You may also find your ancestor:
- Went to court about a lawsuit
- Named in a list of heirs for probate proceedings
- Entered a partnership in a business
- Ended a partnership in a business
- Appeared in the local news about an incident
- Celebrated an anniversary
- Was recognized for his contribution to a cause
- Received an award for service or work
- Wrote a letter to the editor
- Received a medal for military service
- Was mentioned as moving from the area
- Appeared in an advertisement
- May have a biographical sketch written about him
Why should these things matter to you?
- Because it gives you context for understanding your ancestor.
- It brings your ancestor to life and gives him an identity.
- It may give you clues for breaking through a brick wall.
Case Study: Joseph Dixon has dogged me for years. I believe he lived in Hudson, Columbia County, NY about 1830. I had one other clue, a sheriff’s sale for a Hudson home owned by a man of his name from a NY Supreme Court case for debt. The court case has not surfaced though I have searched in many places. I didn’t know his occupation or why he incurred this debt.
It is difficult to search for a man with a common of a name without other identifiers.
Recently I went to the GenealogyBank website and searched for Joseph Dixon in New York’s Northern Whig newspaper. Though GenealogyBank did not have the Northern Whig for the 1830s, it did have earlier papers and I found a newspaper announcing the end of a business partnership for a Joseph Dixon, John Ashworth, Daniel Evans, Charles Newman who had been in partnership to manufacture woolen cloth. According to the announcement, Dixon and Ashworth were planning to continue their work at the Hermitage Factory in Livingston, NY, while Evans and Newman planned to work at Hudson. [“Dissolution of Partnership,” Northern Whig, July 26, 1814, GenealogyBank.com (http://www.genealogybank.com : accessed 13 September 2011).
If this is MY Joseph Dixon, this is a huge clue because I now have insight into his business dealings. Now I need to ask if it was this kind of business that pushed him into a bad debt that could not be repaid. I have lot’s of new questions to ask.
If you’d like to view a really great online TV program about searching historical newspapers check out BYUTV, Ancestors Season 2: “Newspapers as Records.”