I've been reading through the books and I'm amazed, first at how many people lost track of each other, and secondly that some of them were still missing years later when a second ad ran. Some of the ads are quite short, just a name, place of origin and place last known to be. Others are longer, with parent's and sibling's names along with physical descriptions. Some offered rewards, and some hinted at good news awaiting the searched for individuals.
This is what the page from the website looks like, after plugging in the name John McLeer. About what you'd expect from an index--
This is the actual entry as it appeared in 1854--
Of JOHN MCLEER, peddlar, co Donegal, who came to this country 7 years and 7 months ago, having left a wife and 4 children there who have lately emigrated to this country, and are in Minersville Schuylkill co. Pa, with her sisters and brothers in law; when last heard from was in Massachusetts. Left Minersville in Nov. 2 years ago, was about 5 feet 9 inches in height, had sandy fair hair between white and red, eyebrows and lashes nearly white and lost 2 front teeth. Information of him will be received by his wife Ellen McLeer, Minersville, Schuylkill co, Pa.
Or Patrick Callahan--
Of PATRICK CALLAHAN, a Tipperary boy, about 33 years old, 5 feet 6 inches in height, blue eyes, dark brown hair, rather thick lips, and a figure well in proportion to his height. He is by trade a carpenter and joiner. On the 20th of Jan. '54, this Patrick left his lawfully wedded wife Ellen without any cause or provocation whatever, with an infant son then 2 months old, his own and my child; since which time I have obtained no tidings of him, and have been obliged to support myself and the child, basely deserted by the father whose sacred duty it was to provide for us both. Any person giving information of this Patrick will confer a great favor upon his wife Ellen, by addressing Thos. B. Montague, Shelburne Falls, Mass.
You can readily see the wealth of information contained in the original ad as opposed to the index. When searching the index keep in mind, these ads were placed by persons who were often illiterate. The ads were written for them by neighbors, priests and others who may not have known how to spell the places mentioned in the ads. An ancestor of mine from Coolaclarig, was from Coolarig in the ad seeking him. Another spelled Macedon, NY as Massedonville.
In closing, a free offer from the headquarters of Ellie's Ancestors! If any of you should find an entry of interest in the online index,