Don’t Just Scratch the Surface

While viewing a newspaper account of a relative’s accidental death in 1906, I noticed a reference to a woman’s murder in an adjacent county. She was shot by her husband. Somewhat curious, I decided to do a little “quick” online research into the woman and her husband.

She was mentioned in quite a few online trees, but none referenced her short marriage to her husband or the circumstances of her death.

It was easy to see in this case why nothing else had been located:

  • The woman was born after 1880 and in 1900 was living with her parents.
  • By 1910 she was dead.
  • Her tombstone does not mention her husband’s name–just the names of her parents.
  • The marriage records for the county where she likely married are not online and not microfilmed.
  • The court records for the county where the case was held are not online in digital format. They have not been microfilmed.
  • Most of the references to her murder refer to her by her husband’s name–using “Mrs.” almost consistently.

Another reminder of the importance of getting beyond what is easy to find and not relying on the online trees.

It is easy to understand in this case why her married name was not put on her tombstone (she’s buried with her parents) and why the family may not have mentioned her marriage and her husband.

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3 thoughts on “Don’t Just Scratch the Surface

  1. Patty

    I’m starting to think of something along this line or something that happened back in the day. Just now starting to put articles & information I have at hand together so I can figure out where to go & what legal documents I need to find along with new information from other sources.

  2. Patricia McMahon Regan

    This is the type of genealogical research that requires one to go back to the original old fashion genealogical research way where one has to contact people, write letters, contact the church for B, M & D records, locate Coroners Report to obtain, search old newspapers for information on the investigation of her death, circumstances of the incident and receive documentation for her entire life since B. Genealogy was never meant to be easy and research itself means exhausting any and all available information that exists and not leaving a stone unturned. Taking a lot of the information off the internet is only scraping the surface and many times gives one only transcriptions and no actual documentation on your work nor does it mean researching. If it is a close relative then it should be included and documented. Some people seem to only want to include the parts that are honorable, leave out the bad, but good Genealogical research includes everyone that should be there.

    1. michaeljohnneill Post author

      Good points. The details of her death actually could be found in a digital images of the newspaper–one just has to search for her father’s name instead of hers. The rest of the story rests in local records which would be easily located using the offline approaches you mentioned–although some of these approaches can be done partially online. Had this been an actual relative, I’d have done more than just online searches.

      Situations like this are why sometimes people have “brick walls” when there actually isn’t one.


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