Obituaries Really ARE Genealogy Gold!

I recently read¬† Kenneth Marks’ 30 Reasons Why Searching for Obituaries is Like Finding Gold post, and I have to agree. If you are lucky enough to find an obit for your reli, they usually contain a whole host of information.

Just check out this one that is on my great great grandpa Robert McCullough. When I saw “accident” written on his death certificate you could feel that there was a story to it. So off to Trove I went, and I found his obituary in The Advertiser, on 13 October 1931.

This 19 line obituary, though short in comparison to many, still contains a wealth of information:

OBITUARY. (1931, October 13). The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1931 - 1954), p. 10. Retrieved October 28, 2013, from

Robert McCullough’s obituary, 13 October 1931¬† The Advertiser, p.10.

– It names him as the Rev. R. McCullough, so tells you he was in the ministry
– It says he was found on the road alongside his bike, so he was out bike riding
– We know when and where the accident occurred, 18 September 1931 at Western-Flat Road
– We know he wasn’t is a good way, so was taken to the Mount Barker Hospital unconscious
– Then it tells us that he came to Australia from Ireland almost 52 years ago, so emigration would have been around 1879
– And he’d been a minister that whole time
– As it mentions his wife and children, we know he was married and had a family
– It tells us that his wife died in 1923
– It says that he had two sons, one of whom died in WW1
– And it lists his daughters with their married surname, and place of residence

Can you believe you can get all of that from 19 lines! That’s what I call “Genealogy Gold”.

While Robert McCullough’s obituary was good, I’ve never come across one as good as Edward Curran’s (the one below). He’s not a reli of mine, but is simply someone I came across when doing a little research for someone. I’m not going to list point-by-point all the things you’ll find in this, but I think it would be over 30 items, or at least getting close.

OBITUARY. (1929, December 12). Border Watch (Mount Gambier, SA : 1861 - 1954), p. 1. Retrieved October 28, 2013, from

Edward Curran’s obituary, 12 December 1929. Border Watch, p.1

So the moral of this post – yes, believe it or not there is one (as well as from The Ancestor Hunt), if you find an obituary analyse it and study it in detail, as there are whole heap of clues in those little lines.

2 Responses to “Obituaries Really ARE Genealogy Gold!”

  1. Helen Smith says:

    And it gives his last place of work! I love obituaries like this one as it talks about the life. I sometimes wonder about the ones where you get lots of very nice things said and you wonder how many were “not saying anything bad about the dead” or were true!

  2. Pauleen says:

    Obits are always great finds but need to be assessed against other info for reliabiliy but may tell us something we’d have no other way of finding.

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