This site is one of the best finds ever, and it’s free. If you haven’t heard of Old Fulton New York Post Cards, you’ll be amazed. It has post cards, of course, but it also has almost 20 million pages of New York newspapers, dating back to the early 1800s!
I have a lot of ancestors from the Albany and Schenectady areas; and let me tell you there is nothing better than reading about them in the newspapers! Census records are fine for locating your families and finding out how many kids there were and their ages, and all that. But reading about their lives in the newspapers is so much better!
The small town newspapers are great. They have lots of tiny blurbs about people’s comings and goings, their visits to folks, their vacations, and even their illnesses. The death notices and obituaries are invaluable; weddings can be a lot of fun as well as a tremendous source of information and clues!
But let me tell you about two of my finds, including probably the best one I’ve ever made:
As I said, I had looked though a lot of the newspapers on FultonHistory.com, had searched a lot of names, and had found a lot of articles. But Thomas MacEntee’s Legacy Webinar on Finding Your New York Ancestors (a wonderful one, by the way, I highly recommend it) led me to another find. Thomas has FultonHistory.com in his research toolbox and recommended it to the webinar attendees. But then he added an invaluable tip: Search for names of people who didn’t live in New York; lots of news is picked up in those newspapers.
Using this advice, the first person I searched for was my grandmother’s brother, Horton I. French. I thought this was an unusual enough name that maybe something would come up. Having the last name “French” is not an easy search. I never knew there were so many French horns, so many French bulldogs, French governesses, French maids, teachers, professors, and on and on.
Anyway, I was thrilled to find that there was an entry for “Horton I French.” He was an Episcopal priest, and this was an item about the first marriage he performed, in a church in Excelsior Springs, Missouri, in 1935. It was also the first marriage in this new church and the first marriage for both the bride and the groom. A story from a small town in Missouri was picked up by several New York papers — and there it was for me!
So a huge thanks to Tom Tryniski and to Thomas MacEntee for making this find possible. Just Google “Old Fulton NY Post Cards” and you’ll find lots of information on using the site. The FAQs on www.fultonhistory.com are great, too.
Next time I’ll tell you about my best find ever!