its annual genealogical conference, NGS also features an online Learning Center and special features available to subscribing members. 

Website #11: African American Historical and Genealogical Society

https://www.aahgs.org

From the website: “AAHGS provides content-rich resources to aid in the research, study, and exploration of African American history and genealogy.”

Website #12: The Foundation for East European Family History Studies

https://feefhs.org

The Foundation for East European Family History Studies is an international organization that provides education and resources to support Eastern and Central European genealogical research. 

Resources:

Download the ad-free Show Notes cheat sheet for this video here. (Premium Membership required.)

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Reconstructing Ancestors’ Lives with Newspapers

Show Notes: Reconstructing with Ancestors’ Lives with Newspapers

In this video, Lisa Louise Cooke and Jenny Ashcraft from Newspapers.com discuss how to use newspapers to fill in the missing stories in your ancestors’ lives. Jenny shares strategic tips on finding unique information many researchers miss. 

Interview with Jenny Ashcraft of Newspapers.com. (Edited for clarity) 

Download the ad-free Show Notes handout  (including a bonus search strategy checklist) (Premium Membership required)

For a limited time get 20% off Newspapers.com here. Use our coupon code: genealogygems

Lisa: Let’s talk about one of my favorite things, which is reconstructing the life story of an ancestor. Not just the names, dates, places. We want to expand that out to include the events, the people, what they did in their life. Newspapers really can tell that kind of story for anybody, can’t they?

Jenny: It’s true. We love those vital records, right? As genealogists we’d love to have those birth, marriage and death records. But what happened in between? Newspapers are a wonderful resource for kind of bringing color and stories to your ancestors’ life. How did their life impact history? How did history impact their life? You can try to find those stories and piece together a story of their life through newspapers.

Lisa: And the newspaper articles don’t have to actually name our relative to be really valuable in reconstructing their story. We can look at the family tree and see what we’ve found so far. We can find supporting evidence and information that helps tell us what was happening at the time in their life.

Jenny: Exactly! Because sometimes you might not find your ancestors name or a newspaper article about a specific event. But what you can do is create a context for what was happening, what was happening in their family, what was happening in their community, the country and the world. Even if you can’t find a specific article about them, you can still create a context for what their experiences would have been.

Lisa: Well, I know you’re doing to share your grandfather’s story today and I just think it’s a perfect example. We’ll use your grandfather as kind of a test case and have you kind of show us the reconstruction process. Where did you start?

Lamar Norton

Jenny’s grandfather Lamar Norton

Getting Started Using Newspapers for Genealogy

(03:17) Jenny: I started looking for my grandfather’s birth announcement and I couldn’t find it.

He lived in a tiny town called Panguitch, Utah. The local newspaper was just a short little run of a newspaper, only a few years. It was a weekly, and the birth announcement was not there!

I thought, okay, if I can’t find my grandfather’s birth announcement, I’ll look for the family. And I found a  birth announcement for his older brother that was born just two years before him.

I started looking for other clippings that I might be able to find more information about my grandfather. I found just a few months before his birth. I found this little article about his father driving to purchase to seven passenger Paige automobiles. This is just months before my grandfather was born. And I’m thinking well, what is a Paige automobile? So, I searched for Paige automobiles, and found a picture of one. And even though my grandfather’s name is not in this clipping, but I’m starting to get a little context. This is the car that his father was going to purchase just before his birth. So that’s kind of fun!

All of these clippings they start to create a context for this little Norton family. My grandfather’s name was Lamar Norton. He was born in a small town in Panguitch, Utah. He was a father of seven, and a World War II veteran. I just wanted to learn a little bit more about his life.

Even though I couldn’t find a birth announcement, I started finding clippings about his family, his siblings, his parents, and it started to help me create a context for what the Norton family was experiencing in 1915 in Panguitch, Utah.

Lamar started to grow up. And his family moved to another very small town called LaPointe, Utah. He was living in the point when he met a young woman that would become his future wife. Her name was Velma Hollinger. I wanted to find out if they talked about their marriage in the paper. Was there a newspaper story? And what can we learn about their marriage?

Newspapers.com Marriage Index

(06:11) An effective way to search for marriages in the newspaper is by using the Marriage Index at Newspapers.com.

Our data science team at Ancestry, figured out how to use data intelligence to scour through all of the newspapers and extract marriage announcements and obituaries. There are like 250 million obituaries and 17 million marriage announcements. You can search for just marriage announcements.

Here’s how I searched for my grandfather’s marriage announcement in the Marriage Index.  His last name was Lamar Norton, so I’m entered Lamar Norton in the Search tab. It brought up about 468,000 matches! So, I needed to filter the search. You can do that by using the button called result type and selecting. I could add a location and a date and filter those as well.

Next, I went to the map because I know the marriage was in Utah. So, I clicked on Utah on the map. This gave me 10 matches. As I looked through the list, I found his marriage announcement. This process allows you to search without going through all the clippings. You can search just for marriage announcements.

Lisa: That’s really slick. It’s nice that we can just run a simple search first, and then start making adjustments. We don’t necessarily have to mark everything on the very first search time.

Jenny: You don’t have to. There are so many filters. If you find yourself with too many results, start using those filters and narrow the years or narrow the location.

I happen to know that he was born in Utah. So, I just quickly added Utah onto that filter. But if there were too many things. I could keep filtering and filtering until I just have a very few results to choose from.

Lamar and his now wife, Velma started their young family and they had two little children. But this simple life for the Norton’s was not going to last because in just a very few short years, we went to war. The headlines of the newspapers announce the U.S. entry.

With a wife and two young children, Lamar hoped that he wasn’t going to be drafted. But when it came time to register Lamar and some of his friends loaded in a car and they headed to the registration office to register for the draft. Apparently, they discussed on the way who might or might not get drafted and everybody was sure that he was not going to get drafted because he was the only one married with two small children. Well, it was quite a shock just days later, when Lamar received notice that he had been drafted and had just days to report.

It was apparently quite a big deal in the community that this young father had been drafted. I was sure that there must be something about it in the newspaper. But when I searched Lamar Norton, I couldn’t find it in the tiny, small-town paper.

I started adjusting my search parameters and eventually I did find it was published in the paper. However, the quality of the printing was really poor. His name is Lamar Norton, but I could hardly even see that. When I adjusted my parameters to just search Lamar and Norton, in the right timeframe in the right town, that’s when I found this little announcement that he had been drafted.

Expanding Your Newspaper Search

(10:45) There he was heading off to war, knowing that my grandmother is going to be left at home with two small children. I thought, what was she going to do? What’s her life going to be like now that her young husband is heading off to war. She doesn’t know when he’s going to come back, or there’s always the possibility that he might not come back.

Asking questions about the story you’ve found so far can help you develop new searches. These questions that I had certainly prompted me to start searching for my grandmother in the paper. er name was Velma Norton. Sure enough, I found an article that shows that she decided to go home and live with her parents while her husband is off fighting. I just searched for her name, and then again, adjusted the search parameters for that same time period.

Lamar headed off to basic training, and in this training he learns how to repair tanks. They start training him to become a mechanic, and he was assigned to serve with Patton’s Third Army. Well, through the newspapers I learned that right before he headed off to Europe, he was able to come home one last time on furlough. I found a little announcement about it in the paper. He’s home visiting his wife and his two children and his parents. I find it very interesting also because of the date of the article, November 9, 1944. If you’re familiar with World War II history, then you may know that there was about to be a very big, pivotal battle in World War II. It was one of the costliest battles of the war. It was the Battle of the Bulge. Well, Lamar headed off to Europe, and for the next several months, he was involved in horrific fighting.

He came home from the war with something that was called Shell Shock. Today, we know it as PTSD.  I remember, as a little girl, that if a balloon popped, or if there was a loud clap of thunder, he would just dive under the table. It was just kind of an involuntary reaction due to such tremendous fighting that he endured. There was one instance when he was repairing a tank. The track had come off the tank, and he was under fire in the tank surrounded by the enemy. Still, he managed to repair this tank and get the tank on the road. For that he received a Bronze Star.

Maybe you have an ancestor that fought in World War II or another military battle. Perhaps they came home but they didn’t want to talk about it. I know that my grandfather’s brother said at his funeral, when your grandfather came home, he wanted to forget what he had seen.

In addition to searching for your ancestor, search on other aspects of their life such as the battalion or unit they served in. If you know a specific battle that they participated in, you can learn about that battle. It’s just like we talked about creating a context. Even though all of the Battle of the Bulge newspaper articles I read didn’t talk about my grandfather specifically, I was able to get a context and understand this traumatic fighting that he endured and what that might have been like.

Another search strategy is to look for their obituary. Oftentimes veterans’ obituaries will list what unit they served in or what battles they may have participated in.

Lisa: Well, that’s a great point. We can take records we’ve already found and go back and pull those pieces of information off and then go search them in the newspapers.

Jenny: Yes indeed.

Now, the Third Army Patton’s Third Army, following the Battle of the Bulge, they started moving across Germany. On April 4, 1945, they came across a concentration camp, and it was called Ohrdruf concentration camp. This was the very first concentration camp that was liberated by the Americans.

These young men just couldn’t believe their eyes. They did not know what they were seeing. They came across soldiers that had been killed. They saw bodies stacked like cordwood. They just had never seen anything like it. They called to their superiors, and they said,” We have found something amazing here. We think you better come and see it.” And so, generals Eisenhower and Patton and Bradley all came. They said, “Don’t touch anything we want to see with our own eyes, what you’ve found.”

When they arrived, they were searching through this camp and they found the bodies and they found a pyre where there were remains from burned soldiers, as the Nazis tried to destroy the evidence. It was so traumatic for Eisenhower and Patton and Bradley that General Patton became physically sick by the things that he’d seen. Everybody was just astounded.

Even though I’m not seeing my grandfather by name, I can learn even more about his experience. I found and amazing article about a man who had been side by side with Lamar. He gave a personal account to their hometown paper when they got home from the war. This allows me to understand even more the impact that this experience had on my grandfather. It was just so sobering and powerful to understand what he has experienced! As I said, when he came home, he didn’t want to talk about it.

Soldier recollections in the newspaper

Newspaper article found

Newspapers as a Replacement for Lost Records

A lot of these soldiers’ military personnel files were gathered up and sent to the National Personnel Records Center where they were stored. It was in St. Louis, Missouri. Lisa, you’re probably familiar with the fire that occurred there. In the 1970s the facility caught fire, and between 16 and 18 million personnel records were destroyed. And so many of us that are trying to do research on our ancestors, we no longer have their military papers. Newspapers are a wonderful way to try to reconstruct their story and to understand the experiences that they endured while they were in the armed services.

Search Beyond the Time and Place

(18:35) Lisa: I noticed as you made your newspaper discoveries that you moved out from those very local papers that you knew where you were finding his name, and you’re reached into newspapers across the country for these kinds of stories from people who may be served right next to him, or who saw the same things he did. And I noticed some of these were fairly recent newspapers. It’s a great example that we can pull from something maybe from the 90s, or from 2005. Something like the soldier’s recollections article that you found. We have this wealth of information that spans so many decades and potentially holds these stories.

Jenny: You’re exactly right, Lisa. It’s common, particularly with monumental anniversaries, that you might see the newspaper going back to soldiers 20 years, 50 years later and saying, ‘it’s the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Ohrdruf. Can you tell us about your experience?’ For me, these papers were able to tell the story that my grandfather couldn’t. They were able to shed light on what he experienced when he wasn’t willing to talk about it.

Lisa: You’ve already found so much. What else did you pull out of newspapers?

Jenny: Well, now that he had endured the Battle of the Bulge, and he had participated in the liberation of this concentration camp, we are close to the day things were getting better, and the war was starting to wind down. It wasn’t too long until I came across a discharge notice. My grandfather had been discharged in October 1945. I was able to find that discharge notice in his little local hometown paper. I learned that his unit was one of the few units that received the Presidential Citation award, and that he received a Silver Star award. I learned about some of his military decorations.

So, that’s another great tip when you’re searching for your ancestors. If they were wounded, if they received awards, if they were taken prisoner of war, all of those are likely to be mentioned in the paper. Search for some of those things, in addition to battles and places and anything that might be able to help you reconstruct their military story.

How One Newspaper Article Can Lead to the Next

In 1945, Lamar came home. I found an article in a Salt Lake City paper. It listed all of the Utah soldiers that were heading home. At the bottom of the article, I found listed Private First Class, Lamar Norton. And what’s great about this is it tells me what ship he came home on! That gives me a further avenue to research. I can go to the newspapers, and I can learn about that journey. I can read about when that ship docked in New York, perhaps there was rough weather or sickness or a death on the journey. I can find out all about that now that I have the name of the ship.

I then found a notice saying that he has now returned home, reunited with his family, and parents and that he was recently discharged. So, their family is being reunited and moving back in together. And I’m continuing to put this story together. You can kind of see how much context and color these newspaper article provide for his military experiences in the newspaper.

Newspaper.com Search Techniques

(22:37) Lisa: That’s terrific! As you found each one, did you use any special techniques? Can we use things like quotation marks around his name as we can in Google? You mentioned in the very first article that you found that you had to separate the name Lamar Norton and not have the first and last name right next to each other because they might appear separately in an article or both names might not appear clearly to be read by the search engine. Can you tell Newspapers.com, I want this name to appear first name last name together?

Jenny: You absolutely can! At the newspapers.com homepage I can enter Lamar Norton. And yes, one of my favorite strategies is to add quotation marks before and after his name. That is going to only return results where those two names appear together in that order. Instead of every mention of Lamar, and every mention of Norton, I’m only going to have results that are in Lamar Norton.

Be sure to take advantage of the map off to the right side of the webpage. You will see all of the states have different colors. If there is a gray state, that indicates that there is no mention of Lamar Norton. The darker the color gets the more mentions there are of what you searched for. When I clicked on Utah which was the darkest red, I see there are 251 results for Lamar Norton. And it’s kind of cool right that it also breaks it down by county. I know that for a while Lamar lived in a number of these counties, so I can actually search through the various counties and see if that is my Lamar Norton.

Lisa: I see a timeline at the bottom of the screen as well, so we can really target one particular area of time as well.

Jenny: You absolutely could! You can also do that up at the top of the page. Maybe I only want to know about his military experiences. I can search 1941 to 1945. And I have 42. Matches. A lot of them are him talking about his military experiences. So many of these are the Vernal Express, the little newspaper in the area where he lived. I can use these filters by year as well. Maybe he’s landing in Utah and a New York paper does an interview. I don’t want to just have Utah results. I can remove the state, and I can make it as wide or as narrow as I want. I would really recommend just playing with the dates. Maybe your ancestor gave an interview to the paper about their World War II experiences, but it was in the 1990s. Don’t limit yourself. If you want to know World War II history, the information might not be in World War II years. You might find it at a later date.

Lisa: That’s a great point. And a great point about not necessarily limiting yourself to his state, because I did notice when he was coming home with the Utah troops that was a newspaper from New York, right?

Jenny: Yes, because the Liberty ship had landed in New York. Exactly.

Alerts for New Newspapers at Newspapers.com

(26:20) Lisa: Now I see an Alert Me button. I’m guessing Newspapers.com is continually adding newspapers all the time. Is there a chance that it can tell me if something new gets loaded onto the website?

Jenny: Yes. You can set up an alert. WE are constantly adding new papers. In fact, we hit a milestone a few weeks ago, 750 million pages of newspapers. You’ll find a counter on the home page. In fact, in the past week and a half, we’ve added another 5.3 million pages.

You can set up an alert for any search you want. Then, if there’s new content that meets the criteria, you will get a notice that there is a new article that mentions it.

Keep Searching in Newspapers

(27:23) Lisa: Any other tips about how people can find information about their ancestors?

Jenny: Keep searching! I found a newspaper article that mentioned something I’ve heard about many times in my life. It’s 1949, a few years after Lamar returned home, and he and his young family have a new baby and they are living in Clearfield, Utah. His little daughter who happens to be my mother was returning home from kindergarten and got hit by a truck. Well, you can imagine how traumatic this would be to this little family and what an impact that would have on their lives. You can imagine as a father, and that being your little daughter, how traumatic that would be and what an impact that would have on you and your story.

Lisa: Oh my gosh! Obviously, she survived all that. But it just goes to show that there are just so many pieces to the puzzle. I see many names listed in that article. I imagine that gave you a wonderful opportunity to search for some of those people too.

Jenny: And you know what, I know who these people are because they’re in my family tree. But if you didn’t know and you’re trying to discover your family tree, this would be a great help. People are rushing to the hospital, and there’s been an accident, and it’s a familiar surname. I can look through all of these names and ask, “who is Harvey Hollander?” “Who is Mrs. Harvey Hollander? “ I can do some research and search for her in the paper and get an idea of how she fits into this family and into this story.

Downloading and Organizing Newspaper Research

(29:12) Lisa: I see there are buttons for downloading and editing the clippings we find. We’ll definitely have you come back and show us how you organize all this stuff. Obviously there’s a potential here to find a lot of items and we’ll want your best strategies for keeping newspaper articles organized. Will you promise to come back and help us get organized?

Newspapers Expand Our Ancestors’ Stories

(29:34) Jenny: I would love to. And you know, when you are putting together a story for your ancestor, this is such a wonderful way to do it because they become more than a name on paper, they become real and relatable. It’s no longer just this sterile name. It’s a person whose life impacts your life, and you get to tell their story. And like you said, they don’t have to be famous to be mentioned in a newspaper. They don’t have to be a notable person. My grandfather was the most ordinary person, but I was able to kind of reconstruct things that impacted his life and must have impacted how he parented and how he raised his family. And that impacts how I was raised in it. We’re all connected.

Lisa: Very well said. Even with a man who didn’t necessarily want to come back and talk about his experiences, who was a more private person, you learned so much through your newspaper research.  

Jenny, this has been fascinating. We all need to make our list of what we know so far about our ancestors and then go our and search these newspapers to find gems like these waiting for us. Newspapers.com is certainly a great place to do that.

Thank you so much for coming and sharing your grandfather’s story.

Jenny: Thank you so much, and I just wish everyone the best of luck as you dive into your own research. I’m so excited for you to find amazing newspaper clippings about your family.

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