Anecdotes, BDMs, Obits and Adverts – What Are These Records?

Anecdotes, BDMs, Obits and Adverts – What Are These Records?

I have come across an incredible source of information relevant to my research. One that includes local town news choc full of anecdotes relating to the locals, mentions of births, deaths, marriages and obituaries, and a heap of adverts from the local area. So just what are these records?

Church Journals!

Really? You bet.

Let me give you some examples.

Here is a page from the “Local News” section (also called “Editorial Notes”, “Miscellaneous” or “Church News” in various editions) …

'Local News', Salem Messenger, March 1893

‘Local News’, Salem Messenger, March 1893

So you’ll see from this one page of Local News we learn of several people’s  health troubles, several people moving, the introduction of some of the new equipment in the district, election chances, local meetings, a new business venture, a prize a local business won, and a bunch more. And that’s just a page from ONE journal!

You’ll also find some marriage and death notices (sorry no births afterall. But how do you write BDMs without births? DMs just doesn’t make sense) …

Salem Messenger, 7 January 1905

Salem Messenger, 7 January 1905

Salem Messenger, 7 January 1905

Salem Messenger, 7 January 1905

Salem Messenger, 1 April 1913

Salem Messenger, 1 April 1913

And of course the obituaries which are just awesome!

Salem messenger, 1 October 1900

Salem Messenger, 1 October 1900

As well as anniversaries …

Salem Messenger, April 1896

Salem Messenger, April 1896

And other newsworthy events, like town sports news and this brave deed!

Salem Messenger, April 1896

Salem Messenger, April 1896

Salem Messenger, January 1899

Salem Messenger, January 1899

There’s also general history on the church, town and pioneers …

Salem Messenger, 10 January 1903

Salem Messenger, 10 January 1903

And if all that wasn’t fabulous enough, then there’s the adverts. Many from local businesses – others from Adelaide. Here’s just a few examples of them.

Salem Messenger, July 1894

Salem Messenger, July 1894

Salem Messenger, January 1902

Salem Messenger, January 1902

Salem Messenger, October 1911

Salem Messenger, October 1911

So you see, there is potentially so much you can find in Church Journals. And while my family were heavily involved in the church scene, many other researchers would say their family wasn’t, so wouldn’t think to look in Church Journals.

So I hope this has opened your eyes to the possibilities of what could be out there. If you are fortunate enough to have a local church journal for your area, and it has survived, check it out! You just never know.

All of these samples have been taken from the Salem Messenger, which is the journal for the Salem Baptist Church at Gumeracha, South Australia. Apart from covering news about the town itself, it also mentions happening in the areas around North Gumeracha (now Forreston), Kenton Valley, Blumberg (now Birdwood), Mount Torrens, Cudlee Creek and a few other localities.

Fortunately for me (and everyone else with an interest in Gumeracha’s history), the Salem Messenger has been digisited and is available on CD from Gould Genealogy & History. And if you’re interested in finding out more about church records and church journals, I suggest having a read of Shauna Hicks’ book on Finding Ancestors in Church Records: A Brief Guide.

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4 Responses to “Anecdotes, BDMs, Obits and Adverts – What Are These Records?”

  1. GenieJen says:

    What a goldmine! Wish my family came from up there

  2. Pauleen says:

    Some of the large Catholic newspapers on Trove serve a similar purpose. I guess church archives might have such newspapers.

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