An Unexpected Source

My favorite free newspaper website is which has 12,698,000 Old New York State Historical Newspaper Pages, all searchable.

Your direct descendants don’t come from New York?  Read on.

My 4th g-grandparents Robert Jones and Catherine Owen immigrated from Llanfaelog, Anglesey, Wales to Oneida County, NY in 1849 on the vessel Julia Howard. Manyof their children (possibly 8), grandchildren and their hundred or so first and second cousins, remained for a number generation in Oneida County.  However there were a few who left the area.

My 2nd g-grandmother Kittie Perry headed off to Massachusetts. I had surmised that she had gone directly to the town of Lynn since that is where she appears for many years in census records, city directories and a few obituaries.  Her sister Cordelia (Palmer/Spoor) Perry and brother George headed to Galeton, PA.  Luckily (for my research) her brother William remained behind in Rome.

Most newspapers in that era had a “social section”, Rome was no different.  You can learn who was out of town and why and who was in town and with whom they were staying.  You hear of who was sick, who had a dinner party and who cheated on their wife. And of course you find the usual birth, marriage and death notices.  Here are a few of the many articles that I found mentioning my Jones/Perry family:

  • Utica Morning Herald, August 24 1895 or 1896: Miss Georgiana Hughes (my g-grandmother) of Frankfort, who has been visiting her mother at Lowell, Mass. has returned, and accompanied by Miss Kittie May Palmer of Frankfort, is a guest of Mr. and Mrs. W.C. Perry of 414 West Dominick Street.
  • Rome Semi Weekly Citizen, September 1, 1896: Miss Georgianna Hughes of Lowell, Mass., and Miss Kittie A. Palmer of Frankfort, NY , are visiting their uncle, W. C. Perry, 414 West Dominick street.
  • The Utica Observer: Wednesday, Sept 4, 1895 W. C Perry, delivery window clerk at the post office, left yesterday afternoon on a bicycle trip of 275 miles to Lowell.
  • Rome Semi-Weekly Citizen, Friday September 24, 1897: WC Perry general delivery clerk at the post office received on Tuesday from his Uncle Owen R Jones of Clipper Gap, Placer County a box of four varieties of grapes. They excel anything in the grape line ever seen in this city.
  • Tuesday, Feb 21, 1891, Rome Semi-Weekly Citizen: The family of George Perry of East Rome, who eloped some time ago with Miss Nettie Hickson, is in a pitiable condition. On Wednesday afternoon three of the four children died with diphtheria, George, aged 4 years, 11 months and 18 days; Alice, aged 6 months; and Arthur, aged three years and one month. The remaining child, a son, about eight years old, has recovered from the disease. The mother is in bed, sick with the same disease, and is unable to do anything, but seems to be recovering. The only one present, aside from the family, and who is able to do anything, is a sister of Mrs. Perry, Miss Alice Phillips, who is now threatened with the disease. The family is not destitute, but they should receive the attention and aid of the Charitable people of the community. 
  • Utica Observer, October 19, 1904 – William C Perry has received a telegram announcing the death in Galeton, PA of his nephew George Spoore.  His mother, Mrs Charles Spoore was formerly Miss Delia Perry of this city.
  • The Auburn Bulletin, Friday, October 21, 1904 – Killed at Play, Game of Cowboy and Indians cost 16 year old boy his life – Corning, NY, George Spoor, aged 16 years of Galeton, PA was shot and instantly killed at that place by Carl Cartson a friend, Cartson was and Indian and Spoor a cowboy in a Wild West show.
  • UTICA HERALD-DISPATCH THURSDAY EVENING, AUGUST 3, 1911 Mrs. F. M. Shipman of Lynn, Mass and her daughter, Mrs. C. M. Hall, and son Charles (my grandfather) of Malden, Mass. are spending two weeks with Mrs. Shipman’s brother. W. C. Perry, 414 West Dominick street.
  • Utica Herald-Dispatch, Thursday Evening October 3, 1918, Page 13 Whole Families Dying: Mrs. F. M. Shipman of Lynn. Mass., who spent a month with her brother and wife. Mr. and Mrs. W. C. Perry.414 West Dominick street, returning home last week In perfect health. Mr. Perry has received a letter from his niece. Mrs. C. M Hall of Malden, Mass.. daughter of Mrs. Shipman stating that her mother had been, stricken with influenza and was confined to the bed, but the doctor says that she is improving. The letter says” The State Guards were called out tonight to do duty putting up tents and caring for the sick. Family after family are dying. They are having over 50 funerals a day here in Malden.
  • Utica Daily Press, September 11, 1909; Their Silver Wedding; Rome, Sept 10 – Mr. and Mrs. William C Perry 414 West Dominick street were married in this city 25 years ago by the late Rev James H Taylor, then pastor of the Presbyterian Church, and they have since lived here….During the afternoon and evening refreshments were served under the direction of Mrs. Fuller by 6 ladies attired in white, cousins of Mr. Perry. Margaret Jones and Jennie May Roberts of Floyd, Olwin Jones of Utica, Jennie May Palmer of Galeton, PA, Anne Hughes of Rome and Irene Jones of Rome, who were presented necklaces by Mrs. Perry.


  • Utica Morning Herald, November 4, 1896, page 2, column 3; FRANKFORT. PUSHED INTO THE CANAL. Sad Death of Mrs. James Evans of Frankfort (my g-g-g-gandmother).  Nov. 3.-About 7:30 o’clock last evening, as Mrs. James Evans of this village was walking along the towpath of the Erie canal she fell into “the canal. With her three grandchildren, the oldest about ten years of age she was returning from a visit to her sister. They met a team of horses drawing a canal boat and turned to pass them, taking the side near the water. After the team had passed the tow line brushed Mrs. Evans into the water. She was taken out as promptly as possible by the boatmen and removed to her home, where she died in a short time from the effects of her Injuries, at her age being unable to withstand the shock. Mrs. Evans was about 65 years old. She was a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Jones and was born in Wales. She came with her parents to this country about 45 years ago. They settled in Oriskany and afterward removed to Floyd, where the deceased was married to George Perry. Mr. and Mrs. Perry came to Rome about 35 years ago, and lived on the Lynch farm in East Rome. Mr. Perry for some time conducting a milk route. He died 33 years ago. His widow married James Evans of Rome for her second husband:—Eleven years ago they removed to Frankfort…

To date I have found some 70 articles on this family.  Not only did it give me better insight into the lives of these family members, but many led to more discoveries.  I hadn’t known that my 2nd g-grandmother Kittie had resided in Lowell, MA.  This led to my discovery of her request for an annulment from her husband Frank Clough (for bigamy) in the Middlesex County Court records.  Which in turn led to me finding a copy of their marriage record at the Frankfort, NY county clerk’s office.

My g-grandmother Georgianna’s maiden name was thought to be Clough based on her marriage and death certificates, her handwriting on family photos and social security application (there were no recorded births in Rome, NY until 1882 and she was born in 1881).  These articles led to my discovery that her birth father’s name was probably Hughes. Which led me to the following newspaper marriage transcription on a GENWEB site:  “Perry, Kitty E. – Rome & John Hughes – Ilion. At residence of officiating clergyman Rev. Albert F. Lyle 8-4-1880. (HD 8-11-1880)”.

My point today is don’t overlook unlikely sources; you may find your ancestors. As with all documents, there may be errors, so you should always seek to uncover primary sources to strengthen your case.

A word about the search functions on this site.  It uses optical character recognition (OCR). OCR is not perfect, for example r n is often read as m,  l is often t and vice versa,  p can be read as a y.  I try to look for letters that look similar to each other or that perhaps look like another letter when close to each other.  For example, Thorn could be interpreted as Thom.  So a search for “John Thorn” may come up null, but by changing the search to “John Thom” you may get some hits.

Sometimes the OCR technology doesn’t work , especially if the paper is dark or the letters smeared.

Try searching on something other than a name.  For example I knew that Uncle William Perry lived on 414 West Dominick Street in Rome.  I searched on 414 AND Perry, then just on “West Dominick”  and also on “post office” AND Rome (since that is where he worked for 29 years) . I got lots of hits that I hadn’t found previously.

I have had similar luck with Newspaper Archives (although it is a pay site)  They have old copies of the Lowell Daily Sun.  My 3rd great uncle David Brian Pinder Hall lived for a time in Lowell, MA.  His grandson Joseph Edward David “Frenchie” Thibeault had16 children with 5 different women, most born in Lowell, MA, many of whom I uncovered using newspaper sources.

Seek out some online newspapers and see what you can find of your ancestors!  We’d love you to share some posts of your finds and suggestions for sources.  Remember that there are offline searchable newspapers as well. The Malden Public Library in Massachusetts has old copies of the Malden Evening News on microfilm.  While not searchable, I was able to find birth, marriage and death notices by collecting vital records and searching newspapers a week before and after those dates.


5 responses to this post.

  1. Linda, I enjoyed this post and had never thought about the social section of an old newspapers. Your article was of particular interest, since I live in Lowell, MA.



  2. Welcome to the Geneabloggers family. Hope you find the association fruitful; I sure do. I have found it most stimulating, especially some of the Daily Themes.

    May you keep sharing your ancestor stories!

    Dr. Bill 😉
    Author of “Back to the Homeplace”
    and “13 Ways to Tell Your Ancestor Stories”



  3. Char White on Facebook writes:


    Just thought I’d say I like your ‘home site’ btw .. and just wanted to toss this out for consideration …

    Fulton is a wonderful resource .. I half ‘live there’ … but it does not cover ” all ” of NY .. it is primarily geared towards ‘midstate/upstate’ .. ie the portion of the state that is not NYC, surrounding boroughs and immediate adjacent areas .. about the closest towards NY Tom has is the Albany/Schenectady area.

    For waaaaaaaay up north adjacent the Canadian border, .. has many of the same papers but the focus is only the 7 counties on the St. Lawrence.

    [ I know folks in NYC area think of ‘upstate’ as the Hamptons or Westchester, and those in the Hamptons think ‘downstate’ is NYC … lol .. the rest of us who live in the larger geographic portion of the state know better … lol ]

    I half watch the Ancestry FB – depends on whether or not the grandbabies think I have ”that” kind of time 🙂

    Apparently at the moment, they think not … lol … so I’m going to have to get off this dang contraption … lol




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