Researching Newspapers to Trace the Life of Moses G. Wilson

Introduction: Gena Philibert-Ortega is a genealogist and author of the book “From the Family Kitchen.” In this blog article, Gena searches old newspapers to learn more about a relative on her family tree who – she discovered – was very much involved in the war in Missouri against the Mormons during the 1830s.

Family history can seem deceptively easy when searching for your ancestors in an online newspaper archive. Type a name into a search box and you are rewarded with stories that can help you better understand your family history. Learning about specific individuals is one way to go about newspaper research, but it’s not the only way to research your ancestors.

The Time & the Place

For me, what I love about newspapers is their ability to help me better understand not only my ancestor’s own life – but their time and place. Getting to know what was going on and what they were a part of, often in reports that don’t even mention my ancestor by name, is an essential part of family history research.

a portrait of Lilburn Boggs, governor of Missouri (1836-1840)

Painting: portrait of Lilburn Boggs, governor of Missouri (1836-1840) – he signed the infamous “Extermination Order” against the Mormons, and was an acquaintance of a relative on my family tree: Moses G. Wilson. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Moses G. Wilson & the Mormon War

One of my long-term genealogy research projects involves Moses Greer Wilson (1795-c.1868). I was first introduced to Moses via a research trip I took to Texas 13 years ago. I was researching a branch of my paternal family tree when I “found” Moses, who was the second husband of my 4th great-grandmother, Sophia Bell Lewis Wilson. I’m not descended through that marriage so I didn’t pay too much attention to researching him. After all, the information I really needed involved their son-in-law, my 3rd great-grandfather.

During that Texas trip we found copious amounts of deeds and other materials about Moses Wilson, but due to the high cost of courthouse photocopies (remember this was before smartphones and other mobile devices, back when we thought having a laptop was a big deal) and the fact that he wasn’t our focus, we ended up limiting the info we collected about him.

Fast forward about 10+ years, when I received an email from another genealogy researcher about Moses. She shared his timeline with me that included the years previous to his marrying my ancestor, his second wife. One of the timeline facts involved his living in Jackson County, Missouri, in the 1830s.

For anyone who is Mormon or familiar with Mormon history, the 1830s in Jackson County, Missouri, were tumultuous years for the Mormon Church and its members. As I started Googling about Moses, I realized that he wasn’t simply present during that time – he was one of the ringleaders in the effort to remove the Mormons from Missouri. A brigadier general in the Missouri Militia who participated in the Mormon War, he was also acquainted with Governor Lilburn Boggs – who ultimately signed the infamous Mormon Extermination Order.* I learned that Moses was even accused of beating a Mormon boy.

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As I started collecting the research and analyzing it, all I could think of was: “this guy was married to my 4th great-grandmother?” She divorced her first husband because of abuse, and somehow this guy didn’t seem much better.

As you can imagine, this long-term project has yielded quite a bit of information due to Moses’ involvement in this historical event involving the Mormons in Missouri. However, it was through newspaper research that I started to gain even more perspective.

The Newspaper Accounts of the Mormon Conflict

One bit of warning here. It’s important to know that, just like today, journalism can be quite tainted. It’s not uncommon for some of these historical newspaper stories to be overdramatized and include falsehoods. However, there’s no denying that what occurred in Missouri during that time was very dramatic, and violent. People died on both sides of the Mormon conflict.

There’s much to tell about this story of the war between the Mormons and the people of Missouri. You can get a sense of the problem from the following two newspaper articles reporting on the tensions between Jackson County Mormons and their neighbors – including Moses G. Wilson.

In June of 1834 this news article was published, describing the fear that those living in Jackson County felt regarding the Mormons. There’s even a mention of a local merchant in Independence who ordered an artillery piece to defend his property. Moses was a merchant in Independence at that time, and it’s possible this could be a reference to him.

article about the conflict with the Mormons in Missouri, Arkansas Weekly Gazette newspaper article 24 June 1834

Arkansas Weekly Gazette (Little Rock, Arkansas), 24 June 1834, page 1

This next newspaper article, published in July of 1834, warns that:

It is a lamentable fact, that this matter is about to involve the whole upper country [of Missouri] in civil war and bloodshed. We cannot (if a compromise is not agreed to before Saturday next) tell how long it will be before we shall have the painful task of recording the awful realities of an exterminating war.

article about the conflict with the Mormons in Missouri, Southern Patriot newspaper article 14 July 1834

Southern Patriot (Charleston, South Carolina), 14 July 1834, page 2

We’re Related to Him?

In conducting historical research we are admonished to not look at the lives of previous generations through our modern-day lens. Quite frankly, in a case like this it’s difficult. But it is important to keep in mind that Moses probably saw these new residents, the Mormons, as a threat. Those early Mormons worried their neighbors by being “peculiar.” They voted in a block and they tended to prefer dealing with their own kind.

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In this September 1838 article, we see that the conflict with the Mormons was continuing.

article about the Mormon War in Missouri, Times-Picayune newspaper article 14 September 1838

Times-Picayune (New Orleans, Louisiana), 14 September 1838, page 2

According to this old news article, a local Missouri sheriff attempted to arrest Lyman Wight, one of the Mormon leaders – but found him protected by a large group of armed Mormon men. Wight is quoted as telling the sheriff:

…that he would not be taken alive – that the law had never protected him, and he owed them no obedience – that the whole State of Missouri could not take him.

The article concludes with the opinion of the editor of the Western Star, a Missouri newspaper:

article about the Mormon War in Missouri, Times-Picayune newspaper article 14 September 1838

Times-Picayune (New Orleans, Louisiana), 14 September 1838, page 2

While I may be less than thrilled about Moses’ role in this bitter history, it’s important for me to learn more about his life and the life of his wife, my ancestress. Newspapers provide me that opportunity, and I look forward to more research on this project!

———————–

* Wilson, Moses Greer. The Joseph Smith Papers. http://josephsmithpapers.org/person/moses-greer-wilson. Accessed 5 October 2014.

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Genealogy Case Study: Researching Isaac Fernald

I recently was researching a man from Oregon named Isaac Fernald (1814-1871), and found information related to him in a variety of places online.

Isaac’s Death Reported in the News

I began my search with GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives, and I found Fernald’s obituary in his home town newspaper: the Portland Daily Press.

obituary for Isaac Fernald, Portland Daily Press newspaper article 1 April 1871

Portland Daily Press (Portland, Maine), 1 April 1871, page 3

I noticed this interesting phrase – “as has been before stated” – in his obituary, which is a good clue to look for earlier newspaper references to his death that were likely printed between the date of death (25 February 1871) and the date of the obituary (1 April 1871).

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Digging deeper in GenealogyBank, I quickly found this reference to his accidental death in Cardenas, Cuba.

obituary for Isaac Fernald, Boston Journal newspaper article 28 February 1871

Boston Journal (Boston, Massachusetts), 28 February 1871, page 2

I also found this report, which adds the detail that Fernald’s fatal accident happened on a “side track of the railroad at Cardenas.”

obituary for Isaac Fernald, Boston Daily Advertiser newspaper article 1 March 1871

Boston Daily Advertiser (Boston, Massachusetts), 1 March 1871, page 2

In addition, I found this report of his funeral services.

article about the funeral services for Isaac Fernald, Portland Daily Press newspaper article 3 April 1871

Portland Daily Press (Portland, Maine), 3 April 1871, page 3

Each newspaper article reports more of the details.

Why was he in Cuba?
It turns out that he had traveled there on business before.

Ship Passenger Lists

I know that FamilySearch has put the passenger lists for U.S. ports online, so I looked there for reference to Fernald’s travels to Cuba. I found him listed several times. For example, here he is reported returning to the U.S. onboard the steamship Cahawba, returning on 1 April 1860. His occupation is listed as “merchant.”

New York Passenger Lists 1820-1891, showing entry for Isaac Fernald

Source: FamilySearch, New York Passenger Lists 1820-1891

I also know that the Prints & Graphics Division of the Library of Congress has put their massive collection of ship photographs and images online. Checking there, I was able to find this sketch of the Cahawba that was drawn at about the same time that Isaac Fernald had traveled to Cuba.

drawing of the  U.S. steamship "Cahawba"

Illustration: U.S. transport Cahawba. Source: Library of Congress.

Genealogy Tip: After you find your ancestor’s obituary, be sure to keep on digging. There are several types of historical records easily accessible online that contain relevant information about our ancestors. By making the extra research effort you will find additional details of the story of your ancestor’s life.

Note: FamilySearch International (FamilySearch.org) and GenealogyBank are partnering to make over a billion records from historical obituaries searchable online. The tremendous undertaking will make a billion records from over 100 million U.S. newspaper obituaries readily searchable online. The newspapers are from all 50 states and cover the period 1730 to the present.  Find out more at: http://www.genealogybank.com/family-search/

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America’s First Newspaper: Publick Occurrences Both Forreign and Domestick, 1690

Introduction: Duncan Kuehn is a professional genealogist with over eight years of client experience. She has worked on several well-known projects, such as “Who Do You Think You Are?” and researching President Barack Obama’s ancestry. In this blog post, Duncan writes about the short-lived history of the first newspaper published in North America – which was shut down by the authorities after printing its first and only issue.

Publick Occurrences Both Forreign and Domestick was the first newspaper published in the Americas. Previously a few broadsides had been published in the colonies, but these were single-sided sheets of news or announcements meant to be posted in a public place. Publick Occurrences was the first real newspaper, consisting of three pages of news intended for individual consumption. This newspaper is a fascinating study of early North American life and times.

front page for the newspaper Publick Occurrences Both Forreign and Domestick (Boston, Massachusetts), 25 September 1690

Publick Occurrences Both Forreign and Domestick (Boston, Massachusetts), 25 September 1690, page 1

The History of the First American Newspaper

The editor, Benjamin Harris, had published a newspaper and other material in London, but ran afoul of the authorities and was twice jailed for his “seditious” pamphlets – so in 1686 he immigrated to the American colonies. He enlisted the help of a local printer, Richard Pierce, and together they produced their four-page newspaper on 25 September 1690 in Boston. It was about six inches by ten inches and the last page was blank.

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Harris and Pierce used the first few column inches of the new paper to explain their reasons and hopes for creating it. They intended to provide “an Account of such considerable things as have arrived unto our Notice” for three reasons:

    • “That Memorable Occurrences of Divine Providence may not be neglected or forgotten, as they too often are.”
    • “That people every where may better understand the Circumstances of Publique Affairs, both abroad and at home; which may not only direct their Thoughts at all times, but at some times also to assist their Businesses and Negotiations.”
    • “That some thing may be done towards the Curing, or at least the Charming of that Spirit of Lying, which prevails amongst us, wherefore nothing shall be entered, but what we have reason to believe is true, repairing to the best fountains for our Information.”
article explaining why the first newspaper in North America was being printed, Publick Occurrences Both Forreign and Domestick newspaper article 25 September 1690

Publick Occurrences Both Forreign and Domestick (Boston, Massachusetts), 25 September 1690, page 1

A Day of Thanksgiving

The first article was about the “Christianized Indians in some parts of Plimouth” having “newly appointed a day of Thanksgiving to God for his Mercy in supplying their extream and pinching Necessities.” It went on to opine that: “Their Example may be worth Mentioning.”

This was an excellent beginning article for the new paper, a nice human interest story which caused no controversy. It will be remembered that in 1690, there was no independent nation and no national Thanksgiving holiday in North America. However, the colonists and their Christianized Indian allies observed periodic days of thanksgiving.

article about Indians celebrating Thanksgiving, Publick Occurrences Both Forreign and Domestick newspaper article 25 September 1690

Publick Occurrences Both Forreign and Domestick (Boston, Massachusetts), 25 September 1690, page 1

Suicide after Wife’s Death

For the genealogist, this paper is full of stories of importance. For example, one front page article relates the story of an older resident of Watertown who committed suicide after the death of his wife. This man “had long Enjoyed the reputation of a Sober and a Pious Man; having newly buried his Wife, The Devil took advantage of the Melancholy which he thereupon fell into.” Despite the efforts of his friends to protect him, he slipped away one night and hanged himself. His name was not mentioned, but it might be possible to discover his identity using the clues given in the old newspaper article.

Small Pox Ravages Boston

There are stories about illness, including one about small-pox that had recently ravaged Boston:

The Small-pox which has been raging in Boston, after a manner very Extraordinary, is now very much abated. It is thought that far more have been sick of it than were visited with it, when it raged so much twelve years ago, nevertheless it has not been so Mortal. The number of them that have dyed in Boston by this last Visitation is about three hundred and twenty, which is not perhaps half so many as fell by the former [visitation].

Again, no names are mentioned, but it may provide clues on ancestors affected by this calamity.

Inferno Engulfs Town

Another story tells of a fire that took the life of one boy and destroyed five or six homes and a rare and valuable printing press: “…[one] of those few that we know of in America, was lost; a loss not presently to be repaired.”

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Children Taken as Indian Captives

Another story is about two Chelmsford children, ages 11 and 9, kidnapped by the hostile Indians. While these stories don’t mention the individuals by name, they can provide clues for identifying individuals you may already know something about from other records. In addition, these stories can provide an incredible look into the life and times of the residents of Boston. What were they most concerned with? What was life like? How did they adapt to their circumstances? And so on.

French vs. English

There is another story about an English ship that put in at the wrong port and was attacked by the French and their Indian allies, with one member of the crew escaping. Although the French and Indian War did not officially begin until 1754, we see in these 1690 reports that clashes between the French and English – and their respective Indian allies – were common.

In fact, the majority of this inaugural (and, as it turned out, only) issue of Publick Occurrences’s articles address the ongoing fighting. They graphically describe the various conflicts with a remarkable nonpartisanship, with blame assigned to both the French and English, as well as their Indian allies. As a British citizen, Harris could justify a printed attack on the French and their Indian allies. He reports how the French Canadians even annihilated some loyal Indian allies after a misunderstanding.  He grows bold in reprinting a letter which gave news from the Caribbean and accuses the French king of an incestuous relationship with his daughter-in-law.

Somewhat surprisingly, Harris also uses his newspaper to criticize the English – both for their own actions, and for not better restraining their Indian allies. He reports how some of the British forces’ Indian allies “returned with some Success, having slain several of the French, and brought home several Prisoners, whom they used in a manner too barbarous for any English to approve.” Harris also reports a story about the English Captain Mason, who “cut the faces, and ript the bellies of two Indians, and threw a third Over board in the sight of the French.”

article about a fight between French and British forces, Publick Occurrences Both Forreign and Domestick newspaper article 25 September 1690

Publick Occurrences Both Forreign and Domestick (Boston, Massachusetts), 25 September 1690, page 3

Only One Issue Ever Printed

Although Harris and Pierce stated that their intent was to publish their new newspaper once a month “or if any Glut of Occurrences happen, oftener,” the inaugural issue of Publick Occurrences was also the last. The British authorities discovered the paper and moved quickly to suppress it.

And so the very first newspaper in American ran right into issues of press censorship and freedom of speech. Just four days after Publick Occurrences was published, the “Governour & Council” issued an order in which they “do hereby manifest and declare their high Resentment and Disallowance of said Pamphlet [i.e., newspaper], and Order that the same be Suppress’d and called in.” The official reasoning was that Harris had not applied for and obtained the proper licenses. However, the authorities were most likely unhappy with Harris’s opinions and criticisms, as mild as they may seem to the modern reader.

While not mentioning very many names, this first North American newspaper is fascinating to read. It provides a colorful description of what Bostonians and people in the original colonies were experiencing, what they cared about, and what trials they faced. It gives tantalizing clues about the early colonists and their lives, and is a good resource for anyone researching their ancestors during the early colonial period in American history.

Publick Occurrences is just one of the rare early colonial newspapers available in GenealogyBank’s  Historical Newspaper Archives, which houses more than 6,500 newspaper titles online. GenealogyBank can help you learn more about your ancestors in early America; see what’s inside the archives on your ancestors’ stories. Start your 30-day trial now!

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Historic Milestone: Hattie Caraway 1st Woman Elected to the U.S. Senate

The United States reached a milestone on 12 January 1932 when Hattie W. Caraway became the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate, representing the state of Arkansas. When her husband of 29 years – Senator Thaddeus H. Caraway – died in 1931, Arkansas Governor Harvey Parnell appointed her to the vacant seat, and she was sworn into office Dec. 9. Arkansas held a special election in January 1932 to fill the remainder of Senator Thaddeus Caraway’s term, and Hattie Caraway won easily.

portrait of U.S. Senator Hattie Caraway of Arkansas, by John Oliver Buckley

Portrait: Senator Hattie Caraway, by John Oliver Buckley. Source: U.S. Senate; Wikimedia Commons.

At the time, most observers expected her to retire quietly after her husband’s term expired in March 1933, but Hattie Caraway surprised them by running for election to win her own term. She won, and won again six years later, in total serving in the U.S. Senate from 9 December 1931 to 3 January 1945.

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Here are three newspaper articles reporting and commenting on her historic election in 1932. The first is a straightforward account of her election, pointing out how women’s clubs in Arkansas helped rally the vote, with hundreds of women staffing the voting stations without pay, to help Hattie Caraway achieve her milestone victory.

Mrs. Caraway Is Elected Senator by Big Majority, Plain Dealer newspaper article 13 January 1932

Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), 13 January 1932, page 17

The article reports:

Feminine hands, for the most part, wrote and counted the light vote cast in today’s special election.

All through a cold, drizzling day, women trudged to the relatively few polling places in the state to place their ballots in the hands of hundreds of women volunteers who served without pay as election officials. Reports indicated probably more women than men voted.

The next two articles are commentaries, the first (probably written by a man) critical of the practice of letting a widow fill her husband’s position, and the second (identifiably written by a man – Charles Stewart) insisting Hattie Caraway is no feminist standard-bearer.

editorial about Hattie Caraway being elected the nation's first female U.S. senator, Plain Dealer newspaper article 14 January 1932

Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), 14 January 1932, page 8

This editorial concludes:

Making a public position a sort of insurance policy is neither logical nor sound.

commentary about Hattie Caraway being elected the nation's first female U.S. senator, Aberdeen Daily News newspaper article 6 February 1932

Aberdeen Daily News (Aberdeen, South Dakota), 6 February 1932, page 3

Stewart begins his commentary:

The Senate seat which so many women envy her plainly is only a constant reminder of bereavement to black-gowned, sad-faced little Mrs. Hattie W. Caraway.

He concludes:

The feminist lobby is mightily desirous to exploit the presence of one of their sex as a real voting, debating senator. It is difficult to imagine anyone more indifferent to the honor than Mrs. Hattie W. Caraway.

Historical newspapers are not only a great way to learn about the lives of your ancestors – they also help you understand American history and the times your ancestors lived in, and the news they talked about and read in their local papers.

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John M’Donogh – Loyal American Patriot ’till Death

Deemed an upstanding citizen by the Salem Gazette, two-time American war veteran John M’Donogh passed away, losing a long fight with disease on 19 March 1809.

M’Donogh is noted for serving directly under a young General George Washington during the French & Indian War. M’Donogh fought during British General Braddock’s failed expedition in 1755 against the French, in which a 23-year-old Washington led troops, including M’Donogh, into battle on the Monongahela River.

obituary for John McDonogh, American and Commercial Daily Advertiser newspaper article 22 March 1809

American and Commercial Daily Advertiser (Baltimore, Maryland), 22 March 1809, page 2

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M’Donogh also served for the Maryland 3rd Regiment during the Revolutionary War, under Captain Cox. “One of the patriotic band of Baltimore,” Captain Cox led M’Donogh and other troops into battle at Germantown and Brandywine. M’Donogh survived, and went on to lead an exceptional life in Baltimore.

obituary for John McDonogh, Providence Gazette newspaper article 8 April 1809

Providence Gazette (Providence, Rhode Island), 8 April 1809, page 3

GenealogyBank makes it easy for me to learn about John M’Donogh and other Revolutionary War heroes; see what’s inside the archives on your ancestor’s story. Start your 30-day trial now!

Note: FamilySearch International (FamilySearch.org) and GenealogyBank are partnering to make over a billion records from historical obituaries searchable online. The tremendous undertaking will make a billion records from over 100 million U.S. newspaper obituaries readily searchable online. The newspapers are from all 50 states and cover the period 1730 to the present.  Find out more at: http://www.genealogybank.com/family-search/

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Gershom Beach Dead at 77 – the Forgotten Paul Revere

Gershom Beach, a blacksmith in Rutland, Vermont, was 77 when he passed away on 2 September 1805, according to his obituary.

obituary for Gershom Beach, Middlebury Mercury newspaper article 5 February 1806

Middlebury Mercury (Middlebury, Vermont), 5 February 1806, page 3

Born 24 September 1728 in Cheshire, Connecticut, Gershom Beach was credited as being one of the original settlers of Rutland, Vermont.

Beach is most noted for his Paul Revere-style message delivery for Colonel Ethan Allen at the battle for Fort Ticonderoga during the Revolutionary War, described in an article published by the Rockford Republic (Rockford, Illinois), 14 March 1930, page 6.

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Beach rallied the famous Green Mountain Boys by covering 60 miles of country in one day, carrying Colonel Ethan Allen’s message. According to the article: “He walked and ran 60 miles in 24 hours.” He went from town to town calling on the men in each town to join Col. Allen to take Fort Ticonderoga: “Even when he reached Hands Point, the rendezvous, ahead of the men he had summoned, he slept only a few hours.”

His life proved one man can make a difference. Beach’s heroic ride was detailed in a 1939 poem “Vermont’s Paul Revere” that describes this major turning point in the Revolutionary War.

The poem begins this way:

poem about Gershom Beach, Boston Herald newspaper article 29 June 1939

Boston Herald (Boston, Massachusetts), 29 June 1939, page 14

And ends like this:

poem for Gershom Beach, Boston Herald newspaper article 29 June 1939

Boston Herald (Boston, Massachusetts), 29 June 1939, page 14

Genealogy Tip: Gershom Beach’s brief obituary is just a few lines long, but with a small amount of digging in GenealogyBank you can find the rest of Beach’s interesting life story.

GenealogyBank has over 1.7 billion records and adds more newspaper archives daily. Interested in learning more about what GenealogyBank knows about your ancestors? Sign up today at GenealogyBank.com

Note: FamilySearch International (FamilySearch.org) and GenealogyBank are partnering to make over a billion records from historical obituaries searchable online. The tremendous undertaking will make a billion records from over 100 million U.S. newspaper obituaries readily searchable online. The newspapers are from all 50 states and cover the period 1730 to the present.  Find out more at: http://www.genealogybank.com/family-search/

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Nikola Tesla, Electrical Genius, Inventor & Eccentric, Dies

Ask most people who was the late 19th and early 20th centuries’ electrical genius and master of inventions, and they will answer: Thomas Edison. However, on 7 January 1943, all alone in room 3327 of the New Yorker Hotel in New York City, an eccentric 86-year-old man died who was the true wizard of electricity: Nikola Tesla. Not only was Nikola Tesla the father of modern radio, he perfected alternating current (AC) electrical power, invented the Tesla coil, and made breakthroughs in a staggering array of fields including radar, X-rays, robotics and nuclear physics.

photo of Nikola Tesla in 1890, age 34

Photo: Nikola Tesla in 1890, age 34. Credit: Napoleon Sarony; Wikimedia Commons.

At the height of his powers Nikola Tesla was recognized as the equal of Thomas Edison (the two once worked together, but became bitter rivals), but in his later years he became so strange that the public increasingly ignored him, contributing to his lack of fame and recognition today. There is no doubt Tesla was a genius, fluent in eight languages, with an astonishing ability to receive visions in which he saw inventions so specifically that every detail was clear in his mind before he ever set pen to paper.

There is also no doubt that the man grew increasingly bizarre, obsessed by such things as the number 3 (he would walk around a block three times before entering a building), pigeons, and a deathly fear of having contact with dirt. Despite making over 700 inventions in his lifetime and some of the most important breakthroughs in the history of science, Nikola Tesla died broke and heavily in debt. He was the very definition of the eccentric genius, or “mad scientist,” yet modern life is dependent on many of the brilliant ideas that sprang from this strange man’s mind.

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This old newspaper obituary gives many details of Tesla’s life, career and numerous inventions, and includes this comment from the “Wizard of Electricity”:

There are too many distractions in this life for quality of thought, and it’s quality of thought, not quantity, that counts. ~ Nikola Tesla

obituary for Nikola Tesla, Seattle Times newspaper article 8 January 1943

Seattle Times (Seattle, Washington), 8 January 1943, page 26

Tesla’s obituary reads:

New York, Jan. 8.—Nikolai [sic] Tesla, 86 years old, the electrical genius who discovered the fundamental principle of modern radio, was found dead in his hotel room last night. He died in bed sometime yesterday. Gaunt in his best years, he had lately been wasting away.

Tesla was never married. He had always lived alone, and it is not believed he had any near relatives.

Despite his more than 700 inventions, Tesla was not wealthy. He cared little for money; as long as he could experiment he was happy. Much of the time he did not even have a laboratory, and worked where he lived.

Tesla was the first to conceive an effective method of utilizing alternating current, and in 1888 patented the induction motor which converted electrical energy into mechanical energy more effectively and economically than by direct current. Among his other principal inventions are lighting and the Tesla coil.

“The radio, I know I’m its father, but I don’t like it,” Tesla once said. “I just don’t like it. It’s a nuisance. I never listen to it. The radio is a distraction and keeps you from concentrating. There are too many distractions in this life for quality of thought, and it’s quality of thought, not quantity, that counts.”

Evidently, he did a lot of thinking that never materialized. It was his custom on his birthday—July 10—to announce to reporters the shape of things to come.

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On his 76th birthday, he announced: “The transmission of energy to another planet is only a matter of engineering. I have solved the problem so well I don’t regard it as doubtful.”

On another birthday, Tesla predicted that power would soon be projected without wires through the stratosphere.

When he was 78, Tesla announced he had perfected a “death beam” that would bring down a fleet of 10,000 enemy planes 250 miles from a nation’s borders and make millions of soldiers drop dead in their tracks. His beam, he said, would make war impossible.

Tesla was born at Smiljan, Croatia, when it was part of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire. His first electrical invention was the telephone repeater, which he perfected in 1881 while working for the Austrian government.

Three years later, Tesla came to the United States, became a citizen and an associate of the late Thomas A. Edison. Later he established the Tesla Laboratory in New York and devoted himself to research.

Tesla had lived at the hotel where he died for years, and amused himself by feeding pigeons in the nearest park. Several years ago, he hired a boy to take five pounds of corn twice a day and feed it to the pigeons. He said he had found it “more convenient” to use the boy.

Note: FamilySearch International (FamilySearch.org) and GenealogyBank are partnering to make over a billion records from historical obituaries searchable online. The tremendous undertaking will make a billion records from over 100 million U.S. newspaper obituaries readily searchable online. The newspapers are from all 50 states and cover the period 1730 to the present.  Find out more at: http://www.genealogybank.com/family-search/

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The Life & Death of the Legendary Theodore ‘Teddy’ Roosevelt

Early in the morning of 6 January 1919, Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt, the nation’s 26th president (1901-1909), quietly died in his sleep. His death ended one of the most remarkable lives and careers in American history. Ranked by historians as one of the nation’s greatest presidents, Roosevelt had also been a state legislator, police commissioner and governor (of New York), assistant secretary of the navy, and vice president (under William McKinley). In addition, Roosevelt was a war hero, gaining fame for leading the heroic charge up San Juan Hill in Cuba during the Spanish-American War.

photo of ex-President Theodore Roosevelt, 1915

Photo: ex-President Theodore Roosevelt, 1915. Credit: Pach Brothers photography studio; U.S. Library of Congress.

Along with all those accomplishments, Roosevelt was also a naturalist, author, editor, orator, explorer, horseman and big-game hunter. Roosevelt was born 27 October 1858 into great wealth to a long-established, aristocratic family. He went on to fight for reform and progressive causes during his long political career. A weak and sickly child, he built himself into a strong, vigorous man through strenuous activity.

Posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor in 2001 for his bravery on the battlefield, he was also awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1906 for helping to end the Russo-Japanese War. In short, Roosevelt was a larger-than-life figure, one widely respected and admired in America and worldwide.

article about the death of Theodore Roosevelt, Belleville News Democrat  newspaper article 6 January 1919

Belleville News Democrat (Belleville, Illinois), 6 January 1919, page 1

Teddy Roosevelt’s obituary, published on the front page of the Belleville News Democrat on 6 January 1919, included these details of the many attributes and accomplishments of this great man’s incredible life:

The death of Col. Theodore Roosevelt is a shock to the entire nation. Outside of the White House, he was easily the first citizen of the United States. His name is a household word in every civilized country, and Roosevelt made a secure place for himself in the history of nations.

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Col. Theodore Roosevelt was born in New York City on October 27th, 1858. He was of Dutch descent, being a member of one of the old aristocratic families of New York City and State. He traced his lineage back to the Revolution and long before that period on American soil. His parents were wealthy and belonged to the capitalistic or aristocratic class, although Roosevelt himself was always extremely democratic in his ways and principles. Roosevelt was a member of the Dutch Reformed Church, but never played religion very strongly.

photo of Theodore Roosevelt, age 11, 1870

Photo: Theodore Roosevelt, age 11, 1870. Credit: U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

He entered Harvard College in 1876 and was graduated in the class of 1880.

He took up the study of law, but in 1881 was elected to the New York Legislature, and was twice re-elected.

In his second term in the Legislature, he was the candidate of his party for speaker, the majority of the assembly, however, being democratic.

During his third term he served as chairman of the committee on cities and of the special committee which investigated the abuses in the government of New York City.

He early took a stand for good government and honest and clean and decent politics.

He was a delegate to the state convention in New York State in 1884 to choose delegates to the Republican National Convention, and was selected as one of the four delegates-at-large from New York to the National Convention.

Later in the same year, he went to North Dakota and spent most of his time there for several years on a ranch, engaged in cattle raising. The change was made in the interests of his health. He had been weak and sickly and was advised by his physician to go west and live in the open air and sunshine and live the simple life.

photo of Theodore Roosevelt, 1885

Photo: Theodore Roosevelt, 1885. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

He adopted the habits of the cowboys and roughed it, according to the customs which prevailed in those days in the wild and wooly West. He acquired the art of riding on horseback, and became an expert rifle and revolver shot. During most of his waking hours he lived in his saddle. This life on the margin of civilization was too slow for him, however. Regaining his health and becoming robust and strong, he yearned for the streets and avenues of his native city, where the bright lights burn.

In 1886 he was the Republican nominee for mayor of New York City.

He was appointed a member of the United States Civil Service Commission in May, 1889, by President Benj. Harrison.

He resigned this position in 1895 in order to accept the Presidency of the Police Commission of New York City under Mayor Strong.

In April, 1897, he was appointed Assistant Secretary of the Navy by President William McKinley.

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Upon the outbreak of the war with Spain in 1898, he resigned his post and became Lt. Col. of the 1st United States Volunteer Cavalry.

He now began to cash in on the apprenticeship which he had served in the Wild West. He raised the regiment known as the Rough-Riders.

He was promoted to the colonelcy of the regiment, and was popular with the rank and file of men who reposed great confidence in his leadership.

photo of Colonel Theodore Roosevelt, 1898

Photo: Colonel Theodore Roosevelt, 1898. Credit: B. J. Falk; U.S. Library of Congress.

He was in the fights at Las Guasimas and San Juan. His name as a fighter was won at the battle of San Juan Hill.

He was mustered out with his regiment at Montauk, Long Island, in September, 1898. He was nominated shortly afterwards as the Republican candidate for governor of New York and elected in November, 1898.

He was unanimously nominated for Vice President of the United States by the Republican National Convention of 1900 and elected. He succeeded to the Presidency upon the death of President McKinley, by assassination, in Buffalo, on September 14th, 1901.

Painting: President Theodore Roosevelt; official White House portrait by John Singer Sargent, 1903

Painting: President Theodore Roosevelt; official White House portrait by John Singer Sargent, 1903. Credit: The White House Historical Association.

He was nominated for President by the Republicans in 1904 and was elected by a tremendous popular and electoral majority. He beat Alton B. Parker, the Democratic nominee.

While Roosevelt was President the Panama Canal was built and the war between Japan and Russia was fought. He took a hand in the settlement of that bloody conflict and was awarded a Noble Peace Prize for his activities.

The country was rent by panics and strikes during the Roosevelt administration, and he gained notoriety by successfully winding up a coal miners’ strike in the anthracite regions in Pennsylvania which threatened to drag the country into civil war.

Roosevelt was a forceful character and an aggressive man. He believed in the policy of maintaining a big standing army and a powerful navy in our country. He was an advocate of the strenuous life and lived it.

He lived every minute of his life. He split the Republican Party in two in 1912 because the Republican National Convention of that year refused to nominate him for President instead of Taft. He organized the Bull Moose Party on a progressive platform and later closed up the breach by returning to the original fold.

Roosevelt was distinctly a physical force man. In his opinion nature and destiny achieve their purposes through the strongest agency. He had no use for weak men and detested half-hearted measures. He fought the Wilson administration on the ground that it was too slow.

He believed that we should have entered the European War against Germany four years ago.

He was a physical culture expert, having built himself up from a sickly child to a man whose vigor and virility challenged the respect and admiration of the world.

His children were of the same type.

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He was a historian. He wrote many books on history. His “History of the Naval War of 1812” was written while he was yet a Harvard student.

He was a biographer. He wrote a biography of “Oliver Cromwell,” his own autobiography and others.

He was an essayist. He wrote more books than many authors whose fame rests upon their writings alone. His essays, in particular, and later his orations, were always a key to his actions.

He was a great critic. He raised hell most of the time. He knew where to hit and hit hard.

He was a good hater and had a good command of English. The results are well known.

He was a natural scientist, a big-game hunter, and explorer and discoverer. His achievements in natural science alone were enough to make him a man of note. He killed lions and tigers and elephants in the wilds of Africa, and discovered the River of Doubt in South Africa.

He was the holder of more than a dozen college degrees, and won fame as an editor on the “Outlook” and the “Metropolitan Magazine.” During the last year he has been an editorial writer for the “Kansas City Star.”

He was a practical reformer, a veteran colonel of cavalry, a former Governor, a former Vice President and a former President.

photo of the grave of President & Mrs. Roosevelt in Youngs Memorial Cemetery, Oyster Bay, New York

Photo: grave of President & Mrs. Roosevelt in Youngs Memorial Cemetery, Oyster Bay, New York. Credit: Shadow2700; Wikimedia Commons.

His death marks the end of a notable career, and the most strenuous life in America has reached its illustrious close. The whole nation mourns the loss of Theodore Roosevelt. Had he lived to see the day he might have been the next Republican nominee for President of the United States, and it is not improbable that he would have been re-elected.

Note: FamilySearch International (FamilySearch.org) and GenealogyBank are partnering to make over a billion records from historical obituaries searchable online. The tremendous undertaking will make a billion records from over 100 million U.S. newspaper obituaries readily searchable online. The newspapers are from all 50 states and cover the period 1730 to the present.  Find out more at: http://www.genealogybank.com/family-search/

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New Mexico Archives: 161 Newspapers for Genealogy Research

New Mexico, which became American territory in 1848 at the close of the Mexican-American War, waited 64 years before finally being admitted as the 47th state of the Union on 6 January 1912. One of the western Mountain States in the U.S., New Mexico is the 5th largest state in the country—yet only the 36th most populous.

photo of the Wheeler Peak mountain group, New Mexico

Photo: Wheeler Peak mountain group, New Mexico. Credit: David Herrera; Wikimedia Commons.

If you are researching your family roots in New Mexico, you will want to use GenealogyBank’s online New Mexico newspaper archives: 161 titles to help you search your family history in the “Land of Enchantment,” providing coverage from 1844 to Today. There are currently more than two million newspaper articles and records in our online NM archives!

Dig deep into our archives and search for obituaries and other news articles about your New Mexico ancestors in these recent and historical NM newspapers online. Our New Mexico newspapers are divided into two collections: Historical Newspapers (complete paper) and Recent Obituaries (obituaries only).

Search New Mexico Newspaper Archives (1844 – 1973)

Search New Mexico Recent Obituaries (1994 – Current)

Here is our complete list of online New Mexico newspapers in the archives. Each newspaper title in this list is an active link that will take you directly to that paper’s search page, where you can begin searching for your ancestors by surnames, dates, keywords and more. The NM newspaper titles are listed alphabetically by city.

City Title Date Range* Collection
Alamogordo Alamogordo Daily News 9/10/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Albuquerque Albuquerque Journal 1/2/1906 – 12/31/1922 Newspaper Archives
Albuquerque Albuquerque Morning Democrat 1/1/1886 – 12/31/1898 Newspaper Archives
Albuquerque Albuquerque Citizen 2/10/1887 – 12/31/1900 Newspaper Archives
Albuquerque Bandera Americana 8/10/1901 – 5/13/1909 Newspaper Archives
Albuquerque Albuquerque Weekly Press 1/20/1863 – 7/12/1864 Newspaper Archives
Albuquerque Nuevo Mundo 5/1/1897 – 9/20/1900 Newspaper Archives
Albuquerque Opinion Publica 7/2/1892 – 3/2/1907 Newspaper Archives
Albuquerque Defensor del Pueblo 6/27/1891 – 5/28/1892 Newspaper Archives
Albuquerque Indito 11/24/1900 – 4/4/1901 Newspaper Archives
Albuquerque News 1/23/1886 – 12/6/1886 Newspaper Archives
Albuquerque Morning Journal 11/9/1884 – 12/3/1886 Newspaper Archives
Albuquerque Daily Times 6/14/1893 – 6/14/1893 Newspaper Archives
Albuquerque Industrial Advertiser 12/23/1899 – 12/23/1899 Newspaper Archives
Albuquerque Hormiga de Oro 11/7/1903 – 11/7/1903 Newspaper Archives
Albuquerque Revista 12/5/1881 – 12/5/1881 Newspaper Archives
Albuquerque Union de Albuquerque 1/20/1893 – 1/20/1893 Newspaper Archives
Albuquerque Combate 7/7/1892 – 7/7/1892 Newspaper Archives
Albuquerque Voz de Nuevo Mexico 9/1/1894 – 9/1/1894 Newspaper Archives
Albuquerque Estrella Mejicana 10/11/1890 – 10/11/1890 Newspaper Archives
Albuquerque Estrella Mexicana 10/4/1890 – 10/4/1890 Newspaper Archives
Albuquerque Albuquerque Journal 1/6/1995 – Current Recent Obituaries
Albuquerque Albuquerque Tribune 1/1/1997 – Current Recent Obituaries
Bernalillo Agricultor Moderno 3/23/1916 – 3/23/1916 Newspaper Archives
Bernalillo Espejo 3/8/1879 – 3/8/1879 Newspaper Archives
Bland Bland Herald 12/30/1898 – 6/6/1902 Newspaper Archives
Carlsbad Carlsbad Current-Argus 1/28/2005 – Current Recent Obituaries
Chama Northwestern New Mexican 6/10/1893 – 6/17/1893 Newspaper Archives
Chloride Black Range 12/29/1882 – 8/6/1897 Newspaper Archives
Columbus Columbus News 7/9/1909 – 5/26/1911 Newspaper Archives
Deming Deming Herald 4/2/1901 – 3/10/1903 Newspaper Archives
Deming Deming Headlight 1/24/1891 – 2/18/1899 Newspaper Archives
Deming Deming Tribune 12/25/1884 – 12/25/1884 Newspaper Archives
Deming Deming Headlight 6/3/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Eddy Eddy Argus 6/30/1893 – 6/30/1893 Newspaper Archives
Eddy Eddy County Citizen 6/13/1893 – 6/27/1893 Newspaper Archives
Elizabethtown Mining Bulletin 1/4/1900 – 8/11/1900 Newspaper Archives
Estancia Estancia News 9/1/1905 – 7/5/1907 Newspaper Archives
Farmington Daily Times 2/16/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Gallup Gallup Independent 10/11/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Grants Cibola County Beacon 6/20/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Hillsboro Sierra County Advocate 9/25/1886 – 11/26/1897 Newspaper Archives
Kingston Kingston Weekly Shaft 4/16/1887 – 7/15/1893 Newspaper Archives
Kingston Kingston Clipper 3/8/1884 – 3/8/1884 Newspaper Archives
La Mesilla Defensor del Pueblo 3/7/1891 – 3/28/1891 Newspaper Archives
Las Cruces Estrella 2/1/1911 – 5/18/1935 Newspaper Archives
Las Cruces Labrador 9/8/1896 – 6/14/1912 Newspaper Archives
Las Cruces Tiempo 11/9/1882 – 7/8/1911 Newspaper Archives
Las Cruces Dona Ana County Republican 3/11/1897 – 2/15/1902 Newspaper Archives
Las Cruces Mesilla Valley Democrat 9/2/1886 – 12/2/1890 Newspaper Archives
Las Cruces Eco del Valle 11/18/1905 – 5/6/1916 Newspaper Archives
Las Cruces Las Cruces Progress 2/22/1902 – 1/1/1904 Newspaper Archives
Las Cruces Las Cruces Democrat 2/3/1892 – 11/29/1899 Newspaper Archives
Las Cruces Las Cruces Daily News 3/5/1889 – 11/23/1889 Newspaper Archives
Las Cruces Borderer 7/24/1872 – 1/10/1874 Newspaper Archives
Las Cruces Mesilla Valley Bulletin 2/2/1934 – 10/21/1938 Newspaper Archives
Las Cruces Flor del Valle 2/3/1894 – 10/11/1894 Newspaper Archives
Las Cruces Thirty-Four 4/16/1879 – 11/3/1880 Newspaper Archives
Las Cruces Democrata 6/2/1894 – 11/24/1894 Newspaper Archives
Las Cruces Empresa 9/26/1896 – 6/12/1897 Newspaper Archives
Las Cruces Eco del Rio Grande 2/12/1876 – 3/2/1882 Newspaper Archives
Las Cruces Verdad 9/16/1890 – 4/9/1898 Newspaper Archives
Las Cruces Promotor Escolar 9/12/1891 – 2/16/1892 Newspaper Archives
Las Cruces Observador Fronterizo 9/11/1888 – 10/30/1888 Newspaper Archives
Las Cruces Las Cruces Daily Times 5/8/1889 – 5/10/1889 Newspaper Archives
Las Cruces Newmans Semi-Weekly 4/2/1881 – 4/20/1881 Newspaper Archives
Las Cruces Gaceta Popular 10/24/1919 – 12/1/1919 Newspaper Archives
Las Cruces Fronterizo 4/29/1875 – 4/29/1875 Newspaper Archives
Las Cruces Las Cruces Sun-News 2/15/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Las Vegas Las Vegas Daily Gazette 7/27/1880 – 1/31/1886 Newspaper Archives
Las Vegas Revista Catolica 1/8/1888 – 2/10/1895 Newspaper Archives
Las Vegas Grito del Norte 8/24/1968 – 7/1/1973 Newspaper Archives
Las Vegas Las Vegas Daily Optic 3/8/1884 – 10/31/1900 Newspaper Archives
Las Vegas Misionero Bautista: Organo Oficial de la Convencion Bautista Hispano-Americana de Nuevo Mexico 12/21/1943 – 8/21/1951 Newspaper Archives
Las Vegas Las Vegas Weekly Optic 10/23/1880 – 10/30/1880 Newspaper Archives
Las Vegas Voz del Pueblo 6/4/1892 – 12/13/1904 Newspaper Archives
Las Vegas Sol de Mayo 5/1/1891 – 7/24/1891 Newspaper Archives
Las Vegas Hispano Americano 4/21/1892 – 10/15/1892 Newspaper Archives
Las Vegas New Mexico Herald 6/25/1879 – 7/30/1879 Newspaper Archives
Las Vegas Las Vegas Record 1/29/1901 – 4/12/1902 Newspaper Archives
Las Vegas Campaign Bulletin 8/25/1880 – 8/27/1880 Newspaper Archives
Las Vegas Daily Examiner 8/30/1895 – 8/30/1895 Newspaper Archives
Las Vegas Chronicle 10/19/1886 – 10/19/1886 Newspaper Archives
Las Vegas Clarin Mexicano 10/30/1890 – 10/30/1890 Newspaper Archives
Las Vegas Political Comet 11/4/1882 – 11/4/1882 Newspaper Archives
Las Vegas Cachiporra 10/19/1888 – 10/19/1888 Newspaper Archives
Las Vegas Boletin de Anuncios 1/19/1878 – 1/19/1878 Newspaper Archives
Las Vegas Las Vegas Optic 11/7/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lordsburg Western Liberal 6/23/1893 – 4/12/1901 Newspaper Archives
Los Alamos Los Alamos Monitor 9/27/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Magdalena Magdalena News 2/28/1918 – 3/10/1918 Newspaper Archives
Magdalena Magdalena Mountain Mail 4/5/1888 – 4/5/1888 Newspaper Archives
Maldonado Estrella 1/30/1897 – 1/30/1897 Newspaper Archives
Maxwell Maxwell Mail 1/7/1915 – 12/30/1915 Newspaper Archives
Mesilla Mesilla News 2/1/1879 – 2/9/1884 Newspaper Archives
Mora Mosquito 12/3/1891 – 6/30/1892 Newspaper Archives
Mora Cronica de Mora 6/13/1889 – 11/2/1889 Newspaper Archives
Mora Gaceta de Mora 8/28/1890 – 8/28/1890 Newspaper Archives
Mora Mora Echo 9/16/1890 – 9/16/1890 Newspaper Archives
Mountainair Independiente 1/26/1918 – 12/25/1920 Newspaper Archives
Raton Relampago 5/21/1904 – 8/6/1904 Newspaper Archives
Raton Weekly News 5/6/1904 – 6/24/1904 Newspaper Archives
Raton Union 2/26/1898 – 9/10/1898 Newspaper Archives
Raton Raton Range 6/22/1893 – 8/29/1895 Newspaper Archives
Raton Raton Reporter 7/12/1893 – 7/12/1893 Newspaper Archives
Raton Amigo del Pueblo 1/8/1896 – 1/8/1896 Newspaper Archives
Rincon Rincon Weekly 8/29/1895 – 5/11/1897 Newspaper Archives
Roswell Roswell Record 7/14/1893 – 7/14/1893 Newspaper Archives
Roswell Roswell Daily Record 1/3/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Ruidoso Ruidoso News 12/1/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
San Acacio Comercio 7/11/1907 – 7/11/1907 Newspaper Archives
San Marcial San Marcial Bee 4/29/1893 – 3/29/1902 Newspaper Archives
San Marcial San Marcial Reporter 4/14/1888 – 3/8/1890 Newspaper Archives
San Marcial Libertad 4/15/1896 – 4/15/1896 Newspaper Archives
Santa Fe Santa Fe Daily New Mexican 4/15/1871 – 6/27/1905 Newspaper Archives
Santa Fe Santa Fe Weekly New Mexican and Livestock Journal 4/25/1863 – 8/30/1906 Newspaper Archives
Santa Fe Nuevo Mexicano 8/16/1890 – 5/9/1908 Newspaper Archives
Santa Fe Boletin Popular 4/1/1886 – 5/30/1895 Newspaper Archives
Santa Fe Voz del Pueblo 4/27/1889 – 6/15/1889 Newspaper Archives
Santa Fe Guia de Santa Fe 10/2/1886 – 10/16/1886 Newspaper Archives
Santa Fe Cachiporrota 10/8/1890 – 10/28/1890 Newspaper Archives
Santa Fe Gato 5/23/1894 – 8/24/1894 Newspaper Archives
Santa Fe Registro de Nuevo Mexico 5/2/1916 – 5/2/1916 Newspaper Archives
Santa Fe New Mexican Mining News 12/21/1881 – 12/21/1881 Newspaper Archives
Santa Fe Santa Fe Weekly Express 7/2/1887 – 7/2/1887 Newspaper Archives
Santa Fe Gauntlet 6/25/1894 – 6/25/1894 Newspaper Archives
Santa Fe Santa Fe Weekly Sun 6/17/1893 – 6/17/1893 Newspaper Archives
Santa Fe Capitol 9/14/1901 – 9/14/1901 Newspaper Archives
Santa Fe Clarin Mejicano 8/10/1873 – 8/10/1873 Newspaper Archives
Santa Fe Verdad 9/12/1844 – 9/12/1844 Newspaper Archives
Santa Fe Santa Fe New Mexican 9/12/1994 – Current Recent Obituaries
Santa Rosa Santa Rosa Sun 10/31/1919 – 5/28/1920 Newspaper Archives
Silver City Southwest Sentinel 10/19/1886 – 12/27/1887 Newspaper Archives
Silver City Silver City Enterprise 9/17/1886 – 8/23/1895 Newspaper Archives
Silver City Silver City Independent 8/3/1897 – 11/5/1901 Newspaper Archives
Silver City Eagle 8/28/1895 – 8/28/1895 Newspaper Archives
Silver City Mining Chronicle 3/3/1881 – 3/3/1881 Newspaper Archives
Silver City Herald 4/1/1876 – 4/1/1876 Newspaper Archives
Silver City New Southwest 1/7/1882 – 1/7/1882 Newspaper Archives
Silver City Grant County Herald 6/15/1878 – 6/15/1878 Newspaper Archives
Silver City Silver City Daily Press & Independent 4/19/2012 – Current Recent Obituaries
Silver City Silver City Sun-News 3/2/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Socorro Defensor del Pueblo 3/30/1906 – 4/9/1943 Newspaper Archives
Socorro Progreso 5/17/1887 – 8/9/1887 Newspaper Archives
Socorro Industrial Advertiser 6/10/1893 – 8/24/1895 Newspaper Archives
Socorro Hispano Americano 11/17/1891 – 1/9/1892 Newspaper Archives
Socorro Socorro Bullion 4/24/1886 – 9/11/1886 Newspaper Archives
Socorro Estrella de Nuevo Mexico 8/7/1896 – 3/26/1897 Newspaper Archives
Socorro Combate 1/3/1898 – 1/15/1898 Newspaper Archives
Socorro Bullion 3/1/1884 – 3/1/1884 Newspaper Archives
Socorro Republicano 3/16/1901 – 3/16/1901 Newspaper Archives
Socorro Golondrina 2/12/1898 – 2/12/1898 Newspaper Archives
Springer Colfax County Stockman 7/8/1893 – 12/27/1913 Newspaper Archives
Springer Estandarte de Springer 6/27/1889 – 6/15/1893 Newspaper Archives
Springer Sentinel 2/8/1901 – 12/27/1901 Newspaper Archives
Taos Revista de Taos 2/20/1904 – 2/20/1904 Newspaper Archives
Taos Taos News 2/15/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Wagon Mound Combate 12/6/1902 – 11/2/1918 Newspaper Archives
White Oaks White Oaks Eagle 8/22/1895 – 8/22/1895 Newspaper Archives
White Oaks Lincoln County Leader 6/24/1893 – 6/24/1893 Newspaper Archives
White Oaks New Mexico Interpreter 11/15/1889 – 11/15/1889 Newspaper Archives

*Date Ranges may have selected coverage unavailable.

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Nellie Tayloe Ross: the Nation’s First Female Governor

Introduction: Gena Philibert-Ortega is a genealogist and author of the book “From the Family Kitchen.” In this blog article, Gena searches old newspapers to learn more about one of the pioneering women in American history: Nellie Tayloe Ross, the first woman governor in U.S. history.

It would seem fitting that the first U.S. state to inaugurate a female governor was Wyoming. Wyoming, whose motto is the “Equality State,” approved female suffrage prior to statehood in 1869. In 1924, after the untimely demise of her husband, then-Wyoming governor William Ross, Nellie Tayloe Ross was asked by the Democratic National Committee if she would run for governor.

photo of Nellie Tayloe Ross, 1922

Photo: Nellie Tayloe Ross, 1922. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

While she was discouraged by others close to her, in the end Nellie – who had two sons to support and bills to pay – decided to add her name to the ballot. The race would be tough for a Democratic woman since Wyoming was largely a Republican state and many did not see politics as a place for women. On top of that, her campaign relied largely on friends and advertisements since the recent widow was not ready to actively promote herself.

However, Nellie won the election on 4 November 1924 and was inaugurated on 5 January 1925.

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Two Women Running to Be Nation’s First Governor

During that 1924 election year, Wyoming wasn’t the only state looking to elect a female governor. In Texas, Miriam “Ma” Ferguson was also campaigning to become the nation’s first female governor.

This article from the Evening Star reminds readers that Wyoming was first in granting women’s suffrage: “Thirty-four years ago, Wyoming Territory felt sufficiently grown up to put on the long pants of statehood, and the strangely assorted group of cowmen, homesteaders, prospectors, and lawyers who framed her progressive laws cudgeled their brains for some gesture with which to demonstrate their superiority over the backward and decadent East.”

article about Nellie Ross and the Wyoming election of 1924, Evening Star newspaper article 18 October 1924

Evening Star (Washington, D.C.), 18 October 1924, page 4

In the 1924 election, Texas’ Ma Ferguson was elected governor in her state’s race. Interestingly, her husband had also been governor years earlier but was impeached. That didn’t stop Miriam from winning her race and becoming the first female governor of Texas. However, Nellie was inaugurated in Wyoming 15 days before Ferguson was in Texas, giving her the title of the nation’s first woman governor.

Nellie, the Governor

After her overwhelming win, Nellie continued to work on some of her husband’s projects including enforcement of prohibition. In addition she promoted her own agenda that included “…requiring cities, counties, and school districts to have budgets; stronger state laws regulating banks…obtaining more funds for the university; improving safety for coal miners; protecting women in industrial jobs; and supporting a proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would cut back on child labor.”*

Nellie’s brief stint as Governor of Wyoming (she was governor for two years) was not without its detractors. One might expect that many men who believed that politics was no place for women would be hyper vigilant to point out her foibles and mistakes, but women were also among those who were unhappy with her performance. Their complaints included that she had not done enough to assist women in the political sphere, including her lack of female political advisors.**

One issue that women’s clubs had with Nellie was her position on prohibition. In this article boldly titled “California Women Snub Nellie Ross” about a Southern California chapter of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), they had “by resolution…declared Mrs. Nellie Tayloe Ross inconsistent in avowing herself a prohibitionist and at the same time campaigning in the California presidential primary in behalf of the candidacy of Governor Al Smith, of New York.” They want on to say: “We deplore the position taken by Mrs. Nellie Tayloe Ross, former governor of Woyming [sic], who is now in California proclaiming herself a prohibitionist and in favor of enforcement of the prohibition laws of the United States and yet is speaking publicly in support of the presidential candidacy of Governor Al Smith, of New York, whose record on nullification of the prohibition law and whose personal sentiments in opposition to prohibition are well known to the people of the entire nation.”

article about Nellie Ross and prohibition, Macon Telegraph newspaper article 20 April 1928

Macon Telegraph (Macon, Georgia), 20 April 1928, page 1

Public Life after Being Governor

After Nellie served two years as governor, she continued a high-profile life that included the lecture circuit. In this 1930 South Dakota engagement reported by the Aberdeen Daily News, she was addressing the issue of women in politics. She said: “Political emancipation in the 19th amendment gives recognition of women as thinking, intelligent human beings.” She went on to talk about the fact that it wasn’t easy for women to enter roles that had been traditionally held by men. She stated that “men have felt the responsibility resting upon them for so many years…that it is hard for them to allow women to enter in.”

article about a speech by Nellie Ross, Aberdeen Daily News newspaper article 27 June 1930

Aberdeen Daily News (Aberdeen, South Dakota), 27 June 1930, page 7

Nellie went on to be the vice-chairman of the Democratic National Committee and then, in 1933, was the first woman appointed to head the U.S. Mint, a job she held for 20 years until 1953.

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There’s no doubt that Nellie enjoyed many firsts in her life. She was written about in newspapers throughout the United States for the various events and activities she took part in. She also made the news in 1976 when she turned 100 years old.

article about Nellie Ross turning 100, Seattle Daily Times newspaper article 26 November 1976

Seattle Daily Times (Seattle, Washington), 26 November 1976, page 2

Nellie died at 101 years of age in Washington D.C. Although she had been Wyoming’s governor for only two years, her title of first woman governor was one that was repeated in almost every newspaper article about her throughout her life – including her obituary.

obituary for Nellie Ross, San Diego Union newspaper article 21 December 1977

San Diego Union (San Diego, California), 21 December 1977, page 36

Note: FamilySearch International (FamilySearch.org) and GenealogyBank are partnering to make over a billion records from historical obituaries searchable online. The tremendous undertaking will make a billion records from over 100 million U.S. newspaper obituaries readily searchable online. The newspapers are from all 50 states and cover the period 1730 to the present.  Find out more at: http://www.genealogybank.com/family-search/

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* Rea, Tom. The Ambition of Nellie Tayloe Ross. WyoHistory.org. http://www.wyohistory.org/essays/ambition-nellie-tayloe-ross. Accessed 28 December 2014.

** Ibid

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