Selver Koonce (1904-1980)

Tonight while browsing the website of the Genealogical Society of Sarasota, I discovered they offer a wonderful resource online. They have taken a book they published in 1992 and made it available online – a comprehensive survey of cemeteries in the county.  I immediately looked for any Koonces because I know there were plenty in Florida; I was not sure if any were in Sarasota County.

Turns out they did have one listing – Selver Koonce who is buried in Galilee Cemetery.  His entry states he was born March 4, 1904 and died June 5, 1980.

Cemetery burial listing from the Genealogical Society of Florida files


A quick Ancestry search yielded a few records; a Google search found nothing; ditto with Mocavo.


I’m curious about Selver – I’d like to know if I can trace his family tree.  The quickest route back would be to order his death certificate to see if parents are listed – that only costs $5 from the state.  But then, I remembered that Google News Archive (which Google will no longer actively add to), had the Sarasota Journal newspaper from about 1952-1982 online.  This is the perfect time period to check for an obit.

Sure enough, I found it by navigating directly to the issues for the month of June 1980.











The details found here will be a great start to my search. I will still order the death certificate, but this should help get me jump started.  Google News Archive – I’ll miss the fact that you aren’t adding new papers, but it’s finds like these that show just how valuable the present existing content can be.

Passing of Tunisia Koonce

Yesterday,  I learned from a fellow family history researcher of the passing of Tunisia Koonce.

Prior to yesterday, I did not know how Tunisia connected into the Koonce line, but with the news of her passing, I did explore it further.  Tunisia Abdullah Koonce died Wednesday, October 7, 2009 of breast cancer.  She was only 38  years old and leaves to mourn husband George Koonce, daughter Jayla and son George 3rd.

This is a picture of the family that I found on a webpage she’d dedicated to her husband back in 2007.

When I learned who her husband was, I realized that I knew him! Well, now *knew*, but a few months ago, upon learning about George I’d tried to contact him.   George is a former football player and now is Director of Athletics at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaulkee, but I never heard back from him.  I would later learn that at the time I sent my email, he was in the process of transferring to his current position, so it is possible he never received it.

George’s ancestry also goes back to  Jones County, North Carolina like my own Koonce family.  He is the grandson of Sudie Koonce (1912-2008), a native of Pollocksville, NC and the son of George Earl Koonce Sr.  I do not know who Sudie’s parents are at this point but I will further this research over the next few weeks.   My thoughts are with the family during these sorrowful times.