When it comes to family history, obituaries offer a fascinating look into the lives of our ancestors. They can provide a perspective that is rarely matched by other types of documents and records. This is certainly true in the case of my 3x Great Grandmother, Martha Lawrence (nee Farrar).
I think part of what makes Martha’s obituary so fascinating is that it describes the times in which she lived. Times in which so many of our Irish ancestors lived. The changes she must have witnessed during her lifetime were significant and many. If I could choose to speak to just one of my ancestors, it would probably be Martha Lawrence.
For more about the Lawrence family that left the Coolattin estate in 1848, see my previous blog post My People Came From Wicklow: The Lawrence Experience of 1848.
While several obituaries were written following Martha’s death in early 1902, this one is by far the most detailed and interesting. It appeared on the first page of the Durham Review on Thursday, January 30, 1902. They certainly don’t write them like this anymore!
Elusive Ancestor – James Lawrence
Martha’s son James, is truly an elusive ancestor. He is mentioned in Martha’s obituary as living in Dakota. When Martha’s son Samuel (see picture below) died in 1907, his obituary referred to James as living in the north west. While I suspect that James died between 1907-1912 I don’t know if he married or where he died. It seems likely that his death would have been reported in the Durham Review or Durham Chronicle, in which case we may learn more of his story yet.
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