In a by-gone era, newspapers carried way more little personal trivia and tidbits than is the standard today. (Today there is Twitter, Facebook, etc.) Also in this by-gone era, a larger city could afford a newspaper while surrounding villages could not.
Take the case of the Montesano, Washington, Weekly Vidette. The issue for Friday, November 30, 1894 featured snippets from the surrounding towns of Elma, Ocosta, Porter and Cosmopolis.
Snippets like from Elma: “Married Nov 22, Wm. Fraser and Miss Carrie Tidwell. Both are well and favorably known in this vicinity.” Or this from Porter: “Albert Iliff returned Tuesday from an extended visit at Aberdeen. What is the lady’s name, Al?” Or this from Cosmopolis: “Mrs. Cullens and sister, Miss Flora Hayes, were in town Wednesday.”
And here’s the point. Even in the 1894 “big town” of Montesano, newspaper publishers had to sell papers to cover costs. And who bought their newspapers? And why did they buy them? The biggest news of a town newspaper was town news, news of the people and what they were doing.
I do recommend using www.genealogybank.com or www.newspapers.com to find these snippets. Yes, there is a subscription cost but would you find these snips on your own?
David Rencher, currently the Head Honcho of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, was the speaker at the 2015 conference of the Washington State Genealogical Society held that year in Ellensburg. David introduced us to the concept of framing the problem.
David began his presentation by showing three slides of the Golden Gate Bridge and explained, “If you’re driving on the bridge, you see the bridge from that angle. If you’re on a boat on the bay, looking up, you’ll see the bridge from that angle. And if you’re landing in a airplane in San Francisco, looking down,you’ll see the bridge from that angle.”
His point with this illustration was that the way you’re currently viewing your genealogy problem is only one way to view it. Right now that’s all you can see. You must “frame your picture differently” and then from that new angle you might see things that you did not see before.
David went on for an hour explaining how to do that but his words of counsel all boil down to this: LOOK-LEARN-DO.
He ended with his quip: “I know where lots of my ancestors aren’t because I’ve looked there.”
Thought you might like to read an article I wrote back in 1991 for Heritage Quest Magazine:
A short while back I visited my sis-in-law in Kansas City
and we visited the old Union Cemetery. This toppled-stone-not-well-cared-for
place has quite a history.
In the first half of the 1800s, Westport (8 miles from
Kansas City, Missouri) was “quite the metropolis. It was the final “civilized”
stop for those setting out on the Santa Fe Trail or the Oregon Trail.” As the
town grew, churches sprang up and with them, cemeteries. Soon it was apparent
that the church cemeteries would not suffice for burying grounds.
Meanwhile, north of Westport a settlement was growing where
river boats unloaded goods found for Westport. This little town grew and by
1840 the Town of Kansas (later to become Kansas City) had a population of
An event occurred in 1849 that changed both towns forever.
That spring, some 300 settlers arrived on a steamboat from New Orleans. That
steamboat also carried cholera; soon over 200 of the settlers had perished.
Union Cemetery was the answer. In 1857 it was so named from an amiable agreement between Westport and the Town of Kansas, not for anything connected to the Civil War. There are fifteen Confederate soldiers buried there in a mass grave who died as prisoners of war after the Battle of Westport in 1864.
One especially tender moment came when I spotted the grave marker for 8-year-old Little Miss Mata Erath who died in 1885. (I had a photo but dang! It won’t upload for me today. Bad computer!)
(Reference: Recent book compiled and published by the Union
Cemetery Historical Association.)
Did an ancestor graduate from a Normal School? With a teaching degree or certificate?
Smithsonian Magazine, J/F 2019, provided this explanation: “Thank France; the phrase is derived from “ecole normale” which was used for institutions designed to instill standards of pedagogy and curriculum in teachers-to-be. America’s first state-sponsored normal school opened in Massachusetts in 1839. By the 1930’s most normal schools were calling themselves “teachers colleges.’
Near Spokane, Eastern Washington University began as Cheney Normal School. My mother-in-law graduated from Cheney Normal School in 1930 and at age 17 was sent out to teach English.
Cheryl Elder of Cheney was searching for more information on her great-aunt who attend this school in 1919. Charles V. Mutschler, PhD at EWU, answered her. (He is recently deceased.) His 2015 reply to her gives a good picture of what the curriculum was like:
“I have search the
records we have, and only found one entry for Alice Elder of Garfield,
Washington attending during the summer session of 1919. The entry is on
page 89 of the 1920-1921 catalog, in the list of students for the Summer, 1919
term. The catalog carried a list of students for the previous year
(occasionally previous two years) and a list of graduates, and the type of
certificate they had received. I checked the catalogs for 1916/17 through
1927/28 and only found the one entry. The course of study at the normal
schools in 1918 was a two-year curriculum leading to a teaching certificate
which allowed the person to teach in what were called “the common schools,”
meaning grades 1-8. A teacher could continue her education and upgrade
her certificate to what was called a Life Certificate by completing additional
course work. Many teachers did this, and often these women were the
majority of the students enrolled in the summer term. From 1923 through
1971 there was a yearbook, published each spring, called Kinnikinick. The
Kinnikinicks are nearly all on line at our digital commons site, but I have not
attempted to search those, as they are readily available to you. Go
to: dc/ewu.edu/yearbooks and you should be able to reach them.
Now you know more than before about your ancestor’s attendance at a Normal School.
Ever attended RootsTech in Salt Lake City? Or ever thought about it? In a nutshell:
RootsTech is a global family history event where people of all ages learn to discover, share and celebrate their family connections across generations through technology. At RootsTech, there is something for everyone, no matter your experience in family history or your skill level in technology.
Family history enthusiasts attended more than 200 breakout sessions throughout the four-day conference. Other RootsTech activities included more than 200 displays in the expansive exhibition hall.
The genealogy learning at RootsTech cannot be matched by any other conference anywhere and anytime. The vendors’ hall brings anybody with anything to offer genealogists together in one place so one can ask questions and evaluate if you want that particular product. Or not.
F.Y.I. RootsTech 2020 will be 26-29 Feb; 2021 will be 3-6 Feb; 2022 will be 9-12 Mar; and 2023 will be 1-4 March.
Wouldn’t you like to come?? Click to www.rootstech.org for all the needed information.
SUNNY JANE MORTON IS COMING TO SPOKANE NEXT APRIL 6th for EWGS Spring Seminar
And who is Sunny Jane McClellan Morton, you rightfully ask?
Sunny Jane Morton is an internationally-known, award-winning writer, editor
and speaker for the multibillion-dollar genealogy industry. She is a
Contributing Editor at Lisa Louise
Cooke’s Genealogy Gems Podcast, with more than 2.5 million downloads
worldwide, and a Contributing Editor at Family Tree Magazine, the U.S.’
premiere publication for genealogy hobbyists. A popular speaker at events
across the country (including RootsTech), Sunny is especially known for expertise in tracing U.S. ancestors,
particularly in church records; her unique comparisons of the industry’s
largest websites; and inspiring presentations on how to reconstruct and tell
meaningful stories from the past. Sunny is the author of Story
of My Life: A Workbook for Preserving Your Legacy, Genealogy
Giants: Comparing the 4 Major Websites and the forthcoming How
to Find Your Family History in U.S. Church Records (working title),
co-authored with Harold Henderson, CG. She is the Co-Editor of Ohio Genealogy
News and winner of the prestigious NGS Newsletter Competition (2017) and
writing awards from the International Society of Family History Writers and
Editors. She holds degrees in history and humanities from Brigham Young
Click www.EWSGI.org for more information and to register. That’s the Eastern Washington Genealogical Society in Spokane. P.S. There will be no Snoqualmie Pass snow troubles by then!
Ever given a thought to street names in a housing subdivision?? There may be genealogy clues hiding there in plain sight.
Take this Oswald street sign. It’s my understanding that the developer can name the streets most anything he wants and he often picks name suitable to the history and goings-on in the community.
In 1912, Ethel and John Peter Oswald bought land west of Spokane and raised a family of five children there. A grandson still owns the original house….. which is one mile from where this sign was erected. Do the folks living along Oswald Street ever give a thought to where the name originates?
My daughter lived in Pullman on Itani Street. She was told that was the developer’s mother-in-law’s name.
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