Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Beloved Lady In Long Sleep

The lesson here is that sometimes you need to ignore what technology is telling you and go with what you know.  I knew when my great-great-great-grandmother died and where, I even had an excerpt (the beginning) of her obituary so I knew what I was looking for and the newspaper it was in.  Luckily, the newspaper is online, unluckily Google doesn't seem to have done a very good job reading early editions of it and making them searchable (if the images were of poor quality I could understand this, but many, like the one below, are just fine).  In the end, I found the obituary the old-fashioned way, by scanning page after page:

Mrs. Marie Adelaide Shinn, one of the oldest and most respected residents of this section, passed away at her home in Woodbridge Tuesday morning after a short illness.

"Grandma" Shinn, as she was affectionately known throughout the country, was a cheerful soul and was loved by all who knew her.

She was 84 years, 9 months and 7 days of age at the time of death. For the past 35 years she resided in Woodbridge, and had been in California for the past 64 years.

She came of a splendid family and was closely related to the family of Henry Ward Beecher.

She was the wife of the late J. R. Shinn and mother of Heman D. Shinn of Woodbridge, and Denver J. Shinn of El Dorado county.

The funeral will be held tomorrow morning at 9:30 from the chapel of Hale & Bawden.  Rev. Keast will officiate and interment will be made in Woodbridge cemetery."

From The Lodi Sentinel, 19 July 1917, page 5.  Obituary of Mariah Adelaide Doyle (Shinn), 1832-1917.
The obituary omits her daughter, Ida May Shinn Snediger/Snedigar, who had died about sixteen years earlier.  The connection to Henry Ward Beecher mentioned is kind of an odd one since she wasn't related to the family by blood at all and her connection to the family, by way of marriage, itself really wasn't that close.  Her maternal grandfather, Moses Jackman, remarried Betsey Beecher after the death of his first wife, who Mariah was descended from.  Betsey Beecher was a first cousin once removed to Henry Ward Beecher.

For any relatives reading this:  Mariah>Heman>Elmer>my grandfather>my mother>me

UPDATE: I should clarify how I got a copy of the obit image above.  I did a screen capture (Alt+Prt Scr on the keyboard) and then pasted and cropped the obituary in Paint.  There are programs you can use to do a screen capture and I'm sure some of them are quite good but I'm lazy so I just do it the old-fashioned way.


  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you for leading me to this resource! I had no idea Google had so many newspapers available. I found the Toledo Blade and found my great-great-grandfather's first cousin's obit. It confirmed for me that the Herbert Fink I found in the census in Chicago was, in fact, his brother. Thank you so much! This is great!

  2. Ok, how in the world did you get that obit to print? I tried saving mine, and then I tried printing it to pdf, but nothing worked. I went to the help menu, and it said they are unable to be printed or downloaded. Obviously, though, there must be some way to overcome that.

  3. congrats on your find! I use Google News Archive often - there is such a wealth of data there.


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