Discoveries: Humor Alive and Well in 1835 Marriage Notice

Marriage notices are gold mines for genealogists, providing a wealth of names and dates helpful in creating family trees. They also open a window that lets us peer into the past, perhaps even sharing a chuckle. For example, the editor of the Norfolk Advertiser newspaper in Massachusetts had a little fun with this marriage notice on Aug. 22, 1835:

Read that final announcement with tongue firmly in cheek, as the editor intended:

"At Onondaga Hollow [now Syracuse, New York], Mr. Sier Patterson to Miss Precious Little, all of that town. Mr. P. has made up his mind to enjoy PRECIOUS LITTLE during the remainder of his life."

Humor aside, this marriage notice illustrates an important point in researching family history. Notice that this Dedham, Massachusetts, newspaper published announcements of marriages from a wide area: Barnstable, Cambridge, Dorchester, and Salem (all in Massachusetts)—plus one from as far away as Onondaga Hollow (Syracuse), New York.

Take a look at this map to see what a wide geographic region this covers:

Source: Google Maps

Why would a newspaper include marriage notices from such a wide area? Because it was good for business: the wider the newspaper's net to pull in birth, marriage and obituary notices, the wider its circulation would be.

The same principle applies to genealogy research. There may be "precious little" written about your ancestors, and so—like Sier and Precious Patterson—you should make up your mind to cast a wide net and look beyond your local newspaper to find the facts about your ancestors' lives.