Footnote Friday: Curious Obituary

One of the collections that I visit regularly on is the San Francisco Chronicle Newpaper database.  The collection covers the newspaper from 1865 to 1923.

I’ve found obituaries, news items, marriage announcements, and more that relate to my family.  This week I was trying to find the obituary of Jane (Haywards) Jones.  I didn’t have any luck.  I did come across this little ditty from the 25 April 1893 edition (page 10):


The entry reads:

JONES–At St. Joseph’s Infant Hospital, April 24, Maud, daughter of Thomas and Margaret Jones, aged 2 years.

I am not sure if this is my Thomas and Margaret Jones.  There were a couple Thomas Jones living in San Francisco at the time, so it could be any one of them.

I have a feeling this one belongs to my family.  There is a family story that never quite fit the data and this might be the missing link.

Margaret (Kelly) Jones died of puerperal fever in 1889 about five days after giving birth.  The baby died a week or so later.  That baby was a daughter name Francis.

Despite the fact that this baby died, my Grandma had told me several times that after her Grandmother died, her Mother was in charge with raising her two younger sisters and the baby.  How could her Mother raise the baby if that baby died?

I think it’s possible that Margaret (Kelly) Jones gave birth to twins.  Francis died a short time after birth, while Maud survived.  It probably would have been very hard to keep a baby alive during the 1890s after the Mother died, especially if that baby was sickly.

The age for Maud is slightly off. She would have been born in July 1889. She would have been 2 years old in July of 1891. She would have been 3 1/2 by the time this obituary was written. Given the fact that people played loose with facts, I won’t write this off completely until I disprove it.

I’m not sure if I will ever know if this daughter belongs to my Great Great Grandparents. The records were most likely destroyed in the 1906 earthquake and fire.  I did attempt to locate a birth announcement in the newspaper.  Given the circumstances of the death of Margaret and her baby so soon after birth, Thomas probably never got around to the newspaper announcement.  It might have even seemed inappropriate.

Maybe someday I will find a cemetery plot with Maud Jones’ name on it.  As mortuary records get indexed, I may be able to find out more that way.  In the meantime, I’ll hold on to this obituary.  Some day it may prove to be a match.

A couple of research tips:

The newspapers at are particularly tricky to research. Here are a few tips to help you find your relatives:
1. Use the browse feature and search a specific date if you know what you are looking for.
2. Try the keyword search rather than the surname search to find people.
3. When searching for phrases use quotation marks. One of the best ways to find an obituary in the San Francisco Chronicle is to search this way
keyword: dolan (or any surname you are looking for)
keyword: “in this city” (this will root out the obituarys since most if not all have “in this city” in the first line.

You can also try: “dolan–in this city”. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn’t.
4. Try to pick the most uncommon names to narrow down results.
5. Remember that alot of people went by initials. Thomas Augustine Jones was listed in his brother’s obituary as T.A. Jones.
6. Review the set up of the newspaper for the period you are interested in. This will give you an idea of the formatting and wording to help you formulate better searches.

Finally, be persistent! Try you search many ways. You’ll often hit on the right combination of keywords to find the information you need.


Follow Friday: Small Leaved Shamrock

One of my favorite blogs is the Small Leaved Shamrock. Lisa’s blog is dedicated to Irish roots centering in Pennsylvania. Many of the post appeal anyone working on Irish genealogy. I’ve learned quite a bit about my Irish roots from this blog.

Some posts that I have enjoyed are:

Irish Women in America: Our Grandmothers’ Stories

To Be Born Irish

Death Comes in Threes: The sorrows of Margaret Foley Cowhey, 1891-1895

The Small Leaved Shamrock may be best known for it’s Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture, currently in it’s 16th Edition.  The carnival is comprised of posts by bloggers written for a specific topic that has been selected for each edition.  The current edition is Irish Portraits: An Album of Stories.

If you are exploring your Irish heritage, be sure to check out this blog.  If you’re a blogger, make sure you participate in the carnivals! Make sure to wish them a Happy 2nd Blog-a-versary!


Footnote Friday: Three Cheers for the 1930 Census Index!

I have spent a week working on a de Mello family who came from the town of Maia, Ribeira Grande, Sao Miguel Island, Azores.  In the 1910 census, I found Eugenio de Mello in Fall River, Bristol Co., MA.  His brother’s Manoel and Marianno were living in New Bedford, Bristol Co., MA in the same household.

Then poof!  they vanished.  I had an idea that Eugenio moved to Rhode Island.  I was able to find a WWI Draft Registration Card to prove he was there in 1918.  But, Manoel and Marianno were nowhere to be found.

A couple of city directory pages were all I could find of Eugenio.  Multiple searches in’s 1920 and 1930 census indexes turned up nada!  You don’t know how many ways I tried to spell Eugenio and de Mello.  I even did an open ended search just in Warren, where they were supposed to have lived.

I noticed something quirky about the census sheets.  In the new viewer on part of the bottom of the sheets are cut off.  I couldn’t even go page by page to find the family if I wanted to.

I decided to see if I would have better luck at as they also have the 1930 census index.  Shoot!  5 minutes into my search I found Eugenio, his son, Seraphine (under the hilarious name Snophine), and his son, Joseph.  What a relief!  I beginning to think there was foul play at hand or at the very least, spontaneous combustion.

I should have started at rather than ended there!  Now, I am off to find Mr’s Marianno and Manoel.  Wish me luck!