Category Archives: Newspapers

Was Your Ancestor a Veteran? Local Newspapers Share Military News

This post is being shared with Elizabeth O’Neal’s November Genealogy Blog Party on Heart of the Family. Be sure to visit and check out the other military family history stories.

Veterans Day is just a few days away. Was a member of your family a 20th century veteran? If so, Chronicling America and subscription-access digitized newspaper websites might fill in details of his/her wartime activities.

People today think society has no privacy anymore. Well, in some ways, it was even worse during the early to mid-20th century. Everybody knew everyone’s business, whether you were visiting out of town, missed church on Sunday or were getting divorced. That’s because it was all reported in the local newspaper that the entire community read!

However, there are some definite positives to all those newsy events appearing in print. We are given a nice clear picture of what life was like for our families at a given point in time.

Reporting news about the “local boys” who went off to Europe to serve in the World Wars was just part of keeping the community informed. Those same tidbits of news might well include our own family members and the types of news articles varied tremendously.

First, it let everyone know who was next to be shipped out:

Part of a long list!

It also brought more distressing news from the war fronts:

Family visits were duly reported:

Everett Bell of Baltimore, Maryland made a trip all the way to the Ozarks to visit his sister while on leave from the U.S. Army.

Correspondence from servicemen was also shared in print:

Did Fred Woodruff survive the flu pandemic and World War I? Yes. After the war was over, he married and set up a medical practice in Denver, Colorado. He married twice and had at least four children. I wonder if his grandchildren ever heard the story of surviving the flu?

The flu was of military concern at back at home, too:

Private James M. Scott wrote his mother from France:

Private Scott survived the war, too, and might have been one of the longest surviving veterans of the Great War, as he died on 21 December 1991 at the age of 98 1/2 years old!

Oliver Planchon, evidently in Navy boot camp, unexpectedly met a neighbor:

Tom Caldwell enlisted in the U.S. Navy and was home on furlough after 18 months of service:

He was stationed on the USS Rhode Island:

Source: Wikipedia

Frank Conley was in Army boot camp at Camp Pike, Arkansas. His parents made a trip to St. Louis and, on the way back home to Monett, Missouri, stopped at Camp Pike to see him.

Camp Pike wasn’t exactly along the way home, but I am sure Mr. and Mrs. Conley were very happy to see Frank, even if for a short time:

Monett to St. Louis to Camp Pike (today Camp Robinson)
Source: Google Maps

Lastly, war cost a lot of money and efforts to raise funds to support the effort were also part of the daily news:

If you have never read vintage newspapers and think that your family won’t “make the news,” you are probably wrong, particularly if you are looking for military service information.

All of these articles came not just from a single issue of the Monett Times of Barry County, Missouri, the articles are all found on page 7 – a single page – of the 4 October 1918 issue.

World War II era papers did the same type of articles as everyone sought news of the local men and women serving and of how the war effort was progressing.

World War I papers are available on Chronicling America, but if you are interested in World War II, watch for free access days on the subscription websites if you don’t already have a membership with them.

There is lots to be learned about those who fought in the world wars and it was all reported in the local newspaper.




Ancestors and Product Endorsements In Historical Newspapers

Recently, while browsing surnames on Chronicling America, I decided to go down a genealogical rabbit hole about which I had wondered.

Modern society is used to celebrity product endorsements. They’ve been around forever. We are also well versed in websites like Trip Advisor, Google Reviews and Yelp to help us choose which products and services to buy. It’s also very likely that we’ve posted our own reviews somewhere online.

What about in the “olden days”? Those days before television or radio. Those days when newspapers were a prime source of information of every kind?

As I meandered through “Alberty” hits coming up in those historical newspapers, this advertisement, featuring Barbara Alberty, among others, came up in the 24 February 1901 issue of the St. Louis Republic:

Source: Chronicling America

Barbara Alberty is the young lady at whom the blue arrow is pointing. Just below and to the left of her image is a short blurb about her:

Miss Barbara Alberty, of Wisconsin.

Miss Barbara Alberty, of Seventh and Walnut streets, Appleton, Wis., says: “For years I have suffered with backache and severe pains in the side. I doctored so much that I became discouraged.

“A school friend told me how very much Peruna had benefited her and I sent out for a bottle, which did more to relieve me that all the other medicine I had ever taken. In fact I was completely cured in two weeks.” – Barbara Alberty

My first question, aside from what was in Peruna, is – who is Barbara Alberty? Was she a real person and is she part of my husband’s extended Alberty family?

Since this newspaper ad was from 1901 and identified Barbara’s home as Appleton, Wisconsin, I went to the 1900 census:

Source: Ancestry

Sure enough, the family of Mike and Anna Alberty were enumerated on Walnut Street in Appleton, Wisconsin. At first glance, it is apparent that this family likely is not related as Mike Alberty was born in Belgium. If he is a relative, he would probably be a very, very distant cousin with the common ancestor somewhere in Belgium, Italy or Germany.

Next, it turns out that Peruna was marketed as a cure for catarrh and asthma. The doctor peddling it, Dr. Hartman of Columbus, Ohio, got quite rich from its sales, but when interviewed by Samuel Hopkins Adams of Collier Magazine in1904, he stated: They see my advertising. They read the testimonials. They are convinced. They have faith in Peruna. It gives them a gentle stimulant, and so they get well.

Hmm. What a surprise – a snake oil doctor!

However, aside from the fact that he was a sham, it appears that real people gave testimonials and probably shared a photo with a local salesman, agreeing to have their picture and statement included in ads to be published around the country.

I was unable to find Celeste Covell, Anna Wells or Anna Carsten, who are also featured in the ad. There were women of those names, but not living in the stated cities during the 1900 census.

Alvina Groth, living in Appleton like Barbara Alberty, was also not found. However, there was 34 year old Augusta Groth living on College Avenue there. Perhaps Augusta was Augusta Alvina? I wonder if she was the friend who told Barbara Alberty about the product?

The same testimonial came up in a number of other newspaper editions besides the St. Louis Republic.

In any case, if you are looking at old newspapers, be sure to read the advertisements. You just might find an ancestor featured in one. If Barbara Alberty was part of the family, I would have a good idea of what she looked like as a 24 year old woman in 1901.

I love poring over old newspapers. They are really a lot of fun to read. Be sure to visit Chronicling America regularly, as they are constantly adding historical newspapers to their collection. It is a fabulous resource for family stories and social happenings that would be lost to time.

Maine, New Jersey & Chronicling America

I have long been envious of several blogging friends who post constant news clippings giving all kinds of interesting details about family members and businesses in which they are involved.

My personal newspaper clipping collection isn’t terribly small, but there is a huge difference in the sources of my clippings and those that others are finding online.

My clippings are original paper cutouts, most often with no exact date or name of the newspaper the news items are from. Everyone else is finding tons of information on sites like Chronicling America or state historical newspapers websites.

The positive aspect of this issue is that Maine and New Jersey are slowly – very slowly – starting to get with the program and digitizing their historical newspapers.

While nothing of interest has been found yet for New Jersey, I have made several small finds in Maine newspapers.

My mother’s paternal line includes my 4X great grandparents, Oliver Scripture and Mary Goddard Bucknam. Their daughter, Mary Elizabeth, married George Rogers Tarbox and settled in Calais, Maine.

The Scriptures were originally from Mason, New Hampshire, but spent their later years in Glenburn, Maine. Mary Elizabeth was the fourth of eleven children born to them. Oliver Shepley Scripture, the second child, was her oldest brother.

I found vital dates for Oliver years ago, but knew little about his life. Well, two tidbits popped up in The Republican Journal on 31 January 1878 and the Portland Daily Press, 9 October 1882.

O.S. Scripture was appointed the Glenburn postmaster in 1878:

By 1882, he moved up to the big time – North Bangor:

It’s fun to finally find something, anything, about my family in historical newspapers.

That wasn’t my only Maine discovery, though. I was aware that my 3X great grandfather had commissioned a schooner to be built in 1862 and he named her the Nellie Tarbox. Nellie was my 2X great grandmother:

My most exciting find was learning a bit more about the schooner Nellie Tarbox:

On 18 July 1862, she was three days out of Havana, Cuba on her way to Philadelphia. Travel must have been somewhat dangerous since the United States was in the middle of the Civil War:

In October 1862, she was still working the Caribbean run and was being loaded up for a trip to Cuba:

She was sold to new owners in Rockland, Maine in 1865. Price: $9000, so she was a nice boat!

In 1868, she had sailed from Savannah, Georgia on her way to Baltimore:

I now know when she was built, that she sailed for Calais owners until 1865 and she continued to sail at least into 1868.

I wonder how aware my great great grandmother was that she had a schooner named for her and if she ever kept track of its marine history.

Recently, I discovered the Passaic Herald News online, too. Finally!!!! My family first settled there about 1890 and it was my home until 1963. I mined about 100 news items over one free access weekend on a subscription site. I wish it was on Chronicling America, but better some place than no place!

I would dearly love to see the digitized Calais Advertiser appear on Chronicling America. Reading those issues would keep me busy for a year, as I had family there from the 1830s to the 1930s.

Well, I can only hope!