Posted in Archives and Libraries, Colorado Digital Newspapers, Indian traders, Newspapers, Research tips, Utah Digital Newspapers, Websites

Friday Finds: Digital newspaper archives for Utah and Colorado

Every week I try to share libraries, archives, or collections I have found useful to Western States researchers, and some of the things I have discovered within them.

This week I want to highlight the digital historic newspaper archives available for Utah and Colorado.  Family historians know newspapers are a valuable resource.

They are especially valuable in the western states because newspapers were established fairly early when communities were formed.  State and federal government offices were not very accessible to the remote settlements and sparsely settled states, and until the middle of the 19th century most of the west was under the jurisdiction of a territorial government.  Newspapers were much more likely to provide clues to early western settler’s lives than official government records before 1900.

Here are three tips for using newspapers in family history research:

1.  Look for more than births, marriages, and deaths in newspapers.  Check out every “hit” the search finds and add these events to a timeline for an individual.  The other events in a person’s life can reveal vital clues as to family relationships, property they owned, and places they lived or did business.

2.  Search every newspaper within a 60 mile radius of a person’s home.  Vital events were sometimes reported in more than one newspaper.

3.   When looking for an obituary, include newspapers in the towns of a person’s grown children and siblings.


Utah Digital Newspaper Archive

The Utah Digital Newspaper Archive (UDN) can be found at and is one of the best online newspaper resources in the United States.  According to the website “UDN is built upon a distributed state-wide collection of newspapers that is aggregated into a single, searchable index hosted at the U of U. We partner with Brigham Young University, Utah State University, and Salt Lake Community College to accomplish this, each hosting a portion of the content.”

It is easy to use and can be searched by individual newspaper title or by the entire collection.  It is also browseable by title, which is helpful if you want to get a feel for community life during a particular time.  I especially like the “Browse by County” feature, as it is helpful to see which newspapers existed for a geographic region, and the “Paper Timeline” is a handy graph to  help you locate a newspaper by time period.  The advanced search feature allows for all kinds of creativity in searching for an elusive ancestor.  Here is an obituary I found for Alexander Matheson in Parowan, Utah:

Colorado Historic Newspapers Collections

According to the website, “The Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection (CHNC) currently includes more than 500,000 digitized pages, representing 163 individual newspaper titles published in Colorado from 1859 to 1923. Due to copyright restrictions, CHNC does not generally include newspapers published after 1923.”  The CHNC is not as easy to search as the UDN site, but it is still a great resource which dates back even before Colorado’s territorial history began in 1861.

I found out that J.B. Tanner (likely Joseph Baldwin Tanner) won several awards for horse breeds at the Montezuma, Colorado County Fair in October 1907.  This helps to place him in the area at that time.  Here is a link to the article:  We also learn about his purchase of a new trading post in this article:

Posted in Indian Wars, Obituaries, Utah pioneers

Alexander Matheson Obituary

Copied From the Parowan Times, 19 Aug 1932, p1, col 3

Alexander Matheson Goes To Final Rest

Was Prominent In Affairs of Community For More Than Half A Century

Alexander Matheson, 89, pioneer and Indian war veteran who was prominent in the affairs of this community for more than half a century, passed from this life on Monday evening at the home of his son Owen at Midvalley. General debility incident to old age is given as the cause of his death.

Funeral services were held for him at Enoch on Wednesday afternoon. Speakers at the services were Edward G. Matheson, a grandson, Rodney Cox, Stake President William R. Palmer and David Matheson. Grace Jones Smith sang a solo. Gordon Matheson sang, Randolph Grimshaw and Grace Smith sang a duet and a tribute was read by Mrs. Estella J. Grimshaw. Numbers were sung by the Enoch choir, the opening prayer was offered by Hyrum Jones, the closing one by Francis Matheson. He was brought to Parowan for burial, the grave being dedicated by James N. Connell. Many relatives and friends from here attended the funeral.

The deceased was born in Dundee, Scotland, September 7, 1843, a son of Daniel and Katherine Treasurer Matheson. His father was educated for the Presbyterian Ministry but was converted to the L. D. S. faith and brought his family to Utah in 1862. They crossed the ocean on the John Boyd. During the voyage he met Lydia Evans who was emigrating from Wales and who later became his wife.

He drove an ox team across the plains that year for Erastus Snow and the next season, 1863, he again crossed the plains for emigrants in what was commonly known as the hell-roaring Dixie train of which Dan McArthur was captain. He was employed by Erastus Snow when he first came to Utah, which accounts for his going to Dixie and being a member of that company.

On his return that fall Mr. Matheson was married in the Endowment House at Salt Lake City to Lydia Evans.  The next year they went with other people from here to settle Paguitch but were compelled to abandon the attempt a couple of years later on account of the Indians.  Their oldest son, Alexander G. Matheson, who passed away a few months ago in Cedar City was born in Panguitch.

Returning to Parowan they made their home here.  Eight other sons were born to them, 2 of whom died in infancy and six survive him.  His wife passed away a number of years ago, following which he had a couple of other unsuccessful matrimonial ventures and then made his home with his son Owen’s family at Midvalley.

His surviving sons are Simon A., Hugh E., and Lorenzo of Parowan, Daniel E. and Owen of Midvalley and Wm. J. of Duncan, Arizona.  All were here for the funeral except the latter.

He was an indian war veteran, having seen service under Captain John Lowder;  he was the first president of the young Mens’ Mutual Improvement Association in Iron County, was assessor, city treasurer, justice of the peace, school trustee, president of the Seventies quorum for a number of years;  he was a staunch Democrat and was otherwise prominent in the affairs of the community.  He was mechanically inclined and for a number of years he operated the burr flour mill here during which time he invented a hand operated elevator for use in it.  He was a fearless defender of the right and always outspoken for his convictions.

The sympathy of the community is extended to his sons in the loss of a kind and devoted father.