Friday, October 24, 2014

Using Newspapers for Family History

Your family history does not have to be a list of names, dates, and places.  Your ancestor's life may not have been signifigent enough to make the headlines, but sometimes even the local farmer can be found on pages of his hometown paper.  There are several newspaper archives that have a variety of hometown papers online.  I subscribe to three of them.  In addition, there are a few websites  available that offer a free look at old newspapers.  I try to check them all.  Keep in mind that not all newspapers from all eras are available.  It is hit or miss.  You are more likely to find newspapers from larger cities in these archives, but unless your ancestor was notable, the chance that your ancestor appears on the pages are less.  For smaller towns, if you don't find a newspaper online, then I suggest writing to the local library.  They may have microfilms of the newspapers published in their area.  You will have to tell them what you are looking for, including the date and subject (obituary, marriage notice).  Don't forget foreign newspapers that were published in your ancestor's town.  Here is a clipping from a Chicago Swedish newspaper that gives a biography of the deceased including her birthplace in Sweden.

Here is a clipping from an Atlanta paper.

Here is a newsy article from a small town paper in Goshen, Indiana.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

1839 Letter from Sally Harger to her children

Here is a letter describing  a journey from the east part of New York State to the west part of the state by an aging mother.   Her son had just died and she had been visiting the family in Sand Lake, New York.  Mention is made of the benefits of liverwart syrup for her cough.  On a page of the same letter there was a note written by her daughter, Carolyn, who also lived in western New York State.  Carolyn encourages her sister Charity and family to join family members in the west, but also noting that they are considering going "to the Michigan". 
Outside:  Mr. William Brogue   Nassau   Hoags Corner   Rensselaer Co. NY
 Clarkson   Feb  the 17th 1839
Dear Children  with pleasure I take my pen in hand to write a few lines to you in answer to your kind letter which found us all enjoying as good health as usual and was rejoiced to hear that you all enjoy as comfortable health as you do  but we found by reading your letter that you had not received the letter that we directed to you which we wrote all the particulars about the children and to know your mind about coming out here to live so that we could make caculations for you   we often searched the post office for a letter but found none until now on the 13 of Feb   we was very much disappointed to think you never received that letter so that we could be a making calclitions for you if you concluded to come   we think it would be a better place here for your business than it is there according as we can find out  if you conclude to come we want you to fetch the children  we calculate to have Mary Jane and Cyrenius to live with us  and if you do not conclude to come we shall have to contrive some way to get Cyrenius out here but not without some particular friend to come with him   I shall not write the particulars about our place for we wrote the particulars in our others letters    we are very much pleased with it  we calculate to move on the first of April  we wrot in our other letter concerning a cabinet shop that is about three miles from where we bought and we think it would be a good place to set up the chair business near ther if you want to work at that business   I will write a little something about the weather  we have had a great snow storm here with a heavy wind but has not done any damage as we can hear of  the snow fell about two foot deep and has been very cold     we have heard that you have had a great freshot(freezeout?)  down their by the way of news papers and has done a great deal of damage   I do not know as I have any knews to write I must soon draw my letter to a close requesting you to write as soon as you receive this and let us know wether you come or not      James I have not wrote in particular to you to come but I want you to come with William   I will now close my letter and sign myself your affectionate Mother until death   Sally Harger  Ephraim Harger           [ Charity and Wm Brogue]      
A few lines to Sally  I have thought a great deal about you and your little children   Charity wrote that your children had sick turns this winter but had got better  I feell a great deal better about your living with your parents which I make no doubt will assist…(hole in paper)…in taking care of your little ones   Sally I feel ……(hole in paper)….assist you if you should kneed assistance   I expect …(hole in paper)….. would be more agreeable to live with your parents than any other way   I hope you will bare up under your afflictions with fortitude for he that is able to afflict is able to sooth every sorrow    I often apply to the sayings of Jobe  the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away and blessed be the name of the Lord    but let us put our trust in him who is able to support us in the trying hour of death  but I hope our afflictions in this world will work for our good   we may calculate many ways but God will cut us short if they are not the ways of him.  After I left you I had a very fatiguing journey home  I was on the road two weeks before I reached home  I had to ride one hundred miles in the stage which was very fatigueing on the account I had to ride night and day and the road was very rough  my fatiegue and trouble with the disappointment in not reaching their soon enough wore upon me and made me quite feeble for some weeks    but I commensed taking my syrup the bottle of liverwort syrup and I think it has helped me verry much  my cough has not been so well in some years as it is now and I think I shall take the other bottle   Sally I think Eliza’s things ought to be divided betwixt Ann Eliza and Mary Jane and I think it would be best to send them out by William if he comes   I shall stand in kneed of another bed if I take the two children   Sally there is one request I want to make that is I want Cyreniuses large Bible as it contains the record of all our Family  but I do not want to take any thing that is not rite   I want you should write me a letter and let me know how you get along    I should be glad if you would come and make us a visit and see the country   my paper is filled and I must bring my letter to a close and sign myself your affectionate Mother,  Sally Harger
Dear Sister Charity  as the paper is not filled and I can write without costing any thing I will improve it in writing to you for I prize it as a privilege as we are now deprived of conversing any other way    but I have anticipated a great  …(hole in paper)…we wrote our other letter that the ??? nows we…(hole in paper)… from you we should hear that you was a comeing…(hole in paper).. here to live I can tell you I should prize your company very highly if you would come and I dare say it would be a great comfort to our dear parents in their old age to have their children settle near them     I am sure that it is a great consolation to me that I can have them so near me that I can visit them once in a while    but alas I soon expect to be deprived of their company    yesterday I had the privilege of visiting them which is the first time since last fall   but Mother has made me two visits since she came from the east and Father has one besides   Father and Leonidas has called a number of times  I some expect to live near neighour to our folks next summer which I shall prize very highly   we think some of going to the Michigan in the spring   but we cannot tell for certain wether we shall go in a year    it will be according what wages he gets here  he sent out money by his brother to purchase another half lot and he wants to get money now to buy a yoke of cattle and other things to go on and settle with   I shall not expect to enjoy your company long here unless you would consent to go the Michigan  but it would be a consolation to  think our dear parents had some one to comfort them in their old age    I dare say you feel as though you ware left quite alone since the death of our dear brother and I some times think you feel the loss more than I as I did not witness the scene myself   but I can tell you I am not without my feelings or thoughts for many a day through this dreary winter and I might say every day my mind has ben led to the day that I parted with my dear Brother   I can tell you it was a solum day to me and never shall I forget the day while I live   I have often had it to reflect up on that I did not stay their longer and I should if I had thought of staying so long as I did.  Oh Charity never shall I forget my dear brother one that has been so kind to me and set such good examples that we might follow.  Oh that we might follow his examples and meet him in heaven ware parting sounds are herd no more   I must stop writing my paper is filled and I can write no more and I will sign myself your affectionate sister until death    Caroline Mead      [ Charity Brogue    Wm. Brogue]

Saturday, March 22, 2014


The following is a scan of a letter written by Sally Harger in 1838, with a transcription below.  This letter was acquired through an eBay auction.   The transcription keeps spelling and grammar intact.  There was little punctuation in the letter, so extra spaces were placed between sentences for easier reading. She was writing from Clarkson, New York, which is near Rochester, to Troy, New York, where her daughter Sally Mariah (Harger) Peck lived.  Other children lived in nearby towns and the letter was passed on to them.  Sally Harger's sons Ephraim and Cyrenius had died.  She visited the families after the deaths and in this letter she describes her journey home.  The paragraph to Sally is to Ephraim's wife who was left a widow with two small children, Emily and George.  Mary Jane is the daughter of Cyrenius.  Cyrenius was a widower when he died, so his four children including Mary Jane, the youngest, were orphans.  The writer's daughter, Caroline, lived six miles from her home and she stopped to see her before returning home.



Outside: To Mr. Harrison Peck Troy NY

Clarkson Dec the 16 1838
Dear Children
According to agreement I will write a few lines to you concerning my journey home I did not start from Sand Lake until the next Monday then I took a boat and was one week & coming as far as montzuma which was one hundred miles from home their I took the stage and had a very fatiguing journey the rest of the way home the road being so rough and having to ride night and day I got quite fatigued Tuesday evening I arrive at Rochester and put up at the Eagle tavern and stayed their two nights and one day on the account I could not get passage the stage was so crowded Thursday morning I took the stage and I came to Clarkson then I was three mililes from Carolines then I took a chance to go over their their I stayed until the next Monday which left me six miles from home I sent word to our folks and they came and took me home and being so fatigued I omitted writing thinking to have some better news to write and having thus given you a description and a full detail of my journey home I will turn upon another subject After I got home our folks was about going out to ask if they could put away their Michigan land and as good luck has turned in our favor we have had a chance to put it off to a very good advantage we have traded it off for twelve hundred and eighty dollar for a farm in the town of Barry consisting of fifty acres at forty one dollars per acre with a good new house and barn well finished The house painted outside and in with a good well of water clost by the dore with a new patron pump likewise we have fruit of all kinds a plenty peaches plums cherrys quinces aples the orchard is a young orchard half of it grafted with the best kind of fruit the farm come to twenty one hundred dollars which leaves us in debt two hundred abthong(?) we had property throwed in to the amount of about the same there is fifteen acres of wheet and we have half of that now ????milk and a number of farming utinseals likewise a very nice new stove with all the furnature with it I have not given you a description of the farm whare it lies it lies between Holley and Albion A fine street with good inhabitance and a school house within twenty or thirty rods we do not take possession until the first of April and as we are now settled in what we are going to do if it is your mind to come out here if you will write what kind of business you would like to go in we will try to make arrangements for you there is a cabinet shop about three miles from us and I do not know but what their would be a chance to get in somewhere near and go in the business of making chaires so that you could make it prophitable we have not had a chance to look about yet besides we did not know what your mind would be about coming so far west but if you come and want assistance your Father says he will try to assist you in coming and fetch Cyrenius’s children with you   he says he will take Cyrenius to live with him if you think of coming write and let us know and we will look and see what for a chance there is for you   we shall want to hear as soon as you come to a conclusion we shall mail another letter with this to send to Sand Lake as the distance is some ways and you could not easily send it up
 Sally I hope you will bare up with fortitude under your trials and afflictions and I trust your parents will assist you in taking care of your little ones I expect it would be more agreeable to you to live with your parents then any other way you must write to us and let us know how you get along with your little family you must try and come out in this western clime and make us a visit if nothing more   Mary Jane stood her journey very well. She is well and well contented she says she would like to see Emily and George and and all the rest she is very much pleased with our new house she says she wants to see you all but does not want to go back their to live    I have nothing more to write at preasan and the evening is far spent I will draw my letter to a close and sign myself your affectionate Mother until death

Sally Harger
Ephram Harger