On Thanksgiving Day, Tom Turkey Is a Member of Everyone’s Family

Introduction: Scott Phillips is a genealogical historian and owner of Onward To Our Past® genealogy services. In this guest blog post, Scott begins his Thanksgiving celebration early by searching on “Tom Turkey” and looking through some of the more than 12,000 historical newspaper articles his search returned.

Happy Thanksgiving 2012! I will freely and readily admit that Thanksgiving is my all-time favorite holiday. I particularly love that it is noncommercial and focused on family, thanks, and food. What an awesome combination, especially for us genealogy and family history fans.

I was looking up a family member just the other day when thoughts of my upcoming Thanksgiving Day menu crept into my head. Since we have 20 family members coming from across the U.S. to share the holiday with us, I have been thinking a lot about Thanksgiving lately. Because I cook our turkeys outdoors on our barbeque grills, the name of “Tom Turkey” popped into my mind. Struck by this inspiration, I decided to do a search for this temporary family member in GenealogyBank’s online historical newspaper archives. Wow: I was treated to over 12,000 hits, and in I dove!

The first article I opened offered advice that farmers should “Keep One Tom Turkey for Every Six Hens.” Now, even my love of Thanksgiving isn’t going to lead me to open a turkey farm in my backyard, so while I’ll keep that advice in mind, I also decided to keep on reading.

Keep One Tom Turkey for Every Six Hens, Jackson Citizen Patriot newspaper article 1 February 1922

Jackson Citizen Patriot (Jackson, Michigan), 1 February 1922, page 7

Next I came across something quite useful, an article entitled “Return Engagements for Mr. Tom Turkey.” Naturally it was a delicious-looking set of recipes and ideas for leftover turkey, and I copied them down and am going to try one of them out this year. That is, if there actually are any leftovers on Friday after our Thanksgiving feast!

Return Engagements for Mr. Tom Turkey, Dallas Morning News newspaper article 29 November 1953

Dallas Morning News (Dallas, Texas), 29 November 1953, page 6

Then I discovered a very enjoyable old newspaper article entitled “Thanksgiving Advice.” It suggested that I should look for a “young Tom Turkey,” that I should skip the “5 cents a pound” premium price for a “Little Rhody turkey” from Rhode Island, and instead go for birds from Vermont or maybe Michigan. Plus the article told me that I need to look for “small red pumpkins” for the best pumpkin pie for our Thanksgiving dessert.

Thanksgiving Advice, Times-Picayune newspaper article 25 November 1906

Times-Picayune (New Orleans, Louisiana), 25 November 1906, page 6

Soon my heart softened as I read a wonderful story entitled “Tom Powers and the Turkey.” I encourage you to read it—it’s a truly delightful story about the spirit of Thanksgiving. I still smile as I think back on it.

Tom Powers and the Turkey, Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper article 22 November 1891

Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), 22 November 1891, page 14

I could have gone on and on, but I have some tough decisions to make about whether or not to add the gizzards into the turkey stuffing. Plus I have to decide where best to place the tape recorder so that I can capture our Thanksgiving blessings around the table for future generations.
Happy Thanksgiving 2012 to everyone and have a delightful day with Tom Turkey in your family!

Deadwood Dick: Chasing a Cornish-American Legend

Introduction: Scott Phillips is a genealogical historian and owner of Onward To Our Past® genealogy services. In this guest blog post, Scott digs into old newspapers to see if the Wild West’s legendary character “Deadwood Dick” was a real person or just a myth.

Early in my family history and genealogy work I made, what was for me, a remarkable discovery. I found that I had a significant branch of second cousins in Cornwall in the United Kingdom.

I had not known about my Cornish relatives and they were equally unaware of me. It wasn’t long before I had the opportunity to meet this grand branch of my family and it was an extraordinary occasion! We spent several wonderful days together and those treasured family memories will now be with me forever. Given all the family photographs, stories, catching up on lifetimes, pub visits, heirlooms, and tromping around parish churches and graveyards, my head was filled with family history. I guess it should come as no surprise that I placed one item in a remote drawer of my “mental filing cabinet,” to be explored at a later date.

Not long ago this tidbit came roaring back into my consciousness and I decided I needed to investigate. The name I had filed away was “Deadwood Dick”; when I was in Cornwall many people had asked me if I was familiar with this famous Cornish-American immigrant. To begin my investigation, I opened up GenealogyBank.com and started searching for historical records containing his name. As usual, I was not disappointed!

I logged in and searched on “Deadwood Dick.” To my surprise I was greeted with more than 3,800 articles in the Newspaper Archive section of my results. I then clicked on the subcategory Obituaries. Quickly I noted that Deadwood had been reported as dead a number of times, including 1906, 1911 and 1920, along with a couple of other dates! As a genealogist I smiled when I read these different death accounts, and also found varying family histories attributed to good old Deadwood.  They ranged from Deadwood being: the nephew of the governor of Illinois; a shop owner in Belle Fourche; and a postmaster in Deadwood, the latter two places both in the Dakota Territory.

So I read on. What I discovered about this Cornish-American immigrant was quite a story! You see Deadwood was the inspiration for dime novels, or what were also known as the yellow-backed series of action books, featuring the exploits and adventures of Deadwood Dick.

But was the legendary Deadwood Dick a real person?

An old article from the Daily People newspaper proclaimed: “Deadwood Dick a Myth.” As they say in the game shows: “Buzz…wrong answer!” This newspaper article was certainly not going to establish that Deadwood was a real person.

Deadwood Dick a Myth, Daily People newspaper article 26 April 1903

Daily People (New York, New York), 26 April 1903, page 6

Soon I found a delightful old news article published by the Jackson Citizen Patriot lamenting “Dime Novels of Our Youthful Days.” Seems no matter what the time in history, we always miss things from our youth—and in this case it was the exciting stories of Deadwood Dick.

Diime Novels of Our Youthful Days, Jackson Citizen Patriot newspaper article 16 August 1922

Jackson Citizen Patriot (Jackson, Michigan), 16 August 1922, page 2

Then I discovered, from an old newspaper article published by the Sun, that Deadwood Dick was the subject of a successful stage play. But still the question remained: was he a real person? I kept on with my investigation.

"Deadwood Dick" at Blaney's, Sun newspaper article 26 November 1907

Sun (Baltimore, Maryland), 26 November 1907, page 9

I was really enjoying taking a trip into America’s past, through newspapers, trying to discern who and/or what Deadwood Dick really was. Then I found a newspaper article that answered my question: Deadwood was indeed a real person!

I found his story in an article published by the Kansas City Star, entitled: “‘Deadwood Dick’ Cashes in His Chips in Life’s Game.”

"Deadwood Dick" Cashes in His Chips in Life's Game, Kansas City Star newspaper article 16 February 1920

Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Missouri), 16 February 1920, page 20

This account confirmed that a man named Richard Bullock was the original and very real Deadwood Dick. He spent time as a guard on the gold bullion stagecoaches that carried gold ore from the mines of South Dakota to Omaha, Nebraska. The article said that Richard emigrated from “England,” the common misnomer in those times for any portion of the United Kingdom.

My additional research has confirmed that Richard Bullock, a.k.a. Deadwood Dick, was born about 20 August 1847 near Saint Columb Major in Cornwall. He was a member of the Methodist Choir before he emigrated from Cornwall in his early 20s to find his future in America.

From choirboy to a man of mythological proportions and the stuff of early action novels!

All I can say is I am sure happy I pulled that memory out of the old filing cabinet and looked for Deadwood Dick stories in GenealogyBank’s newspapers. You just never know what you will find!

Recent Obituaries Coming Online for 25 Newspapers!

GenealogyBank is constantly expanding, putting more newspaper records online to help with your family history research.

screenshot of GenealogyBank home page showing link to obituaries search form

Screenshot of GenealogyBank home page showing link to obituaries search form

Over the next week we will be adding more coverage from 11 states, with 25 titles ranging from Alaska to Florida, adding these newspapers to our Recent Obituaries collection. Michigan will expand by a whopping 8 new newspaper titles and Pennsylvania by 6 titles, significantly increasing our obituary coverage for genealogy researchers exploring their ancestry in the U.S. Midwest and Northeast. Here are the details of our recent obituaries additions:

Cordova Times (Cordova, AK)

  • Obituaries:  04/27/2011 – Current

Juneau Empire (Juneau, AK)

  • Death Notices:  03/03/2011 – Current

St. Augustine Record (St. Augustine, FL)

  • Death Notices:  02/16/2002 – Current

Chicago Journal (Chicago, IL)

  • Obituaries:  09/30/2009 – Current

South Bend Tribune (South Bend, IN)

  • Obituaries: 1/1/1994 – 1/1/2006

AnnArbor.com (Ann Arbor, MI)

  • Death Notices:  08/05/2012 – Current

Bay City Times (Bay City, MI)

  • Death Notices:  7/17/2007 – 1/31/2012; 8/10/2012 – Current

Flint Journal (Flint, MI)

  • Death Notices:  9/5/2007 – 1/31/2012; 8/5/2012 – Current

Grand Rapids Press (Grand Rapids, MI)

  • Death Notices:  5/12/2010 – 2/1/2012; 8/2/2012 – Current

Jackson Citizen Patriot (Jackson, MI)

  • Death Notices:  9/11/2007 – 2/1/2012; 8/5/2012 – Current

Kalamazoo Gazette (Kalamazoo, MI)

  • Death Notices:  08/05/2012 – Current

Muskegon Chronicle (Muskegon, MI)

  • Death Notices:  08/07/2012 – Current

Saginaw News (Saginaw, MI)

  • Death Notices:  7/30/2007 – 1/31/2012; 8/8/2012 – Current

Columbus Packet (Columbus, MS)

  • Obituaries:  12/12/2010 – Current

Citizen (Auburn, NY)

  • Obituaries:  07/09/2002 – Current

Daily Reporter (Columbus, OH)

  • Obituaries:  01/09/2002 – Current

Bridgeville Area News (Monroeville, PA)

  • Obituaries:  09/06/2012 – Current

Murrysville Star (Monroeville, PA)

  • Obituaries:  09/20/2012 – Current

Norwin Star (Monroeville, PA)

  • Obituaries:  09/20/2012 – Current

Penn Trafford Star (Monroeville, PA)

  • Obituaries:  09/13/2012 – Current

Sewickley Herald (Sewickley, PA)

  • Obituaries:  09/13/2012 – Current

Signal Item (Carnegie, PA)

  • Obituaries:  09/19/2012 – Current

Valley Voice (Hellertown, PA)

  • Obituaries:  07/13/2012 – Current

Uintah Basin Standard (Roosevelt, UT)

  • Death Notices:  04/03/2009 – Current

Bainbridge Islander (Bainbridge Island, WA)

  • Obituaries:  11/11/2006 – Current

Genealogy Help: Two Captain Elisha Smiths—Which Is My Ancestor?

I was recently doing some family history research, looking for information about my ancestor Captain Elisha Smith—when I ran into a dilemma that genealogists occasionally face: two men with the same name from roughly the same time period.

Here’s how it happened, and here’s what I did to solve this riddle.

I was looking for my ancestor Captain Elisha Smith (1755-1834) who served in the American Revolutionary War.

Hmm…

Family records show that he was born in 1755, died in 1834, and lived in New Hampshire.

A quick search in GenealogyBank’s historical newspaper archives—Bingo—there he is.

obituary for Captain Elisha Smith, New Hampshire Patriot newspaper article 7 July 1834

New Hampshire Patriot (Concord, New Hampshire), 7 July 1834, page 3

OK. This old death record seems to fit.

He did live in New Hampton, New Hampshire.

The age is about right: “in the eightieth year of his age.”

Captain, and “soldier of the Revolution.”

Yes, that all fits my ancestor’s profile.

He’s called “a republican of the Jeffersonian school” and “a firm supporter of the present administration.”

OK, I have no idea what his politics were, but it is interesting to know that he was such a strong supporter of Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson.

“He was among the first settlers of the town in which he lived.”

OK, that fits. The family lived in New Hampton, New Hampshire, for generations.

He’s called “an enterprising and industrious farmer.”

OK; good testimonial to his character and work ethic.

So—this seems to be the old obituary of my ancestor.

“Hey, wait a minute…”

As the doctor said when my twin brother and I were born: “Hey, wait a minute, there’s another one.”

I found another historical obituary for a person named “Capt. Elisha Smith.”

Is this my “Captain Elisha Smith” ancestor that I was looking for?

Did I have the dates and places for him wrong?

obituary for Captain Elisha Smith, American Advocate newspaper article 16 April 1825

American Advocate (Hallowell, Maine), 16 April 1825, page 3

The name in the death record is the same, so is his title.

So that fits.

This Capt. Elisha Smith died in 1825 “aged 74.”

He was 74 years old in 1825, so his dates are approximately 1751-1825.

This could be a record for my ancestor—maybe the dates/places I had were wrong and this is the correct Elisha Smith.

He has the title “Captain.” Given his age he probably served in the American Revolutionary War; a local militia or other military role.

This Elisha Smith died in Lyman, Maine.

Lyman, Maine?

Hmm… that doesn’t fit as well.

As you can see from this map, Lyman, Maine, is about 70 miles from New Hampton, New Hampshire.

map showing distance between New Hampton, New Hampshire, and Lyman, Maine

Map showing distance between New Hampton, New Hampshire, and Lyman, Maine, from Google Maps

Was he traveling in Lyman, Maine, when he died?

I decided to see what else I could find about “Captain Elisha Smith,” so I Googled his name.

Bang. Up came a book written in 1915 by Mary Elizabeth Neal Hanaford: Family Branches of the Hanaford, Thompson, Huckins, Prescott, Smith…and Allied Families. (Rockford, Illinois: Author, 1915).

collage of pages from Mary Hanaford's 1915 book "Family Branches of the Hanaford, Thompson, Huckins, Prescott, Smith…and Allied Families"

Collage of pages from Mary Hanaford’s 1915 book “Family Branches of the Hanaford, Thompson, Huckins, Prescott, Smith…and Allied Families”

Genealogy Research Tip: Google has digitized hundreds of thousands of local histories and genealogies just like this one. Use Google Books as a quick source to see what conclusions other genealogists and local historians have made. It’s free, and can really help you with your own family history research.

Hanaford’s book is terrific. She published her research almost 100 years ago, in 1915, and she included a section on Captain Elisha Smith.

Hmm. She makes no mention of Lyman, Maine, for her Elisha Smith.

On page 145 she states: “Elisha Smith went to New Hampton [New Hampshire] from Brentwood Corner [New Hampshire] and settled at the foot of Beech Hill, in 1834.” Since he died 28 June 1834, he moved to New Hampton within weeks of his death. Perhaps it was his advancing age and possible ill health that prompted the move to New Hampton, to be closer to other family members.

Hanaford’s book has pages of references and citations that give more details on his life and that of the other members of the family.

I still need to check out those references, but with the additional corroboration in Hanaford’s book I can reasonably conclude that the first obituary I found in GenealogyBank for “Captain Elisha Smith,” the one published in the New Hampshire Patriot, is for my target ancestor Captain Elisha Smith that I was researching.

Searching Family History: Old School Records in the Newspaper

Introduction: Gena Philibert-Ortega is a genealogist and author of the book “From the Family Kitchen.” In this guest blog post timed with kids going back to school, Gena shows how valuable school records—in archives and in newspaper articles—can be in tracing your family history.

Once again it’s that time of the year when children’s parents rejoice: the start of a new school year! The beginning of a school year is also a good time for family history researchers to consider how much old school records can help them document their ancestors. Compulsory education has long been a fact of life in America, starting with the first attendance law passed in Massachusetts in 1853. As long as kids have been going to school records have been kept chronicling their school days.

Looking to find information about your ancestors when they were children? Or perhaps you want to find out more about your ancestors who were in the education field, either as teachers or administrators. Consider seeking out local and school histories, school and federal censuses, yearbooks and alumni lists, just to name a few resources. As with any research project, begin by searching your home for sources like attendance records, report cards, rewards of merit, yearbooks, autograph books, and photos. Next, consult the Family History Library Catalog. Conduct a search on the place your ancestor lived and then look for the subject heading “Schools” for microfilmed records that can be viewed at your local FamilySearch Center.

Once you have searched the Family History Library for historical school records, look for collections at a state archive, library or historical society. These school records most likely can be found in a manuscript collection. A look at the Colorado State Archives showed school records that document students as well as teachers. A search using the keyword “School” on the website Online Archive of California, a union catalog of California repositories, found over 6,000 hits including photos, dance cards, report cards, student publications, school district records, and parent association records, just to name a few.

Don’t limit your ancestral school research to just documents. School life is an important part of every community, and local newspapers print many different types of articles about schools, students, teachers and administrators. Searching an online archive of historical newspapers using school-themed keywords can turn up a surprising amount of information on your ancestors. The following examples of school-related news articles are all from GenealogyBank’s online collection.

This listing of Chicago-area schools provides a glimpse at all the students who graduated in 1895. Notice that the list is broken down by school and includes names of students who won awards. These school graduation lists continue even today, especially in small town newspapers.

End of School Year, Daily Inter Ocean newspaper article 29 June 1895

Daily Inter Ocean (Chicago, Illinois), 29 June 1895, page 6

School statistics can give you an idea of the school population for where your ancestor lived. Though they will not provide the names of students, these statistics give you some information about what the area was like in your ancestor’s time.

School Statistics, Jackson Citizen newspaper article 1 January 1889

Jackson Citizen (Jackson, Michigan), 1 January 1889, page 8

Individual students may have been mentioned or even photographed for a newspaper. Such newspaper clippings can provide valuable family keepsakes. Activities such as sports and student clubs are often documented in newspaper articles.

County School Boys Compete in Meet Today, Sun newspaper article 14 June 1913

Sun (Baltimore, Maryland), 14 June 1913, page 7

Did your ancestor work at a school as a teacher or administrator? Don’t forget that they too could be mentioned in an old newspaper article. The following news article provides a list of school personnel and what schools they were assigned to in Dallas.

Assignments Announced for Dallas Public Schools, Dallas Morning News newspaper article 5 August 1962

Dallas Morning News (Dallas, Texas), 5 August 1962, page 6

Was your ancestor a brainiac? One way kids made it into the paper was for their outstanding academic achievements.

School News and Honor Rolls from the Cobb County Schools, Marietta Journal newspaper article, 25 February 1921

Marietta Journal (Marietta, Georgia), 25 February 1921, page 7

Today we are used to hearing about school violence but it’s a mistake to believe that this is a new phenomenon. Consider this story of a 12-year-old boy who died from a school hazing incident back in 1900. While the successes of students are celebrated in the newspaper, there are also reports documenting tragedies.

Hazing Kills Young Student, Jackson Citizen Patriot newspaper article 7 November 1900

Jackson Citizen Patriot (Jackson, Michigan), 7 November 1900, page 3

Remember to include school records of all kinds when filling in details on your family tree, including articles from local newspapers. You’re likely to find information and stories about your ancestors you can’t find anywhere else, especially from their younger days.

 

 

 

Last Veteran of the War of 1812, Hiram Cronk—Died in 1905!

In the month of May we celebrate Memorial Day, a time to honor the men and women who died fighting our country’s wars—and, by extension, all veterans. During this week back in 1905 America was celebrating the remarkable story of a very special veteran—for on 13 May 1905, Hiram Silas Cronk died, the last surviving veteran of the War of 1812.

Hiram Cronk Featured in Duffy’s Whiskey Ads

On the day the old American solider turned 105, two weeks before his death, a whiskey company used Cronk’s longevity to help market its product. This newspaper advertisement was published by the Evening Press (Grand Rapids, Michigan), 29 April 1905, page 2:

newspaper ad for Duffy's whiskey featuring Hiram Cronk, Evening Press newspaper 29 April 1905

Evening Press (Grand Rapids, Michigan), 29 April 1905, page 2

The Death & Funeral of Hiram Cronk

The now famous Hiram Cronk died as he had lived, quietly on his farm in New York, but his death and funeral were reported in newspapers all across the United States. The city of New York lavished a state funeral on the venerable veteran, with full military honors. Tens of thousands paid their respects by filing past Hiram Cronk’s body lying in its coffin in the rotunda of New York City Hall.

Cronk’s death was seen as the passing of an era, for his lifetime embraced almost the entirety of the country’s history. He was born in 1800 during the administration of the nation’s second president John Adams; fought in the War of 1812; lived the entire length of the 19th century as the U.S. became a world power and one of the richest nations on earth; and died just nine years before the outbreak of World War I—with all its modern weaponry including tanks, airplanes and poison gas.

The Life & Family of Hiram Cronk

Until almost the very end of his life, Cronk received little publicity or fame for his U.S. military service in the War of 1812. After the war he earned his living as a shoemaker, then later bought some land in New York and became a farmer. In 1825 he married Mary Thornton; the couple had seven children and were married 60 years, Mary dying in 1885. He had 14 grandchildren and 8 great-grandchildren at the time of his death. One of his descendants, Jane, lived to over 100 years of age as well, making the two “serial centenarians.”

Cronk Finally Becomes Famous for His Good Genes

It was not until 1900, when the start of a new century coincided with his 100th year, that newspapers began to pay Hiram Cronk much attention. Typical of the notices that ran that year is this pension notice, published by the Springfield Daily Republican (Springfield, Massachusetts), 4 May 1900, page 11:

notice about Hiram Cronk being 100 years old, Springfield Daily Republican newspaper, 4 May 1900

Springfield Daily Republican (Springfield, Massachusetts), 4 May 1900, page 11

When Cronk was 101 the following article was published, emphasizing that he was the last surviving veteran of the War of 1812, and giving some interesting personal information—such as the fact that longevity ran in his family, and that he had used tobacco and strong liquor all his life!

This newspaper article was published by the Inter Ocean and reprinted by the Daily Picayune (New Orleans, Louisiana), 3 June 1901, page 4:

article about Hiram Cronk being the last survivor of the War of 1812, Daily Picayune newspaper, 3 June 1901

Daily Picayune (New Orleans, Louisiana), 3 June 1901, page 4

The news article goes on to report further on Cronk and his family’s genealogy:

“At the age of 101 years Mr. Cronk is still hale and hearty and, all things considered, remarkably active. He lives within a short distance of his birthplace. Except for his absence during the war, he has seldom left the vicinity.

“Cronk’s family is locally famous for longevity. Four brothers and a sister lived to be over 90 years old, and one to the age of 98. A family reunion was held on Hiram Cronk’s 100th birthday. It was attended by over 100 descendants and relatives.

“The veteran is a lifelong Democrat. He cast his first vote for Andrew Jackson and his last for Grover Cleveland. When asked why he has not since voted the old gentleman remarks good-naturedly: ‘When I got down to Grover I calculated it was time to quit and call it a half day.’

“From a very early age Cronk has been a habitual user of tobacco. He both chews and smokes. Recently he has threatened to break the habit. He is afraid, he says, that the use of the weed may become a habit with him. He has drunk strong liquor throughout his life, but always in moderation.

“The veteran has every attention and bids fair to live for some time yet. He makes his home with his youngest daughter, a mere chit of a girl of 80.”

Three days after Cronk turned 104 this newspaper article was published by the Boston Journal (Boston, Massachusetts), 2 May 1904, page 6:

article about Hiram Cronk turning 104, Boston Journal newspaper, 2 May 1904

Boston Journal (Boston, Massachusetts), 2 May 1904, page 6

Note that last line, a theme that reverberated when Cronk passed away the next year: “With his death will be broken a link that binds us to a glorious past.”

Publicity for Hiram Cronk—and the resulting fame—really increased in the winter of 1904-05, when the old man became seriously ill and death seemed imminent, as reported in this news article published by the Evening Press (Grand Rapids, Michigan), on the front page of its 24 December 1904 issue:

article about Hiram Cronk dying, Evening Press newspaper, 24 December 1904

Evening Press (Grand Rapids, Michigan), 24 December 1904, page 1

The article about the old soldier goes on to say:

“He had run the whole gamut of personal and business vicissitude, has found some consolation in the lean years and a greater joy in the last years, and was a cheery old optimist through all. Since last April the sluggishness has made itself felt and a natural sleep has, from day to day, taken up a greater number of the hours. Now he is sleeping his life away to the last sleep of all.”

Conk’s Funeral Is Arranged while He Is Still Living!

Alarmed at Cronk’s deteriorating condition, New York City’s Board of Aldermen took the unusual step of arranging a grand funeral for the aged veteran—even though he was still alive! This newspaper article was published by the Duluth News Tribune (Duluth, Minnesota) on the front page of its 21 December 1904 issue:

article about arranging funeral for Hiram Cronk, Duluth News Tribune newspaper, 21 December 1904

Duluth News Tribune (Duluth, Minnesota), 21 December 1904, page 1

The news article goes on to say:

“…in the state of New York and in view of his honorable part in many battles of the War of 1812, it would be fitting that the chief city of the Empire State lead in honoring him by a soldier’s burial and that his remains lie in state in the City Hall.

“Alderman McCall said that while he approved of the spirit of the resolution he thought it would be better to wait for the hero to die before providing for his funeral. The resolution finally was adopted by the following amendment:

“ ‘That in the event of the death of Mr. Cronk, the president of the Board of Alderman take cognizance of the fact and appoint a committee to provide for a public funeral and other honors of the dead hero.’”

As you might expect, this business of arranging a funeral for a man still living was much remarked upon in the nation’s press, as the following humorous notices show.

This notice was published by the Springfield Daily Republican (Springfield, Massachusetts), 6 January 1905, page 13:

“The New York Board of Aldermen are planning to give a public funeral to Hiram Cronk when he dies. He is the only survivor of the War of 1812 in New York. The news of such an honor may prove so exciting to the old man that it will kill him.”

This notice was published by the Morning Oregonian (Portland, Oregon), 23 April 1905, page 6:

“Hiram Cronk, the last survivor of the War of 1812, was 105 last Wednesday [correction: his birthday was April 29], but he refuses to die, although the New York aldermen have voted him a public funeral when he will accept. With such an inducement one would expect a rush for the tomb.”

This notice was published by the Daily Picayune (New Orleans, Louisiana), 25 April 1905, page 6:

“Some months ago the New York Board of Aldermen voted to give Hiram Cronk, the last survivor of the War of 1812, a public funeral. In spite of this inducement to die, Mr. Cronk decided to remain among us a while longer, and celebrated his 105th birthday on Wednesday last [correction: his birthday was April 29]. He won’t lose the State funeral by declining to accept it at this time; he can have it whenever it will be convenient to him.”

There was a big celebration on April 29, 1905, when Cronk turned 105, as explained in this newspaper article published by the Sunday World-Herald (Omaha, Nebraska), 30 April 1905, page 8:

article about celebrating Hiram Cronk's 105th birthday, Sunday world Herald newspaper, 30 April 1905

Sunday World-Herald (Omaha, Nebraska), 30 April 1905, page 8

The news article goes on to say:

“Hiram Cronk, the only survivor of the War of 1812, was one hundred and five years old on April 29 and a patriotic celebration took place at his home at Ava, Oneida County, New York.

“Every society in the United States of the Sons and Daughters of the War of 1812 sent a delegation to Ava, and all patriots’ military bodies and American citizens sent him greetings, gifts or tokens to show that his services for the country were and are appreciated.

“Mr. Cronk was so weak during the winter that he was not expected to survive and elaborate funeral arrangements had been made, but he recovered thanks to Duffy’s Pure Malt Whiskey. By a special act of the New York City administration his remains, when he dies, will be interred in Mount Victory, a soldiers’ plot in Cypress Hills Cemetery.”

Hiram Cronk Dies at Age 105

Exactly two weeks after his 105th birthday, Hiram Cronk died. This newspaper article was published by the Evening Press (Grand Rapids, Michigan), 13 May 1905, page 9:

article about the death of Hiram Cronk, Evening Press newspaper, 13 May 1905

Evening Press (Grand Rapids, Michigan), 13 May 1905, page 9

The news article goes on to say:

“The body of Mr. Cronk will lie in state in the City Hall of New York and will be buried in Mt. Victory, Cypress Hills Cemetery, in Brooklyn, where more than half a hundred of his fellow soldiers in the War of 1812 have been laid at rest.”

The nation mourned the death of Hiram Cronk, recognizing it truly was the passing of an era, as expressed in this newspaper article published by the Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), May 15, 1905, page 8:

article about Hiram Cronk's death being the end of an era, Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper, 15 May 1905

Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), May 15, 1905, page 8

The news article goes on to say:

“It calls to mind the brevity of our national existence. The [nineteenth] century-born Cronk was born during the Presidency of the elder Adams, when the total population was about that of Pennsylvania today, and when the cost of government was far less than the total appropriations just signed by Governor Pennypacker. He fought in the ranks against the troops of the same George III who ruled when the Revolution took place, a fact which so many intelligent people seem to have forgotten. He completed his career as a soldier before Napoleon was defeated at Waterloo and at a time when this nation was still an experiment.

“Who could have imagined that this country would develop in wealth in the lifetime of a single man until it should become the richest on earth? That the population should grow to be the greatest of all non-Oriental nations, for we must place Russia essentially among the Eastern peoples? Who could have supposed that the life of one man would span that development in human activities which covered a period almost from the birth of steam as an active agent in human affairs?

“In view of these things what may not be the possibilities of the future?”

This comment was published by the Boston Journal (Boston, Massachusetts), 15 May 1905, page 6:

“The world of sentiment and patriotic affection seems poorer through the death of Hiram Cronk, the last pensioner of the War of 1812, and undoubtedly the final survivor. The one human link that bound us of today with that struggle for the defense of our rights on the sea has gone. Now let us carefully cherish the naval relics that are left to us.”

A grand parade escorted Hiram Cronk’s body to New York City Hall on May 17 so that it could lie in state for mourners to pay their respects, as reported in this newspaper article published by the Evening Press (Grand Rapids, Michigan), 17 May 1905, page 10:

article about Hiram Cronk's body lying in state, Evening Press newspaper, 17 May 1905

Evening Press (Grand Rapids, Michigan), 17 May 1905, page 10

The news article goes on to say:

“New York, May 17.—The body of Hiram Cronk, who lived to be the last survivor of the War of 1812, was brought here today from Boonville, N.Y., and will be laid away in Cypress Hills Cemetery with full military honors. The funeral will be held tomorrow and in the meantime the body will lie in state in the City Hall. Accompanying the body were Mr. Cronk’s three surviving sons and one daughter. They were Philander Cronk, 81 years old; William, 72 years old; John, 66 years old; and the daughter, Mrs. Sarah Rowley, 71 years old.

“As the funeral cortege moved from the Grand Central Station to the City Hall it afforded an imposing and unusual spectacle. Led by a police escort of mounted officers, a detachment from the United States regular Army, the Society of 1812 and the Old Guard in uniform, came the hearse bearing the old warrior’s body. Around it, in hollow square formation, marched the members of the U.S. Grant Post, G.A.R. Then followed the Washington Continental Guard from Washington, D.C., the Army and Navy Union, and carriages with members of the Cronk family. Carriages with Mayor McClellan and members of the city government brought up the rear.”

Details of Hiram Cronk’s body lying in state, as well as his funeral the following day on May 18, were reported in this newspaper article published by the Pawtucket Times (Pawtucket, Rhode Island) on the front page of its 18 May 1905 issue:

article about Hiram Cronk's funeral, Pawtucket Times newspaper, 18 May 1905

Pawtucket Times (Pawtucket, Rhode Island), 18 May 1905, page 1

The news article goes on to say:

“New York, May 18.—The body of Hiram Cronk, the last veteran of the War of 1812 to pass away, was buried today in Cypress Hills Cemetery with impressive military honors. Nearly threescore other soldiers who fought in the war of almost a century ago had lain for many years in the cemetery where their oldest comrade was placed today.

“Since yesterday, when it was brought from Boonville, the body has been in the City Hall. All day yesterday, last evening and this forenoon there was a constant stream of men, women and children moving past the flower and bunting-covered casket in the city building—the first which had rested there since the body of Gen. Grant lay in state. One hundred and fifty policemen were required to keep the crowd moving and to keep clear the plaza in front of the building.

“From the City Hall to the cemetery the body was escorted by a detail of mounted police, the Fourteenth Regiment, and a troop from the Second Brigade, National Guard of New York; delegations from U.S. Grant Post, G.A.R., and carriages containing relatives of the dead soldier and a committee from the Board of Aldermen representing the city. All along the route over which the funeral cortege passed the streets were lined with people. At the cemetery Marcus B. Taylor, chaplain of the Veteran Corps, conducted the burial service according to the Grand Army ritual.”

With a volley of military gunfire and the playing of taps, Hiram Cronk was finally laid to rest, as reported in this newspaper article published by the Belleville News-Democrat (Belleville, Illinois), 19 May 1905, page 2:

article about Hiram Cronk's funeral, Belleville News Democrat newspaper, 19 May 1905

Belleville News-Democrat (Belleville, Illinois), 19 May 1905, page 2

The news article goes on to say:

“More than 50,000 New Yorkers, with bared heads, filed past the flower-covered bier in which the dead soldier lay in the City Hall. The expenses of the unusual, but befitting honors to him, are borne by the city.

“The catafalque rested in the rotunda of the City Hall, draped with flags and flowers, while the building was draped in black. It was the first time since the death of Gen. Grant that a body has laid in state in the City Hall.

“After the body had been lowered into the grave, at Cypress Hills Cemetery, a squad of soldiers fired a volley over the grave and a bugler sounded taps. Hiram Cronk was with the army of the dead.”

Monthly Update: GenealogyBank Just Added 24 Million More Records!

Every day, GenealogyBank is working hard to digitize more newspapers and obituaries, expanding our collection to give you the largest newspaper archives for family history research available online. We just completed adding 24 million more U.S. genealogy records, vastly increasing our content coverage from coast to coast!

Here are some of the details about our most recent U.S. newspaper additions (we actually added new content to thousands of newspaper titles, but the following is a representative sample):

  • A total of 152 newspaper titles from 42 U.S. states and the District of Columbia
  • Newspaper titles marked with an asterisk (*) are new to our online archive
  • We’ve shown the newspaper issue date ranges so that you can determine if the newly added content is relevant to your personal genealogy research

If a recent addition to our archive interests you, simply click on that newspaper’s title: it is an active link leading to that paper’s search form on GenealogyBank.

State City Title Date Range

Collection

Alabama Mobile Mobile Register 11/19/1862–12/02/1869

Historical Newspapers

Arkansas Little Rock Arkansas Gazette 11/30/1882–10/20/1899

Historical Newspapers

Arkansas Little Rock Arkansas State Press 06/25/1943–10/04/1957

Historical Newspapers

California Riverside Press and Horticulturist* 1/31/1880–8/26/1902

Historical Newspapers

California Riverside Riverside Daily Press 06/10/1886–12/30/1922

Historical Newspapers

California Riverside Riverside Independent Enterprise 03/03/1891–12/31/1922

Historical Newspapers

California San Diego Evening Tribune 12/04/1895–12/30/1922

Historical Newspapers

California San Diego San Diego Union 7/1/1898–11/26/1983

Historical Newspapers

California San Francisco San Francisco Abend Post 11/02/1871–08/14/1873

Historical Newspapers

Colorado Colorado Springs Colorado Springs Gazette 10/11/1915–10/11/1915

Historical Newspapers

Connecticut Norwich Norwich Aurora 08/11/1866–08/11/1866

Historical Newspapers

Delaware Wilmington Advance* 09/22/1900–09/22/1900

Historical Newspapers

District of Columbia Washington Washington Bee 12/26/1885–11/23/1889

Historical Newspapers

District of Columbia Washington Evening Star 3/2/1857–10/15/1880

Historical Newspapers

Florida Tampa Tampa Tribune 01/02/1895–12/29/1922

Historical Newspapers

Georgia Augusta Augusta Chronicle 08/16/1794–01/04/1860

Historical Newspapers

Georgia Marietta Marietta Journal 04/07/1892–03/02/1922

Historical Newspapers

Georgia Savannah Georgian* 06/12/1823–11/24/1830

Historical Newspapers

Idaho Idaho Falls Idaho Falls Times 6/9/1892–6/9/1892

Historical Newspapers

Illinois Chicago Broad Axe 09/21/1901–02/20/1904

Historical Newspapers

Illinois East Moline Common Bond 03/16/1978–10/12/1978

Historical Newspapers

Illinois Highland Highland Union 01/24/1873–09/09/1910

Historical Newspapers

Illinois Rockford Crusader 10/07/1955–03/03/1971

Historical Newspapers

Illinois Rockford Daily Register 01/06/1873–01/30/1891

Historical Newspapers

Illinois Rockford Daily Register-Gazette 1/31/1891–6/27/1930

Historical Newspapers

Illinois Rockford Morning Star 3/20/1888–1/1/1979

Historical Newspapers

Illinois Rockford Register Star 12/2/1979–7/27/1992

Historical Newspapers

Illinois Rockford Register-Republic 6/11/1948–9/20/1963

Historical Newspapers

Illinois Rockford Rockford Weekly Register-Gazette* 5/5/1866–5/13/1871

Historical Newspapers

Illinois Springfield Daily Illinois State Journal 1/26/1872–12/31/1922

Historical Newspapers

Illinois Springfield Daily Illinois State Register 4/25/1849–6/30/1908

Historical Newspapers

Indiana Indianapolis Freeman 02/09/1889–02/09/1889

Historical Newspapers

Indiana Indianapolis Recorder 01/27/1900–01/27/1900

Historical Newspapers

Kansas Coffeyville Vindicator 11/10/1905–11/10/1905

Historical Newspapers

Kansas Kansas City American Citizen 08/31/1900–08/31/1900

Historical Newspapers

Kansas Kansas City Kansas Elevator 03/25/1916–09/02/1916

Historical Newspapers

Kansas Lawrence For Our People* 09/08/1971–09/08/1971

Historical Newspapers

Kansas Salina Salina Enterprise 12/24/1908–01/28/1909

Historical Newspapers

Kansas Topeka Herald of Kansas 01/30/1880–01/30/1880

Historical Newspapers

Kansas Topeka Kansas State Tribune* 10/06/1881–10/06/1881

Historical Newspapers

Kansas Weir City Weir City Eagle 03/16/1900–03/16/1900

Historical Newspapers

Kansas Wichita Kansas Weekly Journal 02/05/1981–02/05/1981

Historical Newspapers

Kansas Wichita Wichita Times 08/24/1972–11/20/1975

Historical Newspapers

Kentucky Frankfort Frankfort Argus 11/16/1831–11/16/1831

Historical Newspapers

Louisiana Baton Rouge Daily Advocate 1/2/1854–10/31/1906

Historical Newspapers

Louisiana Baton Rouge Daily State 08/01/1906–07/16/1910

Historical Newspapers

Louisiana Baton Rouge State Times Advocate 1/1/1909–2/28/1967

Historical Newspapers

Louisiana Baton Rouge Weekly Advocate 12/24/1845–10/31/1903

Historical Newspapers

Louisiana New Orleans Courrier de la Louisiane 10/15/1823–01/05/1824

Historical Newspapers

Louisiana New Orleans New Orleans Tribune 04/11/1865–04/11/1865

Historical Newspapers

Louisiana New Orleans Times-Picayune 02/18/1906–02/18/1906

Historical Newspapers

Louisiana New Orleans Weekly Pelican 11/26/1887–11/26/1887

Historical Newspapers

Maryland Baltimore Afro-American 12/14/1895–12/14/1895

Historical Newspapers

Maine Hallowell Maine Cultivator and Hallowell Gazette 09/25/1841–09/03/1842

Historical Newspapers

Maryland Bel Air National American 09/05/1856–08/10/1866

Historical Newspapers

Massachusetts Boston Boston Herald 7/2/1855–10/31/1932

Historical Newspapers

Massachusetts Boston Boston Post 04/29/1861–02/14/1870

Historical Newspapers

Massachusetts Nantucket Nantucket Inquirer 11/07/1838–11/28/1840

Historical Newspapers

Massachusetts New Bedford New-Bedford Mercury 10/26/1866–04/23/1869

Historical Newspapers

Massachusetts New Bedford Whaleman’s Shipping List and Merchants’ Transcript* 05/16/1843–10/23/1849

Historical Newspapers

Massachusetts Newburyport Newburyport Herald 05/31/1836–05/31/1836

Historical Newspapers

Massachusetts Quincy Patriot Ledger* 7/2/1917–12/29/1922

Historical Newspapers

Massachusetts Springfield Springfield Republican 01/01/1911–12/31/1922

Historical Newspapers

Massachusetts Springfield Springfield Union 1/4/1864–12/18/1987

Historical Newspapers

Massachusetts Worcester Massachusetts Spy 10/21/1870–12/29/1876

Historical Newspapers

Massachusetts Worcester National Aegis 12/13/1862–12/13/1862

Historical Newspapers

Michigan Adrian Daily Telegram 2/1/1904–12/22/1913

Historical Newspapers

Michigan Bay City Bay City Times 01/02/1889–12/30/1922

Historical Newspapers

Michigan Detroit Plaindealer* 01/13/1893–05/19/1893

Historical Newspapers

Michigan Jackson Jackson Citizen Patriot 07/11/1882–03/17/1902

Historical Newspapers

Michigan Sault Ste. Marie Evening News* 6/8/1907–12/28/1921

Historical Newspapers

Missouri Kansas City Rising Son 11/18/1904–08/09/1906

Historical Newspapers

Missouri Sedalia Sedalia Times 05/09/1903–05/09/1903

Historical Newspapers

Missouri St. Louis Missouri Gazette and Public Advertiser 10/5/1808–3/27/1813

Historical Newspapers

Montana Helena Helena Weekly Herald* 12/06/1866–11/25/1869

Historical Newspapers

Nebraska Omaha Omaha World Herald 11/16/1887–12/30/1941

Historical Newspapers

New Hampshire Dover Sun 10/26/1796–9/10/1808

Historical Newspapers

New Hampshire Portsmouth New-Hampshire Gazette 4/6/1847–4/6/1847

Historical Newspapers

New Hampshire Portsmouth Portsmouth Journal of Literature and Politics 05/14/1864–05/27/1876

Historical Newspapers

New Jersey Newark New Jersey Deutsche Zeitung 04/26/1880–10/14/1889

Historical Newspapers

New Jersey Trenton Sentinel 06/17/1882–11/13/1882

Historical Newspapers

New Jersey Trenton Trenton Evening Times 01/10/1884–08/20/1891

Historical Newspapers

New York Albany Albany Argus 11/21/1872–11/29/1886

Historical Newspapers

New York Auburn Auburn Journal and Advertiser 02/14/1840–07/12/1843

Historical Newspapers

New York Auburn Cayuga Republican* 03/31/1819–01/16/1833

Historical Newspapers

New York New York Commercial Advertiser 03/04/1861–03/04/1861

Historical Newspapers

New York New York Evening Post* 01/02/1823–12/31/1823

Historical Newspapers

New York New York New York Age 08/30/1890–03/07/1891

Historical Newspapers

New York New York New York Freeman 04/24/1886–01/29/1887

Historical Newspapers

New York Schenectady Cabinet* 01/20/1824–12/26/1854

Historical Newspapers

New York Utica Columbian Gazette 1/7/1805–2/28/1815

Historical Newspapers

North Carolina Greensboro Greensboro Daily News 6/1/1906–9/30/1906

Historical Newspapers

North Carolina Greensboro Greensboro Record 1/16/1923–6/30/1930

Historical Newspapers

North Carolina Hillsborough Hillsborough Recorder* 03/10/1824–05/10/1865

Historical Newspapers

North Carolina Winston-Salem Winston-Salem Journal 08/30/1898–09/30/1921

Historical Newspapers

Ohio Canton Canton Repository* 7/3/1884–12/28/1905

Historical Newspapers

Ohio Canton Repository 1/31/1898–5/19/1925

Historical Newspapers

Ohio Cleveland Cleveland Gazette 05/09/1885–11/25/1944

Historical Newspapers

Ohio Cleveland Plain Dealer 12/28/1883–03/24/1912

Historical Newspapers

Ohio Wooster Wooster Republican 08/06/1857–08/06/1857

Historical Newspapers

Oklahoma Langston Langston City Herald 04/30/1892–04/30/1892

Historical Newspapers

Oklahoma Oklahoma City Guide 03/30/1899–09/19/1901

Historical Newspapers

Oregon Portland Oregonian 09/15/1907–09/15/1907

Historical Newspapers

Pennsylvania Harrisburg Patriot 12/08/1903–12/29/1922

Historical Newspapers

Pennsylvania Philadelphia Illustrated New Age 6/25/1864–6/25/1864

Historical Newspapers

Pennsylvania Washington Washington Reporter 08/23/1848–12/20/1876

Historical Newspapers

Pennsylvania Washington Washington Review and Examiner 06/28/1823–06/28/1823

Historical Newspapers

Rhode Island Newport Newport Mercury 08/24/1872–12/07/1872

Historical Newspapers

Rhode Island Providence Providence Evening Press 09/19/1872–12/24/1872

Historical Newspapers

South Carolina Charleston Charleston Courier 01/01/1833–11/27/1858

Historical Newspapers

Texas Austin Austin City Gazette 08/25/1841–08/25/1841

Historical Newspapers

Texas Clarksville Standard 1/8/1852–10/2/1852

Historical Newspapers

Texas Dallas Dallas Morning News 4/5/1984–9/19/1984

Historical Newspapers

Utah Salt Lake City Salt Lake Telegram 08/12/1902–11/20/1914

Historical Newspapers

Vermont St. Albans St. Albans Daily Messenger 10/25/1872–10/07/1922

Historical Newspapers

Vermont St. Albans St. Albans Messenger 08/29/1918–08/29/1918

Historical Newspapers

Vermont Windsor Vermont Republican 03/05/1821–07/23/1821

Historical Newspapers

Virginia Alexandria Alexandria Gazette 02/03/1873–12/31/1875

Historical Newspapers

Virginia Norfolk Norfolk Gazette and Publick Ledger 11/09/1808–06/09/1813

Historical Newspapers

Virginia Richmond Enquirer 12/09/1873–08/22/1876

Historical Newspapers

Virginia Richmond Richmond Times Dispatch 1/27/1903–2/28/1943

Historical Newspapers

Virginia Richmond Richmond Whig 11/13/1840–09/05/1856

Historical Newspapers

Alaska Nome Nome Nugget, The* 01/06/2011–Current

Newspaper Obituaries

Arkansas Farmington Washington County Enterprise-Leader* 02/15/2012–Current

Newspaper Obituaries

Arkansas Gravette Westside Eagle Observer* 02/15/2012–Current

Newspaper Obituaries

Arkansas Pea Ridge Times of Northeast Benton County, The* 02/15/2012–Current

Newspaper Obituaries

California Cupertino La Voz Weekly: De Anza College* 05/15/2000–Current

Newspaper Obituaries

Florida Lakeland Ledger, The: Blogs* 07/17/2007–Current

Newspaper Obituaries

Georgia Woodstock Cherokee Ledger-News, The* 08/18/2010–Current

Newspaper Obituaries

Massachusetts Jamaica Plain Mission Hill Gazette* 01/16/2009–Current

Newspaper Obituaries

Michigan Detroit Detroit News, The: Web Edition Articles* 11/17/2011–Current

Newspaper Obituaries

Mississippi Oxford Oxford Eagle, The* 02/09/2012–Current

Newspaper Obituaries

Missouri Noel, Lanagan McDonald County Press, The* 11/12/2009–Current

Newspaper Obituaries

National National Christian Science Monitor, The* 05/07/1987–Current

Newspaper Obituaries

North Carolina Mount Olive Mount Olive Tribune* 10/06/2011–Current

Newspaper Obituaries

North Dakota Beulah Beulah Beacon* 01/06/2011–Current

Newspaper Obituaries

North Dakota Center Center Republican* 01/27/2011–Current

Newspaper Obituaries

North Dakota Garrison McLean County Independent* 01/06/2011–Current

Newspaper Obituaries

North Dakota Hazen Hazen Star* 01/06/2011–Current

Newspaper Obituaries

North Dakota McClusky McClusky Gazette* 01/06/2011–Current

Newspaper Obituaries

North Dakota New Town New Town News* 01/07/2011–Current

Newspaper Obituaries

North Dakota Parshall Mountrail County Record* 01/07/2011–Current

Newspaper Obituaries

North Dakota Turtle Lake McLean County Journal* 01/06/2011–Current

Newspaper Obituaries

North Dakota Underwood Underwood News* 01/06/2011–Current

Newspaper Obituaries

North Dakota Velva Velva Area Voice* 01/20/2011–Current

Newspaper Obituaries

North Dakota Washburn Leader-News, The* 01/06/2011–Current

Newspaper Obituaries

Ohio Bluffton Bluffton News* 12/30/2010–Current

Newspaper Obituaries

Ohio North Baltimore North Baltimore News* 08/25/2011–Current

Newspaper Obituaries

Tennessee Chattanooga Chattanooga Times Free Press* 04/01/2011–Current

Newspaper Obituaries

Texas Irving Irving Rambler, The* 07/02/2011–Current

Newspaper Obituaries

Wisconsin Brookfield Brookfield-Elm Grove NOW: Blogs* 01/14/2010–Current

Newspaper Obituaries

Wisconsin Hartland Living Lake Country: Blogs* 01/10/2011–Current

Newspaper Obituaries

Henry ‘Hank’ Aaron: Baseball Superstar, Humanitarian—& Gentleman

As regular readers of this blog know, GenealogyBank’s historical newspaper archives are a great resource to research your family history and fill in details on your family tree. These newspapers are also a terrific window into the past, letting us learn more about important people and events in our nation’s history.

For example, let’s see what these old newspapers have to tell us about one of the outstanding athletes in American history: Henry “Hammerin’ Hank” Aaron, the superstar who played baseball in Milwaukee and Atlanta for 23 seasons, from 1954 to 1976. Aaron is famous as the baseball player who broke Babe Ruth’s all-time home run record of 714—and, as expected, there is plenty of newspaper coverage of his historic home run and other baseball exploits.

The newspapers also tell us much more about his life than this: in addition to being a rare and gifted American athlete, Henry ‘Hank’ Aaron was a humanitarian—and a true gentleman.

The sports media and baseball fans were whipped into a frenzy as Hank Aaron approached Babe Ruth’s magical number in the 1973 Major League baseball season. Although 39 years old that summer (an age when most baseball players have retired) Hank Aaron was on target, hitting 40 home runs…but ended the year with 713 home runs, still short of the goal of 715. He had to wait all winter for another opportunity to break baseball’s home run record the next spring.

When the 1974 season began, Aaron wasted no time. He hit the record-tying 714th home run on his first at-bat that year, in Cincinnati. On April 8 the Atlanta Braves returned to Atlanta for their home opener, and 53,775 wildly cheering fans attended the game hoping Aaron would get the record that night. Hammerin’ Hank did not let the crowd down, hitting home run number 715 in the fourth inning. He received a thunderous standing ovation from the Braves’ baseball fans while fireworks lit up the sky above the stadium.

Hank Aaron hammers historic 715 homerun

Augusta Chronicle (Augusta, Georgia), 9 April 1974, page 1.

In addition to details of the baseball game itself and Aaron’s record 715th home run, the newspaper article provides this detail:

Aaron broke away from his mates and rushed to a special box adjacent to the Atlanta dugout where he clutched his wife, Billye, and parents, Mr. and Mrs. Herbert Aaron, of Mobile, Ala.

“I never knew she could hug so tight,” Aaron said of his mother.

The following newspaper article tells us something about the character of Hank Aaron. Although he was one of the greatest American baseball players ever, he kept his ego in check; Aaron was widely recognized as a good teammate and a quiet, respectful man—a true gentleman.

Hank Aaron kept his word on the 715th homerun

Wichita Times (Wichita, Kansas), 2 May 1974, page 5, (African American Newspapers).

As this newspaper article relates, Hank Aaron was sensitive to the disruption his teammates had to endure while the press thronged around him night after night in 1973-74 covering his chase of the home run record. When it was finally over and the champagne celebration in the Atlanta locker room after the game was ready, Aaron thought immediately of his teammates:

The Braves had opened the champagne and were ready to pour, but Hank Aaron had something he wanted to say first to all his teammates.

“Thank you for being patient,” he said, his sincerity moving them. “Thank you for putting up with all that you have—the newspapermen, the photographers and all the other distractions. I know how difficult it was sometimes, and I appreciate the patience you’ve shown.”

Hank Aaron doesn’t make many speeches. Everybody in the room knew he meant this one.

Away from the spotlight and the glare of media publicity, Aaron had another career: he was a great humanitarian. He devoted countless hours to helping others, especially children, as shown in the following newspaper article.

Hank Aaron Goes to Bat for Easter Seals

Milwaukee Star (Milwaukee, Wisconsin), 9 August 1973, page 8, (African American Newspapers).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Newspaper archives provide all sorts of surprising stories about the life of the person we’re researching. How many people know that Henry Aaron was once a mayor?

All Black Alabama Town Makes Hank Aaron Mayor

Wichita Times (Wichita, Kansas), 13 March 1975, page 1, (African American Newspapers).

Hank Aaron was born in Alabama, and in 1975 he was:

…sworn in as honorary mayor of Hobson City during ceremonies in which 75-year-old northeast Alabama all-black town dedicates new Town Hall.

There was a dark side to Hank Aaron’s pursuit of Babe Ruth’s home run record—and the newspapers covered that as well: racism raised its ugly head. Throughout the 1973 Major League baseball season, during the offseason, and again in 1974, Aaron received hate letters mixed in with the supportive letters that were pouring into the Atlanta Braves’ mailbox. Some even sent him death threats.

What pursuit of baseball homerun record has meant for Hank Aaron: People listen

Augusta Chronicle (Augusta, Georgia), 9 April 1974, page 11.

In the above very revealing newspaper article, Hank Aaron opens up about the threats he’d been facing:

Aaron’s hero off the field is Dr. Martin Luther King. “He could walk with kings and talk with presidents,” said Aaron. “He wasn’t for lootings and bombings and fights but he wasn’t afraid of violence, either. He was 20 years ahead of his times.”

King’s death by assassination cannot, of course, be forgotten by Aaron. Sometimes Aaron wonders about that, too. He says that among the hundreds of letters he receives weekly, many are threats on his life.

“But I can’t think about that,” he says. “If I’m a target, then I’m a target. I can only worry about doing my job, and doing it good.”

This same newspaper article says of Aaron:

He has recently become identified with black causes. For example, he is now a close personal friend of the Rev. Jesse Jackson, a leading young black spokesman. Aaron, in winter, now is the organizer of a celebrity bowling tournament in Atlanta with proceeds going to research on sickle cell anemia, a disease that afflicts black people.

And this:

Aaron is also outspoken on the progress, or lack of it, for blacks in baseball. He says that blacks are stagnating. “Whatever so-called progress there is—like blacks staying in the same hotels with the white players—this came about from civil rights legislation, not from any leveling action by baseball,” says Aaron.

“Why aren’t there even no black managers? Why aren’t there even no black third base coaches? There are token first base coaches—a few. But what does a first base coach do? He has no duties. No responsibilities. Nothing. Absolutely nothing. He’s not expected to have any intelligence.”

Aaron still feels some of the clichés of being black. He remembers that once blacks were considered “too gutless” to be able to take the pressures of day-in, day-out major league baseball.

“Jackie Robinson changed a lot of those beliefs,” says Aaron. “His courage and intelligence showed what the black man could be made of.

Hank Aaron’s stance on black rights is explored further in the following newspaper article.

Hank Aaron: Baseball Still Not Doing Enough To Give Equal Opportunities To Minorities

USA Monitor (Fort Worth, Texas), 1 March 1993, page 17, (African American Newspapers).

As you can see, newspaper archives are filled with stories you may never have heard before. You can discover little known facts, view pictures and learn more about the personal lives of famous people and your family members with newspapers.  Have fun searching our newspaper archives for details about celebrities and your own ancestors—you never know what you might find!

 

31 Million Records Added to Our Archives in February!

Every day, GenealogyBank is working hard to digitize more newspapers and obituaries, expanding our online collections to give you the largest newspaper archives for family history research available anywhere. In fact, we’ve already added 31 million new genealogy records to our historical newspaper archives and obituary archives this February 2012 and we’re just getting started!

Here are some details about our most recent newspaper content additions (we actually added new content to thousands of newspaper titles, but the following is a representative sample):

  • A total of 120 newspaper titles from 30 U.S. states plus the District of Columbia
  • Newspaper titles marked with an asterisk (*) are obituaries only and are new to our obituary archives
  • Newspaper titles marked with a plus sign (+) are historical newspapers new to our historical newspaper archives
  • We’ve shown the newspaper date ranges so that you can determine if the new content is relevant to your genealogy research

If a recent newspaper addition to our online archives interests you, simply click on that newspaper’s title: it is an active link leading to that paper’s search form.

State City Newspaper Title Start Date End Date
AK Bethel Delta Discovery* 2011 Current
AL Mobile Mobile Register 1858 1869
AR Jonesboro Jonesboro Daily News 1909 1909
AR Little Rock Arkansas Democrat-Gazette* 2011 Current
AR Little Rock Arkansas Gazette 1819 1908
AR Sil. Springs Siloam Sp. Herald-Leader* 2011 Current
AR Jonesboro Jonesboro Evening Sun 1906 1922
AR Jonesboro Jo. Weekly Times-Enterprise 1906 1906
AR Jonesboro Jonesboro Weekly Sun 1922 1922
CA San Diego San Diego Union 1912 1965
CA San Diego Evening Tribune 1900 1932
CA Riverside Riverside Daily Press 1939 1949
CA El Centro Imperial Valley Press* 2001 Current
CO Denver Den. Rocky Mountain News 1880 1922
CO Denver Denver Post 1906 1906
CO Denver Rocky Mountain News 1859 1862
CT Hartford Connecticut Courant 1842 1843
CT Hartford Times 1836 1837
CT Hartford American Mercury 1830 1833
CT Norwich Norwich Aurora 1858 1873
CT New Haven Columbian Register 1831 1851
CT Litchfield Litchfield Republican 1848 1855
DC Washington United States Telegraph 1827 1829
DE Wilmington Delaware Gazette 1787 1787
FL Tampa Tampa Tribune 1929 1931
FL Pensacola Pensacola Gazette+ 1843 1848
GA Marietta Marietta Journal 1979 1985
GA Augusta Daily Constitutionalist+ 1840 1861
GA Milledgeville Georgia Journal 1822 1832
GA Savannah Daily Georgian 1826 1832
GA Augusta Augusta Chronicle 1792 1922
IA Forest City Britt News Tribune* 2003 Current
ID Idaho Falls Idaho Register 1892 1892
ID Twin Falls Twin Falls News 1920 1920
IL Rockford Register-Republic 1957 1957
IL Rockford Register Star 2007 2007
IL Shorewood Shorewood Sentinel* 2011 Current
IL Springfield Illinois State Register+ 1840 1844
IL Niles Bugle* 2011 Current
KY Maysville Ledger Independent* 2002 Current
LA New Orleans Courrier de la Louisiane 1823 1824
LA New Orleans Times-Picayune 1901 1914
LA Baton Rouge Advocate 1945 1985
LA Baton Rouge Daily Advocate 1869 1883
LA Baton Rouge State Times Advocate 1922 1922
MA Boston Weekly Messenger 1831 1831
MA Northampton Hampshire Gazette 1826 1840
MA Worcester National Aegis 1822 1876
MA Boston Repertory 1821 1821
MA Newburyport Newburyport Herald 1834 1837
MA Boston Boston Commercial Gazette 1835 1840
MA Worcester Massachusetts Spy 1821 1869
MA W. Springfield American Intelligencer 1796 1796
MA Springfield Hampden Whig 1830 1837
MA Springfield Springfield Union 1913 1915
MA Boston Sat. Morning Transcript+ 1835 1838
MA Nantucket Nantucket Inquirer 1826 1841
MA Boston Boston Herald 1893 1907
MA New Bedford New-Bedford Mercury 1857 1869
MA Salem Salem Register 1841 1856
MA Boston Boston Courier 1845 1845
MI Kalamazoo Kalamazoo Gazette 1876 1876
MI Petoskey Petoskey News-Review* 2001 Current
MI Charlevoix Charlevoix Courier* 2009 Current
MI Jackson Jackson Citizen 1897 1897
MN Winona Winona Daily News* 2001 Current
NC Cary Cary News* 2011 Current
NC Wins.-Salem Winston-Salem Journal 1917 1928
NC Smithfield Smithfield Herald* 2011 Current
NC Zebulon Eastern Wake News* 2011 Current
NC Fayetteville Carolina Observer+ 1824 1830
NE Omaha Omaha World Herald 1957 1983
NE Beatrice Beatrice Daily Sun* 2002 Current
NH Portsmouth P. Jrnl. of Lit. and Politics 1860 1872
NH Concord New-Hampshire Patriot 1861 1861
NJ Trenton True American 1801 1812
NJ Morristown Genius of Liberty 1798 1805
NJ Trenton Trenton Evening Times 1916 1916
NY Cazenovia Pilot 1818 1822
NY New York Spectator 1842 1851
NY Sara. Springs Saratoga Sentinel 1826 1837
NY New York New York Herald-Tribune 1887 1887
NY New York New-York Gazette 1803 1803
NY New York Commercial Advertiser 1821 1876
NY Auburn Aub. Journal and Advertiser+ 1837 1846
NY New York Weekly Visitor 1822 1823
NY Syracuse Post-Standard: Blogs* 2011 Current
NY New York New York Herald 1876 1876
NY Albany Albany Argus 1823 1869
OH Chillicothe Supporter & Scioto Gazette+ 1821 1827
OH Cleveland Plain Dealer 1847 1922
OH Canton Repository 1939 1939
OR Portland Oregonian 1904 1904
PA Somerset Daily American* 2011 Current
PA Philadelphia Philadelphia Inquirer 1830 1859
PA Washington Washington Reporter 1821 1869
PA Philadelphia National Gazette 1827 1835
PA Harrisburg Patriot 1866 1912
PA Pittsburgh Tree of Liberty 1801 1802
PA Harrisburg Harrisburg Republican 1816 1818
SC Charleston Charleston Courier 1822 1872
SC Charleston South-Carolina State-Gazette 1801 1801
SC Charleston Charleston Mercury 1860 1868
TX Dallas Dallas Morning News 1983 1984
TX Marble Falls River Cities Daily Tribune* 2010 Current
TX Lexington Lexington Leader* 2009 Current
TX Texarkana Texarkana Gazette* 2011 Current
VA Richmond Virginia Patriot 1814 1814
VA Richmond Richmond Times Dispatch 1929 1930
VA Richmond Richmond Enquirer 1867 1870
VA Norfolk N. Gazette & Publick Ledger 1804 1816
VA Alexandria Alexandria Gazette 1823 1870
VA Richmond Richmond Whig 1833 1874
VT St. Albans St. Albans Daily Messenger 1861 1872
VT St. Albans St. Albans Transcript+ 1873 1873
VT St. Albans St. Albans Messenger 1850 1921
VT Windsor Vermont Journal 1862 1862
VT Windsor Vermont Republican 1821 1828
VT Brattleboro Vermont Phoenix 1866 1866
WI Chip. Falls Chippewa Herald* 1999 Current

You can also view our complete title list of U.S. newspapers by state.

Millions of New Newspaper Records Added in January

GenealogyBank adds new content daily to its U.S. newspaper archives, an expansive online collection of 5,850 newspapers and more than one billion articles and records—and growing!

January 2012 was one of our best months ever: GenealogyBank added 31 million digitized records with newspapers from 31 states to our archives for you to search online. Here is a listing of all of January’s newspaper content additions.

State City Title Coverage  
Alabama Mobile Mobile Register 07/01/1858–10/31/1869
Alaska Bethel Delta Discovery, The* 07/15/2011–Current Obituaries Only
Arkansas Jonesboro Jonesboro Daily News 01/07/1909–04/08/1909
Arkansas Jonesboro Jonesboro Evening Sun 12/08/1906–12/23/1922
Arkansas Jonesboro Jonesboro Weekly Sun 05/31/1922–05/31/1922
Arkansas Jonesboro Jonesboro Weekly Times-Enterprise 05/10/1906–05/10/1906
Arkansas Little Rock Arkansas Democrat-Gazette* 10/30/2011–Current Obituaries Only
Arkansas Little Rock Arkansas Gazette 11/20/1819–11/01/1908
Arkansas Siloam Springs Siloam Springs Herald-Leader, The* 11/16/2011–Current Obituaries Only
California El Centro Imperial Valley Press* 01/02/2001–Current Obituaries Only
California Riverside Riverside Daily Press 7/1/1939–2/8/1949
California San Diego Evening Tribune 1/1/1900–10/24/1932
California San Diego San Diego Union 4/3/1912–6/30/1965
Colorado Denver Denver Post 3/8/1906–3/8/1906
Colorado Denver Denver Rocky Mountain News 10/2/1880–12/25/1922
Colorado Denver Rocky Mountain News 4/23/1859–4/19/1862
Connecticut Hartford American Mercury 01/19/1830–06/25/1833
Connecticut Hartford Connecticut Courant 02/19/1842–12/23/1843
Connecticut Hartford Times 2/27/1836–8/5/1837
Connecticut Litchfield Litchfield Republican 05/04/1848–09/28/1855
Connecticut New Haven Columbian Register 01/08/1831–09/13/1851
Connecticut Norwich Norwich Aurora 01/02/1858–12/24/1873
Delaware Wilmington Delaware Gazette 04/11/1787–10/31/1787
District of Columbia Washington United States Telegraph 05/21/1827–07/07/1829
Florida Pensacola Pensacola Gazette* 01/14/1843–03/25/1848
Florida Tampa Tampa Tribune 3/17/1929–10/7/1931
Georgia Augusta Augusta Chronicle 01/21/1792–12/31/1922
Georgia Augusta Daily Constitutionalist* 05/14/1840–04/09/1861
Georgia Marietta Marietta Journal 10/14/1979–9/9/1985
Georgia Milledgeville Georgia Journal 07/02/1822–03/08/1832
Georgia Savannah Daily Georgian 09/16/1826–07/19/1832
Idaho Idaho Falls Idaho Register 08/05/1892–08/05/1892
Idaho Twin Falls Twin Falls News 09/17/1920–09/17/1920
Illinois Niles Bugle, The* 08/18/2011–Current Obituaries Only
Illinois Rockford Register Star 3/31/2007–5/30/2007
Illinois Rockford Register-Republic 6/21/1957–6/21/1957
Illinois Shorewood Shorewood Sentinel, The* 06/13/2011–Current Obituaries Only
Illinois Springfield Illinois State Register* 11/13/1840–12/27/1844
Iowa Forest City Britt News Tribune* 03/20/2003–Current Obituaries Only
Kentucky Maysville Ledger Independent, The* 07/11/2002–Current Obituaries Only
Louisiana Baton Rouge Advocate 6/29/1945–12/31/1985
Louisiana Baton Rouge Daily Advocate 9/8/1869–3/27/1883
Louisiana Baton Rouge State Times Advocate 1/7/1922–8/25/1922
Louisiana New Orleans Courrier de la Louisiane 01/06/1823–01/14/1824
Louisiana New Orleans Times-Picayune 04/26/1901–05/21/1914
Massachusetts Boston Boston Commercial Gazette 04/16/1835–01/23/1840
Massachusetts Boston Boston Courier 1/2/1845–7/17/1845
Massachusetts Boston Boston Herald 7/4/1893–12/6/1907
Massachusetts Boston Repertory 1/11/1821–3/27/1821
Massachusetts Boston Saturday Morning Transcript* 02/07/1835–12/29/1838
Massachusetts Boston Weekly Messenger 03/03/1831–03/03/1831
Massachusetts Nantucket Nantucket Inquirer 04/22/1826–12/04/1841
Massachusetts New Bedford New-Bedford Mercury 01/02/1857–12/31/1869
Massachusetts Newburyport Newburyport Herald 02/07/1834–01/03/1837
Massachusetts Northampton Hampshire Gazette 01/04/1826–09/02/1840
Massachusetts Salem Salem Register 11/18/1841–8/4/1856
Massachusetts Springfield Hampden Whig 02/24/1830–09/27/1837
Massachusetts Springfield Springfield Union 1/1/1913–3/31/1915
Massachusetts West Springfield American Intelligencer 08/09/1796–08/09/1796
Massachusetts Worcester Massachusetts Spy 03/14/1821–12/31/1869
Massachusetts Worcester National Aegis 10/23/1822–12/23/1876
Michigan Charlevoix Charlevoix Courier* 01/02/2009–Current Obituaries Only
Michigan Jackson Jackson Citizen 01/08/1897–04/23/1897
Michigan Kalamazoo Kalamazoo Gazette 07/21/1876–07/21/1876
Michigan Petoskey Petoskey News-Review* 04/16/2001–Current Obituaries Only
Minnesota Winona Winona Daily News* 05/15/2001–Current Obituaries Only
Nebraska Beatrice Beatrice Daily Sun* 06/10/2002–Current Obituaries Only
Nebraska Omaha Omaha World Herald 12/15/1957–12/25/1983
New Hampshire Concord New-Hampshire Patriot 2/20/1861–2/20/1861
New Hampshire Portsmouth Portsmouth Journal of Literature and Politics 01/07/1860–09/28/1872
New Jersey Morristown Genius of Liberty 10/25/1798–04/11/1805
New Jersey Trenton Trenton Evening Times 03/14/1916–06/29/1916
New Jersey Trenton True American 12/29/1801–12/14/1812
New York Albany Albany Argus 01/03/1823–04/30/1869
New York Auburn Auburn Journal and Advertiser* 05/31/1837–12/30/1846
New York Cazenovia Pilot 05/13/1818–11/28/1822
New York New York Commercial Advertiser 04/04/1821–11/21/1876
New York New York New York Herald 4/14/1876–4/14/1876
New York New York New York Herald-Tribune 12/24/1887–12/24/1887
New York New York New-York Gazette 03/03/1803–03/04/1803
New York New York Spectator 04/30/1842–08/18/1851
New York New York Weekly Visitor 11/03/1822–04/26/1823
New York Saratoga Springs Saratoga Sentinel 5/9/1826–3/14/1837
New York Syracuse Post-Standard, The: Blogs* 02/18/2011–Current Obituaries Only
North Carolina Cary Cary News, The* 02/13/2011–Current Obituaries Only
North Carolina Fayetteville Carolina Observer* 12/09/1824–11/04/1830
North Carolina Smithfield Smithfield Herald, The* 01/19/2011–Current Obituaries Only
North Carolina Winston-Salem Winston-Salem Journal 5/30/1917–4/28/1928
North Carolina Zebulon Eastern Wake News* 01/19/2011–Current Obituaries Only
Ohio Canton Repository 9/1/1939–9/22/1939
Ohio Chillicothe Supporter and Scioto Gazette* 02/21/1821–02/08/1827
Ohio Cleveland Plain Dealer 07/23/1847–11/05/1922
Oregon Portland Oregonian 08/04/1904–08/04/1904
Pennsylvania Harrisburg Harrisburg Republican 12/17/1816–07/17/1818
Pennsylvania Harrisburg Patriot 01/01/1866–12/19/1912
Pennsylvania Philadelphia National Gazette 9/20/1827–6/9/1835
Pennsylvania Philadelphia Philadelphia Inquirer 02/04/1830–05/28/1859
Pennsylvania Pittsburgh Tree of Liberty 02/22/1801–10/16/1802
Pennsylvania Somerset Daily American, The* 01/12/2011–Current Obituaries Only
Pennsylvania Washington Washington Reporter 01/01/1821–06/16/1869
South Carolina Charleston Charleston Courier 07/08/1822–04/25/1872
South Carolina Charleston Charleston Mercury 04/18/1860–07/11/1868
South Carolina Charleston South-Carolina State-Gazette 9/24/1801–9/24/1801
Texas Dallas Dallas Morning News 11/16/1983–4/20/1984
Texas Lexington Lexington Leader* 04/09/2009–Current Obituaries Only
Texas Marble Falls River Cities Daily Tribune, The* 02/25/2010–Current Obituaries Only
Texas Texarkana Texarkana Gazette* 10/28/2011–Current Obituaries Only
Vermont Brattleboro Vermont Phoenix 2/23/1866–12/14/1866
Vermont St. Albans St. Albans Daily Messenger 04/24/1861–10/23/1872
Vermont St. Albans St. Albans Messenger 10/10/1850–09/29/1921
Vermont St. Albans St. Albans Transcript* 04/05/1873–04/05/1873
Vermont Windsor Vermont Journal 02/15/1862–02/15/1862
Vermont Windsor Vermont Republican 01/01/1821–05/10/1828
Virginia Alexandria Alexandria Gazette 01/02/1823–03/31/1870
Virginia Norfolk Norfolk Gazette and Publick Ledger 07/17/1804–09/17/1816
Virginia Richmond Richmond Enquirer 07/29/1867–04/28/1870
Virginia Richmond Richmond Times Dispatch 9/15/1929–3/3/1930
Virginia Richmond Richmond Whig 02/16/1833–12/29/1874
Virginia Richmond Virginia Patriot 04/27/1814–04/27/1814
Wisconsin Chippewa Falls Chippewa Herald, The* 01/30/1999–Current Obituaries Only