Question of the Week: What's the most interesting news item you've found about one of your ancestors?

+27 votes
Do you subscribe to any newspaper sites just for genealogy??
asked in The Tree House by Julie Ricketts G2G6 Pilot (263k points)
retagged by Abby Glann
I'm okay now. I found it. :) My personal thought on these "answers" is that they should put the most recent at the top, so you don't have to scroll down several pages to see new posts.

Thanks for your "question", Julie Ricketts and thanks for your answer about pictures.
Newspapers in Kansas carried the story of the murder of Delbert Tunison my 2x great uncle by his brother-in-law John Miller in Osborne County in May 1885.   The case was tried, and 2nd and 1st degree murder verdicts  by the Kansas State Supreme Court for John and Albert Whittaker (he was a cousin of Delbert).  The story can be read on the website Genealogy   Osborne County Historical Society not only had Delbert's information, but that of his mother's (unknown) 3rd marriage while his father was still living, and her death record.   Several skeletons in the closet!
Got a Luddite ancestor who was transported to Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) for his part in smashing up a cotton mill. His grandson was Cjief Justice and then the first Governor of Tassy. From convict to governor in two generations. :)
I don't suscribe to any newspaper sites and thankfully because I'm a Wisconsin resident I don't have to get access to old newspaper articles. The Wisconsin Historical Society has a link to Access Newspaper Archive where I have found several interesting articles involving my family.

Researching our line in the Czech republic has yielded to us that Jan Krizenecky (1868-1921 Krizenecky-73 was the founder of Czech cinematography.

I would like to report a missing girl from Reedsville, Wisconsin

She was 15  at the time and was last seen in the early spring of 1889

Any information leading to her whereabouts would be greatly appreciated.


John Krizenesky {Krizenesky-105}

Good luck with the search, John! ;-)

I learned that George Washington was friends with Richard Stephenson (my 7x great grandfather) and notes in his journal that he stayed at Bullskin with Richard during a visit to his own property in the [Bullskin Run, Virginia] area in May 1760. George Washington performed the survey of the property for Richard Stephenson around 1750 which still survives to this day and is publicly displayed in the Boston Public Library.”

I've had my paternal grandmothers birth certificate and marriage certificate for 10 years since I've been working on my husbands and my family ancestors. Right before the holidays kicked this past 2017 I was going through just randomly putting in family names of all the brick walls I've come up against. I actually find her grandfather (my 2x great grandfather) in an article titled "Feud ends in murder". Apparently he had been fighting with this one neighbor for a couple of years but one night the man he had been feuding with pulled out a knife and stabbed him to death. This is around the late 1890's in Philadelphia. Little Italy I'm guessing as my fathers heritage was Italian for both of his parents. A group of people stood by watching and there was a policeman just 3 blocks away. Until the policemen heard some kind of ruckus going on my 2x's great grandfather laid their in the street as his neighbor attempted to flee the scene. Until they called for transportation to the hospital he was pronounced dead leaving his wife and 4 very young children behind. At first I was no way have I found my grandmother's mother and father let alone her grandfather. As far as I know she never knew what had happened and sadly her mother died when my grandmother was very young leaving her to go live with her sister. A very sad way to find your ancestors. It was that article that knocked down that brick wall and got me over to Italy (figuratively) to where they were from.
Find out my grandfather had gone to prison for MURDER has to be way near the top. Not only that, but that same grandfather's *aunt* had murdered all her older children, lit the house on fire with the baby inside, and after being caught, she managed to escape custody and drowned herself in the Mississippi river. Another cousin spent her entire adult life in a hospital for the insane, at least one more cousin on that side committed suicide, and another vanished off a riverboat and may have drowned himself, as well. The whole damn family is something from a Tennessee Williams play.

49 Answers

+9 votes
Best answer
My 6th gr. Grandfather Gave land to the Rader Lutheran church in Timberville Va., as `` long as the sun Shines and the rivers flow". The church is one of the oldest still in existence in Va.
 The original deed is still held by the church. Rader-282
answered by Samuel Rader G2G2 (2.4k points)
selected by Lee Recca
Great legacy!!!
+16 votes

Carpenter Culp's Terrible Tumble.  New Castle News.

Falls off Three Story Building, tumbles down embankment, hits head on a log and lives...for a week.

Alonzo Culp

Have a discount to GenealogyBank.  Wanted NewspaperArchives.  Live with what I get on Ancestry.

answered by Michael Stills G2G6 Pilot (363k points)
edited by Michael Stills
+12 votes

I don’t subscribe to any newspaper sites (yet).  I find obituaries very interesting.  It seems that the older obituaries have more personal details than present day ones.  I was excited to find a 1906 Obituary for my great great grandfather, David Wilson (Wilson-10656).  I learned quite a bit from it.  That he was one of the early settlers in Ludington, Michigan, that he moved there from Muskegon, Michigan in 1865…the names of his children, living and passed, and the names of several sibling.  What tickled me about the obituary was his description in this sentence: ‘He numbered his friends by the hundreds, everyone knew the venerable old gentleman with the flowing locks.’  Oh how I would love to find a picture of him with those flowing locks!  I’ve never been to Michigan.  My sister and I are planning a trip there this summer to visit Ludington and the library to see if they have any books on ‘the early days’ of Ludington or a genealogy section. 

answered by Peggy Kirby G2G6 Mach 1 (11k points)
+16 votes

Hm... I'm torn. Jacob William Carrier might not be my direct ancestor, not sure. But if he is, he'd win.

If I can't use him, my great grandma Beatrice Rita Schilb. She married first to August Bebon... then left him, moved in with my great grandpa, George John Carrier (WHO MIGHT BE THE BIOLOGICAL SON OF JACOB WILLIAM CARRIER!) and had a child with him while still married to Mr. Bebon... oops. You can read about THAT in Long Island Daily Press, 26 Nov 1926, Page 4, Article: Wife's Father Aids Hubby Get a Decree.

answered by G. Borrero G2G6 Mach 8 (83.4k points)
Sounds like a DNA test should be in your future!! :-)
I already got one, it hasn't helped at all on the front of my great great grandfather!
Well, that's unfortunate!
+16 votes

I don't subscribe to any newspaper sites. This article is most likely clipped from the Buffalo News. It was published sometime before my great-grandfather's death in 1945. 

Local Man Switched First Electric Light - William J Collins Tells Graphic Story of Dangerous Task Risking Death to Connect Live Wires.

answered by J Steinbach G2G6 Mach 3 (33.3k points)
What a find, J!! It's especially fascinating because we take that all for granted now. I can only imagine the controversy electricity must have brought about back then.
+10 votes to read here, but heck of a story:


answered by Doug Lockwood G2G Astronaut (2.4m points)
edited by Doug Lockwood
Wish I could read it, Doug. The headline is intriguing!
I added a link so that you can read it.
Doug -- I finally had a few minutes to read through this. What an amazing story!!  How are you related??
He was married to my great aunt.
+9 votes
I found my (presumed) great-grandfather's initials in a news article where my great-grandmother and great-great-grandmother are mentioned by name.

There is been a mystery in the family for a long time; my grandfather's last name was the same as his mother's but his older brother and sister had a different last name, even though they were supposedly his full brother and sister.  We had always been told that my grandfather was raised in an orphanage, but that didn't make a whole lot of sense because there wasn't any information about the death of his parents.  To top it all off, my grandparents' marriage registry lists the names of both of my grandmother's parents but only the name of my grandfather's mother; his father was listed as "Name Unknown."  This may be the thing that drove me most to start doing genealogy on my family--the great mystery of "Who was our grandfather's father?"

After finding the initials "H.D.O." in the news article about a domestic disturbance between this man, who was living with my great-grandmother and her mother dated a year or so before my grandfather was born, and an upstairs neighbor was enough to lead me to find the real name of "H.D.O." and further evidence that he is the biological father of my grandfather and my grandfather's older sister.  This additional evidence has also led to information about the "orphanage" where my grandfather was raised and some good reasons why the older family members may have wanted to be so quiet about the whole situation.  In addition to providing the initials, the articles describe the events in enough detail to give a bit of a glimpse about how the players of this little story lived; the upstairs neighbor lady who needed help peeling potatoes, the single mother who lived downstairs in a single room with her mother, two children, and a boyfriend, the 16 cents of liquor shared between the single mother and the upstairs neighbors after the potatoes had been peeled, and the (jealous?) rage of the boyfriend after he came home and found his girlfriend upstairs with the neighbors.

It's good to know that we don't inherit 100% of our ancestors' traits.
answered by Erik Oosterwal G2G6 Mach 2 (20.7k points)
Wow, Erik! That's so confusing and interesting, and I can't believe you were able to unravel all of it!
+11 votes

1937. Jury (DNA) is still out as to whether or not this is my great-grandfather, but he was at least a cousin.

I've subscribed to off and on and occasionally find something amazing. They used to be the only place that archived Kansas City papers but no longer have them. and have been extremely helpful too, and they're free!


answered by Carrie Quackenbush G2G6 Mach 7 (72.3k points)

Carrie --

Thank you so much for the Chronicling America link. I've found a ton of articles and obituaries for my FISCUSes, and I expect I'll find more on my other branches. 

I love how you can search by location.

I don't love how I can't seem to climb out of the rabbit hole!! haha!


Under the paper on the page, there is a source citation that's mostly usable, with the removal of a few brackets.

You can also add a cheater code at the end of the link in the citation to highlight the word you want. #words= It saves you from reading the whole page again to find what might be a two sentence article. For example:


Well, duh. I didn't notice the link at the bottom. I was just kind of making up my own citation. I'll go fix those now. ;-)

Thank you, yet again!
+12 votes

In researching Augustus Barry, I found an article about the "Death of an Octogenarian"... What is an octogenarian I thought, and so now I know, its the death of a person who lived between  80 - 89 years!!


answered by Dorothy Barry G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)
Such a sad story, Dorothy. I'm always amazed at the details that were included in these older obituaries.
+11 votes
In general, some of the Death notices I have found when searching for a relative's death are quite gruesome.   

"While crossing the tracks at the city center John was hit by a train, dismembering his left leg.   When a kind citizen approached him, the man noted so much blood on the ground that John could not have lived long after being hit by the train"

"William succumbed to his injuries on Saturday.  He had fallen from a hay wagon when he lost his footing and was hit by several of the carts following his wagon into town."

answered by Robin Lee G2G6 Pilot (472k points)

Ugh, have come across this too. My 3x great-grandmother caught fire while sitting too close to a stove when she was alone and the paper describes it very graphically.

"Mrs. A. G. Arrington Fire Victim Alone When Discovered Almost Charred."

This wasn't too much of a surprize though as my great-grandmother talked about it all of the time.

The Roberts family married in Nova Scotia, moved to New Hampshire, and then moved to Wisconsin.  A newspaper article notes that one of their children died as an infant when a spinning wheel fell on the child.  What a tragedy for a young family!
I know, Robin! I found one almost identical to the train accident you mentioned.
That is gruesome, Robin. One of my great-grandfathers was a switchman for the railroad and was crushed between two cars. He died a short while later. The world was much more dangerous in the past!
The New Hampshire Statesman dated 15 January 1853 reported that Gould-3314, Ellen Gould, died at age 22 while visiting her oldest brother in Vermont.  As I recall, she drowned while crossing the Connecticut River.  While the article helped me place the family and discover where her oldest brother had moved, I started wondering what could have happened.
+11 votes

I got the genealogy bug largely because of my gg-grandfather Hampson. It was known that he was a music hall performer and my Dad had found the birth records for his two children and some census records; so we knew he was in certain places at certain times. I was in England on business and I arranged to have three days free which I spent in the Newspaper Library, going through the local papers for those places and times. A very interesting experience, to say the least. Although the major papers have been digitized, many of the regional ones have not. So you get to page through these bound volumes of the originals. I couldn't help but be distracted by some of the stories - the Boer War was going on, and the early motor cars were on the road (they didn't have good brakes and tended to run into trees). But the adverts were the most fun; I had neuralgia of the brain but Dr Pepper's Pink Pills cured me. And many more like it. I did find Alfred Ross Hampson, as you can read on his profile, but the best bit was finding the obituary for his wife on the front page of the local paper. There were things in there we had no idea about. She had been an actress on the London stage before their marriage, and that evening as I went to find dinner I walked past one of the theatres she would have performed at. I rang my Dad, in Australia, as I was walking and reported what I found that day. I think I could hear tears running down his cheeks.

answered by Chris Hampson G2G6 Mach 8 (89.7k points)
Incredible, Chris!  There's nothing like walking where our ancestors lived! Hoping I can do the same in Sweden in the not-too-distant future.
+8 votes

It's hard to narrow it down to just one item, but George Freeth is probably the most notorious headline-making person in my line.  As was his son, Sam, to a lesser extent.

I subscribe to and GenealogyBank, but also use the free ones (e.g. FultonHistory,, Google, etc).


answered by Vicky Majewski G2G6 Mach 6 (67.5k points)
Good heavens, Vicky! I don't even know what to say about ole George! That's quite a story.
+9 votes

This is a newspaper story from the Semi-Weekly Interior Journal in Stanford, KY dated February 19, 1889 about Randolph Sluder and his service in the War of 1812. Muster rolls from War of 1812 confirm he fought in the Battle of New Orleans and also served with James Eubank as stated in this story. This story was previously unknown to anyone in the family. The location of the sword is also unknown. Randolph is my 3rd great grandfather.


answered by Steven Sluder G2G Crew (470 points)
I wish I could read it, Steven. The privacy level is keeping it as just a thumbnail. :-(
How in the heck do I post this as an image???? I tried and tried and finally gave up and just posted the link. If I can't post the image, how do I change the privacy level? I changed that too and thought I had it open for members to see.

|caption=Randolph Sluder Story from War of 1812

Hi, again, Steven!

I just posted some instructions here for including an image in your post.

I think the problem with the link to the picture is because you have it linked to your personal profile. The privacy level on images is tied to the profile that they're attached to. See help page here:

My suggestion: Set up a Free Space page with a Green privacy level and link your images to that. (I have one here)

That way you can link to any of the images from any of your profiles, and here in G2G. :-)

I hope that makes sense. If not, post your questions here, and it might help someone else, too.

Well, I've tried to attach the image without luck, but I can do the next best thing and include the link at the top. Thank you for your suggestion Julie, it is much appreciated. :-)

Paul -- I don't give up that easily!! lol ... just go back to the image and click on it so that it opens up by itself. You'll see in the address bar on your browser that it now has a .gif (or .jpg or .png) extension on the file name.

If you copy that entire URL and come back to edit your post, you can copy that whole link into the window that pops open when you click the image button.

Once you paste the link in the URL field and tab to another field in that window, you should see a preview of your image.

You can play with the numbers along the left-hand side to adjust the size of it, and then just click the "Save changes" button when you have it the way you want, and you should be good to go. :-)

It worked! Thank you!! :-)
+8 votes

Hello everyone, I'm new to WikiTree, so please forgive me if this doesn't quite work.

I don't subscribe to any newspapers, but there is a very good website in New Zealand called Papers Past.

The most interesting news article that I've found so far is a rather sad one, insofar as it concerns my great-great grandfather, William Clemence (spelt Clements in the article). He emigrated to New Zealand from England in 1876 with his new wife, Ellen (nee Boore) and on 25 February 1882 he was violently assaulted in Christchurch when on his way home from work.

The image I have of the article is a gif, and I cannot seem to attach it here, but it covers in some detail the assault, which landed up with William having a splintered jaw, three teeth loosened, and a bruised eyeball. Apparently William was unable to work for some considerable time afterwards due to his injuries. The offender was arrested and tried, but I do not yet know the outcome. I hope to see if there are criminal records pertaining to the case in Archives New Zealand's Christchurch branch.

After unsuccessful attempts to attach the image, which is copyright free according to Papers Past, I have included the link for people to peruse. :-)


answered by Paul Clemence G2G Crew (440 points)
edited by Paul Clemence
Papers Past is such an amazing source for early New Zealanders. My favourite series of reports is about infanticide in Nelson in 1865. My great great grandmother found the baby's body in the sea. I never drive along Rocks Road without thinking about it.
Paul ... if you have the article attached to the profile of your gg grandfather, you can add it to your answer here by using the little "image" button on your post when you're in edit mode -- it's the 3rd button in on the bottom row.

Amazing that you uncovered that story! I wish you luck finding the additional records.
+9 votes

A newspaper clipping for John Arthur Hogg receiving a patent for a new gem setting technique provided evidence to help prove that Arthur Hogg of the 1892 New York Census and John A Hogg who died in 1897 in Buffalo were the same person.

"Morning Telegram," (Elmira, New York, USA), 1891 via

answered by Debi Hoag G2G6 Pilot (203k points)
By the way, great places to look for newspapers for free: ( - Originally just New York, he has expanded out all over the place.

ChroniclingAmerica ( 1789-1924 Nation-wide. primarily focused on showing what was happening in America.

Online Historical Newspapers ( Links to digitized newspapers world-wide. Some are pay sites, designated by $

Florida Digital Newspaper Library ( 837 newspapers, dates range from the 1830s to present day

Caribbean Newspaper Digital Library ( 205 newspapers in 11 languages, dates range from 1784-

Google Newspaper Archives ( Lots of newspapers from all over; multiple languages, broad range of years. Use the search box beside of Google News and the Search Archive button to search in only the newspapers. If you know the paper and date of interest, it can be fairly quick to just browse.

Also, check your local and state archive, museum, and library websites for special collections.
As usual, Debi, you are a wealth of well-organized information! :-)
+9 votes
I have a cousin who was allegedly murdered by her fiance' though of course he denied it. There were several accounts about different aspects of the proceedings.One of them detailed, that her mother tried to shoot him with an old gun that misfired. Another account tells the story of her mother taking her umbrella to him trying to beat information out of him as to what he did to her. Always keeping my eyes open for more information about this murder.
answered by Sharon Ray G2G6 Mach 1 (11.2k points)
That's pretty heartbreaking. The poor mother. :-(
The whole situation was heartbreaking. She was an only child, who had a son by the man who allegedly killed her, her father died from alcohol poisoning after drinking with the man who allegedly killed his daughter after his death, and her mother was left to raise her son.

There was also a Murder Ballard written about the whole thing.
+10 votes
My latest find was that my 3rd Great Grandmother was an Axe Murderer:

These excerpts are from the newspaper article referenced in the show.

Jeffercon City Inquirer 1943(Jefferson City MO)

“A man whose name our informant had forgotten.”  

"[Casto] had been in the habit of treating his wife in a manner too brutal and too shocking to think of." "On the morning of the day mentioned he told his wife to get up and get breakfast for himself and her two children, and then to commence saying her prayers, for she should die, he swore, before sunset."

 "She got up and made a fire and returned to the room where her unnatural husband slept," the article continued. "He was lying on his back in a sound sleep. She took the axe with which she had been chopping wood and with one blow sunk it deep into his head, just through the eyes."

 Curnutt was found guilty of first-degree manslaughter and sentenced to five years in prison. Out of 800 inmates, Curnutt was the only female in the Missouri State Penitentiary at the time."
answered by Teri Taylor G2G3 (3.5k points)

That is interesting. Martha Curnutt was discussed in Cynthia Nixon's episode of Who Do You Think You Are?

Such a horrible price for her to pay for protecting herself and, most likely, her children.

Did you know you were related so closely to Cynthia Nixon?
No I did not.  I did not see that show prior to my original research and discovery of the article.  Still a mystery is the fact that my ggmother  got pregnant in the prison by a guard....we don't know the name of the father or the fate of the child.
Oh my goodness ... so heartbreaking!
WOW - I just found MY Axe Murdering GGGrandma too - different family, though, and in Mississippi !  Isn't that a HOOT !!
Unfortunately, this was all too common a fate for imprisoned women. A female relative of mine did some hard time at a women's prison in Florida, and she told me that the guards would mess around with the female prisoners all the time. There have always been men who would abuse their power in such a way.
+8 votes

In 1919, my great grandparents, who we were told were had robbed and murdered by refugees, were actually murdered by the husband and brother of a woman that he had groped (or worse). The woman, who lived in an adjoining house, ran to the police at 4:30 AM to say that that the neighbors had been shot (him) and strangled (her) by bandits, and also that her husband had been shot in the hand while responding to the commotion. An investigation ensued, but the jig was up when the detective remembered that the woman had been to the station the week before to complain about my great grandfather's groping. The threesome finally pleaded guilty in the Belgian court and were sentenced to perpetual hard labor.

From the Volksstem, 20 Feb, 1920, which is freely available on the Digitaal krantenarchief - Stadsarchief Aalst, but you need to be able to read Dutch.

answered by Claire Michaels G2G Crew (440 points)
Again ... so amazed at the details you all have been able to find!
+8 votes
In researching my Great Grandmother on my father's side, I discovered she was convicted for conspiring to kill her husband.

The newspaper article states that she (Amelia Mildred (Seckinger) Whann) conspired with a Cuban medical student (Eugene Sanz) in 1922 to kill her husband Dr. John J. Whann Jr.

She was released on bail and never did any time.  Eugene served 10 years for his part.
answered by Ralph Tompkins G2G Crew (530 points)
Holy cow, Ralph! Did you ever find out the backstory?
Hi Julie,

All I know is from the newspaper articles from

The Dr.'s practice was slow, so they took in boarders.  Apparently, Mrs. Whann (my GGmother) seduced the young Eugene Sanz into murdering her husband, Dr. John Whann Jr.

As told in the newspapers, Sanz hit the Dr. over the head with a metal rod (fireplace poker?) and left him for dead.  Then Sanz lit the house on fire to cover the crime.

The good doctor defended his wife at the trial.  

My Grandmother & Grandaunt were also mentioned in the articles as defending their mother as well.

Sanz went to Jail, Amelia did not.

(Note: A cousin from Florida added to the story - Amelia did divorce her husband.  He re-married and moved to Beaver County, PA.  Amelia never re-married.  She is buried with my Grandparents.  Amelia opened a Beer & Pretzel tavern in Phila., PA.  She lived with her brother Matthew.  He was found dead floating in the Delaware River from arsenic poisoning!)

It's funny, my dad never told us any of this story!

GenealogyBank was very helpful.

Thanks for your interest.

+8 votes
That my maternal Grandmother was married twice. Also my 2 Great Aunt was arrested with Guns and Ammo in her car, driving to Juarez to give guns to Poncho Villa.


Joe Garcia
answered by Joseph Garcia G2G2 (2.6k points)
edited by Joseph Garcia
You have revolution in your veins!! Very cool, Joseph!

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