NewsClips: Things Were Different Then.

From the Albany Evening Journal, Watervliet news section, Saturday, May 3, 1902:

A meeting will be held this evening by the old members of the Oswald Hose Company. The meeting will be held for the purpose of placing in the company’s quarters the head of “Nell,” who was the first horse ever owned by the company. “Nell” for over twenty years hauled apparatus to fires and became greatly attached to every member of the company, and it was with the greatest sorrow when she was obliged to quit the service.

The members fearing that she would be sold by the commissioner, raised a sufficient sum for her purchase, and placed her upon a farm in Colonie about three years ago. She then became sick, and it was thought best to end her suffering by chloroform, which was done.

The members decided to have the head mounted in a suitable manner, and the members will meet this evening, when the head will be dedicated, after which a spread will be enjoyed.

Some observations:

1. The Oswald Hose Company was, of course, in Watervliet. I was looking at volunteer fire companies in West Troy/Watervliet because my great-grandfather Joseph Haigney served in Watervliet’s Gleason Hook and Ladder company.

2. I’m continually struck by how 19th-century ancestors could be so much more sentimental and, at the same time, so much less squeamish than we are today.

3. First the head, then the spread. I prefer a simple tailgate, myself.


NewsClips: An Inspector Calls!

I never knew my paternal grandfather Raymond Haigney (1891-1940), as I mentioned recently when describing his final census appearance in 1940. But I knew that at the time he died, he worked for the New York City Department of Health as a food inspector. I’d always supposed that my knowledge of his work was destined to begin and end there.

But, thanks to the magic of indexed, digital newspaper archives, I have three news clips showing my grandpa on the milk-dealer beat, keeping an eye out for questionable practices and doing his bit to keep New York’s dairy supply pure. You go, Grandpa Haigney!

The newspaper is the long-ago Daily Star, published in the borough of Queens (my grandfather was detailed to the health department’s Queens bureau). Punctuation, grammar and capitalization are reproduced faithfully from the original, alas.

First, here are two fairly routine situations:

Daily Star, Queens Borough, N.Y. City, Tuesday January 17, 1928, page 1: Milk Dealer Fined Total of $250 On Two Counts in Ridgewood Court

A man described as Meyer Krout, a milk dealer, of Seventy-ninth street (Furman avenue), Middle Village, was fined $100 by Magistrate Benjamin Marvin yesterday on complaint of Health Inspector Raymond Haigney, who swore that the defendant had fifteen quarts of milk for sale which was unwholesome.

Daily Star, Queens Borough, N.Y. City, Thursday Evening, October 11, 1928, page 7: Milk Dealer Fined $25 For Unrecorded Sales

Morris Cohen, a milk dealer of Cooper avenue and Eighty-eighth street, Glendale, was fined $25 by Magistrate Peter M. Daly in Ridgewood Court yesterday on complaint of Inspector Raymond Haigney attached to the Queens office of the Department of Health, who alleged that Cohen failed to keep a record of milk sales as required by regulations of the Department of Health.

This last one contains a bit of drama.

Daily Star, Queens Borough, N.Y. City, Tuesday evening May 28, 1928, page 1: Milk Dealer Pays $50 Fine For Violation

Muzzio Saladino, a milk dealer, of 2243 Flushing avenue, Maspeth, charged with violating the Sanitary Code was found guilty in Ridgewood court yesterday and fined $50 by Magistrate Peter M. Daly.

The defendant was accused by Inspector Raymond Haigney, attached to the Queens bureau of the Department of Health, with having eighty quarts of mlk in unlabeled and untagged containers. Saladino told the court that he informed the inspector that the milk was to be used for making cheese and was not for sale.

Haigney read Saladino’s record, which purported to show that he has been fined on no less than ten occasions for various infractions of the Sanitary Code relating to milk. In answer to the plea of Francis D. Saitta, counsel for the defendant, Magistrate Daly said:

“This defendant seems to have no regard for the law. I am going to fine him $50, and I don’t want a repetition of the offense.”

Compiler note: I will admit to a sneaking bit of sympathy for Mr. Saladino. I mean, freshly made cheese – what’s not to like? But the law is the law.

Research note: I found these clips (along with many other valuable items) in Tom Tryniski’s amazing Old New York Newspapers database – well worth a look for those of us tracking Empire State ancestors.

Quote of the Day

“Every person has a story and you just have to ask.”

— Eleven-year-old Eli Boardman of Boulder, Co., editor/publisher of his own community newspaper, the Boardman Camera, 200 editions old and still going strong. (As reported by Jim Romenesko.)

Words of wisdom for genealogists, as well as youthful journalists!

The Stories Your Street Could Tell …

I’m working on a history of my house, mostly for my own selfish pleasure but also to practice my skills in this particular research area. When I spot any vintage news items involving my street, I naturally go on alert. Not long ago I was searching local newspaper microfilms for an obituary when I stumbled upon a terribly sad story from 1938 that took place across the street from where I now live. (Preliminary poking around in censuses and directories indicates that some relatives of the people mentioned in the news item may still be living, hence the brackets.)

Child Found Drowned in Goldfish Pool Here / Mother Transfers From Ship and Returns to Montclair

An 18-month-old baby […] was drowned on Saturday when she fell into a goldfish pool at the rear of [a] home on […] Place. Deputy County Medical Examiner Olcott said the death was accidental and caused by drowning.

The article went on to say that the toddler was staying with her aunt at a house neighboring the yard with the goldfish pool. Sadly, the scenario in the story could still be written today: The child went out of sight only for a few minutes, but somehow managed to circumvent a high fence around the pool. The toddler’s mother was on a ship en route to South America, but was intercepted off Cape Hatteras and transferred to a liner headed back north, so that she arrived back in New Jersey the following day.

It was strange and sad to read about such a tragedy on a street I know so well — a street that continues to be a favorite of families with young children. I can tell you that there’s no trace remaining of the goldfish pond mentioned in the story, but it was still oddly disturbing to read about something like that happening on our pleasant little street, even though it was so long ago.

Now I’m wondering what news items might be out there about my own property. I suppose  that’s a hidden hazard of doing house history reports — not all the stories are going to be colorful and heartwarming.  And I guess I’ll be mentioning this possibility up front in doing this sort of research for someone else.

Irish Marriages and Deaths: A Nifty Workaround

Tom Kemp at the GenealogyBank blog notes that the New York City-based newspaper The Irish American published regular reports of marriages and deaths in Ireland between 1849 to 1914. This does not sound like a definitive listing, but apparently the listings occur often enough, and in enough quantity, to be notable. Civil registration in Ireland did not begin until 1864.

The newspaper is searchable through GenealogyBank, which is a subscription service, but is also often accessible through public libraries.

A Second Look

The copy editor in me prompts some quirky reactions to old newspapers: “Ewwww…. Futura! I hate that font!” (By the way, did you know there’s an entire documentary about Helvetica?)

But as we all know, newspapers are about more than type fonts. They give us big genealogy discoveries. Today is about a sequel to one of them.

A while back I wrote about the treasure trove of family nuggets I found through keyword searches of the Troy (N.Y.) Times-Record.  I pawed through this impressive pile of clips in drunken abandon, updating my notes like mad.

Several months later, I’m regarding my impressive pile of clips with more wariness. Like censuses, newspaper items can contain a lot of information to cross-check. Did I get everything right? And what did I miss?

As part of Operation Database Cleanup, I began updating the database card of my great-great-aunt Mary Ann (Mamie) Haigney Walker (1872-1956). She had been a minor part of the Big Newspaper Trove, but it did contain her obituary, where I found the names of her husband and son. My current task was doublechecking these names. I didn’t have much else planned.

The names checked out fine against the obituary. But it occurred to me that it wouldn’t be a bad idea to cross-check these names in the rest of the newspaper items in my files – purely as a precaution. I just knew I had seen everything there was to see about this surname.

Except this:

Mrs. Mary Walker of Kelly Road recently celebrated her eightieth birthday. At the time she was at the summer home of her sons in Far Rockaway and was surprised with a large dinner party of relatives and friends. Mrs. Walker was honored with a large birthday cake. Four generations of Walkers were represented by Mrs. Walker, her son, Edward, grandson and great-granddaughter.

OK, class, what is of interest here?

(A) The phrase “home of her SONS.”

(B) The phrase “FOUR GENERATIONS of Walkers were represented.”

(C) The headline font may be Futura.

Very good, it is both A and B!  We see that Mrs. Walker might have had more than the one son listed in her obituary. She also had a grandson and great-granddaughter. Perhaps they are mentioned by name elsewhere in the clips? Perhaps it would be a good idea to look?

After further examinations of the clips, I think “sons” might be a typo, as I have found only one son mentioned by name in subsequent articles. But I certainly went back to the rest of the clippings in a chastened and more careful state of mind. I realized I hadn’t really been paying a lot of attention to the Walkers – I had been too busy looking for clues about the Haigney surname.

As a result of renewed hunting I have added two grandchildren to the list I’m investigating for Mamie’s family group, plus a woman with a surname different from Walker who might be a married granddaughter or great-granddaughter. All of these names were scattered throughout my collection of newspaper snippets, but because I wasn’t really scanning for them, I read right over them.

A clear case of read in haste; re-read (and research) at leisure. Consider me abashed.

Newspaper Database: Troy (N.Y.) 1834-38

I’m quite excited, and not just because it’s the second time in as many weeks that I’ve managed to sneak a reference to the Whig Party into the blog. The Troy Irish Genealogy Society has a new addition to its Troy Newspaper Project:

The Troy (N.Y.) Daily Whig, Deaths and Marriages, 1834-1838

This is the sixth data set added to the newspaper collection, and includes 821 reports of deaths and the names of 1,749 brides and grooms. All of it is from a period that considerably predates 1880, when civil registration became law in New York State.

Project coordinator Bill McGrath shared these highlights:

• Most of the records are from the Capital District area, i.e., Troy and neighboring cities such as Albany, Watervliet (West Troy) and Schenectady.

• A significant number of records came from nearby states such as Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Jersey.

• In the next few months, the society plans to add more of the 28,000 death and marriage records reported in 40 years of the Troy Daily Whig from  1839-78. They’re also working on a database of 4,000 burial records from St. Mary’s Cemetery in Troy.