How I Found a Cousin Using Newspapers and Only Newspapers


For many, genealogy and family history research is a solo and solitary endeavor. For me, the first 8 years were pretty much “all by myself.”  I got lucky through Social Media to make a fantastic connection that opened up my “Braunhart” branch considerably.

But this article is not about that branch. It is the true story of how I found the siblings for my great great grandfather – Louis Marks.

And how they were found using PRIMARILY newspapers.

And how those old dusty newspapers (actually they were online so not so dusty) found me a NEW cousin!

Yes – all because of newspapers – the subject that I write about ALL the time.

I had found Louis early on, but knew nothing of his siblings, parents etc. As is often the case – Louis was the one who immigrated to America and so his parentage became significantly more difficult to discover. And also was identifying his brothers and sisters.

The First Clue – From Guess What….. A Newspaper

I began to get some hints and clues that he had a brother Emil. About 5 years ago I had found a newspaper clipping about an Emil Marks, who had been hit by a train and was killed in Oakland, California.


Now I had an inkling that Emil and Louis were brothers. From a naturalization log and their naturalization index cards from 1864, they were suspiciously next to each other in the log, had the same naturalization date and had the same witness at their naturalization “hearing.”




And a couple of years later, I found this entry in the 1875 San Francisco City Directory, which discusses a company named “Louis Marks and Bro” and cites both Louis and Emil. Evidence, not proof, but certainly enough for me at that juncture to claim their brotherhood.


So NOW we have brothers Louis and Emil.

A Cousin Appears – Because of….. A Newspaper

A few years later I received an email from Scott Harris, a descendant of Fanny Lust (love that name). He had found a newspaper article that stated that Fanny was suing the railroad company, as she was handling the estate of Emil Marks. Scott had surmised that maybe he and I were related and asked me if I thought that possibly Emil and Fanny were brother and sister. He had heretofore not known anything about Emil or Louis.

So through a bit more research, including California Death Index research, where that index states the name of the deceased’s parents as well as the maiden name of the mother – it was discovered that Fanny’s maiden name was indeed “Marks” and thus it was likely that Emil and Fanny were brother and sister. Now they could have been cousins as opposed to siblings. Fanny’s Death Certificate was ordered and it showed that her maiden name WAS Marks and that her father’s name was Isaac Marks.

So Yay! I had what was very likely a NEW COUSIN on the Marks’ side! And I didn’t have many cousins there to begin with and only one who was interested in Genealogy (my dear cousin Kit Crawford – for the record).

The Story Doesn’t End – Because of….. A Newspaper

Thanks for hanging in there with this story. We have a lot of clues and what some might call evidence, but nothing really that ties Emil, Louis and Fanny together a little more tightly. Until I found in the past week – an obituary in the newspaper OF COURSE – and it was for Emil – and it was a FANTASTIC find!

Now – this obituary confirms the brotherhood of Emil and Louis – but who are Mrs. S Lust and Mrs. I Schudmack, their sisters?  Well we know from many types of records that have been accumulated – that Fanny was married to Simon Lust, who coincidentally was also killed by a train. And oh, by the way – Emil and Simon were business partners in the 1860s as we later discovered.

So now Scott Harris and I ARE cousins! Yippee! But who is Mrs I Schudmack?

The last few days have been filled with research and discoveries about Mrs I Schudmack – is that Lottie Schudmack, who had 7 children, who was married to Isaac Schudmack – and whose children when they died and were cited in the California Death Index had their Mother’s maiden name as “Marks”??? Oh and the Hebrew inscription on her gravestone translates to her father being named As Isaac Marks?

Yes indeed!

By the way – I have reached out to some of Lottie Marks Schudmack’s descendants via Social Media. Wish me luck as I hunt for more cousins.

In closing then, I just want to say one thing:

Yes – You Can Find Cousins – Researching…. A Newspaper

….and welcome to the family Scott! And we are waiting to welcome you – Schudmack descendants!

Join the Conversation


  1. Great post! I found your blog through Jana’s Genealogy and really enjoying reading about the search for the siblings of your ancestor Louis. I’ve been trying to break some brick walls using newspaper records lately, so this success story definitely gives me hope.

    1. Thanks Erin for visiting. I love newspaper research. Hope you find some important articles about your ancestors. Good luck!

  2. I enjoyed reading this article. I have my own genealogy blog and enjoy reading other blogs. I will be following your posts.
    Happy hunting,
    “Michigan Girl”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *