“Yes!!” I shouted.
Jan just laughed because I often shout in the library. Besides I was thrilled with my latest find and no one else was there. Then she came over to view the tiny screen. We had already discussed my purpose for afternoon.
“You have the patience of a saint. I would never have spent that much time on it.”
I’ve been searching since December for the obituary of Annie Wells who died on May 28, 1925. You would think that with the date I would be able to find it quickly. No such luck. I thought that perhaps she had been overlooked. So…what I do with a difficult search is put it on my “master search list” and just return to it from time to time as I get new ideas. I’ve had people on my list for as long as two years before finding information about them! And I often find the information in odd places, when I’m searching for someone else. Mrs. Wells has been on my list since December. And I was in a bit of a hurry to find her because a member of her family will be here later this month to arrange a new headstone for her. (The fate of her headstone and the location of her grave have been lost over time.)
Anyway, back to yesterday’s find. Over the weekend I worked on an obituary book I’m compiling for Gethsemane Cemetery. It will eventually contain all of the obituaries I can find for all of the people buried in the cemetery before 1950. (Many no longer have headstones, or any other record of their burial, other than the obituary.) This weekend I found this obit in the “locals” of The Caddo International News, February 22, 1877: Died. On the morning of Feb. 19, eight miles west of Caddo, Ben Cox, son of Mr. Hugh Cox. I believe that holds the record for the shortest obit I’ve ever found. Yesterday I thought about that obit and decided to look again for Mrs. Wells, in the locals. In case you aren’t familiar with the locals, that’s where the editor listed “Mr. Franks visited his mother Sunday.” Or “Mrs. Jones bought a new sewing machine.” Honestly. In the old papers there were usually two or three columns of local news just like that. I should also note that after around 1900 the obituaries were usually listed separately, often on the front page of the paper so that everyone could attend the funeral. So my first search for an obit is always the front page, then the “news” pages, seldom the locals.
I finally found Mrs. Wells in the locals for June 5, 1925, second column, in between “newlyweds visit…” and “Mr. Cullen spoke at the church…” :
Mrs. Annie Wells, aged 77 years, died at Kenefick last Friday and was buried Saturday in Caddo Cemetery. Mrs. Wells was the mother of C. R. Wells and several other sons, and was a kindly soul much beloved in the community. The friends of the family extend sympathy in their bereavement.
I typed it up, sent it by email to the family member who had contacted me last year and received a prompt “thank you” reply.
This is why I find genealogy research fascinating, even when I’m not working on my own family. This is why the work suits me and my patient personality. This is why I search for dead people. J