Top 10 Genealogy Clues in Obituaries

obituariesI was transcribing obituaries for Find A Grave recently and was once again reminded of all the hidden genealogy gems they contain. How many can you find?

From page 7 of the March 11, 1892 edition of the Chicago Daily News;

“QUINLAN-March 10, 1892, BRIDGET, the beloved daughter of Patrick and the late Bridget Quinlan, aged 16 years. Funeral Saturday, at 9:30 from her father’s residence, 78 Edgar-st., to Annunciation church, where high mass will be celebrated; thence to N.W.R.R. depot by cars to Calvary cemetery.”

“SCOTT-At his residence, 259 S. May-st., March 11, JAMES, beloved husband of Ellen Scott (nee Nugent), member of Court Col. Mulligan, No. 86, I.O.F., aged 42 years. Funeral Sunday, at 9 a.m., from above address, to St. Patrick’s church, thence by carriages to Calvary cemetery.”

“TUCKER-March 9, 1892, at 46[?]3 State-st., JOHN J., beloved son of James and Kittie Tucker (nee O’Conner). Funeral Friday, March 11, at 9 a.m., by carriages to Calvary cemetery.”

“WELCH-March 10, 1892, MAGGIE WELCH (nee Cagney), beloved wife of Timothy Welch and daughter of Catherine and the late Richard Cagney. Funeral Sunday, March 13, 1892, at 9 a.m., from her late residence, 310 Henry-st., to the Jesuit church, thence to Calvary via C.M. & S.P. R.R.”

“WELLS-SILAS EDWARD, beloved son of James and Lulu Wells, aged 1 year and 4 months. Funeral from parents’ residence, 3139 Parnell-av., Friday, March 11, at 10 a.m., by carriages to Calvary.”

Here’s my Top 10 List of clues (okay, 14 – it was a treasure trove!) from the obituaries above. Do you see any others?

  1. Existence (entire lives lived between census records)
  2. Last residence
  3. Parents’ names and addresses
  4. Parents’ mortality (child of the late …)
  5. Age at time of death (use to estimate year of birth)
  6. Religion
  7. Specific church affiliation
  8. Economic status (train car or carriage)
  9. Name of spouse
  10. In-laws’ given names and/or surname
  11. Surname of maternal grandparents
  12. Club memberships
  13. Place of burial
  14. Political affiliation (i.e. choice of newspaper)
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