Thursday, April 9, 2015

It's always the Last Place You Look -- Zachariah Hildreth's (1754-1829) Death Notice

I posted two weeks ago in 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 65: #72 Zachariah Hildreth (1754-1820) that the death of Zachariah Hildreth was after the 1820 U.S. census, although the death record in the Townsend, Massachusetts vital record book seems to say it was in 1819.  

Today, while doing some research in GenealogyBank for this week's biographical sketch, I checked GenealogyBank and came up empty for this week's target.  But I did not recall checking GenealogyBank for Zachariah Hildreth several weeks ago, so I put the name into the search field and came up with three matches:

Hmmm, a Historical Obituary in 1829; could that be "my guy?"  Here's the article in the Farmer's Cabinet newspaper, from Amherst, New Hampshire, dated Saturday, March 18, 1829:

The record for Zachariah Hildreth says:

"In Townsend, March 16, Capt. Zachariah Hildreth, aged 75."

Let's see -- 1829 minus 75 equals 1754!  Yep, that's my 4th great-grandfather!!  

Now that I've found this, I need to add this content and source to my RootsMagic family tree database.  And do some more searching.

A source citation, you ask?  Using the "Newspapers, Online Images" source template in RootsMagic, which is based on Evidence Explained, Section 14.22:

"Died," death notice, Farmer's Cabinet (Amherst, N.H.), 18 March 1829, page 3, Death Notice for Zachariah Hildreth; GenealogyBank ( : indexed database with digital image, 9 April 2015), Newspaper Archives collection; citing American Antiquarian Society collection.

My  lesson learned here is:  I need to check all of the resources available for newspaper articles or notices for my 18th and 19th century ancestors.  This includes GenealogyBank ($$), NewspaperARCHIVE ($$, through Ancestry ($$) or MyHeritage ($$)), ($$, free at FHCs), American Ancestors ($$) (which has two historical newspaper collections), Google News Archive (free) and Chronicling America (free).  There are other smaller newspaper collections with a local or regional scope also.  

A good resource for available online historical newspapers is Kenneth R. Marks blog posts on The Ancestor Hunt blog for each state.  The list for New Hampshire is at

Another lesson learned here is to think more about adjacent counties and states for records.  In this case, Townsend, Massachusetts is on the border with Brookline and Mason towns in New Hampshire.  Amherst, New Hampshire, where this article was published, is three towns away from Townsend.  It may have been one of the only newspapers for this rural area of southern New Hampshire.  The Amherst newspaper with Zachariah's death notice has notices from towns on both sides of the state line.

Newspaper research is very difficult without digitized newspaper pages and a search capability if there is no available index. Even though name searches are often frustrated by name spellings and the vagaries of OCR, the online searches can be productive.  I really appreciate GenealogyBank and the other digital newspaper websites but only occasionally use them - like once a week or so for a specific name.  Obviously, I need to use them more often, especially for my 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks biographies.

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Copyright (c) 2015, Randall J. Seaver

1 comment:

Lisa S. Gorrell said...

Great lesson!

I think you have NewspaperArchive and mixed up. is part of Ancestry (though a separate subscription) and NewspaperArchive is available at Family History Centers.