One of my favorite genealogy shows is TLC’s Who Do You Think You Are. The guest of the show starts their research in the state where their relative was born. They usually go to the state archives or local library and meet with a genealogist or historian that walks them through the research and lets them know where they should go next. Most of the time the guest visits multiple cities and states during the one hour show. I love the idea of being in the cities of your ancestors. I have always wanted to have my own type of Who Do You Think You Are research adventure.
I live in the state where my the majority of my ancestors were born and lived in. So the majority of this journey I have been blessed to get most of the records, census, newspapers, and other documents by going to the state archives and the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies in Little Rock or in libraries in northwest Arkansas where I now live. So I haven’t needed to travel outside of Arkansas much during this journey. But as I continue to research my 2X great grandmother, Josie Ward Skipper, the more I learn about the time she lived in Saginaw Michigan. And of course, my first thought was this would be a great time to do some research away from Arkansas. But traveling to Michigan isn’t in my budget right now. So I had to figure out how to continue my research in a different state.
I discovered last year that Josie died in Saginaw Michigan. Originally I wanted to find her death certificate. But when I searched online, I found the Saginaw obituary index instead. The index listed some basic information from the newspaper obituary such as the cemetery and funeral home with Josie’s name. It also had the newspaper that it was published in, the Saginaw News. So I looked on newspapers.com and genealogybank.com to see if that newspaper was available through their website and it is not. So I contacted the Saginaw Historical Society on their Facebook page to see if that newspaper was available on microfilm. They responded and said that I should contact the Saginaw Public Library. So I then went to the Saginaw Public Library website and sent an email to the generic ask a librarian link stating that I’m researching my family ancestry and am looking for an obituary that was published in the Saginaw News in 1941 and if it’s available on microfilm through interlibrary loan. I got a response the next day asking if I the death date and name they would research it and send me a copy. I was totally shocked that I got a response so quickly and that she offered to look for me and send me a copy.
I received copies of the entire newspaper obituary in the mail today. All in all, it only took about a week to receive the copies, and that included the time spent by the librarian to locate the obituary from the microfilm, not bad for snail mail. The obituary stated that she had four children living at the time of her death, including two sons that I don’t have any information on, and the name of the church where the funeral would be held. I now have new questions that need answers along with my original questions, why did she move to Saginaw, Michigan and where did this last name Walker come from? I may not be able to travel around America to find the answers, but I now have a new found confidence that I can research anywhere by using my email. And this is how my journey continues…..
Click HERE to read about how my research of Josie started