A few months ago, after my mother died of cancer, I decided that I wanted to find out more information about some of my relatives. I knew that my mother had come from a big family, and that she had grown up in California. I wasn’t sure what kind of information I was looking for, but I eventually I decided to look at the California Death Notices.
My mother never talked about her family too much. She had left California when she was seventeen, and moved to Boston, where she met my father. I never found out exactly why she left, or much about her life in California at all. I did know that she had lots of cousins, and a sister and brother that I had never met.
I didn’t know where to begin looking for information on the family. I thought of doing web searches, but many times that only brings up people who are in the public eye in some way. I figured that everybody is born, and everybody eventually dies, so death records might be a good start. I figured that obituary searches might provide the best information.
I was absolutely right. It turned out that my mother’s father had died only a few months earlier than she had. His obituary was extensive, and I loved learning about the grandfather who had been a stranger to me.
Besides providing the person’s life story, obituaries often list the names of relatives who have survived them. That is how I came to know the names of many of my mother’s cousins, and found out that her brother and sister were still living in California!
I eventually tracked down contact information for them both, and traveled to meet them in California. After that, they came and visited my family in Boston. I am so glad that I decided to look at the California Death Notices. That decision definitely made this process more efficient.