Saturday, April 11, 2015

Newspapers as the social media of the day

Digging through Newspapers.com has provided a great bit of additional color to the family of my great-grandfather, Harry O'Brien. The local news section of the newspapers of his day read very much like a Facebook News Feed, with short 1-2 line briefs providing the visits and travels of Shelbyville-area residents.

I had wondered what might have been the cause for Harry's first wife Marguerite Barba to separate and return to New Orleans. The 24 June 1911 edition of the Decatur Herald provided an answer:

If one is researching John Henry O'Brien and Bertha Gordon's side of the tree, the Decatur Daily Review from 9 July 1916 had a great little blurb on Bertha's two brothers:

In 1910, Harry O'Brien was 26 years old. A short note in the 15 April 1910 Decatur Herald mentions the O'Brien-Hite-Crook orchestra. I know this was Harry's band, since Birney Hite was mentioned in a previous post involving letters at the University of Illinois' Sousa Archives.

The 27 February 1909 Decatur Herald included a short bit on Harry's two sisters, Anna and Rosa O'Brien:

Anna was born in 1882 and would have been 27 when this short note appeared in the paper. Rosa was born in 1887 and would have been about 22. There's more to the story on Anna and Rosa, but this will have to wait until I return from travel.

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