Kids, here’s something you probably didn’t know:
Back in the olden days, people used to read newspapers. In fact, so many people read newspapers that many cities had two major daily newspapers. Crazy, huh? This is important to know if you’re a genealogist, because you really need to check BOTH of those newspapers when you’re looking for obituaries. You’d be amazed at what you might find.
Take Ottilie Scheiber Emmerling, for example. She died in Milwaukee in August 1934. I checked the morning Milwaukee Sentinel first, since that’s usually the more reliable one in terms of obits for this period. I found this (1 September 1934, page 4, columns 6-7):
MRS. F. H. EMMERLING
Private funeral service at the home will be conducted Monday for Mrs. Frederick H. Emmerling, wife of a Milwaukee dentist, who died yesterday. Burial will be in Forest Home cemetery. Besides her husband, who resides at 2939 W. Kilbourn avenue, she is survived by a son, Hans. F., of Milwaukee, and two daughters, Mrs. Kent Lighty of New York, and Mrs. William Newman of Pine River, Minn. Mrs. Emmering was the daughter of Frederick Scheiber, attorney and court commissioner here years ago. She formally was a member of the Milwaukee College Endowment Association and the Milwaukee Art Institute.
Now, that’s a decent obit, right? There’s lots of good stuff there. For a woman in the 1930s in a large city, that’s pretty good luck, research-wise.
Then I checked the afternoon paper, the Milwaukee Journal, just to make sure I wasn’t missing anything. I found this (31 August 1934, page M2, column 1)
Long Ill, Wife of Dentist Dies
Mrs. F. H. Emmerling Was Active in [sic] Behalf of College and Music
After an illness of three years, Mrs. Ottilie L. Emmerling of 2939 W. Kilbourn av[e]., the wife of Dr. Frederick H. Emmerling, died Friday morning. Mrs. Emmerling was born in Milwaukee, the daughter of Frederick Scheiber, attorney and court commissioner here years ago. She attended the old Engelmann school which later became the Milwaukee University school. Forty-0ne years ago she was married to Dr. Emmerling. Besides her husband, she is survived by a son, Hans. F., of Milwaukee, and two daughters, Mrs. Kent Lighty of New York and Mrs. William F. Newman of Pine River, Minn. Mrs. Lighty, the former Margaret Emmerling, and her husband are the authors of a book, “Shanty Boat,” dealing with their experiences on the Mississippi River. Mrs. Emmerling was formerly a member of the Milwaukee College Endowment Association and of the Milwaukee Art Institute. She was deeply interested in music. Funeral services, to be held at the home on Monday, will be private. Burial will be in Forest Home cemetery.
Now, what if I hadn’t checked the afternoon paper? I would have missed her first name, how long she’d been married, what school she’d gone to, and the fact that her daughter had written a book. I found the book online not long after I pulled the obit, and it’s fantastic. I never would have known it existed if I hadn’t seen the second obit.
This family was well-known enough to rate a staff-written obituary, but I’ve seen many cases where less wealthy families chose to only place paid obituaries in one paper (clue: obituaries are expensive). I have a whole stack of obits that appeared in the Minneapolis Star but not the Minneapolis Tribune (or vice versa).
That’s why you should always check BOTH newspapers when you’re looking for your ancestors.
Photo by katerha