Weekly Blogging Post #19

Amy Coffin’s 52-week blog suggestions for Week 19: Describe your favorite records repository. Why is it your favorite? What types of records does it contain? Do you have any advice for first-time visitors?

My favorite place to search for records is probably a little stretch of the word ‘records’ – I love to search old newspaper archives. What you find there isn’t the dry birth, marriage, death place/date information (which is not only important but the skeleton on which you hang everything), but when you find newspaper stories, they contain details of your ancestors’ lives.

When I first started helping my daughter in her research, she frequently sat me at a microfiche carrel and had me scanning newspaper archival pages. Because I’m a reader who reads for the joy of the written word wherever I find them, this was not a problem. Those small town newspapers recorded some of the most interesting little stories. I remember one of the first ones I found was in a small note in a 1906 Capitol Hill (Oklahoma) newspaper. It was about my Aunt Bernita and said, “The little daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Lineberry got separated from her friends in Oklahoma City on Wednesday and for a little time was pretty badly frightened. She was finally taken care of until her anxious friends regained possession of her and it is safe to say she was glad to get home again.” What an adorable note about a four-year-old.

Another fun one was from the Oilton Gusher in 1921 where my then 11-year-old Uncle Joe was listed under the name of ‘Toodles’ Lineberry as an invited birthday guest of a young lady. Since I’d never heard the name ‘Toodles’ before, I asked my mother, “Who was Toodles Lineberry?” and she matter-of-factly said, “Why Joe, of course.”

After the death of their mother in January 1922, the same Oilton newspaper dated February 16, 1922, confirmed what we knew about all the children going to live in Virginia: “Will, George, Leonard, John, Toodles and Virginia Lineberry left last Munday(sic) for parts in Virginia, where they will make their home with their grandparents.” Though the details weren’t totally correct, once again we have the name listed for Joe as Toodles even in so serious an article as the departure of children following the death of their mother. [The not-quite-accurate details were that Will, who was over 20, was not going to live in Virginia but merely was taking his younger siblings – who ranged in age from 15 to 7 – to Virginia. Additionally, though it may have been assumed by the people in Oilton that the children would live with their grandparents, they were, in fact, farmed out to various Aunts and Uncles, sometimes on a rotational basis.]

On a trip to Missouri, we found a 1902 newspaper wedding announcement my grandmother placed in the Webb City newspaper before she moved from Carterville, Missouri to Hobart, Oklahoma to marry my grandfather.

Eva'a newspaper marriage announcement

Again, not all the details were accurate – the name of her intended husband was Jacob and not John – but we learned Eva had worked nights for the telephone company, that she apparently had a number of friends and Jacob also had friends and was respected in his community, as well as the fact that Jacob had preceded Eva to Hobart and had prepared a home for her.

We also found front page notices of the death of my great grandfather in 1911 Joplin. Because he had been president of the local Retail Merchant’s Association, his death was followed in the newspaper for several days and included details of his death, impact on the community and information about his funeral service.

1911 Joseph Keithley funeral to be held 02

Newspapers may be found at state historical societies, genealogical associations, libraries and at newspaper facilities. Many local genealogical associations are working to index old newspaper files, so be sure to ask if the newspaper of interest to you has been indexed. That can save you hours of searching through microfiches or old fragile pieces of newspaper print to perhaps find nothing.  On the other hand, scanning the newspapers during the time period your family lived in a community may net unexpected results – stories in the news may flesh out stories you’d heard from family members. Additionally, libraries are beginning to be able to add searchable newspaper archives as a service to their patrons; our Oklahoma City newspaper is searchable back to 1901 (don’t forget Oklahoma is a very young state) both in the library and on their Internet website.  My daughter had noted in the 1910 census that my grandfather, Jacob, was listed as a dairyman; while searching the online archives via the library website, in the September 22, 1911 issue I found an ad for his dairy – definite confirmation that even included the name of his dairy and his occupation as proprietor.

lineberry ad

Although it can be time consuming to scan old newspapers, oftentimes the rewards are worth it!

One Response

  1. When I saw the suggestion for this prompt I couldn’t think of anything specific. I do remember the great excitement that we had looking through some of those first newspapers at the Oklahoma Historical Society Library as we started this genealogy journey. The newspapers have really provided great details for us, adding personality to some we never got to know.

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