My great-grandfather, Frank Faulkenberry, died on Sept. 20, 1911. In the months leading up to his death, he seemed to cling closer to his family, and was reluctant to be away from his children. The day of his death was a dark and gloomy one. After seeing his new granddaughter, Frank went to work in the cornfield. When his youngest child came home from school that afternoon, she found him unconscious and rain-drenched. He never rallied enough to recognize his family, and died later that evening.
The details of Frank’s last months came to me through his obituary.
Although some obituaries contain only the bare facts, others—particularly those written early in the 20th century—are oftentimes filled with poignant glimpses into a life-time. They can contain church affiliations, employment, illnesses, and more importantly, glimpses into personality. A 1936 obituary of another family member read “she was a delightfully kind woman, thoughtful, tactful, thus winning the appellation of good neighbor and good friend.” That one line told me more about her than any page full of names and dates.
Obituary research should be a commonplace tool in your research arsenal. Use these sites to begin your search:
• Obituary Central
• Obituary Daily Times
• How to Find an Obituary
• Obituary Resources
• Cyndi’s List (local newspaper listings)