Sunday, June 6, 2010

Making Your Ancestors Come Alive

I finally found the time to research to find an obituary for a friend (via the FREE Godfrey Memorial Library link - see earlier post re both here).  While I was there, I decided to start searching my parents' and grandparents' names and found some newspaper articles that I didn't know existed.    Finding these news articles has really made my family tree come alive.  Here are just a few of the MANY things I learned just from a couple of hours of researching:

1.  I knew that my grandmother was in a serious accident and had broken her neck, but I had no idea she also sued her fellow church member who was driving the vehicle. (If you click on the image, it will enlarge so you can read it.)  

I thought you'd also like to see "modern medicine" at its best in 1967 (the photo).  Can you imagine being casted from head to toe, with a metal hook on the top of your head?

Another benefit of obtaining newspaper articles on your ancestors, are the little "extras" reported at the time.  You will note that there is a one sentence report at the bottom of that article that states:  "There are 277,000 known species of beetles."  (I guess in those days they needed filler, but couldn't they find something more interesting?)

2.  I also didn't know my grandmother had a house fire - caused by a heating pad.

3.  My most amazing find of the day was with regard to - of all people - ME!  I remember being struck by a car when I was a child, but I had no idea it was reported in the paper.  I also learned for the first time that the accident happened the day after Christmas, and that it involved a hit-and-run driver.  I also found it amusing where my accident was reported:  in the last paragraph of an article about a more serious accident.  (Note to self:  don't just read the headlines.  Luckily these newspaper articles were stored as searchable PDFs, so it make finding names on the page very easy.)  I also learned a new word:  Bracero ("A Mexican laborer permitted to enter the United States and work for a limited period of time, especially in agriculture.").

I have searched newspapers before, but only searched those "famous" relatives in my line.  I had no idea what information could be found on the "not-so-famous."   I am looking forward to searching this site again (and other newspapers) to see what else is out there.  Who knows what I'll find?!

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