Finding Genealogical Gold Mines

May 20, 2011

Walter Allen and Della Haworth

These are my great-grandparents Walter Allen and Della Haworth on their wedding day, August 29, 1900. (Check out my grandmother’s minuscule waist — yikes!) I love this photo because it so perfectly portrays their personalities. You can just see in Della’s face the strong-willed woman she was. (Or maybe the corset responsible for that tiny waist is the cause of the expression on her face?) In any case, that is exactly what she was — strong-willed and opinionated. Her husband, Walter also looks just like what he was — a sweetheart with a twinkle in his eye. Talk about opposites attracting! But they did manage to stay married for over 60 years.

This photo was part of a packet of items I received from my dad this week. In the continuing search for documentation on my maternal grandparents, I had asked Dad to check his safe-deposit box. My mother was the primary caregiver for both of her parents, and they were living in the Oklahoma City area when they died. I suspected that Mom might have had their death certificates in her possession at some point. Turns out I was right. Or at least half right — when the packet arrived in the mail, I found both a death certificate and a delayed birth certificate for my maternal grandfather. But, once again, there was nothing on my grandmother. Drat.

But that envelope had some unexpected treasures. There were six newspaper clippings, all of which are at least 100 years old. Four of the clippings were obituaries — one each for Porter and Malinda Allen (my great-great-grandparents), one for John Haworth (great-great-grandfather and Civil War veteran), and one for Sampson Allen, Porter’s father. I totally understand now why family historians get so excited when they find an obituary. They are little gold mines! Porter’s obituary answered several questions I had about him. But that’s a story for another post. In the meantime, I’m taking a trip this weekend to the small-town cemetery where my elusive grandmother was buried. Maybe I can at least get her birth and death dates from her tombstone!

—Nancy

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Family Tree Firsts is an ongoing blog series featuring newbie genealogist Nancy Shively of Skiatook, OK. Read all her posts at Family Tree University.

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