Newspapers Provide Proof When Disasters Destroy Records

Newspapers Provide Proof When Disasters Destroy Records


JONES–KELLY–In this city, February 7, by the Rev. Father Scanlon, Thomas A. Jones to Miss Margaret Kelly, both of this city.

[San Francisco Call, San Francisco, CA, 9 Feb 1869, page 3]

It doesn’t look like much, does it?  A groom, a bride, a priest, and a date.  To the untrained eye, it’s just a simple entry. Something you’d glance at and then disregard.  To a genealogist craving missing records, it’s a gift from the gods.

If your ancestors lived in San Francisco before 1906, you’d know that simple entry is priceless.  You see, most of the church records prior to 1906 were destroyed in the earthquake and fire.  So were the city records. There are reconstructed indexes.  Sometimes you’re lucky and sometimes you’re not.  I was part of the “not” group.  My Great Great Grandparents didn’t leave much behind.  A census record and a couple of city directory entries.  That’s pretty much it.

When I happened upon Jim Faulkinberry’s Index to the San Francisco Call Newspaper, I decided to take a gander.  The index included birth, death, and marriage records found in the San Francisco Call from 1869 to 1900.  I had no idea when my Great Great Grandparents were married, but what the heck!  It’s always worth a try.

In 1869, I came across this index entry:

Jones, Thomas A. … married in 1869 to Kelly, Margaret … 1869M-795

I followed up by sending the appropriate fee to Mr. Faulkinberry.  In exchange I got a copy of the newspaper entry. The dates fit with what I already knew about the family.

How cool it was to finally have evidence of their marriage!  It proved when the marriage was held.  By getting the name of the Priest I had a chance to find out where they were married too.  Not alot of information, but that little entry is the only proof I have of their marriage.

Disasters can erase the documents you need to do your family tree. Because newspapers are archived in many different locations, it’s often possible to find a missing bit of family history among their pages.  Without this entry in the San Francisco Call, I would only be able to guess when they married.  Newspapers are a great way to get over the barriers that missing official records create.

Check out how religious newspapers help me learn more about Margaret (Kelly) Jones in my post Religious Newspaper Comes to the Rescue

You can also read how I used newspaper to find out more about the boardinghouses my Kelly-Meincke relatives owned in my post Newspapers Tell Me a Little Bit about the Five Mile House

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