As I was preparing all my family documents for scanning earlier this year, I came across a photocopy of the obituary of my husband’s black sheep ancestor, Isaac Sturgell. It was taken off a roll of microfilm a number of years ago and I was lamenting the fact that the photocopy hadn’t held up too well. The scan is actually an improvement over the photocopy.
I found this while reading old issues of the Cassville Republican newspaper out of Barry County, Missouri. I also wished that I could find a better digital image since there is no death certificate for Isaac and he was buried in an unmarked grave.
This is a reminder to keep checking the ever-growing online collections of digitized historical newspapers. Here are some links, which are also in my Research Toolbox found in the top right area under the blog title header.
California Digital Newspaper Collection
Historical U.S. Newspapers On Line
Historical Worldwide Newspapers on Line
Library of Congress: Chronicling America
Old New York State Historical Newspapers
Why am I bringing this up now? Because it turns out that the Cassville Republican wasn’t the only newspaper to publish Isaac’s obituary. A slightly differently worded obituary appears in The Monett Times. The town of Monett sits on the county lines of Barry and Lawrence Counties, Missouri.
I took some time to browse Chronicling America for some of the less common surnames in the family tree and “Sturgell” was one of them. What came up, but Isaac’s second obituary in the Monett Times:
It appears that two different people wrote these obituaries. The first tells me that Isaac died of consumption, or tuberculosis. The second obituary calls him “Reverend,” which I find hard to believe as I’ve never found any evidence that he even knew how to read or write. That is apart from the generally un-Christian type of life he led! However, there is one bit in the second one that I wished I had known when I traipsed all over Oak Hill Cemetery – which is quite large with over 2700 graves – hoping to find where he was buried. The second obit says he was buried in the Baptist Church lot. Even if he is in an unmarked grave, I could have taken a photo of the Baptist section.
However, I am thrilled that I now have not one, but two, obituaries for Isaac.
Take the time to revisit the sites that feature digitized newspapers. They are being updated all the time – I’ve featured links to updated collections several times in my Recommended Reads. Each update is worth checking out.