Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tuesday's Tip: Go After the Obits

Benjamin McClure, my hubby's great-great-granddad, died in Little Traverse/Conway, Michigan, as noted in my previous post. Wanting to know more--such as, why he was in that area despite having relatives and roots in Wabash--I tried e-mailing the librarians in nearby towns, asking for McClure's obit (he died Feb 21, 1896).

Thanks to the efficient and responsive reference librarian in Petoskey, I now have his obit from the Petoskey Record of Wednesday, Feb. 26, 1896. It's short on relatives but long on background info:

Mr. Benjamin McClure, Mrs. Rev. John J. Cook's father, who has been visiting his daughter since last June [1895], died after a short sickness at Conway, on Friday morning, shortly after one o'clock. Mr. McClure was a resident of Wabash, Ind., for nearly 52 years. He is a member of the first Presbyterian church of Wabash, and has been a ruling elder for over 40 years.

His daughter and her husband accompany the remains to wabash, leaving Conway Monday morning, Feb. 24th, 1896. Mr. McClure was a devout christian, a good man, and will be missed by his children and a large circle of friends. He trusted the Lord Jesus Christ and was prepared to die. During the last week of his life he had intervals of intense suffering, but when the last moment came he passed away as one going to sleep.
Learning that John J. Cook was Benjamin's son-in-law, I found marriage info showing that John married Mary Ann McClure on 19 Oct 1871 in Wabash, service performed by Min. Gos. Archibald S. Reid. (Future census records indicate that John and Mary Ann had no children, so there are no cousins to track down from that branch.)

Benjamin's grandson, Brice Larimer McClure, was born in Little Traverse in 1878 but his parents (William Madison McClure and Margaret Jane Larimer McClure) moved away the following year. They must have been visiting John and Mary Ann.

I'm continuing to try to track down obits for other McClures. Maybe there will be survivors listed, parents listed, some occupational history, birthplace, who knows what? But this is where patience is a real virtue: Librarians are swamped with requests and I'm just plain lucky that Petoskey got to my request so quickly (2 days!). Thank you, Petoskey!!


  1. Hi, though I've been blogging for a few years now, I'm new to genealogy blogging...and to genealogy in general. I just got involved in the fascinating world of family history this past spring, and may I say, I am hooked!! While I still devote my blog to home decorating and other things, I've started sharing some of my genealogical finds, as well as doing a nostalgic memory of my own childhood fairly regularly. (So I'm a half-time genealogical blogger...probably getting more so as time goes on.)

    Anyhow, getting involved with geneabloggers is how I stumbled across your blog.

    Wow, that is wonderful that you were able to get an obituary that provided you with such rich information. Kind of like hitting gold, huh?

    Last week, I was able to track down the obit (from 1939) of my great-great-grandfather. To my utter disbelief, it actually listed the names of his late parents, including mother's maiden name. Plugging those names into my tree on Ancestry, I was led to someone who has 3 generations further back, and I am in email contact with her. I felt like I had found gold in that obituary.

    (Oh, I'm just reading your research section, and my best friend's maiden name is Steiner. She's originally from Orville, Ohio. You might be related to her!!)

    Blessings to you,

  2. Thanks for reading and commenting, Patti! You really did strike gold with your g-g-gfather's obit. Through that lucky break, I hope you find cousins you never knew you had! Happy ancestor hunting,


  3. I love finding obituaries! I recently subscribed to GenealogyBank, I have an Ancestry subscription, and depending on the year and location, I have also found obits at Chronicling America on the Library of Congress's website - all great sources for newspaper obituaries.

    I recently found that a 3rd great-grandfather died after sustaining injuries in a train accident. (Haven't blogged about it yet, but I will.) I also found information about a great-grandfather's occupation in his wife's obituary, which I will be blogging about soon.

  4. Elizabeth, the BEST obit I ever found for an ancestor in the extended family was for a man who had led wagon trains out west. What a life he must have had! Looking forward to reading the obits you've found. I definitely share your enthusiasm! - Marian

  5. Marian,

    Great tip! Also, good reminder to contact public libraries. Sounds like you hit pay dirt!

  6. Hi Deb! Most of the public libraries are helpful but some are just overwhelmed by requests, it seems. Some ask for $, some not. I sent Petoskey $2, at their request, which is quite a bargain! Thanks for reading and leaving me a note. - Marian

  7. Great post. I've also had luck finding obits on the Ancestry.com forum. Filter down to the county/town of interest and post a query. I got 5 obits from one awesome volunteer.

  8. Jennie, thanks for the tip about the Ancestry forum. I'm going to try there for the Wabash obits I'm seeking!