Anne Faulkner, blog author from the website Ancestor Archaeology, has shared this blog as part of our ongoing “How I Solved It Series”.

This blog explains how Anne was wanting to learn more about her grandmother and how she took a variety of research methods with newspapers and church records to discover the answers to various pieces of her grandmother’s life (marriage, baptism, etc) after initially only knowing her death date and where she died. 

In my last Field Notes I made the confession of my haste to win genealogy {again} and the embarrassing error of my ways. It happens. Even to the best of us.

If people never did silly things, nothing intelligent would ever get done. – Ludwig Wittgenstein


But today I would like to share with you how that plan ultimately came together, and I found more information in an afternoon of ease, that hours and hours of struggle.

Once I realized the error of my ways I was able to search intelligently. I was looking for my grandmother’s marriage information and her death information. I knew when and where she died, but I did not have a death certificate or an obituary. I only knew a timeframe for her wedding and had no idea where, so that was a bit more of a challenge.

First stop: FamilySearch where I input the correct information and easily obtained an indexed record of her death certificate. (No photo) It didn’t tell me anything I did not already know, but I found it. (No marriage information to be found, however)

On to cyberdriveillinois and the Illinois death certificates database. Entering her name and the county where she died (obtained from the indexed record on FamilySearch) I found the entry and was able to learn the official death certificate number. (Made a note to order a copy)

Next stop: my local library online remote access to the historical Chicago Tribune to search for an obituary. I entered my grandmother’s name and the year of her death and received 97 results. Scrolling down to the obituary with the correct date, I opened it to learn of the church where her funeral was held. This was brand new information! And, to be quite honest, a little eerie for some reason – this was the first time I had ever laid eyes on it. It made her death all that more real. (Quick backstory, I never knew her, she died when my dad was 15 and my grandfather had already remarried by the time I arrived)

I need to say at this point, I tried the Chicago Tribune archives first with no success. After finding the obituary on the ProQuest site I was then able to return to the Tribune archives site and simply by adding yyyy/mm/dd after the url successfully found the paper, and the obituary, but I did need to “read” the paper to find the obituary section.

From her obituary I learned the church where her funeral was held, and on a hunch I googled it to get an email address. I sent an email inquiring after my grandmother, if she was a church member, and wondering if she may have been married or even baptized there. (Another aside: Before emailing, I checked the FamilySearch non-indexed database on this church, but it stopped a year short of when she might have gotten married – and there was no record of her baptism …..)

The following morning there was a reply to my email from the church pastor!

YES! She had been married there!

He gave me the date, the witnesses and the church where she had been baptized (gotta love the Catholic Church for their record keeping!) Her baptism record had been destroyed by fire, but there was an affidavit from her parents attesting to her baptism.

I FINALLY had an answer to the mystery of her marriage! And her baptism.

**Thorough researcher that I am, I went back to those non-indexed church records on FamilySearch and browsed the baptism records from the correct church – indeed there had been a fire, and the record books noted it! I was able to find her brother’s baptism 5 years later, so I felt a bit of consolation.**

Happy ending to an afternoon of armchair research.

If you have a story idea or a blog that you’d like to share as part of this series, please let us know about it in the comments.

Anne Faulkner
Anne writes about her family history journey from a personal perspective, with humor and truth, in order to help other family historians find answers or support through her stories. She does this because she believes family history is important, knowing where you came from is both humbling and powerful." Want to start your own adventure? Curious about your family history? Anne can help! Tracing your family origins can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. She is available for hire or consultation, contact her via email to discuss your needs. Visit Anne's Website