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23 Dec 2013

Newspapers part 1 - a burning tale

Farewell this week to free snippets from GenealogyBank.  They’d cottoned on to the fact that free snippets was maybe not the cleverest way of displaying newsprint.  Some of the articles are barely half-an-inch deep, so why pay to get more, when there wasn’t any more to be had?

Back in 2005 I learnt of the death most likely of Esther Symes (born 1817 Hornblotton) at a fire in her home in Ohio, some time in the 1840s.  This was reported fifty years later – come on, journalists! – at her husband’s own death, 1896.  (This in itself odd, as the widower had sired and lost a whole other family in the intervening decades.)  Genealogybank kindly filled in the gaps for me.  The Canton Repository writes: On the 2d inst. [2 Nov 1846] the house of Thomas Cook of Lordstown, Trumbull co. Ohio, was destroyed by fire, in the absence of Mr. Cook. His wife and family had got out, but the wife returned to the building to secure a pocket book &c. when it fell in and she perished.

That’s it.  No more to be had, but pretty useful.  Superfluous information such as the lady’s actual name can be had elsewhere.  A natty finger points to the entry just in case you miss a genuine news item amongst the accounts of turnip growing or whatever else occupies regional newspapers.  We can tease out that 2 Nov was a Monday, likely wash-day, so Esther would have a lot on her plate with the infant and 2 other children under 4 to keep busy.  Tragedy would strike as the boy was killed in the Civil War, while the infant was to herself die in childbirth.  Minnesota was exceptionally mild in that month with persistent south-easterly winds and no frosts – with the warmest weather overall for 85 years.  Might these facts explain our story in Ohio?

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