Multiple Obituaries

A relative’s death notice or obituary may appeared in several newspapers or none at all. Make certain to search more than just one newspaper even if you do find a detailed notice in one. While in most cases the content is the same, sometimes different newspapers will include different details. Newspapers in the county seat may contain a briefer notice than those closer to where the person actually lived. Smaller, weekly papers may contain a more detailed account of the person’s life than a larger daily one.

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11 thoughts on “Multiple Obituaries

  1. Kat

    I’ve noticed that obits may differ from one newspaper to another. In 1900, my grandmother’s brother was deeded the family home by his other siblings after the parent’s deaths. I began seeing sale of that property in 1903, but his name was not involved in the sale. Obvious conclusion was that he was deceased. There was no tombstone for him where the other relatives were buried. Later I just happened to find a newspaper that told when and where he died in an another county, but didn’t give place of burial. I often read old papers from my home area just to see the “news.” A community correspondent gave complete details concerning the death and burial. He was buried with his family after all.

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  2. Ted Lomatski

    As a genealogist living far away from most of the family settled and still lives, I follow the local newspapers for obit entries. One day, I notice and entry for a relative who had been married twice (divorce). As I cut and pasted and made notes, I noticed the next entry with the same relative’s name! My first reaction was to figure that there was a technical problem and the obituary was put in twice. Fortunately, I continued to read. Both obituaties were indeed for the same person. However, one was inserted by the first family, the other by second family! At a quick glance, one would be hard pressed to recognise the deceased as being the same person!

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  3. J. W. Pruett

    I found an article about a man who died in the 1920s in a community news section of a neighboring county newspaper, across the state line.
    Normally, I should have found a death certificate, but this is what happened —
    The man was hard of hearing and was hit by a train when he was crossing the railroad tracks. The train stopped and picked up the deceased man to take him to their next regular stop, which was in a neighboring state. No death certificate was found in either state, nor an obituary; however, the community news article provided many details often omitted from an obituary.
    Lesson — don’t give up. Exhaust all resources.

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  4. Maria

    I was at a brick wall with one gggrandfather for many years. I had a DC with incorrect parents, and the son with whom he lived at time of death was the informant. I had all his children’s names and birth information because he was a Civil War veteran and had filled for a disability pension. I had one obituary in the county where he died that gave no usable information. After getting a subscription to Newspapers.com, I did searches and found another obituary in a newspaper in the next county from where he died, but where 2 daughters lived. That obit listed all children AND listed 2 sisters! With that information, I was able to find that part of the family on a census record and the correct parent’s names. A trip to the county Historical Society and court house confirmed the parents, and probate records got me back one more generation.

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  5. Mary Hammond

    Obituaries often appear in professional journals. An obituary for my father, a biochemist, appeared in an issue of Chemical and Engineering News. My brothers and I had not submitted it, but members who remembered my dad had apparently seen his obit in the Chicago Tribune, and published highlights of that obit, adding information about his professional memberships (American Chemical Society) and offices he had held.
    Also, obits for people very active in service or fraternal organizations (Masons, Elks, Chamber of Commerce, YMCA, Girl Scouts, AAUW, etc.) can be found in magazines and newsletters published by these organizations, either locally or nationally. Both types are best found through libraries’ periodical index databases, such as Proquest – often searchable from home if you have a library card.

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  6. Linda Murphy

    This is so true. I agree with other poster’s in that I’ve found several obituaries that included more and better information for the same person than what had been shared in another newspaper. Obituaries were costly and so it most likely occurred to those paying for the obituaries that the more complete obituaries would be in the most widely read papers of their area. Also, often brief mentions were made in papers for another area where the deceased may have lived previously.

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  7. Anna Bertram

    I have found that old newspapers from the 1800s placed death notices and obituaries anywhere in the newspaper as there were no specific sections for such. It takes a lot of time reading old microfilms of complete newspaper issues but sometimes it reaps great rewards.

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  8. Vera Cole

    When did probate notices begin? I just came across a clipping in some old papers for a family member, and never thought of checking when looking at obituaries. What information can be obtained other than the estate administrator.
    We have an ancestor whose records in Allen Co., OH, were destroyed by piling in the street and burning to make room for new records. So we are trying to locate anything we can find.

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    1. michaeljohnneill Post author

      In some cases as far back as the1 1830s. Those notices tend to be of final settlement or of the time frame for submitting bills. In some rural areas the county seat newspaper or other newspapers may publish more details, but those generally start after the Civil War.

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  9. Vera Cole

    What can be obtained from probate notices, other than the administrator, and do you have any idea when were they first published? We’ve just realized this could be a source of information for an ancestor who died in 1872. He lived in Allen Co., OH where the old records were piled in the street and burned, to make room for newer records. The county historical society has helped with all the information they could find. There is no obituary nor death record available for this Union CW veteran. He was an older man who served for 3 months in the OH Squirrel Hunters, and did not qualify for a pension. We’ve been unable to find court records yet that could apply to him.
    Thank you for sharing your research tips. We find them very helpful and they have shown us new areas of research.

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