Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: The Day Your Maternal Grandmother Was Born

It is time once again for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun with Randy Seaver on Genea-Musings. I look forward to this every weekend. 🙂

1) What happened in the world on the day your maternal grandmother was born?  Tell us the date, the place, and find a newspaper page for that date, ideally from the place she was born.  What are some of the headlines?  What was the weather?  

I know we’ve had this topic for another ancestor and I’m having the same problem I had before – finding a newspaper from the birthplace and with the correct date.

My maternal grandmother, Hazel Ethel Coleman, was born on 7 February 1901 in Calais, Washington, Maine, the second child and only daughter of Hartwell Thomas and Anna Elisabeth (Jensen) Coleman. There are no digitized Calais newspapers – I’ve been waiting for years for the Calais Advertiser to appear – so I chose a paper close to my home.

The Arizona Daily Citizen, published in Tucson, Arizona, where I live, popped up on Chronicling America, and it had “real” news in it. A couple of papers from North Carolina and Wisconsin had stories that were more up the alley of today’s rags found in the market – some man’s head getting cut off and a lady pulling a string from some man’s collar in church. Those were page 1 stories!

Tucson was quite small 119 years ago, yet the newspaper had world headline stories.

Among the news items on Page 1:

1. Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands married Duke Henry in The Hague.

2. The leaders of the Chinese Boxer Rebellion were sentenced to death.

3. A broken rail on the track threw a train into a ditch in Pittsburg and 15 people were killed.

4. Britain had an outbreak of smallpox.

5. The case against Carrie Nation (a distant relative by marriage to my husband) in Topeka, Kansas for smashing a saloon was dismissed and the ladies sang Nearer My God to Thee in court.

The weather in Tucson that day was a high of 52 and a low of 48. It would have been considerably colder in Calais, which has an average high of 28 and average low of 7 at that time of year.

This edition of the newspaper is four pages long. Legal notices were on page 2. Page 3 had ads, but there was one curious column – that of secret society meetings. Who would have thought that Tucson had a local chapter of the Knights Templar?

The last page of the newspaper contained many more ads and a small list of local news items. The biggie was that the train heading east from California was ten hours late because of washouts!

I would love to have found lots of Calais tidbits, but I will have to wait for the Calais Advertiser to appear in digital form. The Passaic Herald News finally turned up last year so there is hope!



2 thoughts on “Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: The Day Your Maternal Grandmother Was Born”

  1. How secret are secret societies if their meetings are listed in the newspaper? Maybe you need to take a trip to Calais to read the newspapers on microfilm.

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