Is there a doctor in the tree?
When we went digging into Jim Parsons' family tree we found his third-great-grandfather was Jean Baptiste Hacker, a physician who was raised in New Orleans but moved to Plaquemine, Louisiana, after starting his medical career. Just a few years later, Dr. Hacker, along with his daughter Leocadie and his nephew, was killed in a tragic fire on board the steamboat Gipsy in December 1854.
Using newspapers, we were able to document the accident in an article titled "The Burning of the Gipsy" on the front page of the Daily Picayune newspaper in New Orleans. The story was also printed in newspapers across the country, such as the Liberator in Boston, Massachusetts. Newspapers provided facts about the event that could not be found in any other record.
We also used newspapers to learn about historic events that occurred in places where the family lived, such as the yellow fever epidemic in Plaquemine in 1853.
Newspapers can provide context and color to your family story, as well as obituaries and notices of marriages, births, graduations, court proceedings, and other noteworthy events in an ancestor's life. And they are getting easier to find each day as more and more titles are digitized and added to online collections.