You know how us family historians talk about putting flesh and bones on our ancestors? We love the the thought of discovering their daily lives. We want to see them as “real people” and find out what they were really like.
One way I’ve found to do that is through newspapers. They’re a fantastic source for understanding the setting of our ancestors daily lives. Even if our ancestors aren’t named, newspapers will have documented major local events that certainly affected our people’s lives. Better yet are newspapers from smaller communities, which printed the most mundane events. The stuff real life is made of!
Another great benefit? A newspaper search will reveal the names of lots of your ancestors’ friends and family too. Remember FAN club research?
In Northwest Ohio we have a fabulous resource in Bowling Green State University. Their Center for Archival Collections has a huge collection of historic newspapers. Check out their website. It’s worth the drive if you are close.
So awhile back my sister Betsy and I spent a day at BGSU. Our goal was to find a particular obit, but we struck out. It wasn’t a total loss though. We did find in the Lima, Ohio Times-Democrat an interesting slice of life concerning our great-grandparents.
The snippet read:
Mrs. Susan Marshall, of whose serious fall mention was made some weeks ago, was removed to the home of her daughter, Mrs. Stella Everitt, Monday of last week owing to the serious and finally fatal illness of Mrs. George Marshall, with whom she made her home.
Beside an incredibly long run-on sentence, we found our g-g-grandmother Susannah Van Meter lived with her son my great-grandfather George S. Marshall, and his wife my great-grandmother Mary Ellen Williams. Now I find that interesting as heck!!
Why would Susannah live with her son, instead of a nearby daughter until after she fell? George and Mary Ellen had young children at home. So Mary Ellen’s hands were full with her home/farm and children. I’d just think Susannah would live with Stella to begin with! Don’t you? Do you think my great-grandfather was a mama’s boy?
It’s a really cool bit of family info. I’ve twirled it around in my head several times. Whatever their reasons I have a little more flesh on the bones of these ancestors and look forward to finding lots more!