Obituaries and birth records

I’ve been behind on posting updates (and behind on doing genealogy in general, though I’m doing better now).

Crowder line

With FamilySearch now including 1980–2014 obituaries from GenealogyBank, I started searching for some of my U.S. ancestors who died during that timespan. Found obituaries for the following:

Shanks line

I found a GenealogyBank obituary for Loula Ellen DeHart, my grandmother’s mother.

San Emeterio line

I found a GenealogyBank obituary for Maria Antonia San Emeterio, my grandfather’s sister. I’d found some records that seemed to match Maria Antonia but had her in Georgia and Texas, which didn’t seem right (all I knew was that she was a nun in Pennsylvania), but the obituary said that she did in fact go to Georgia and Texas.

I’ve also started sourcing birth records for my Polanco, Spain line (San Emeterio, Fuentevilla). Twenty years ago my mom did most of the research on the later lines, so it’s fairly quick work (since I already know what dates to look for). I’ve done the birth records for the following so far:

I haven’t yet been able to find the birth record for Manuela Gandara Cobo. Her father, José Gandara Valdecilla, was born in Ceceñas, Medio Cudeyo, Santander, and her mother, Josefa Cobo, was born in Setién, Marina de Cudeyo, Santander. I haven’t started looking in either place yet.

Manuela Regata

I did some research on my Regata side today, specifically looking for the parents of Manuela Regata, in Polanco. Found them: Fernando Regata Soña and Maria Palazio. Specifically, I found Manuela’s birth record (bottom right) and Fernando and Maria’s marriage record (top right).

The marriage record is faint and somewhat hard to read. Right now I think Fernando’s parents are Juan Pedro de la Regata (I feel confident about Juan, less confident about Pedro) and Maria de la Soña, and Maria’s parents are Joseph de Palazio (really not confident about Joseph) and Josepha Gutierrez Colmenera.

= Manuela Regata | b. 1740ish
== Fernando Regata Soña | m. 1730
=== Juan Pedro(?) de la Regata |
=== Maria de la Soña |
== Maria Palazio |
=== Joseph(?) de Palazio |
=== Josepha Gutierrez Colmenera |

Fernando was from Viveda, in Santillana del Mar. Unfortunately, however, FamilySearch’s records for Viveda are limited (1762–1894 for baptisms, 1762–1861 for marriages, and 1762–1897 for deaths). Since Fernando was probably born around 1700, I’m out of luck for now.

Roberts family

The Roberts family is on my maternal side—my mother’s father’s mother, Edith Roberts.

Edith was the tenth of fifteen children to Benjamin Morgan Roberts Jr. and Sarah Ann Milner. Twelve of Benjamin and Sarah’s children lived to adulthood (and survived their father).

I had been poking around their family because someone had changed “Edith” to “Edyth” in her vital information. Now, I knew that that wasn’t her real name, but it was on so many records that I started to doubt myself.

I made a call to her daughter, Joyce, who told me that someone had started using her name on checks, either maliciously or not, and Edith started going by “Edyth” so she would not be mistaken for this other woman.

Now, Edith stayed close to home in Provo, Utah, but I learned that many of her siblings moved to Hollywood, California, to pursue careers in motion pictures. (There is a story about cousin Doris’ husband receiving a watch from Clark Gable.) Many remarried, and I have spent hours finding records on former husbands and wives of Edith’s siblings.

Last night I was researching and cleaning up their family again, and I became interested in the three children who did not live to adulthood. The “research hints” are a fabulous resource, and in one of Edith’s sisters, I sourced a death certificate, a birth certificate, a marriage certificate, and two census records in about five minutes.

Edith’s brother Benjamin Roberts died in 1919 at sixteen years old. Hm, 1919? That’s a foreboding year. I found his death certificate and sure enough, he had died from spinal meningitis sprung on from influenza. (Whenever I find a cause of death on a death certificate image, I add it to the “Notes” section at the bottom of the person’s page.)

I also found the death certificate of Sarah Ann Milner (Sarah A. Roberts) who had died of “acute exhaustion and nephritis.” Also her death date was wrong in Family Search. Booyah.

The last gem of the night was finding a small obituary for Benjamin Morgan Roberts. I was always confused why he died in Los Angeles, California, in 1938 rather than Provo. Come to find out, he was visiting his children on the West Coast for the winter when struck with a heart attack. When his children in Provo heard of his sickness they rushed to California and were with him when he passed away.

What is your niche?

Growing up with pioneer heritage on all sides, I convinced myself when I was younger that all the work had been done. All ordinances recorded. All people found.

But of course that isn’t true (at all!). I just had to find my niche.

The initial thing that blocked me was all the extra and duplicate information on all my relatives, such as fifteen alternate names with the same spelling. My editor mind went crazy each time I tried to do research. That is, it did until I found out that I could actual delete and rewrite information!

I spent hours that first night standardizing spelling, dates, names (of course not deleting information that I wasn’t sure about, but deleting the fourteen duplicates), making things clean, tidy, and organized.

Then I was hooked.

So, what is your niche? Are you fascinated with occupations? Causes of death? Ages? Victorian names? Finding the children? Then jump in and look around. That’s all it takes.

The Michaels Bostian

Late last week I did some work on my Bostian line (on the Shinn side of my Crowder line).

Starting out, Margaret Bostian married Daniel Castor in 1827 in Rowan County, North Carolina. (Incidentally, back in September someone had put Margaret’s death date as 1844, but I knew that couldn’t be right — she showed up alive and well in the 1880 census along with her husband. I jumped over to just now and found her headstone, listing her death date as 22 May 1881. Much better.)

Anyway, my tree had Margaret’s father as Michael Bostian born in the 1770s, but that was about it. I did some poking around in the North Carolina probate records and found Michael’s will, listing all the children, including Margaret Castor (proving that it was the right Michael Bostian). I also found the will of Margaret’s brother Michael (sometimes known as Michael Jr., sometimes as Michael Sr. because he too had a son named Michael A.).

= Michael A. Bostian | 1830ish–1850
== Michael Bostian | 1797–1850 | Brother of Margaret, my ancestor
=== Michael Bostian | 1772–1850
=== Margaret Reusin |
== Christina Casper |
=== Adam Casper? |

Turns out that 1850 was a bad year for the Bostians — Michael Sr., Michael Jr., and Michael A. all died that year (May, March, and November, respectively). According to the 1850 census mortality schedule, Michael Sr. died of an inflammation of the bowels after being ill for five days. Michael Jr. died of pneumonia after being ill for nine days. Michael A. died after the census was taken, so I don’t know what took him, but he’d gotten married only nine months before, and within a month after his death his wife gave birth to Mary Sophia, their only child.

Googling around, most trees list Michael’s father as Andreas Bastian (Bostian is a variant spelling) of Lehigh, Pennsylvania, but I don’t have anything confirming that yet. I’m going to be ordering the microfilm for the Organ Lutheran Church membership rolls (the church the Bostians went to), and I’ll see what records there are for Lehigh. It sounds like the Bostian/Bastian line goes back to Germany (Bastian being a shortened form of Sebastian).

Overview of the San Emeterio line

A quick overview of my maternal San Emeterio side:

José San Emeterio

My grandfather was José San Emeterio, whose father was Antonio San Emeterio (1884–1970, Polanco, Santander, Spain) and whose mother was Maria Natividad Sanchez (1885–1968, Cárdenas, Matanzas, Cuba).

The San Emeterio line was largely from Polanco in the north of Spain. I’m currently working on the Fuentevilla and Gandara lines, now back in the late 1600s. Other surnames on this line: Fuentevilla, Gandara, Cobo, Oyuela, Cacho, Rio, Piñera, Pereda, Calderon, Gutierrez, Ruiz, Regata, Soña, Palazio.

The Sanchez line was from Cuba, at least when Maria was born. We don’t have anything farther back than Maria’s parents (Alberto Sanchez Vargas and Concepcion Gutierrez). Hopefully we’ll get better access to Cuba’s records (if they have them) in the near future.

Jean Iorio

My grandmother is Jean Iorio, whose father was Joseph Iorio (1902–1963, Jersey City, New Jersey) and whose mother was Anna Napoleon (1907–1996, Jersey City, New Jersey).

The Iorio line was from Morrone del Sannio in Campobasso, Molise, Italy. I’ve done quite a bit of research on these lines in the last few years. Other surnames on this line: Cinelli, Alessandro, Parente, Colacarro, Fabio, Colasurdo, Marchitto, Saltarelli, Oto, Alfonzo.

The Napoleon line was from Torre de Passeri in Pescara, Italy, with the Iavicoli subline hailing from Castiglione Messer Marino in Chieti, Abruzzo, Italy. I’ve done a bit of research on the Iavicoli line over the past few years as well. Other surnames on this line: Rosati, Calenzani, Donatis, Tarquinio, Bartolomeo, Caldarelli, Mastrovincenzo, Tatangelo, Caruso, Innocenzo.

Overview of the Crowder line

A quick overview of my paternal Crowder side:

Broadus Crowder

My grandfather is Broadus Crowder, whose father was John Preston Crowder (1887–1972, Montgomery, North Carolina) and whose mother was Pauline Missouri Shinn (1890–1981, Cabarrus, North Carolina).

The Crowder line was in Montgomery, North Carolina, for several generations, then goes back to Virginia. I’m currently researching Bartholomew Crowder (1720–1788, Prince George, Virginia, and Franklin, North Carolina), to verify the connection to his parents. Other surnames on this line: Bailey, Ballard, Hildreth, Haire, Talley.

The Shinn line was in Cabarrus County, North Carolina, also for several generations. I haven’t done too much research on this side. Other surnames on this line: Misenheimer, Chambers, Milster, Castor, Bostian.

Loula Anne Shanks

My grandmother is Loula Anne Shanks, whose father was James Bernard Shanks (1886–1968, Petersburg, Virginia) and whose mother was Loula Ellen DeHart (1899–1999, Stuart, Virginia).

The Shanks line was in Petersburg, Virginia, for a while, then goes back to Ireland (Robert Shanks and his wife Elizabeth arrived in Virginia in 1817). A few years back I spent several months working on this side. I still haven’t figured out where in Ireland they came from, but my best guess right now is Kircubbin in County Down. Other surnames on this line: Brown, Borum, Jones, Harwell.

The DeHart line was in Patrick County, Virginia. I’ve done some initial sourcing on this side, but not much more than that. Other surnames on this line: Burnett, Houchins, McAlexander, Thomas, Ferguson, Campbell.


For a while I’ve wanted to blog about the genealogy research I’m doing, but neither my main blog nor my private family/friends blog felt like the right place for it. And so we’re here on Famgen, a new blog just for genealogy and family history.

We have four main categories to help narrow things down for those in our family who aren’t as interested in other lines:

And that’s about it, really. If you have any questions, let us know.