The rare but at times attainable obituary

Jefferson Boyer taught me a lesson, thank you very much — that sometimes it is actually possible to find an obituary or notice of death of African Americans in old newspapers of a time when they were not included.  But Jefferson showed me that the passing of a few were mentioned in newspapers.  I had previously thought it impossible to find such a thing for those who died roughly a century ago.  It’s rare, but there are a few.  Below are a few of Wicomico County, Maryland, from the Salisbury Advertiser and the Wicomico News, and one from The Frederick Post about a Salisbury resident.

You may have to click on some of the images to read them.  The article about Freeborn Parsons was printed in the November 4, 1876 issue of The Salisbury Advertiser.  The article on Caesar Dashiell was printed in the December 20, 1900 issue of the Wicomico News.

The last two articles are about Solomon Houston of Salisbury, Maryland (sometimes spelled Huston).  The first article is about Solomon Houston is from the January 13, 1916 issue of the Wicomico News.  The second one was a surprise, for it is in a January 19, 1916 issue from The Frederick Post, of Frederick, Maryland.  It is surprising because it has provided some new information which I had not known when I first learned of him.  He was quite prominent and had amassed a lot of property, and was known to sell and rent to many in the Georgetown neighborhood of Salisbury.  His history is linked to Poplar Hill Mansion, and his marker is the tallest and most prominent of the gravestones in the Houston Cemetery in Salisbury which bears his name (he had purchased the property).  He is the same person mentioned in an earlier post here who had hosted Frederick Douglass when he came to speak in courthouse in Salisbury as a fundraiser; Douglass stayed in Houston’s home while in Salisbury.

Perhaps the lesson here is that if you are researching someone known to be fairly prominent during the same time period, do not ignore the white-owned newspapers because there is a chance their passing might be reported.

–Linda Duyer

SA 11-4-1876 Freeborn Parsons





WN 12-20-1900 Caesar Dashiell








WN 1-13-1916 Solomon Houston obit1916 01 19 The Frederick Post MD Solomon Houston death_crop







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