The Facebook of Their Day

I enjoy searching online newspaper archives. It is interesting to see mentions of family in context with what was going on in those moments in time. Newspapers might have relied on advertising for revenue beyond subscriptions, but they relied on their readers for some of their content, free content, the same way Facebook does. It’s a pretty good business model.

Since I’m all about Putnam County, Missouri these days, I’m especially grateful for the Putnam County Library’s online newspaper archive. It uses optical character recognition for search terms; the accuracy rate is good enough for my purposes.

Anyone who has spent time reading these old newspapers is familiar with how people used the paper to tell their friends and neighbors about their comings and goings, about who came to visit, who was ill or recovering from an illness, even marriages and births. The mini-announcements were usually two or three lines of pertinent details that included names, locations and very often relationships. Joe Smith’s uncle Rudolph Smith came to visit from Oregon yesterday. Jane Doe’s mother Barbara Gold is home recovering from a stroke. That sort of thing. These gossipy items are what would be called ‘click-bait’ today. It’s the relationships that fascinate researchers…they are golden because they appeared while these people were still alive.

I was searching for mentions of Jacob Myers known children from the 1850 Census, as well as mentions of their children. The youngest known daughter from Jacob’s first marriage was Sarah Rebecca Myers. She married James P Delay in Iowa in 1872.1 Their son Fred Delay was born in 1873.2

Searching the archive netted me this:

Nutt with nephew Delay pg 5 - Copy Nutt with nephew Delay pg 9 - Copy

“Mrs. Mollie Nutt and nephew Fred Delay went to Glennwood Saturday” and “Fred Delay and sister Ina and George Nutt drove over to Mystic, Iowa Monday to visit relatives.”

Wait. What? Who is Mollie Nutt?

I was in an interesting frame of mind when I discovered these tidbits. Just the day before I had been staring at the profile page for Jacob Myers on Ancestry and was wondering if there were any more Myers children after the 1850 census was taken. I know Jacob married my Amarilla Cox in 1856. No one knows when his first wife Elizabeth (Minick) died, but it was presumably before he remarried. I was prepared to ask myself if Mollie Nutt was born after the 1850 census and before the second marriage.

Lucky for me the answer to my question was right in front of me. I clicked on the Ancestry Family Tree link I had used to add Fred Delay to my tree. I clicked through to that person’s tree and they had a Mary Jane ‘Mollie’ Myers born in 1851 and an Angeline Myers born in 1855 as sisters for Sarah, but none of the rest of the family. Two questions came to mind. What happened to these girls if their mother died before 1856? Where have I seen the name Angeline before?

In my previous post I mentioned I would write about a discovery I made about the Breedlove children listed in the 1860 census for Linn County, Missouri.

1860 Census Susan Breedlove
1860 Census Breedlove Family3

I wasn’t looking at the older children on the census because I just assumed that they were the children of James Breedlove since they were born before the marriage to Susan, and James was old enough to be their father. Yet there they are: Sarah, Mary JANE, and Angeline! Once again, Myers children appear in the census with the same last name as the male head of household. They are living with their oldest sister Susan and her husband and new little nephew Jacob. I didn’t take this at face value, of course. I verified all of it. All the records support that Mary Jane “Mollie” Myers and Angeline Myers really are daughters of Jacob and his first wife Elizabeth. I’m thrilled to have more Myers children! I’m up to (if I include the possible twins I found) 11 children from four wives. I’ve been in genealogy heaven lately. This so totally makes up for the frustration of other parts of family research. I’m so grateful for all the records that still exist on this fractured family. It has been so much fun putting them back together again.


1 Iowa, Select Marriages Index, 1809-1992

2 U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007

3 1860 US Census, Missouri, Linn, Township 59, Range 18, pg 625, HH# 169