I hit a gold mine this morning in Ancestry.com’s newspaper image database for the Times-Record of Troy, N.Y. Out of the blue, too!
This database had disappointed me before. However, a chance tweak of the search form this morning turned up so much stuff, and so unexpectedly, that it’s worth another post or two about tweaking search forms and defying expectations. (You’ve been warned.)
For now, I’m having a blast working my way through the treasure trove of clippings. They feature my great-great aunts, Margaret [Haigney] Roache and Mary [Haigney] Walker, and my great-great uncle, Martin T. Haigney.
Many of the clips are from a local-news page that took the terms “local” and “news” to lengths that are unimaginable today. When I studied journalism, we would talk about empathizing with our readership (yes, it was a while ago). Even so, that didn’t mean covering stories like a college sophomore “spending the holiday vacation with his parents,” or Mrs. So-and-so’s hospitalization from a broken hip. The news business hasn’t been that personal for a long, long time.
But back in the 1950s and early 1960s, news was extremely personal in the Troy Times-Record, and what good luck for me. I’ve got a lot of new leads to pursue on those summertime genealogy day trips I was musing about a couple of days ago.
In the meantime, listen to this Very Important News Item from 1961 about my great-great aunt Margaret:
Mrs. Margaret Roach prepared a birthday party yesterday.
She baked a cake and set the table for the party which was for herself. It was her 91st birthday.
The wisp of a woman, who weighs less than 90 pounds, lives alone at 2509 2nd Ave. Many of the friends whom she has been associated with throughout the years were present. She was born in Watervliet … She now lives alone and cooks, sews, shops and does about everything else for herself. She voted at the polls last November because she felt it her duty. In her leisure time, she reads and is up to date on the various news happenings. She wears glasses because of a cataract operation performed one year ago, but her eyesight is still as keen as her hearing.
There is a TON of other terrific stuff in the story, including biographical details about Margaret, her late husband James, her father and her siblings. Above all, it has those wonderful personal details that form a perfect snapshot of Margaret, still truckin’ along and throwing herself birthday parties into her 90s.
The unnamed reporter who covered this nearly 50 years ago couldn’t have known what a big favor his little human-interest story would do for me and my genealogy research. But thanks anyway!
New York magazine has been putting out some little gems lately. Don’t miss “Immigrant Number One,” in which reporter Jesse Green explores the identity of the immigrant known as Annie Moore, who in 1892 made history by being the first arrival across the gangplank at the newly opened Ellis Island.
After that, Annie married an Irish-American in Texas and moved to New Mexico … or did she? As the article explains, Annie Moore’s real identity has been something of a mystery until pretty recently, despite (or because) of her legendary status.
I’m telling you, this article has it all — tall tales, hard-luck immigrant stories, plus top-rate detective work by Megan Smolenyak, the first genealogy pro to sniff out the discrepancies in the “New Mexico Annie” story.
Green presents it all in fascinating detail and poses interesting questions about how we Americans like our popular legends served up, and why the real Annie Moore story may not have been quite the “right” sort of legend. Do read it.