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Monday, August 24, 2009
It helps if you're looking in the right cemetery...
About a year ago, in an attempt to locate new on-line information, I subscribed to NewspaperARCHIVE.com, which has thousands of images of newspapers from all over the United States and internationally, too. I was able to locate a lot of articles, such as marriage notices and obituaries, which provided me with tons of new information. In particular, I was looking for information about one of my great-great-grandfather's brothers, Bedros Paloutzian. Bedros was one of the four Paloutzian brothers who came to California. The others were Kachadoor, Hovhannes (John) and my g-g-grandfather Manoug. Sometime between his arrival in New York on 25 May 1891, and 10 July 1900 when the census-taker took down the information, Bedros started going by the name Peter Thompson. (Bedros is the Armenian form of Peter.)
The name change made it very difficult to track his 8 children and unknown grandchildren, because while Paloutzian stands out among records as an obvious relation, the name Thompson just blends right in and could be anyone. I had the family located in each of the US Census records for 1900, 1910, 1920 and 1930. After that, I didn't have much. I looked in the California death records available on-line, but couldn't find a Peter Thompson that matched what I knew. It was likely then that he died between the 1930 census and 1940, when the death records available on-line begin. (Earlier death records are available on microfilm, but that involved a trip to the library on Wednesdays or Saturdays from 1:00 to 4:00. I am now a member of the Merced County Genealogical Society and have more convenient access.)
But thanks to my subscription at NewspaperARCHIVE, I was able to find Peter Thompson's obituary.
This gave me the married names of his daughters, and that he was buried in West Selma Cemetery. So, I wanted to find his headstone. On my way to Kingsburg, I stopped in Selma at the old section of the cemetery at Floral and Thompson. I didn't have the grave location, I just figured it was a small enough area that I could find it. Well, I wore myself out pacing up and down the rows of headstones .As you can probably guess by the title of this entry, and to make a long story shorter, I was at the wrong cemetery. I even went back there, with my sister Joy, a second time after calling the cemetery office and getting the location of Peter Thompson's grave, still thinking it was the West Selma Cemetery. The cemetery at Thompson just south of Floral is North Selma Cemetery. I was looking at a USGS map in my office one day when I noticed the other cemetery, also on Thompson Ave., which is actually the West Selma Cemetery. It is south of Highway 99 on Thompson near Park St. This is where Peter Thompson and his wife Mabel are buried. Their son Haig is there as well. He was a flying instructor who died in a plane crash at the age of 33.