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And you thought that over-sharing was a product of the digital age!

And you thought that over-sharing was a product of the digital age!

Facebook. The place where people go to inform everyone they’ve ever met (and some they haven’t!) of their every move. And it’s also where snarky e-cards like the one above are concieved.

BUT! Good (?) news, technological-culture-defenders and fellow genealogists! This is not an just an internet phenomenon! It is human nature, not just netizen nature.

You see, back in the pre-internet days (the horror!) there were these big, messy things called “newspapers,” and in them, people got to sit and read everyone else’s business over their morning cup of coffee. Just like we do today with Facebook, except without the ink-stained fingers*, paper-cuts, or actually spending any money for our knowledge and entertainment!

I got oh-so familiar with this aspect of human noseyness (and shareyness) yesterday while searching through the Marion County, TN’s rootsweb page for obituaries (as mentioned in yesterday’s post.) And, wow. Could you imagine city papers these days saying things like:

Ed Hicks and McKinley Newsom said they did not aim to comb their beards or shave any-more for 7 months. What’s the matter, boys.


We were sorry that Kelly Hartman and family moved to St. Elmo for we liked them, as they were good neighbors.

Or simply,

Mrs. Addie Richey called on her mother, Mrs. I. Newsom, Sunday.

No way. But they are sure read like facebook statuses!

Now, for genealogists, this archive of a family’s every status update is a gold mine (the last quote above was how I found Addie’s married name!), but all I can think of is all the curmudgeons who make ecards like the one above, and how they’d bust a blood vessel reading over these things. But hey, some of us DO want to know who moseyed on over to the other side of the river that week! Or went to church! Or has a cold!

…. just kidding.

Or maybe some of us do. But it’s not me.

Well it kinda is, if it was already compiled for me to read in 7 seconds, but 221 pages is a lot of 97+ year old status updates to comb through. And take notes on. And analyze for usefulness or interestingness. Of course I’m hoping that when I look over all the bits and pieces it will all be useful in a narrative write-up, but for now, I’m just picking over a thousand million trillion gabillion (I counted) clippings and giggling over what some people felt was newspaper-worthy updates back in the day!


If you want to see Miss Mae Newsom smile, ask her about that bracelet.

 (Distant ancestor had bracelet, it made her happy. Check. I’m not sure if I should I feel silly that I am filling overnote pages with little clips like this, or proud of myself for being THE MOST THOROUGH RESEARCHER EVER.** Tell me it’s the latter so I feel good about myself, okay?)

* That’s why rich folk’s butlers used to iron the newspapers for them, so the heat would set the ink and no fingers would get stained. Isn’t that interesting? (Yes.)
** Okay, well. Someday!

The Successful Hunt for Harry Edward NEWSOME’s Parents (1884-1973)

The Successful Hunt for Harry Edward NEWSOME’s Parents (1884-1973)

This is Ed. Or, “Edd.” Or, “Harry Edward Newsome” if you’re me and naively called him by his proper name for about 18 years, preventing any research progress to be made….

Edd is my maternal grandmother’s grandfather. He lived from 1884-1973 and spent most of those years in Whiteside, Marion County, Tennesee, though, as his daughter met her future husband (and my future great-grandpa) in Letcher County, Kentucky, I knew that he had lived there, too.

Beyond that, I had nothing. Well, nothing but pictures of his headstone, the old house he shared with his wife Odessa (Bailey) Newsome, and a lovely shots of the coupe themselves. Really that is an exciting amount of photographs, but none were giving me any clues, and I needed clues!

I could not, for the life of me, find the names of his parents. My grandmother was convinced that we would never know because, “people from the hills of Kentucky and Tennessee didn’t keep records, they were poor and illiterate. You’re not going to find anything!”

O grandma of little faith!

While poking around The Marion County Tennessee History & Genealogy site on Rootsweb, and thanks to contributor Euline Harris, I found IT! IT, the most beautiful of things and that which smashed through through my long-standing brick wall, just like this:

And, while I knew that Harry Edward had been to Kentucky, my grandma has never known anything more specific than “Letcher County,” even though she was born there! So, until a few hours before that glorious find, when I saw Harry Edward’s daughter (Myrtle (NEWSOME) Sergeant)’s death certificate for the first time, I did not know that he went by “Ed(d)” or that he was associated with Thornton, KY.

God BLESS fully scanned & uploaded vital records!

So, I FINALLY found the (MAIDEN!) name of Edd’s mother (Julia Ann Carlton), a few brothers and brother-in-laws (and that is a whole other blog post…,) as well as the first initial of his father and that they were from Kelly Ferry, Marion County, Tennessee.

Sorry for two gifs in one post, but I really did this while running through my house:


With all of this knowledge I have been able to find Edd’s parents and siblings, though that has taken quite a bit of effort on my part as well. Edd is of his father’s second marriage, and apparently all but one of the children ended up going by their middle names, so this list was actually much larger until I realized how many were actually the same people!

Children of Isaiah Newsom (1836-1916) and Margaret Starlin(g) as found in the 1860 [1], and some in the 1870 census [2]:

  1. John NEWSOM
  2. Alexander NEWSOM
  3. Anas (?!) NEWSOM
  4. Susan NEWSOM
  5. William NEWSOM (b. abt 1863)
  6. Elizabeth NEWSOM
  7. Nancy “Nannie” J. NEWSOM (b. abt 1867)

But in 1880 [3] and 1900 [4], Isaiah is now married to the former Miss Julia Ann Carlton (1855-1945,) and these children have been added to their brood:

  1. Ellen Edna NEWSOM (abt 1875 – 1947)
  2. Adlizer “Addie” J NEWSOM (1878 – 1955)
  3. Mattie NEWSOM (1879-1958)
  4. James Lloyd NEWSOM (1882-1965)
  5. Harry Edward (1884-1973)
  6. Phemia (b.1887)
  7. Emma E. (b. 1889)
  8. Hattie E. (b. 1892)
  9. Eddie O. (b. 1899)
  10. Lavenda McKinley (b. 1897)
  11. Ruby (b. 1899)
Honestly, I’m still trying to figure out all these children. Harry Edward NEWSOM doesn’t actually appear in a census with his parents, and I know there was also a girl named Mae NEWSOM who isn’t on there either. Mae is almost certainly a middle name, but whose?

Add to the confusion that I can’t find many of those children outside the censuses (not even in the family (or surrounding) cemetery/ies!) — and the fact that Isaiah’s obituary lists William and Elizabeth as his siblings, instead of children! What! They’re just messing with me now. But I’ll save that for my post on Isaiah NEWSOM himself. 

So, while it is SO AWESOME to break through that brick wall (see .gif above,) the work sure doesn’t stop there. But, really, what genealogist would want it to? 🙂
From my grandmother’s photo album.
  1. Year: 1860; Census Place: District 6, Marion, Tennessee; Roll: M653_1263; Page: 252; Image: 507; Family History Library Film: 805263.
  2. Year: 1870; Census Place: District 6, Marion, Tennessee; Roll: M593_1546; Page: 436B; Image: 68; Family History Library Film: 553045.
  3. Year: 1880; Census Place: District 6, Marion, Tennessee; Roll: 1269; Family History Film: 1255269; Page: 259C; Enumeration District: 078.
  4. Year: 1900; Census Place: Civil District 6, Marion, Tennessee; Roll: 1587; Page: 2B; Enumeration District: 0091; FHL microfilm: 1241587.

Genealogy Snapshot

Name: Newsome, Harry Edward (1884-1973)
Parents: Isaiah Newsom and Julia Ann Carlton
Spouse: Odessa Bailey
Surnames: Newsome, Newsom, Carlton
Relationship to me: 2nd Great-Grandfather

  1. Harry Edward Newsome
  2. Gladys Geneva Newsome
  3. Norma Jean Williams
  4. Sandra Elaine Hixson
  5. Ameya