Newspaper Advertisements Help in Research

By Brenda Joyce Jerome, C.G. 1997-2017. Retired 2017

I love using newspapers in my research – not just for the births, deaths and marriages that are often published, but, also, for the advertisements that tell me things I might never find in public records. Below are a few examples of advertisements that can tell you so much about where people shopped, what they did during their leisure time and the concerns dealt with in their daily lives.

Mr. M. Lyon was one of the subjects of a research project I did a number of years ago and continues to be a person of interest. He was a tailor and was the first ready-made clothing merchant in Evansville before his death in 1893.(1) From this newspaper advertisement in the Evansville Daily Journal,(2) I learned that he provided military uniforms and equipment in his store during the Civil War. Hmmm. Where else would I have found this information?

M Lyon Card 1863Advertisement for M. Lyon, Clothier, 1863


(1) “A Brief Illness,” Evansville Courier, 25 May 1893, p. 2, Obituary of Michael Lyon.
(2) “A Card,” The Evansville Daily Journal, Tues., 2 June 1863, p. 3.


It is always interesting to find out how our ancestors spent their leisure time. Then, as now, churches and food festivals seemed to go hand in hand. In this advertisement for a Strawberry Festival,(3) given by the Walnut Street Presbyterian Church in 1863, not only will they have strawberries, but ice cream was also served. And I thought ice cream was a treat not enjoyed until many years later! I wonder how they kept it frozen. Something else I did not know.

Strawberry Festival ad 1863Advertisement for Strawberry Festival, 1863


The next advertisement is sad and a little puzzling. John E. Wood offered a “One Cent Reward”(4) to inform the public that his 14-year-old apprentice, William Stanfield, had run away. Wood was warning the public not to take in his apprentice and anyone “harboring the boy would be dealt with according to law.” Notice it does not state that John E. Wood wanted the boy returned to him; he just did not want anyone else to take him in. I hear anger in this advertisement. What prompted William to run away? So many questions

(3) “Strawberry Festival,” The Evansville Daily Journal, Tues., 2 June 1863, p. 2.
(4) “One Cent Reward,” Evansville Journal, Sat., 13 Dec 1845, p. 4


One Cent Reward 1845Advertisement for Lost Apprentice, 1845

These advertisements allow us to take a peek at life of yesterday and beyond. Even if our ancestors are not mentioned, we can learn about life in their community.


Brenda Joyce Jerome is a longtime member of the Tri-State Genealogical Society. She has served as president of the society and for many years was editor and publisher of The Western Kentucky Journal. She was active as a Certified Genealogist from 1997 until her retirement in 2017. She currently writes the Western Kentucky Genealogy BlogSpot.



My Solution to Lost Cemeteries

Ambrose Boulden Day2
Daddy Day’s monument shows the ravages of time and climate.

After the September TSGS meeting about cemetery research, I started thinking about my own experience with cemeteries. Among my earliest memories I can recall riding my tricycle on the walk in front of our house (not a sidewalk, eating Dreamsicles on hot summer days, and listening to my parents argue over where they were going to be buried. I think I’ve always known about mortality from an early age, going back to pre-memory times when I served as a flower girl at my great-uncle Noah’s funeral. I really don’t remember him or that occasion.

My parents rarely had disagreements, as far as I know, and they never got loud or violent. But my dad insisted on being buried at the “city”* cemetery, and my mom preferred to be with her folks at the cemetery behind the country church down the road from where she grew up. When my grandfather Newton died in 1960, by which time the memory-keeper in my brain was working in full force, my dad ended the argument once and for all. When he and his brothers and sisters bought plots for his parents, he went ahead and bought reserved spaces for four—for him, Mom, my sister, and me. The topic of where to be buried never again came up.

So Dad and Mom are at eternal rest now, and I will assuredly join them when my time comes. But now there’s the matter of the fourth plot. My sister will be buried next to her husband in Evansville. After the passage of a lot of years, my prospects of getting a husband or a life partner or what-have-you grow dimmer each passing year. Even pets are no longer an option.

I once thought of saving money to put a monument on the vacant plot to commemorate my Newton ancestors who are buried in unknown graves presumably in Webster County. The thought also occurred that maybe I should have my great-grandfather Robert—who shares my dad’s name—dug up from where he’s at, in an almost-abandoned cemetery on the other side of the county, and move him to Slaughters. It’s not an original thought. According to my dad, there was talk of moving him to Slaughters many years before, at the time his widow’s second husband died. My grandfather’s Irish got up but good when “Daddy Day,” as the kids and grandkids called him, got a nice big, professionally-done tombstone and poor Grandpa Bob had only a sandstone rock that faintly resembled what was unmistakably a shape but no one could figure out what the shape was.

Pap—my Grandpa Sam—was alleviated when his brother-in-law Huston made a concrete tombstone and inscribed it with R.M.N. (I’ve never been able to find out what his middle name was—Monroe? He had a son, James Monroe, called Monroe.) While Huston was mixing the concrete he decided to give Monroe and another of my grandfather’s brothers who died too soon, Charles B., a concrete marker.

It’s been at least 20 years since I’ve visited what’s known as the Springfield-Day Cemetery where my great-grandfather and his two middle sons are buried, but at that time the concrete markers were in far better shape than the professional tombstone that marked Daddy Day’s resting place in Slaughters. His and Mama Day’s stones are rusting and showing signs of deterioration.

I suppose I will leave R.M.N. where he is. I know where his father, William Newton, is buried—not far from the Springfield-Day Cemetery, in what’s called the Day Cemetery. I can only assume that William’s father, James, and James’ father, Robert (my Revolutionary War ancestor) are buried in the area, on what used to be Newton property, but where, I have no idea. Their names don’t show up on any cemetery lists of other family or church cemeteries in the county. Possibly wooden crosses marked their graves and through time and weather have fallen and rotted away. Possibly some farmer, unknowingly, plowed over their final resting places.

That’s why, if I had the means (translate: money) I would erect that tombstone on the site next to where I’ll be, inscribed with the following:

In Memory of Those buried somewhere in Webster County:

Robert M. Newton, father of Samuel, grandfather of Robert, 1860-1892
William Newton, father of Robert M., 1826-1893 & wife Sarah 18 ?- 189?
James Newton, father of William, ca 1790-1848, & wives (1) Susiah (2) Experience
Robert Newton, Soldier in the American Revolution, 1747-1835, & wife Elizabeth

Thru their work in the soil, their service for the country, & thru generations that carry their DNA if not their names, may their spirit carry on in their love of God, family, and country. May their names not be forgotten.

*To call Slaughters, Kentucky, a city, even in its heyday as Slaughtersville, would be a major stretch.