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Newspapers — Filling in the Dash

Kenneth Mark’s recent blog, 33 Different Things You Can Find about Your Ancestor in Newspapers, on The Ancestor Hunt brought back memories of some of my newspaper research.

My genealogy research began prior to the Internet — which meant I had to travel to do research. Luckily, I live about 75 miles from the Kansas State Historical Society which has an excellent collection of Kansas newspapers. I remember using a bound volume of a newspaper in the reading room when the Historical Society was located downtown. However, most of my newspaper usage involved (and still involves) reading microfilm. Finding a ‘gossipy’ newspaper makes scrolling thru a roll of microfilm much more enjoyable.

During my early days of newspaper research, I copied the articles by hand – likely because it was easier/faster to copy the article by hand than to rewind the microfilm, wait in line at a printer, reload the film, find the page and pay to print it.

One of those early finds involved my grandfather’s ‘Uncle Jimmy’, who was actually his great-uncle, James H. Crawford. This article reported a carriage accident. I have included that information in James Crawford’s profile as an accident fact. The RootsMagic sentence for the event is as follows:

About 13 Aug 1888, James H. Crawford was involved in an accident in Dodge City, Kansas, while driving a covered carriage about 6 miles NW of Dodge. The carriage overturned throwing his passenger out on his head and shoulders and dragging him several rods.

The Dodge City Times proved to be a ‘gossipy’ newspaper as it revealed that James H. Crawford operated a grocery in Dodge City and operated a hotel, stable, and blacksmith shop in South Dodge City.

This newspaper also revealed that my great-great grandfather, Washington Marion Crawford, who sometimes went by Marion Crawford, built the family home at 911 Second. (Second street was originally called Bridge Street.)


Both of my grandmothers kept newspaper clippings. In some of those clippings, I found a very small entry for ’40 years ago’ regarding my grandfather going to jail. That tiny article led me to numerous newspaper articles of the time period and to the actual court record.

With the digitization of newspapers, it is much easier to locate these tidbits of information — and these tidbits of information reveal a lot about the lives of my ancestors.