Obituary Fascination

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Obituary Fascination

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Nov 18, 2011, 2:22am

I'm helping to expand a history about an area of NW Illinois first explored in the very early 1800s (that, of course, totally ignores the native Americans there well before 1800) and wanted to flesh out some of the early folks. I was laboriously searching old newspaper archives for obituaries on certain folks and later stumbled across web sites focused on local genealogy with pages of obits neatly stacked up and organized.

I love the "sound," stories and poetry of the early obits and got sidetracked completely. I think that I have a new hobby.

Here are some samples if you're interested:

Hey, this is certainly related to cemeteries and gravestones!

Nov 18, 2011, 8:11am

Interesting stuff. I spend a LOT of time photographing cemeteries and I'm sometimes intrigued by a particular stone and wonder about the person under it. Are you accessing historical societies online or newspapers?

Modificato: Ott 14, 2012, 3:54pm

I'm using everything from genealogical web sites to old newspaper microfilm readers to the county records. Also, the local historical society and the local history section of the public library which is manned and womanned, to coin a word, by volunteers who are quite helpful.

Modificato: Ott 14, 2012, 3:47pm

It’s a gloomy, rainy day here and I’m thinking of all the outside things I need to do.

So, I came to LT and along the way checked my original posting at #1 above, only to find out the links for the old obits that I thought were so interesting were dead (small joke). Here is a redo on Obituary Fascination…

Here are some excerpted older (mostly1800s) obits and articles I thought were interesting, flowery, odd, poignant, whatever:

- Her death was wholly unexpected as she had been apparently in good health for some time, except that she sprained her ankle a few weeks ago which seemed to cause her much worry and trouble.

- The deceased was a plain, though remarkably well informed man, pure and blameless in Character and the very soul of honor. Everybody who knew him intimately can testify to his goodness of heart, and his memory will be fondly cherished in hundreds of breasts as long as life lasts.

- A friend of the deceased said to the writer that she was never known to utter an unkind word to any one. Oh, if such could be truthfully said of us all what a delightful world this would be to live in.

- In the year 1849 W.L., the subject of this sketch, became imbued with the gold fever which had drifted over the country from California, and at once determined to try his fortune in the newly discovered Eldorado. Along with a few others from this locality, he took his departure for the Pacific Coast, and such men as J. F., perhaps the only living man in this city who crossed the plains in that year, can form an adequate idea of the difficulties and dangers encountered during the trip. However, it was safely made and eighteen months later, Mr. L. returned to the old homestead in Council Hill with a quantity of shining gold that in those days was considerable.

- Mr. E. was a man of much force of character and strong peculiarities. He would not permit himself to be imposed on and when he believed himself aggrieved he resented with all the force of his nature.

- She came to Jo Daviess Co. with her parents in 1828; they were married in a cabin on the farm where they now reside; the dismal howl of the wild wolf in her lair, the screeching of panthers and the echoing whoop of the native savages, was the only music with which they were surrounded; they have seen the wigwams and huts give way to the palatial residences of advanced civilization; they survived the dangers of the Black Hawk War and beheld the curling smoke of peace after the tiger strife was over.

- Q. O. 71, who charged that he was kidnapped and forced to marry Miss M.E. in 1937 is dead. Apparently the victim of a heart ailment Q.O. died Wednesday night (5 February 1941) at the home of a son. He alleged that in February 1937 Miss M.E. and six other persons including her father, Dr. W.E., Elizabeth IL abducted him and took him to Morrison IL where a justice of the peace presided at a wedding ceremony. The following July Miss M.E. gave birth to a son and named him Q.O. , Jr. On Feb. 9, 1939 the Illinois Appellate Court ruled invalid the marriage and reversed a circuit court annulment granted two months after the marriage. In a subsequent action Miss M.E. sued for divorce and support for her son, alleging that she and Q.O. went through what she thought was a wedding ceremony in Louisville KY on Derby Day 1936. This action was dismissed. Q.O.’s wife died 10 years ago. A daughter and two sons survive.

- MRS. W. O. The fatal illness of Mrs. W. O. , who died at Stockton last week was attributed to a shock received several years ago. While passing along the road one evening with a young lady companion she was seized by some unknown person who reached through a fence and grabbed her. The fright brought on nervous prostration and heart trouble from which she never recovered. It is supposed that the unknown person was an acquaintance who intended a joke.

- Fortunately the deceased was well insured and the family will be left in fair circumstances.

Some links to interesting obits, etc:

Fred Clark's self written obit:

Love letter in lieu of obit:

Debby Underwood Gross obit:

New Yorker article on D-I-Y obits: