King Family Photo Clues Found in a Newspaper

By Maureen A. Taylor

Last week’s blog post featured three King family photos in Mary Roddy’s collection. They lived in Amador, California and Douglas, Alaska.

The photos proved that two branches of the family stayed in touch despite the distance. Alice Devlin King and her maid of honor Mary Jane Fields were more than cousins. They were friends.

Alice, her husband Nick, and their children including daughter Sadie moved to Douglas, Alaska seeking new opportunities. The two photos depicted here suggest that mother and daughter came back to California for a visit. But when?

likely Sadie King, circa 1900

Alice King, circa 1900

Historical newspapers revealed when the family visited, how long they stayed and who came for a visit. The proof was in print.

Small town newspapers featured a lot more than national and local news. They published news of the members of their community as well as visitors. You guessed it! The visiting family made the news not once, but twice.

The Amador Ledger (April 20, 1900) published a short bit about Amador news section: “A grand farewell reception was tendered to Mrs. Nicholas King and family on Tuesday evening at Fallon’s hall. They departed for their home in Alaska this morning.” You can view the newspaper in it’s entirety through the California Digital Newspaper Project.

The Daily Alaska Dispatch (Juneau, Alaska) published a notice when the King family returned to Douglas. ” Mrs. King, Miss Sadie King and the children returned from a six months visit in California, on the Cottage City last night.” You can read this article if you’re a subscriber to

Mary Roddy is a lucky genealogist. She has a narrow six month time frame for those two pictures. Mother and daughter posed for pictures to share with their relatives.

The circa date I placed near those two photos can now become a definite date of 1900.

Reading historical newspapers can reveal more about your family history than you might realize. In Mary’s case, it dated two photos in her collection. Digital newspaper collections make it easy to locate unexpected family history discoveries. Take a minute to search for your relatives in the news and let me know what you find.

Identify your old mystery family photos with these guides by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Family Photo Detective: Learn How to Find Genealogy Clues in Old Photos and Solve Family Photo Mysteries
  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album
  • Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Photo-Organizing Practices
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Searching for Family History Photos: How to Get Them Now