One of the collections that I visit regularly on Footnote.com 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 footnote.com 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.