Legal notices are a good source of information on nineteenth century ancestors. In the legal system, public notification of some upcoming events is mandatory. Because so many people read newspapers, these events are often announced in the legal notices section, a trend started in our ancestors’ time. Nineteenth century America was a society on the move, and placing a legal notice in a newspaper was a way to reach a large audience.

Legal notices might include an estate and proving of will actions, such as an administrator’s notice or final settlement of a will. You may find an order of sale, a sheriff’s sale, or trustee’s sale, often as a way to raise money to pay taxes. Other possible situations might be a divorce proceeding, locating and proving an heir, or transfer of real estate. Most often, the notice will pertain to local citizens, but sometimes you may find a notice from another city.

In St. Louis, there were many early newspapers. Two of these were the St. Louis Evening Post and the St. Louis Dispatch. These independent publications were combined in 1878, when Joseph Pulitzer began the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the only major newspaper remaining in the city today.

Lorraine Cates and Alice Tucker transcribed and contributed this information from November 1874 issues of the St. Louis Dispatch for the 1998 St. Louis Genealogical Society Quarterly, volume 31, number 1, pages 32–33; number 2, pages 71–74.

Legal Notices, The Dispatch

Last modified: 05-Jul-2016 16:51