How to document news worthy incident that affects many families

On 21 Jun 1914 in Oswego, New York a boat crossing a canal capsized and twelve (12) people were drowned.

The twelve (12) victims came from seven different families: Adams, Crane, Dainer, Mogg, Schultz, Tibbets and Welsh.

The Tree - main view of victims families

I first saw the story in The Ludington Daily newspaper and thought it was an important family tree item to capture as a unite and not just an item for each of the seven (7) families. (See below for link to original Ludington newspaper story.)

In order to put all the victims on one tree and also be able to tell their individual stories, I created the tree using the same method I’ve used for other incidents such as:

September 21, 2014

February 23, 2019

The incident is the main (home) person on the tree and the victim families are the children of the incident. This way one can see all the victim’s surnames at one glance and will be able to go to the family tree for the particular family by going into the profile of the individual Index person.

go to branch via profile page 01

once in the profile you will see a box where you can access the family branch.

go to branch via profile page 02

Notice that the parents for this index are: father = one newspaper account, mother = another newspaper account. This way a person viewing the tree will be able to access the various newspapers accounts from the Index branch of the family tree file. Once on the tree look at the Gallery where you will find all the sources.

Once you select the family branch with your mouse, you will be taken to the family tree for the Crane family. The person who died was Howard E Crane, a three (3) year old and thus the link on the index page takes to his family page.

go to branch via profile page 03

go to branch via profile page 03b

If we select the profile of another family index box, we will go to that family tree.

Welsh Index takes us to Mrs Harry Welsh.

go to branch via profile page 04

go to branch via profile page 05

go to branch via profile page 05b

So we have seven families affected by the boat accident and we can go to the individual family tree using the profile page of each family index.

The Tree - main view of victims families

The information on the index tree and the individual family trees comes from various newspaper accounts. You want to put all the source items for the incident on the father of the index page and in this case it is the box labeled “12 drowned…” shown above. These are the various newspaper I collected to create the incident tree.

The newspaper that carried the 1914 boat accident story 2

Notice that we have newspapers from different areas; one from Ludington, Michigan, several from Syracuse, New York, one from Lincoln, Nebraska and one from Chicago, Illinois. I am sure if we wanted to, we could find many more newspapers from different states and maybe different countries that carried the story of 12 people drowning in a boat accident in New York state.

As I said at the opening of this blog post, I came across the story in the Ludington newspaper and only had the information from it to create the trees (index and family). Having only one source, I created some of the family trees with “Mrs” and not the name for the person because the newspaper I was using listed the victim as “Mrs so and so” and did not give her name. This occurred with “Mrs Harry Walsh”. I did not have her name at the beginning of my work. It was only after I collected more newspaper accounts that I was able to find out that her name was “Genevieve”.

Because you will not get all the info from the first source, you will want to create a text file that contains the info for each family and you will add info to it as you find more sources. Here is the text file I created for this tree “12 drowned…”

Names and info about victims:

Among those known to have perished are:

Mrs. George H. Adams, 26 – Syracuse
her children
Genevieve Adams, 1 –
Lillian Adams, 4 –
Margaret Adams, 5 –

– First Methodis Episcopal church
burial at Oakwood Cemetery
Syracuse, Onondaga County, New York, USA
Genevieve –
Mrs Harry Welsh, 25 – Syracuse
Catherine Katherine Welsh, 1

home 400 Cedar St
– Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception
burial at St Agnes’s cemetery
John Mogg, 38 – Syracuse

home 125 Steuben St
– St John the Baptis church
burial at Assumption cemetery
Florence Dainer, 12 – Syracuse
Earl Dainer, 10 – Syracuse

home 220 Free St
parents Mr and Mrs Louis Dainer
owners of launch that capsized
– First English Lutheran church
burial at Woodlawn cemetery

Charles Schultz, 22 – Syracuse

home 715 North Alvord St
– Church of the Assumption
burial Assumtion cemetery
Miss Mabel Tibbets, 26 – Syracuse

home 508 Richmond Ave
– St Patrick’s church
burial at Minoa (Minea)
Howard Crane, 3 – Liverpool

traveling with parents Mr and Mrs Myron Crane
home of grandfather: Charles Carner – Liverpool
– ministers of Liverpool Methodist church
burial North Syracuse

On some trees you will find more info than just the victims mentioned in the newspapers. I was able to create a rather full tree for the Mogg family victim.

some trees will have more people than just victims

So to recap; you can capture an incident on a family tree format where you can include all the people affected by the news item or incident.

You will create an index tree that will show you all the surnames of the families affected and through that index tree you will be able to get to the individual family tree. You do that by adding a link on the profile page of the index person; the link takes you to the family tree for that family where you will see all the family members that were affected in the incident. In the above case it was a boat accident where twelve (12) people drowned, many of those were children.

The reason you may want to create such a tree would be to capture all the families affected by the incident: Earthquake, Interment camp or Boat accident, on one tree.

You will be able to see things viewing the full picture, that you would not see if you built trees for the individual families. In the case above I learned that even when all these families came for the same area, none of the seven families belonged to the same church.

In the case of the 1959 Yellowstone Earthquake, the victims families have come together in annual reunions; the latest was this past summer (2019) when they met at Yellowstone.

So creating a tree for an incident may be something you can use when trying to capture the lives of each victim in one place.

If you are interested in viewing the above tree on Ancestry use this link:

Link to original newspaper story

Ludington, Mason, Michigan
Ludington Daily News – Jun 22, 1914

Update: Here is another use for this type of tree format:


Keeping track of all your trees

I hope this blog post will give you new ideas for your family trees and has sparked a new way of looking at family tragedies that have occurred in your family history.

Thank You

Jose from Clarkston, Michigan


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: