Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Newspaper Research Brings Surprise

Every once in a while, research reveals a surprise that sets you back on your heals. This happened to me this weekend as I was researching on GenealogyBank for data about my gg grandfather, Francis McCue or Frank McHugh as his name evolved before he died.

Let me back up a bit. I was privileged to attend RootsTech with my friend, Bev. We decided to get there a few days early so we could spend some time in the Family History Library. While there, I actually found some court records for Bridget McHugh which dealt with the estate of Frank McHugh. More on that in a later blog.

Then, at RootsTech, I attended a session by Drew Smith on using your blog as a research log. That was it. This is what I am going to try and do as I spend this year trying to find where in Ireland Frank McHugh came from.

Yesterday, I spent several hours researching in GenealogyBank for any news items on Frank McHugh but instead came across a small article about Bridget. Of course, every little bit of information causes many more questions that lead to more research. But, that is what makes researching our families so interesting.

Newspaper -- MCHUGH, Bridget, arrested, 1887, Pittsfield, MA

Questions that now need to be answered are: Why was having some beer in the house against the law? Why did she have beer in her house? When was the trial and what was the result? (I searched GenealogyBank but found nothing on the trial).

Newspaper research is really fun because it helps bring our ancestors to life. My gg grandmother was a real person who got her name in the paper probably in a way she never expected. I sure was surprised!


  1. I agree newspapers are always interesting, liked the blog post the Legal Genealogist did for you also. I have looked up a lot of probate files and never found one as interesting as that one.


  2. Hi Margie,
    Thanks for this article. It brings home the idea that one can find so much in news articles. Even little ones tucked in a corner with only three lines written. In the fall of 2011, I had the privilege of going to the DC National Archives to explore a Federal pension denial of the two wives of a ggg grandfather’s who had served in the Civil War. The pages and pages of testimonies were amazing. The family stories were rich with “who’s –who.” Sadly the government could not prove either woman was married or divorced and so no one received the pension. There were no records to be found in their respective communities as proof despite testimony by witnesses who attended both weddings. Within 6 weeks of coming home from that trip I subscribed to Genealogy Bank and soon found the wedding announcement that no one had been able to provide as documentation to the government. In the government testimonies no reference was made of said article. Yes, widow number one – at minimum should have received the pension unless further newspapers could provide to the contrary. Case solved? Well, I will always continue the search – who knows, the story may still unfold more in time. Or I may learn that the newspaper article may not have been admissible some 50 years after the first wedding. For me, the search was as wonderful as the evidence discovered. Priceless!