Martha E Jett – age 81 – obit Jun 1950 – Virginia

Once again I found one (1) obituary and with that one obit, I was able to create a tree that has 164 people on it.

The obituary I found in the The Free Lance-Star was for “Mrs. Martha E Jett” who died in Stafford County, Virginia on June 11, 1950.

newspaper obit

There was only one (1) last name in the obit and that was “Jett”,

The “Martha E Jett” obit tree, has forty-two (42) last names on it.

Those names are:

Baylor, Bland, Brewer, Brown, Campbell, Clark, Cleveland, Conner, Cox, Cruser, Curtis, Davis, Dodd, Farmer, Ferrell, Fines, Fox, Frost, Griffith, Haga, Jett, Kauadas, Krister, Littleton, McWhirt, Meadows, Musante, Newton, Perry, Roberson, Rowe, Scheffler, Seay, Shelton, Silver, Simpson, Starnes, Sullivan, Trigger, Weaver, Wendenburg, Williams

As my blog readers know, I look for items in old newspapers and then capture the item and create a family tree to hold the item.

I create the family tree on Ancestry dot com because I find it to be a very user friendly genealogy tree maker tool.

The web site Ancestry dot com has many resources available to it’s members and has a very useful tool in the “hints” it provides.

Once a person’s name in entered into a profile page the system begins using that information to look through it’s vast collection and match your input information with other records in it’s collection, thus creating a tree with one profile page can lead to a large well documented tree.

In order to fill out the Ancestry dot com profile page using the newspaper obituary, I create a text file of the information.

If you view the Obit and the text file together you will see how the text was extracted:

Mrs Martha Jett
age 81

born: abt 1869

died: 11 Jun 1950 Sunday
at Mary Washington Hospital
from heart attack

four (4) sons:
Archie F Jett – Stafford county
Edwin E Jett – Stafford county
Goolrick W Jett – Stafford county
Howard P Jett – Stafford county

24 gchildren
several ggchildren

address: Ferry Road, Stafford County

burial at family cemetery in Stafford County

Fredericksburg, Virginia
The Free Lance-Star – Jun 12, 1950  Monday

The above text file is a much cleaner version for the obit, and it has individual names and data which are easily seen.

I used the above information to look for any records that would confirm the obit information and I found her death certificate which gave me her father and mother’s names.

Martha E Jett
Virginia, Death Records, 1912-2014
Name: Martha E Jett
[Martha E Sullivan]
Gender: Female
Race: White
Death Age: 81
Birth Date: abt 1869
Death Date: 11 Jun 1950
Death Place: Fredericksburg, Fredericksburg, Virginia, USA
Registration Date: 13 Jun 1950
Father: Ulie Sullivan
Mother: Ellen Curtis

The tree I initially created was for Martha and her sons.

You will notice that there is very little information on the tree, information that came from her obituary. I know she was married because the obit says “Mrs”, so I put her husband in as “Jett”.

Using the death certificate information I added her father and mother.

You will notice that there are already some green leafs at the top right corner of some of the profile boxes. These leafs contain hints (records) for that person. The hints are created by Ancestry as described above; input I put in is looked at and scrutinized against the vast records holdings of Ancestry dot com. Then the system selects possible records that contain the input information.

For example here is the hints for Martha.

By reviewing and selecting the best possible hints one is able to build up the family tree. I started looking through the records, screen prints, and other family trees suggested by the hints and from there I was able to see more full death dates.

One such death date was for Martha’s son Archie and using it I was able to find his obit.

obit of her son: Archie

The Free Lance-Star – Dec 1, 1962

In order to have an obit be readable on the tree profile box I will often crop it to fit the square box, like I did with this one.

Again I created a text file to capture the information on the obit.

Archie Franklin Jett
age 73

born: 11 Nov 1889

died: Nov 1962 Friday
at home

father: Willie Jett
mother: Martha Sullivan
wife: Mrs Blanche Jett


three (3) daughters:
Mrs Mabel McWhirt – Fredericksburg, Virginia
Mrs James Clrke- Fredericksburg, Virginia
Mrs Shirley Campbell- Fredericksburg, Virginia

three (3) sons:
Mason S Jett – Fredericksburg, Virginia
Harold Lee Jett – Fredericksburg, Virginia
John E Jett – Falmouth

17 gchildren
3 ggchildren

native Stafford County

retired stonecutter

interment: family cemetery
on New Hope Church Road
in Stafford County

Fredericksburg, Virginia
The Free Lance-Star – Dec 1, 1962

on tree:

I used the above steps for each of the obits I found for this “Martha E Jett” tree, and put the files in a folder along with the screen prints I created and cropped of the various obits. Here is what the folder now contains:

and here is what the Martha E Jett tree looks like today (on the Ancestry dot com tree many more branches can be brought up by clicking on the parents of the individual people):

The reason I was able to fill out this tree starting from one small obit was because of the Google News Archive collection of the Fredericksburg, Virginia
The Free Lance-Star.

Virginia – Fredericksburg
The Free Lance-Star
23,207 issues
Jul 18, 1845 – Nov 30, 2006

Once you find one news item about a family in a vast collection such as this, it is easy to find other relatives in the pages of the newspaper. Especially if the family has settled in the area and has lived there a long time, like the Jett family did.

But remember that many of the items are not highlighted to be picked up easily so don’t rely on just searches to find those relative items. I very seldom do a search, I just use the date of death and then page through the various newspapers until I find the item I am looking for. It takes time and effort but it is satisfying quest looking for that obit. [See a blog post about looking for obits in old newspapers]

I hope this short blog post has given you an idea of what you can do with your family tree and the items you find in old newspapers.

Another thing I must tell you about the trees I make from old newspaper items; I contact other tree owners (remember the hints I got) about the obits I find and I send them the text file and link to the newspaper.

I contacted four different owners that I can remember while working on this tree.  I may have contacted more. Here are the four I know of.

Donna Byrnes

Virginia, USA

Concord, California, USA

Topeka, Shawnee, Kansas, USA

A typical Ancestry dot com message to an owner tells them what person on their tree I am referring to, the persons profile link along with the text file and my information:

Bernard E Shelton

On your tree topalicia
Topeka, Shawnee, Kansas, USA: — Here is his obit — Bernard E Shelton Sr
age 56

died: 18 Dec 1985 Tuesday
at Mary Washington Hospital

mother: Mettie S Shelton

mother – Stafford

sister: Mrs Virginia S Roberson – Stafford

brother: Ashton Shelton – Stafford

wife: Patricia S Shelton – Stafford

two (2) sons:
Bernand E Shelton Jr – Glenview, Ill
Luke S Shelton – Stafford

1 gson

2 step-sons
Sidney W Fox
C Wade Fox

1 step-daughters
Miss Crystal L Fox

native of Stafford

retired from former FMC Corp Plant
of Fredericksburg

burial: Sunset Memorial Gardens

SHORT obit
Fredericksburg, Virginia
The Free Lance-Star – Dec 18, 1985

See above this link:

LONG obit on Dec 19
Page 30 – image 16 of 24

link to page 1 –

a photo copy of obit is on this tree:

Thank You

Jose from Clarkston, Michigan, USA

PS. I really don’t know why I was in that particular “The Free Lance-Star June 1950” newspaper or why the Martha obit captured my eye, but it must have been the guiding hand of the genealogy gods that lead me to it.

Family Tree owner: SherryWilliams511 from Concord, California, USA, asked me if I pick a family tree to work on.
“Well Sherry, I don’t pick the tree, the newspaper item picks me.”

Again I hope this blog post has given you an idea of what you can do with your family tree and the items you find in old newspapers. Also I hope this answers any questions you might have as to how and why I create these family trees.

Using the above method I’ve created around 1275 family trees and have contacted twice that many tree owners. It is a labor of love and a way to give back to the genealogy community.

Thank You

Jose – Clarkston and Covert, Michigan

A note to the family tree owners I contacted:

If you do not find the obit you need in the one Fredericksburg, Virginia newspaper that is featured above, you might want to look through one of these other ones.

Virginia – Fredericksburg Virginia – Fredericksburg Virginia – Fredericksburg
The Daily Star
7,659 issues
Jun 27, 1893 – Sep 1, 1926
Fredericksburg Daily Star
269 issues
Aug 4, 1917 – Jul 26, 1918
The Fredericksburg Ledger
911 issues
May 30, 1865 – Nov 6, 1874
Virginia – Fredericksburg Virginia – Fredericksburg Virginia – Fredericksburg
The Fredericksburg News
931 issues
Jul 20, 1849 – Feb 1, 1862
The Fredericksburg Star
239 issues
Jan 1, 1898 – Dec 29, 1900
The Free Lance
4,283 issues
Jan 1, 1885 – Sep 3, 1926
Virginia – Fredericksburg Virginia – Fredericksburg Virginia – Fredericksburg
The Free Lance-Star
23,207 issues
Jul 18, 1845 – Nov 30, 2006
Sunday Free Lance-Star
142 issues
Nov 1, 1998 – Jun 30, 2003
The Virginia Herald
330 issues
Jan 12, 1792 – Dec 20, 1809


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