Using Newspapers to Find Your Mayflower Cousins

October 7, 2015  - by 

Searching through GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives recently, I found an announcement for Margaret (Rogers) Smith’s 81st birthday. Margaret Anne (Rogers) Smith (1857-1943) didn’t come to America on the Mayflower – but according to this newspaper article her ancestor Thomas Rogers (c. 1572-Winter 1620/21) did.

Ding!

Hey – I am also descended from Thomas Rogers.

That makes Margaret my cousin.

What more can I learn about her?

Could it be this easy to find my cousins?

Yes – it is.

Mayflower Cousins

This article is packed with genealogical clues and information about Margaret, her siblings and children. That would make all of them my cousins too. Armed with these clues I then need to verify and prove each member of the family as I go back generation by generation to our common ancestor: Pilgrim Thomas Rogers.

For starters, the newspaper article gives me Margaret’s photo and tells me that she “celebrated her eighty-first birthday this week at her home at Prosper [Colin County, Texas].”

Wow – her photo. A great find. Nice smile.

So, she was 81 years old in January 1938 and living in Prosper, Colin County, Texas.

That should be easy to verify.

Here is a copy of her death certificate.

Good, it shows that she was still living in Prosper, Texas, when she died, and it gives me her date of birth as 18 January 1857, in Colin County, Texas. Hmm… January 1857 – that was just 11 years after Texas became a state.

The newspaper clipping also says her grandparents “were among the first settlers in this community.”

Another great clue.

Mayflower Cousins 2
So it looks like multiple generations of the family had moved from Tennessee to Texas.

It continues giving me the names of her surviving brothers, sisters and children. Perfect. Newspapers sure make it easy to research and fill in the entire family tree of my Mayflower ancestors.

My next step is to look at the records available in other newspapers in GenealogyBank, FamilySearch and other sources to verify each member of the family going back generation by generation.

Sometimes you actually can work your family tree from the top down – and in a case like this where the connection is in the surname line, you can work on your tree from the bottom up. As ever: Trust, but verify and confirm that she is in fact a descendant of Thomas Rogers of the Mayflower.

Genealogy Tip: Researching your Mayflower family lines? Use the old newspapers to find those who are self-identified as descendants of the same Pilgrim ancestors you are. Then link them back, generation by generation, to attach them to your extended Mayflower family tree.

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Source for image #1: GenealogyBank.com, Dallas Morning News (Dallas, Texas), 23 January 1938, page 12

Source for image #2: FamilySearch, “Texas, Deaths, 1890-1976,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-25246-83874-37?cc=1983324: accessed 3 September 2015), Death certificates > 1943 > Vol 073-079, certificates 036001-039400, Aug, Brazoria-Starr counties > image 314 of 3524; State Registrar Office, Austin.

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Thomas Jay Kemp is the Director of Genealogy Products at GenealogyBank. Tom is an internationally known librarian and archivist. He is the author of over 35 genealogy books and hundreds of articles about genealogy and family history. An active genealogist, he has been working on his own family history for over 50 years.

Tom previously served as the Chair of the National Council of Library & Information Associations (Washington, D.C.) and as Library Director of both the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and the New England Historic Genealogical Society.

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Comments

  1. I agree that newspapers are a great resource. However, this blog post is the second instance of what amounts to an advertisement for a fee-based service. Is there a link somewhere for others to contribute blog entries to publicize their own fee-based services?

  2. At some time in the future, will church members have access to Genealogy Bank’s newspaper archives, as they do with Ancestry, Heritage Quest, etc?

    1. Mike, it’s possible that Genealogy Bank will partner with FamilySearch in the future, but there haven’t been any announcements of it yet. Any new partnerships will be posted on the blog, so keep checking back for updates!