Gas Prices in 1939

Those were simpler (and cheaper) times!


Retrieval of Irish Archive Lost in 1922 Fire ‘Astounding’, Historian Says

Two days into the Civil War, a massive explosion destroyed the Public Records Office attached to Dublin’s Four Courts and with it hundreds of years of documented history, resulting in a huge loss for genealogists, historians, and many others who depend upon such records.

The census records for the whole of the 19th century going back to the first in 1821 were incinerated. Chancery records, detailing British rule in Ireland going back to the 14th century and grants of land by the crown, were also destroyed along with thousands of wills and title deeds. The records of various chief secretaries to Ireland and centuries of Church of Ireland parish registers vanished in the fire.

The Stories You Learned in School about the First Thanksgiving Weren’t very Accurate

Most every schoolchild in the U.S. has heard the story about the First Thanksgiving, as celebrated in Plimoth, Massachusetts.

NOTE #1: It wasn’t the first Thanksgiving held in North America but that is another story for another time…

Most school children are taught that the first Thanksgiving was held in 1621 with the Pilgrims and Indians holding a feast that celebrated the bountiful harvest of the first summer in the New World.

Arolsen Archives Offers an Online Database of Information about the Victims of Nazi Persecution

Here are some quotes from the Arolsen Archives web site:

“After the Second World War, the Allied occupying powers were faced with a mammoth task: they wanted to document the crimes committed by the National Socialists and search for missing persons. In order to do so, they collected information about the victims of Nazi persecution. In the American Zone of Occupation alone, this resulted in the creation of around 850,000 documents containing information on ten million names. The Arolsen Archives have now put this collection of documents online.”


Native American Genealogy in the New York City Area

The following is an excerpt from an article by Natiba Guy-Clement published in the Brooklyn Library’s web site :

Tribal leaders and historians from Canada, Delaware, Oklahoma and the Lenape Center here in New York, engaged with us about their history, customs and traditions. From Chief Chester Brooks, the oldest chief in attendance, we learned about 7 generations of his family bloodline that he was able to recite to us from memory. This was quite a privilege for me to witness, the oral recitation of family ties that takes genealogists time and effort to compile. I learned that it was borne out of the aftermath of colonization, since many families were decimated or reduced very quickly, it was necessary to know who your family was to prevent intermarriage. Other Tribal representatives shared their stories about the present conditions of their respective groups and talked about their efforts to educate newer generations about their history and culture.

The ‘Baby Killer’ Drug

It is a wonder that any of our ancestors survived childhood and then went on to have descendants, including you or me.

A 19th century ad for Winslow’s Soothing Syrup shows happy children and a resting mother. The morphine-laced patent medicine was invented in Maine and sold by Bangor druggist Jeremiah Curtis. It made him a millionaire and killed an unknown number of children.

Witches in Your Family Tree

This is the time of year for ghosts, goblins, and other such superstitions. However, perhaps it is also a time to pause and reflect on the horrors of those who suffered in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692. The witches of Salem and nearby towns probably have hundreds of thousands of present-day descendants. If you have ancestry from early Essex County, Massachusetts, you have an excellent chance of finding a connection to the Salem Witch Trials of 1692.

Circa 1692, The trial of George Jacobs for witchcraft at the Essex Institute in Salem, Massachusetts. (Photo by MPI/Getty Images)

Circa 1692, The trial of George Jacobs for witchcraft at the Essex Institute in Salem, Massachusetts. (Photo by MPI/Getty Images)

Salem, Massachusetts, and the surrounding towns in Essex County were amongst the first settled in this country. Most of the towns were established prior to 1640. By the time of the witchcraft trials of 1692, a complete legal system of courts and clerks was well established. Records were written, and many of them have been preserved. Even if your ancestors are not among those accused, it is quite possible that you can find them mentioned as witnesses, those who gave depositions, or perhaps even those who served on a jury.

Western Michigan University Grant to Digitally Preserve the Gilmore Car Museum and Richland Library Historic Collection

This isn’t exactly a genealogy article but visiting the Gilmore Car Museum will undoubtedly give you a better appreciation of the automobiles your ancestors may have driven.

Thanks to newsletter reader Roger Moffat’s kind invitation, I had a chance to visit the Gilmore Car Museum 5 years ago and can tell you it is certainly worth the visit. If you have an interest in antique automobiles, a visit is certain a worthwhile experience. If you cannot visit in person, you will soon be able to visit virtually at the Western Michigan University’s digital collections online.

Photo by Dick Eastman

The following is the announcement:

Historic Newspapers of the Concord Times from Concord, North Carolina are now Available on DigitalNC

520 issues of The Concord Times from 1923 to 1927 have recently been digitized and added to DigitalNC thanks to a nomination from our partner Cabarrus County Public Library! The paper from Concord, North Carolina, documents 1920s happenings around the town, the state, and beyond. Published every Tuesday and Thursday, the paper frequently delivered news to its readers. A sampling of clippings  are shared below:

Great Chicago Fire of 1871

One dark night, when people were in bed,
Mrs. O’ Leary lit a lantern in her shed,
The cow kicked it over, winked its eye, and said,
There’ll be a hot time in the old town tonight.

Exactly 148 years ago, a great fire roared through the city of Chicago. No one knows for sure whether a lantern-kicking cow of the O’Leary’s was really responsible for starting the Great Chicago Fire on October 8, 1871. In fact, some believe the fire was started by a comet from outer space.

Map of Scots Women Accused of Witchcraft published for First Time

If you have one of these ladies in your family tree, you have an “interesting” family history! A map that tracks more than 3,000 Scots women who were accused of being witches in the 16th and 17th Century has been published for the first time. The interactive document has been created by data experts at the University of Edinburgh.

It builds on the university’s breakthrough work on the Scottish Witchcraft Survey which brought to life the persecution of women during the period, with many burned at the stake or drowned. The web site allows users to move through a map of Scotland to see where the accused witches lived as well as the towns and villages where they were detained, punished and executed.

You can read more at https://tinyurl.com/eogn190925a while the map is available at: https://witches.is.ed.ac.uk/.

Thousands of Free Historic Photographs Online

Sometimes you can find valuable gems in unexpected places. One example is the UnSplash web site.

According to Wikipedia:

“Unsplash is a website dedicated to sharing stock photography under the Unsplash license. The website claims over 110,000 contributing photographers and generates more than 9 billion photo impressions per month on their growing library of over 810,000 photos.[1] Unsplash has been cited as one of the world’s leading photography websites by Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, CNET, Medium and The Next Web.”

I am amazed at the many photos about all sort of topics that may be found on UnSplash.com. Best of all, you may download and use the photos for all sorts of purposes free of charge.

For instance, while looking for photos I could use in this genealogy newsletter, I went to https://unsplash.com and entered a search for “Ellis Island.”

Those “New” Electric Scooters

Have you tried one of those “new” electric scooters that seem to be popping up in cities everywhere?

Well, they might not be as new as you thought. Here is a photograph taken in 1916. That’s 103 years ago:

This is the original electric scooter, called an Autoped.

The Eveready Autoped is one such device – it was the world’s first scooter, manufactured in New York from 1915 to 1921. It sold for just US$100, offering 125 mpg (1.9 l/100km) transportation at 25 mph (40 km/h). It was perhaps too far ahead of its time, but it remains one of the most significant transportation devices in history.

Nearly 37,000 Historic Photos from Central Illinois, Many Never Before Published, are now Available to Everyone with an Internet Connection, Digitally Restored and Preserved

Thanks to the McLean County Museum of History, which took on more than a million Pantagraph negatives several years ago and, with public and private partners, turned them from decaying celluloid to pristine digital files that can be viewed at the Illinois Digital Archives’s web site: idaillinois.org.

In the early 1930s, Pantagraph staffers started making 4-by-5-inch negatives with Speed Graphic cameras and “kept basically everything,” said Photo Editor David Proeber. That started the archive that the museum is now digitizing, beginning with 36,641 photos from 1933 to 1944.

Civilian Conservation Corps recruits pose outside the Bloomington Post Office on March 29, 1934. This photo and 37,000 others were restored from negatives by McLean County Museum of History and partners.


Click on the above image to view a larger version

That process took seven months but produced a database identifying more than 5,500 individual people across 22 Illinois counties.

Centuries-Old Mystery Notebook Dating Back to the 16th Century, Returned to New Forest Church in Hampshire, England

A hand-written notebook has been returned to its place of origin. If you have ancestors in Minstead or Lyndhurst, Hampshire, you probably will be interested in the book’s contents.

The book has the year 1532 on the vellum cover, but contains references to births, deaths and marriages in Minstead and Lyndhurst throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, along with other notes.

Czech Republic National Museum is Searching for Early Czech Sound Recordings in the US

Do you have Czech ancestors or other relatives or even friends or neighbors who speak Czech? Next, does their descendants have very old recordings of Czech (or often called “Bohemian”) recorded music? The older the recordings, the better. If so, Filip Šír from the National Museum in Prague would like to speak with them. Šír has been searching for the lost recordings and the stories of the people behind them.

Few people in the Czech Republic know that a significant chapter in the history of early Czech sound recordings was written by Czech immigrants in the United States.

Filip Šír said:

“Between the years 1900 and 1929, there wasn’t any Czech record label company. In 1929 and 1930, Esta and Ultraphone were established as Czechoslovakian record label companies. However, this is almost 30 years after the first recordings in the United States.

How Many Friday the 13ths Have You Survived?

Today is Friday, the 13th of the month. This is an especially bad day for people who suffer from a phobia famously called triskaidekaphobia, a fear of the number 13. Any Friday that falls on the 13th of the month is especially bad, causing the fear of Friday the 13th, called paraskevidekatriaphobia, from the Greek words Paraskeví (meaning “Friday”), and dekatreís (meaning “thirteen”).

In the Christian world the number 13 has long been associated with many bad events. Jesus had 12 disciples, which meant there were a total of 13 people in attendance the evening of the Last Supper, with Judas being received as the 13th guest.

Here’s What RV Camping Looked Like 100 Years Ago

Many Americans will jump into their recreational vehicles (RVs) and hit the road this Labor Day weekend. Perhaps you are one of them.However, camping with motor vehicles is nothing new as many of our ancestors did the same thing. The mobile camping craze started about 100 years ago.

If you are interested in the history of camping in RVs, check out the “Tin Can Tourists” pictures who started it all in the Atlas Obscura web site at: https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/heres-what-rv-camping-looked-like-100-years-ago.

Lancaster County (Virginia) Fiduciary Records 1657-1872 Online

From the Virginia Memory web site:

“The Library of Virginia is pleased to announce the addition of the Lancaster County Fiduciary Records, 1657-1872, to Virginia Untold. This collection contains the earliest records added to Virginia Untold, and the largest number of names added from a single locality so far—over 20,000. Fiduciary records primarily consist of estate administrator settlements, estate inventories, dower allotments, estate divisions, estate sales, and guardian accounts that record a detailed list of all personal property owned by individuals, including enslaved people.

Footage With Authentic Audio From 1928 England

Old black-and-white movies from the 1920s are not that rare. However, almost all of them are silent movies. A recently discovered 90-year-old movie with matching audio recorded in real time? That’s truly special.

You can see a bit of life in England in the nearly 48-minute movie filmed in 1928 at https://youtu.be/NqyiMrIgwcw or click on the video above.