18 April 2016

Learning new words.

For the last few months I have been going through both the Valley Register, the Middletown weekly paper, and the Catoctin Clarion, the weekly paper for Mechanicstown, now Thurmont. I've been trying to find out when some of my aunts and uncles died in the late 1800s. Since a lot of people didn't have stones, or the stones have been lost or stolen, the only way to find out when and where someone died is either with church records or in the local newspaper.

This is what the typical top section to the Death Notices looks like in the Catoctin Clarion.  I believe that they were free to print unless the notice exceeded five lines.

While reading though the Death Notices I started to see words that I had never seen before.The first being ultimo. Ultimo means in the month preceding the current one. Somewhat confusing, but I've since gotten used to reading it and understanding what it means.

Here's a typical example, meaning in this case Mrs. Dunlop died December 18, 1872.

The other new word is instant. In this case instant means in the current month. Sometimes there are some inconsistencies where near the beginning of the month the notice states "On the 15th instant", but the newspaper date is before the 15th.

Another typical example that says John O'Toole died November 5th, 1872.

These smaller newspapers can be a great way to find ancestors. The Catoctin Clarion can be found online at the Library of Congress for the years between 1871-1922. The search function doesn't work that well but it is a start. A lot of times one can find children that never made the census records since they tend to give age and parents names in the notices. Marriage notices are also listed in each of the newspapers which many times states the officiant's name and place of marriage. Occasionally the bride's parents are also listed.

There are many issues of the Catoctin Clarion missing, especially the first few years. I have not found an online edition for the Valley Register. Typically the Marriage and Death notices fall on page 3 for both newspapers, though occasionally they fall on the 2nd or 4th. Rarely are there no notices published at all.

Hopefully you can find some of your relatives in these local newspapers and fill in some holes or break some brick walls.


  1. I live near this area and would love information on how to find some of these cemeteries in the Thurmont/Foxville/Sabillasville areas.

    1. Shannon,
      Which cemeteries are you looking to find? I know where a few of them are in the Thurmont area, though there are some that still elude me. If you look on Find a Grave, the ones that I've found should already have coordinates for them and looking at the map should give a better idea of where they are.

      I know about where a few others are, but as of yet have not been able to get permission to photograph them.