How to Use Old Newspapers to Research Family Stories & Photos

Introduction: Scott Phillips is a genealogical historian and owner of Onward To Our Past® genealogy services. In this guest blog post, Scott searches online newspapers to figure out who the companions are that appear with his grandmother in an old family photograph.

Recently my awesome Mom (God bless her as she is 92, still going strong, and loves to help me with our family history) gave me a couple of old family photographs. One was a photo of my paternal grandmother, Ina Cottle Phillips, with the notation on the back “On the Boardwalk with the Wades.” As you can guess, as a genealogist I was off and running trying to discover the “Wade” portion of that note. Who were these companions of my grandmother?

Photo of Ina Cottle Phillips on the Boardwalk with the Wades

Ina Cottle Phillips, seated in the rear, “On the Boardwalk with the Wades.” Photo from the author’s collection.

First, I did what every genealogist should do: ask the elders! I asked my mom, who had a recollection that when my grandmother first arrived as an immigrant in Cleveland, Ohio, she got a job with a Wade family. Ah ha! Next, I reviewed my family tree notes and found that I had a reference, long forgotten, that said my grandmother was the “traveling companion” of one Mrs. Wade of Cleveland. Now this story was getting interesting! I wondered who might, in the early 1900s, have had a “traveling companion.”

Next stop was searching the old newspapers at GenealogyBank.com. It wasn’t long before a fun story began to unveil itself. First I happened across a vast number of references to Wade families in Cleveland, but one in particular stood out. An old newspaper article published in the Cleveland Leader explained that one Wade family gave substantial donations around Cleveland, including a large piece of land for what, still to this day, is known as Wade Park.

The Gifts of the Wades, Cleveland Leader newspaper article 10 May 1902

Cleveland Leader (Cleveland, Ohio), 10 May 1902, page 6

I dug deeper into the historical newspaper archives and soon found a beautiful drawing from the Plain Dealer showing the Wade Memorial Chapel in Cleveland’s Lake View Cemetery.

illustration of the Wade Memorial Chapel, Plain Dealer newspaper article 25 December 1898

Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), 25 December 1898, page 1

Sensing that I might be on to something I started looking for obituaries, and sure enough found an exceptionally informative one in the Chicago Herald that gave quite a biography of Jeptha Wade. The old obituary’s lead was that Mr. Wade was the man who saw the true value in a newfangled device called the telegraph, and started a company known to this day: Western Union. This obituary also tied in Cleveland and Wade Park.

Demise of Jeptha E. Wade, Chicago Herald newspaper article 10 August 1890

Chicago Herald (Chicago, Illinois), 10 August 1890, page 11

Next I sharpened the focus of my genealogy research to include both the Wade and Cottle names and got a hit, but when I opened the newspaper article I was surprised to find that the Cottle was not my grandmother: it was an obituary for her brother George. I learned that he, too, had a connection to the Wade family. The obituary stated that my great uncle George worked for the Wade family in their Wade Realty Company for 35 years. A fun aside was discovering that he was also a gardener for John D. Rockefeller, but that will have to be a different story for a later time!

George B. Cottle, Plain Dealer newspaper article 27 January 1966

Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), 27 January 1966, page 61

Now the pieces were beginning to fit. Brother George immigrated first and got a job with the Wade family. Could he possibly then have vouched for my grandmother and helped her get a job as traveling companion for Mrs. Wade? Perhaps on one of their trips someone took the old photos of her that I now hold in my hands.

It has been tremendous fun learning about this aspect of my Cottle ancestors and beginning to understand the possible history of those photographs my Mom gave me. Now to finish the task! Thanks to some more genealogy detective work I have located the living descendants of the Wade family and have reached out and asked them if they might review the old photographs. Hopefully, they can identify my grandmother’s companions in the photos—and if I am really, really lucky, they just might.

Now…I wonder if anyone out there needs a “traveling companion” today. I’d sure be happy to apply for the job!

Thousands of Old Newspaper Back Issues Added Online Every Day!

It is exciting to see the fast pace of more back issues being digitized and added to GenealogyBank’s online historical newspaper archives. Checking in with our production team I found that just this week they were adding another 3,000 back issues from the Boston Herald (Boston, Massachusetts), 477 issues from the Greensboro Daily News (Greensboro, North Carolina), and 81 back issues from the Richmond Times Dispatch (Richmond, Virginia).

In fact GenealogyBank adds content from over 3,000 newspapers every day. That’s amazing growth, providing you some of the most comprehensive U.S. newspaper coverage available anywhere to research your family history.

Here is a list of just a handful of the old newspaper back issues added online today:

State City Newspaper

Issues

Pages

Start

End

District of Columbia Washington (DC) Evening Star

       488

     13,634

1/27/1906

11/19/1907

Illinois Rockford Register Star

          3

           18

11/17/1991

7/20/1996

Massachusetts Boston Boston Daily Record

     1,313

     24,255

5/16/1959

9/30/1961

Massachusetts Boston Boston Herald

     3,050

     40,578

5/16/1962

11/30/1989

Massachusetts Boston Boston Traveler

       494

     20,313

1/4/1954

5/27/1963

North Carolina Greensboro Greensboro Daily News

       477

     10,922

3/8/1923

3/31/1947

North Carolina Greensboro Greensboro News and Record

         36

       4,283

8/2/1985

9/17/1987

Virginia Richmond Richmond Times Dispatch

         81

       4,009

9/27/1970

7/31/1986

Fact or Myth: Did Horace Greeley Really Say ‘Go West Young Man’?

Introduction: Mary Harrell-Sesniak is a genealogist, author and editor with a strong technology background. In this guest blog post, Mary explains how research on her ancestor led her to investigate if Horace Greeley really said “Go West young man.”

Whether your forebears have roots to the Mayflower, settlements on the western frontier, or Ellis Island, your ancestral migration patterns are certain to fascinate you as you research your family history—and at the same time, be a puzzlement.

Did they migrate to avoid religious persecution, serve the military (ex. Hessian soldiers paid during the American Revolution), find freedom from slavery—or were they simply seeking a new life or quick fortune, such as during the California Gold Rush (1848-1859)?

Whatever factors influenced your ancestors, newspapers are a resource rich in information that can clarify or debunk misconceptions about how or why your ancestors lived their lives. You can use historical news articles not only to discover the truth about your ancestors’ lives, but also to validate the facts surrounding events and other items relevant to your family history.

Take, for example, Horace Greeley (1811-1872), the influential newspaper publisher of the New York Tribune, and the famous quote attributed to him: “Go West young man.” I have a special connection with Greeley, as my great great grandmother, Mary Jane (Olmstead) (King) (Hanks) Stanton, tutored his children as a way to support herself after being widowed.

Greeley reportedly inspired America’s massive westward expansion in the second half of the 19th century by urging: “Go West young man; go West and grow up with the country.”

My ancestor Mary Jane heeded his advice and visited California around 1869-1870 with her second husband, Jesse Turner Hanks, a successful gold miner. He later became a superintendent of a gold mine, which paid him $5,000 a year in gold. He unfortunately died in 1872 and the money disappeared, so she began authoring books and returned east. She joined the suffrage movement, associating herself with suffragette Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the other well-known champions of women’s voting rights in Willamantic.

Mary Jane and her third husband, newspaper business manager A. P. Stanton (distantly related to the above), settled in California, where she became a successful author on phrenology (a pseudo science no longer accepted) and continued her work for women’s voting rights. She did not live long enough to see the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment on 18 August 1920. However, her obituary from the San Francisco Chronicle notes she lived long enough to witness the success of suffrage in her adopted state.

Devoted Life to Woman's Suffrage, San Francisco Chronicle newspaper article 12 March 1914

San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco, California), 12 March 1914, page 9

From time to time I continue to search for specific evidence of her life events, but what generally happens is that I uncover unexpected items in my genealogical research. That is how, one day, I began exploring the factual validity of Horace Greeley’s well-established quote, “Go West young man; go West and grow up with the country.”

Some writers report that Greeley’s famous quote is from the New York Tribune of 13 July 1865, in which he allegedly said:

“Washington is not a place to live in. The rents are high, the food is bad, the dust is disgusting and the morals are deplorable. Go West, young man, go West and grow up with the country.”

That claim will stump you, as the attribution has been misapplied: that quote does not appear in the 13 July 1865 edition of the New York Tribune. GenealogyBank’s archives show that a more likely source for Greeley’s quote is from a 13 December 1867 editorial expressing opposition to a wage increase for federal government clerks. Rather than increasing their salaries, Greeley suggests they should emigrate to a better life out West. Greeley stated:

“Washington is not a nice place to live in. The rents are high, the food is bad, the dust is disgusting, the mud is very deep, and the morals are deplorable. But on a farm in the West these dissatisfied young men could not only make money, and live decently, but also be of some use to the country.”

Note nowhere does he say “Go West young man” or “grow up with the country.”

Horace Greeley editorial, New York Herald-Tribune newspaper article 13 December 1867

New York Herald-Tribune (New York, New York), 13 December 1867, page 4

The response to Greeley’s controversial statement was immediate, particularly in the Evening Star—which put an editorial on its front page the very next day rebutting Greeley and taking the position that the workers were deserving of a wage increase.

Twenty Per Cent., Evening Star newspaper article 14 December 1867

Evening Star (Washington, D.C.), 14 December 1867, page 1

The Evening Star’s rebuttal is worth quoting in its entirety:

“We regret that the New York Tribune should so persistently oppose the twenty per cent. increase of the salaries of the Government clerks in this city. The last article on the subject in that paper, in which the editor advises them, if they cannot live here, to emigrate to Kansas or Nebraska [correction: Nevada], is an unfortunate one for the opponents of “20 per cent.,” because the assertions that “Washington is not a nice place to live in,” and that “the rents are high, the food is bad, the dust is disgusting, the mud is very deep, and the morals are deplorable,” would, if they were true, be the strongest possible arguments why those so unfortunate are to be compelled to live and labor here should be well paid for their work. The proper and prompt administration of the affairs of the Government requires the services in this city of a great number of intelligent employees. These duties must be performed by some one, and if all who are competent go to farming, what will become of the public business! We are told that if the clerks are dissatisfied with their pay they can leave, as there are others who will take the places for the pay. No doubt. So there are plenty of needy men who would undertake to make a watch or run an engine for good pay, who know nothing of the construction of either. There are now in the Departments here, many gentlemen and ladies of great intellectual ability occupying responsible positions, whose services save the Government thousands of dollars annually, and whose salaries are totally inadequate. They cannot save a cent, and advising them to go west to till the soil, is very much like the advice of another New York paper to starving laborers in that city, to buy small farms and raise vegetables for the city markets.”

It is reported that Greeley disavowed ever making the “Go west” statement, but the myth is perpetuated to this day.

Some feel that the statement originated with others, such as John B. L. Soule from the Terre Haute Express of 1851. This claim can also be debunked, as it is predated by a report in the Irish American Weekly in 1850 that states: “Yes, the advice is right—come West, do something, and ‘grow up with the country.’”

Good Advice to Those Who Think of Coming West, Irish American Weekly newspaper article 29 June 1850

Irish American Weekly (New York, New York), 29 June 1850, page 4

However, even this 1850 newspaper article cannot be the source, as proved by this even earlier 1846 quote by South Carolina Senator John Caldwell Calhoun (1782-1850). He was interviewed by Sarah Mytton Maury, an English writer who spent a winter in Washington and later published a book quoting Calhoun urging her sons to come to America: “let them grow up with the country.”

“I have eight sons in England.”

“Bring them all here; we are an exulting nation; let them grow up with the country; besides, here they do not want wealth. I would not be rich in America, for the care of money would distract my mind from more important concerns.”

—Maury, Sarah Mytton: The Statesmen of America in 1846. Philadelphia: Carey and Hart, 1847, p. 182.

So what is the lesson learned from this fact-finding investigation?

The lesson is to follow this sound genealogy advice: always seek confirming sources for any record, including family provenance—and be sure to indulge your curiosity by reading historical reports from actual time periods.

You will undoubtedly be able to debunk many myths about your own family history!

GenealogyBank Is Adding More Obituaries for Texas & More!

GenealogyBank is pleased to announce that in the next few weeks we will be adding recent obituaries from eight more newspapers in four states: Texas, New Jersey, New York and Tennessee. Texas is getting five new titles, making these upcoming new obits additions especially useful for those researching their deceased family members in the Lone Star state.

With more than 215 million obituaries and death records available in our online archives, GenealogyBank is the best one-stop source for genealogists.

collage of recent obituaries from GenealogyBank

Collage of recent obituaries from GenealogyBank

Here is the list of newspapers coming to our obituary archives soon:

State City Publication Start End
New Jersey Woodbury South Jersey Times 2012 Current
New York Bethlehem Bethlehem Spotlight 2011 Current
Tennessee Paris Paris Post-Intelligencer, The 2006 Current
Texas Clifton Clifton Record, The 2012 Current
Texas Fairfield Fairfield Recorder, The 2008 Current
Texas Edna Jackson County Herald-Tribune 2012 Current
Texas Meridian Meridian Tribune 2012 Current
Texas Hearne Robertson County News, The 2012 Current

New Genealogy Search Tools! Search for Ancestors by Date in GenealogyBank

We heard you.

A number of our GenealogyBank members have written us and requested some new features to make it easier to search for your ancestors by a specific date or date range. We are pleased to announce that these new date genealogy search tools are now live on GenealogyBank.

These enhanced date searching features include multiple options to narrow down your family search.

GenealogyBank search form with Date Range option selected

GenealogyBank search form with Date Range option selected

Search the Date Range Your Ancestor Lived

With the “Date Range” button checked, you can search a range of years of genealogy records.

This is the most common search on GenealogyBank.

You will want to use this option to narrow down your search to the time period your target ancestor lived.

This genealogy search tool is also handy for limiting the number of records so that you can thoroughly review all search results in manageable increments.

Search a Specific Date

Notice that you can check the “Date” search radio button and it opens up more options for you to fine-tune your ancestor search.

GenealogyBank search form with specific Date option selected

GenealogyBank search form with specific Date option selected

If you enter a specific date or year in the Date box, a pop-up menu gives you a number of search choices. The default search is for +/- 10 years of the date you entered. If you click on the blue check mark next to this option, these other choices pop up for you to select (+/-):

  • 5 years
  • 2 years
  • 1 year
  • Exact

You can enter the date you want to search for in a number of ways. For example, you may search for:

  • 1842
  • January 1842
  • Jan 18, 1842

Be as precise as you want to be in your date search criteria. This feature can save you loads of time while searching for genealogy records in a specific time period.

Sometimes you are not sure of the exact date an event took place; in that case, you can simply enter the year.

Perhaps you want to browse through all of the issues of a newspaper for October 1878. Now, it is easy to do that.

Or search for your ancestors on an exact date in history.

In Colonial America it was common for an obituary to appear weeks after a person died. Perhaps there were articles about an accident, extended illness or the gathering of family members. There may have been other articles about an engagement, plans for the coming marriage, the marriage itself, and then the honeymoon. Simply plug in the specific date or year of the event you’re interested in and ask GenealogyBank to search all articles in both directions: the time leading up to and after the event.

These handy new date genealogy search tools will save you huge amounts of time and focus your ancestor searches.

It’s a great day for genealogy!

Women during World War II: Knitting & Sewing on the Home Front

Introduction: Gena Philibert-Ortega is a genealogist and author of the book “From the Family Kitchen.” In this guest blog post, Gena writes about the knitting, sewing and quilting efforts of women on the home front during World War II to support the Red Cross and the war effort—and how local newspaper articles about these women provide good information for your family history searches.

Have you documented your family’s lives during World War II? With the upcoming 71st anniversary of Pearl Harbor Day this Friday, it’s an important reminder to document those stories now before it’s too late. The Greatest Generation’s numbers are decreasing daily, memories are fading and family stories will soon be lost.

No doubt it’s important to research your military ancestors and what they were doing in the war to record your family history. Equally important is finding out about those that were left behind on the home front during wartime. Women, children and non-military men played important roles in the war by sacrificing through rationing of food and other material goods, working in industries that supported the war effort, taking over jobs for those who were fighting, and lending their time and talent to help those in need here and abroad.

Women filled many roles during World War II: they served in the military, they worked in industries like aircraft manufacturing and farming, and they also lent their skills to volunteer efforts. One such example is the sewing that was done for the Red Cross.

The American Red Cross, founded in 1881 by Clara Barton, coordinated various efforts during the World War II years that assisted service men and women, civilians, and war victims. They shipped supply packages and helped to ensure a blood supply for soldiers. (You can read more about the history of the American Red Cross on their website.) One way American women helped Red Cross efforts was through sewing and the raffling of finished projects to raise much-needed funds.

This knitting and sewing effort during World War II wasn’t a new idea. World War I saw women sewing and organizing groups that crafted materials to benefit soldiers and those who were victims of the war. Socks were knitted; pajamas, sheets and shirts were sewn; and quilts were pieced and quilted.

American women weren’t the only ones who sewed for the Red Cross. According to the book World War II Quilts by Sue Reich, Canadian women “began quiltmaking in support of the war in the late 1930s…Canada sent 25,000 quilts to Britain and Europe for the relief effort via the Red Cross.” She goes on to write that women attending Red Cross meetings presented a quilt block and a penny at each meeting, thus raising funds and creating quilts and blankets.*

Women’s benevolent sewing, knitting and quilting work was featured in their local newspapers. Meeting notices, project photos, and participants’ names were all documented for the community.

This newspaper article is about a Mexican woman in the United States who used her sewing skills to support her sons fighting in the U.S. Army.

Mexican Woman Makes, Sells Quilt to Aid Red Cross, Dallas Morning News newspaper article 12 February 1942

Dallas Morning News (Dallas, Texas), 12 February 1942, page 9

The quilt Mrs. Maria Salazar made was originally going to be sold to finance her trip to Mexico to visit relatives, but she reconsidered and donated the money to support the efforts of the Red Cross and ultimately of her three sons fighting in the war. Her name, address and the names and ages of her sons are listed in the old newspaper article.

This historical newspaper article, also from Texas, details the amount of volunteer hours spent in the Red Cross Sewing Room. Products created included 446 woolen garments, 28 knitted garments and 2 quilts made by 616 women.

Red Cross Sewing Room Makes Fine Record, Richardson Echo newspaper article, 3 April 1942

Richardson Echo (Richardson, Texas), 3 April 1942, page 1

This Louisiana article makes note that a quilt was sent to the Red Cross by Mrs. Ada B. Brown and also lists the names of every woman in her sewing group.

A Lovely Quilt, State Times Advocate newspaper article 27 March 1942

State Times Advocate (Baton Rouge, Louisiana), 27 March 1942, page 9

Military records are an important resource in researching your World War II military ancestors. To get a fuller picture of everyone’s involvement in the war effort, however, turn to newspapers—they are important in learning more about the local history of an area including the activities on the home front.

_________________________

* Reich, Sue. World War II Quilts. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Pub, 2010. Page 138.

GenealogyBank Is Growing Rapidly!

Every day we add more newspapers to GenealogyBank’s online newspaper archives, updating our coverage for more than 3,000 newspapers.

Rain, snow, it doesn’t matter—we digitize and post daily papers published today across America, as well as newspapers published 300 years ago. Millions of records are added every month to our archives.

We add new titles and expand the date ranges of newspapers already in our collection.

When we add a back run of a newspaper we may not yet have tracked down every issue ever published by that newspaper. However, we digitize and put online all the issues we can find, while continuing to track back issues with the goal of someday getting every possible issue online.

Here is just a partial list of what we have been working on in the past few weeks. I think it will give you a sense of the enormous scale of the service that GenealogyBank is bringing to genealogists online. Notice that we found one more issue of the Augusta Chronicle (Augusta, Georgia) and over 1,500 issues of the American & Commercial Daily Advertiser (Baltimore, Maryland): as we find back issues we digitize and index them, then put them online.

It’s a great day for genealogy.

Location Newspaper

Issues

Pages

Start

End

Albany, NY Albany Evening Journal

           51

        209

1856-01-29

1875-03-03

Annapolis, MD Maryland Gazette

              6

           25

1824-03-11

1829-01-15

Augusta, GA Augusta Chronicle

              1

              3

1792-01-07

Baltimore, MD American and Commercial Daily Advertiser

    1,518

    6,220

1844-06-10

1853-12-31

Baltimore, MD Baltimore American

              9

        130

1903-04-18

1911-05-03

Bangor, ME Bangor Weekly Register

              1

              5

1831-06-21

Beaumont, TX Beaumont Enterprise

              6

        123

1906-05-04

1910-04-26

Beaumont, TX Beaumont Journal

              1

           28

1910-09-11

Bellows Falls, VT Bellows Falls Gazette

           21

           87

1841-01-30

1851-03-28

Benicia, CA California Gazette

              1

              4

1852-02-07

Bennington, VT Vermont Gazette

              1

              4

1874-09-05

Biddeford, ME Justice de Biddeford

           18

        122

1896-08-06

1905-04-06

Boston, MA American Traveller

           24

           98

1825-07-26

1835-12-29

Boston, MA Boston Courier

              1

              4

1845-05-05

Boston, MA Boston Daily Advertiser

              1

              4

1874-01-22

Boston, MA Boston Herald

              5

           96

1864-04-28

1897-03-14

Boston, MA Boston Post

              6

           24

1858-07-12

1865-09-28

Boston, MA Repertory

              4

           16

1822-01-22

1823-03-15

Boston, MA Weekly Messenger

              4

           19

1829-01-15

1831-03-31

Brattleboro, VT Vermont Phoenix

              1

              4

1866-09-28

Camden, SC Camden Journal

              4

           16

1841-03-24

1841-09-08

Charleston, SC Charleston Courier

              3

           12

1808-01-23

1808-10-24

Charleston, SC Charleston News and Courier

        552

    2,271

1873-03-20

1886-04-10

Charleston, SC South-Carolina State-Gazette

              6

           48

1801-10-22

1801-12-31

Cherry Valley, NY Cherry-Valley Gazette

           42

        191

1821-01-02

1825-07-12

Chillicothe, OH Scioto Gazette

        103

        429

1835-04-29

1837-12-14

Cincinnati, OH Cincinnati Daily Times

        162

        654

1875-11-02

1876-12-30

Columbia, SC South Carolina State Gazette

              4

           17

1823-11-28

1829-02-28

Concord, NH New Hampshire Patriot and State Gazette

              2

           12

1879-10-09

1888-04-05

Egg Harbor City, NJ Egg Harbor Pilot

        480

    2,777

1872-08-03

1904-12-24

Emporia, KS Emporia Gazette

        104

        653

1912-06-01

1912-09-30

Exeter, NH Freeman’s Oracle

           25

        140

1786-08-29

1789-08-04

Frankfort, KY Guardian Of Freedom

              5

           22

1798-06-19

1804-05-26

Galveston, TX Galveston Weekly News

              1

              8

1881-10-13

Grand Rapids, MI Grand Rapids Press

           11

        226

1901-02-26

1922-12-07

Hallowell, ME Hallowell Gazette

              2

              9

1860-11-03

1861-04-06

Harrisburg, PA Patriot

           11

        104

1885-02-21

1917-01-16

Harrisburg, PA Unparteyische Harrisburg Morgenroethe Zeitung

        926

    3,794

1799-03-12

1840-11-05

Hartford, CT Connecticut Courant

           79

        326

1851-01-04

1876-12-21

Hartford, CT Connecticut Courant

              6

           24

1842-01-15

1843-09-16

Jackson, MI Jackson Citizen Patriot

              9

        158

1903-10-31

1922-08-02

Jonesboro, AR Jonesboro Daily Tribune

              1

              8

1921-03-02

Jonesboro, AR Jonesboro Evening Sun

              2

           12

1905-12-16

1921-04-23

Lancaster, PA Lancaster Journal

           17

           69

1817-11-03

1817-12-10

Litchfield, CT Litchfield Republican

           11

           44

1855-06-07

1856-06-13

Miami, OK Miami District Daily News

        180

    1,444

1917-09-05

1923-01-12

Morristown, NJ Genius of Liberty

        136

        552

1798-05-31

1801-03-26

Natchez, MS Ariel

              1

              8

1826-09-29

Nebraska City, NB Daily Nebraska Press

              3

           12

1873-12-03

1875-10-27

New Bern, NC North Carolina Sentinel

              7

           28

1827-07-14

1830-10-16

New Haven, CT Columbian Register

           71

        286

1826-02-11

1874-02-21

New Haven, CT Connecticut Herald

              2

              8

1831-06-21

1832-09-04

New Orleans, LA Courrier de la Louisiane

              1

              4

1823-12-08

New Orleans, LA Times-Picayune

              5

        132

1907-03-20

1914-01-23

New York, NY Commercial Advertiser

              4

           16

1843-05-29

1848-12-29

New York, NY Courrier des Etats-Unis

        702

    3,308

1876-07-09

1891-03-31

New York, NY Evening Post

           62

        267

1821-01-02

1874-05-30

New York, NY Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper

           71

    1,156

1867-07-13

1869-03-13

New York, NY Morning Telegraph

              1

              8

1872-11-17

New York, NY National Advocate

              9

           36

1822-01-01

1826-08-15

New York, NY New York Herald

              1

           12

1875-08-10

New York, NY New York Herald-Tribune

           51

        514

1874-11-19

1896-05-09

New York, NY Statesman

              2

              8

1824-04-23

1824-06-29

Newark, NJ Centinel Of Freedom

              2

              8

1863-01-13

1869-08-24

Newark, NJ Newark Daily Advertiser

    2,143

    8,729

1850-01-02

1857-12-31

Northampton, MA Hampshire Gazette

        165

        670

1830-03-10

1843-12-26

Norwich, CT Norwich Courier

        448

    1,849

1834-01-08

1876-08-16

Pensacola, FL Pensacola Gazette

              6

           24

1829-11-21

1840-12-19

Philadelphia, PA National Gazette

              2

              8

1831-11-08

1840-11-10

Philadelphia, PA Public Ledger

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           16

1859-07-19

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Pittsburg, PA Commonwealth

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Portland, ME Portland Advertiser

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Portland, ME Portland Daily Press

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Portland, OR Daily Oregon Herald

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1871-02-12

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Providence, RI Manufacturers’ and Farmers’ Journal

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1869-01-28

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Richmond, VA Richmond Times Dispatch

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1921-07-10

Richmond, VA Richmond Whig

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1864-06-21

1872-06-07

Richmond, VA Virginia Patriot

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1815-06-14

1815-10-25

Salem, MA Salem Observer

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Salem, MA Salem Register

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Salt Lake City, UT Salt Lake Telegram

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1875-08-03

St. Albans, VT St. Albans Daily Messenger

           44

        346

1879-07-19

1922-05-31

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1873-08-23

Old Newspapers Help Find Family’s ‘Lost’ Town

Introduction: Scott Phillips is a genealogical historian and owner of Onward To Our Past® genealogy services. In this guest blog post, Scott searches online newspapers to solve the mystery of why/how his ancestor’s hometown of North Hibbing, Minnesota, disappeared.

We all know how challenging it can be to find elusive ancestors for our family history and genealogy work. However, recently I had an almost opposite situation. I knew my ancestors and family members, but their hometown was gone! So I decided to give GenealogyBank.com a try to see if their newspaper archives might be of help to me.

I had often heard my father-in-law, Carlo (God rest his soul) talk about being born and raised in the town of North Hibbing, Minnesota. He spoke fondly of this community, what a close-knit place it was, and related wonderful stories of being a youth in what seemed like less complicated times. His stories would always end with the statement that the whole town was gone now. I was remiss in not asking how a whole town goes missing, but I never did ask.

GenealogyBank.com to the rescue!

I used GenealogyBank’s Advanced Search function and entered “North Hibbing.” I was thrilled when the search results page came back with 73 entries for the “missing” hometown.

As I scanned the newspaper articles, I was treated to snippets of life in North Hibbing. A billiard hall raid (complete with a signal system to alert the hall’s owners), meetings of The Sons of Italy Italian Lodge, the beginnings of the Greyhound Bus company—which started with a seven-passenger Hupmobile running in North Hibbing, and even a fellow who reportedly brought in his 49th and 50th wolf skins to collect the bounty.

I even learned about the North Hibbing lingerie thief!

Thief Steals Lingerie, Duluth News-Tribune newspaper article 7 November 1922

Duluth News-Tribune (Duluth, Minnesota), 7 November 1922, page 4

Then I hit pay dirt with another article from the Duluth News Tribune. This article explained that some 40 residents of North Hibbing were suing to keep the city from moving the City Hall out of North Hibbing.

Hibbing City Hall Restraint Suit Opens, 2 Witnesses Testify, Duluth News-Tribune newspaper article 18 January 1922

Duluth News-Tribune (Duluth, Minnesota), 18 January 1922, page 6

Odd, I thought—who moves a whole City Hall? So I searched further.

The next article told much more of the story. I learned that the residents’ lawsuit made it all the way to the United States Supreme Court. This article, along with others, explained to me that the Oliver Mining Company owned the very valuable mineral rights under the city of North Hibbing. That was why the city agreed to move the City Hall, to make way for a mine.

In their lawsuit, the residents argued that it was unlawful for Hibbing to turn public property over to the mining company—but they lost their case, City Hall was moved, and the mining company got to work.

Hibbing, Mines Win Battle over Property Sale, Duluth News-Tribune newspaper article 19 October 1922

Duluth News-Tribune (Duluth, Minnesota), 19 October 1922, page 5

The railroad then abandoned the North Hibbing line, and the city began to disappear. Quickly everyone had to sell their homes and relocate. Not long after, the city of North Hibbing vanished to become a new open-pit iron mine feeding the burgeoning steel mills of Cleveland, Ohio, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Then, as Carlo used to say, the entire town was simply gone.

So now I have a much more complete understanding of the missing town of North Hibbing and it has added greatly to our family history.

My next stop? Back to GenealogyBank.com so that I can try and find out what transpired in the old neighborhoods of my Czech ancestors in Cleveland, Ohio. All I know now is that those neighborhoods are six lanes of Interstate concrete. I wonder if my Czech ancestors fought the changes like the residents did in North Hibbing?