Newspapers are possibly my favorite records. I can find many details of my ancestors’ lives. I recommend searching by name, of course. But have you thought about other ways to search? My new favorite way seems to be searching by location.
I have relatives who moved from one small town in one state to another small town in another state. When I learned this, questions arose. Why? And more specifically, why that town? More questions – Did they ever go back home to visit or live? Did anyone from the home town visit them in the new place?
And maybe, just maybe, you’ll find an article where the names were butchered, either by an author or typesetter spelling mistake, or an Optical Character Recognition (OCR) translation mistake.
I recently searched in an Osage County, Kansas newspaper for “Webster, New York,” the hometown of several family members. And I found a perfectly readable (to the naked eye) article with perfect spellings of my relative’s name. It had never come up on a search by name.
Here’s the article:
It’s pretty easy to read the article. You can read the names, right? A. E. Billings. Anna Kircher.
But here is what the Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software “read.”
“ Marmkd. At the Baptist church, in Webster, N. Y,, June 11th. by the Rev. E. F. Waine, Mr. A. E. Bili.ings, of Burlingame, Kansa, to Miss Axxa Kirches, of Webster, New York. We heartily wish our iViend Asa and his fair young bride long life and a world of happiness, contentment and prosperty.”
I’ve shown in red the OCR mistakes, and in green the one word misspelled in the newspaper, (not an OCR mistake). The surnames of both bride and groom were misread by OCR. I never would have found this record, never would have known about this marriage, if I had not searched by place.
Next time you search in online newspapers, try searching by place. Who knows what you’ll dig up.
Mary Kircher Roddy is a genealogist, writer and lecturer, always looking for the story. Her blog is a combination of the stories she has found and the tools she used to find them.