Digging History Magazine – April . . . Civil War . . . Don’t Miss it!

The April issue of Digging History Magazine is coming together and will be released on April 1 (no fooling!).  The Civil War will be featured with articles like these:

  • National Traitor or American Martyr:  John Brown’s Enigmatic Position in History
  • The Civil War Before THE Civil War
  • Hell No, We Won’t Go! – The New York City Draft Riots
  • When Johnny Came Marching Home (Without an Arm or Leg)
  • Yankee Doodle Dandies:  Civil War Silk Stocking Regiments
  • Winning the War by the “Hundreds” :  The Hundred Days Men
  • North and South:  Profiles in Courage

If you’re not yet a subscriber, it’s easy (and safe) to purchase here (3-month, 6-month and one-year subscriptions) — or pick up single issues here.

Keywords: Digging History, Digging History Magazine, Civil War, John Brown, George Bernhard Zimpelman, James Paterson Bryce, New York City Draft Riots, Manifest Destiny, Bloody Kansas, Civil War Silk Stocking Regiments, Hundred Days Men

Adventures in Research: Solving Family History Mysteries (Digging and DNA)

I love what I do — helping clients discover who they are, where they came from, did their ancestors make history (good or bad) and more.  I take a slightly different approach perhaps than many genealogists who are looking for land and census records and clipping obituaries.  I look for those too, but what I really enjoy finding are the stories.  I never know what I’ll uncover.  When I come across something that is either challenging or unexpected (a real “family history mystery”) you can expect to see it written about in Digging History Magazine.  I want to share what I’ve learned in hopes of helping other researchers who are challenged by their own “family history mysteries”.

One such memorable mystery actually began right around the time I began writing articles for the Digging History blog.  One of the first articles I wrote was to commemorate the 100th anniversary of a tragic coal mine explosion in Dawson, New Mexico.   Approximately one month later I wrote a “Feudin’ and Fightin’ Friday” article about a seemingly obscure Texas feud.  Turns out the two articles were amazingly linked, something I wouldn’t discover until contacted by someone in 2015 requesting a change in the Dawson article.

As an editor, the request, ironically, involved a misspelled name.  It had been misspelled in the newspaper article used as a source and Doug Simpleman, great grandson of the man with the misspelled name, wanted to set the record straight.  In fact Doug had been working for awhile to set the record straight about Roy Simpleman — and to find out who he really was.  You see, Roy had been born as Refugio Badial, the illegitimate son of Ramona Badial.  How did he become Roy Simpleman?

Doug contacted me in July of 2015 and by September we were reconnecting about the article and Doug’s ongoing research.  On September 19 we exchanged a flurry of emails back and forth for about four hours.  Then, everything began to fall into place — who Roy really was and that his likely birth father was the son of a German immigrant, George B. Zimpelman.  A Y-DNA test would soon prove Doug’s theories.  Doug and I reconnected recently when I decided to include the story in the March issue.  I’ve since uncovered even more details and was able to significantly enhance the Texas feud story.  It wasn’t an insignificant event, but one that had been simmering for years in the post-Reconstruction era.

It was such an interesting research adventure, and despite my part in it being rather minuscule, I had to write about it.  As a matter of fact, I’m still writing about it as I’ve uncovered more about the Zimpelman family.  Several days ago I contacted other members of the Zimpelman family and now they are becoming aware of this amazing story.

By the way, the Zimpelman saga continues next month as April will feature a focus on stories from the Civil War.  This month’s story arc includes not only the “family history mystery” but an updated article on the El Paso Salt War.  Additionally, a ghost town story and a repeat of the Dawson mine explosion article are both related to Doug’s family history mystery.

One good story begets another, I say!  Read the entire story arc (and more) in the March issue, available on sale here.  Or, purchase a subscription here (buy a subscription during March and it will begin with March issue).


Keywords:  Family history mystery, Roy Simpleman, George B. Zimpelman, George Walter Kyle Zimpelman, El Paso Salt War, solving genealogy problems with DNA, breaking down brick walls with DNA, Digging History Magazine, Dawson New Mexico 1913 mine explosion, Digging History, mining history, historic mine disasters.




Galveston: Ellis Island of Texas and the Storm That Changed Everything

Here are some excerpts from the March issue of Digging History Magazine.  It’s packed with stories, beginning with a series of articles on Galveston, Texas:

  • Galveston: The Ellis Island of Texas
  • The Storm That Changed Everything
  • Isaac Cline’s Fish Story

So much emphasis has been placed on Ellis Island, and certainly thousands of immigrants passed through there (as well as other ports like Baltimore and Philadelphia).  However, many immigrants actually came through Gulf of Mexico ports like New Orleans and Galveston.  If immigrants were headed for the American Midwest states and territories of Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska, Galveston landed them hundreds of miles closer to their destination than arriving at an Atlantic port.

The first residents of the island weren’t the most welcoming. One historian called the Karankawas, whose presence on the island dates back to the 1400s, a “remarkably antisocial tribe”.  Although thought to have been cannibalistic, evidence seems to indicate that is probably not true.

Between 1817 and 1821 it was home to Jean Lafitte and his band of pirates. Following their departure the Port of Galveston was established as a small trading post in 1825. By 1835 it was the home port of the Texas Navy.

Norwegian and Swedish immigrants began arriving in Texas in the 1830s and 1840s, some over land and some making entry at Galveston. Most notably during this same time period, large groups of German immigrants also arrived in the port.

By the late nineteenth century and early twentieth Galveston had become a cosmopolitan gateway city.  What happened to the city in early September 1900 would change everything, however.  A storm which had been birthed thousands of miles away along the western coast of Africa was about to impact the Gulf of Mexico, something Isaac Cline, Galveston’s resident meteorologist, had stated nine years earlier could never happen.  How wrong he was.

Thousands of tourists were on the beach, restaurants were full and a massive storm was about to wipe out much of the beach city of Galveston.

Even today no one seems sure just how many people died, except to say that it was the most disastrous hurricane in history – estimates range from six to eight thousand fatalities. Cora’s body was later found on September 30 underneath the very wreckage that Isaac, his daughters and Joseph clung to during the height of the storm. Her body was identified by her wedding ring. Among the dead were ten nuns and ninety children of the St. Mary’s Orphans Asylum.

By the following day, headlines across the country began to report the tragedy, albeit having somewhat sketchy details to report since Galveston’s communication lines had been severed in the midst of the storm. Survivors were met with horrible conditions in the aftermath. Corpses of both humans and animals were strewn about everywhere. Early on Monday, September 10, efforts were underway to try and bury the humans. City officials, however, abandoned that plan – there were simply too many bodies. By Monday afternoon they were planning to have a mass burial at sea.

The bodies would have weights attached and transported out into the Gulf on barges. This was a gruesome task, to say the least, and to entice men to carry it out the city offered free whiskey. Enough men signed up, but after becoming exceedingly drunk, were incapable of securing the weights properly, causing hundreds of bodies to wash back up on the beach on Tuesday morning. The only option left was to burn the bodies. The smell of burning flesh and plumes of smoke hung in the air for several weeks.

Isaac Cline’s Fish Story

The Galveston hurricane notwithstanding, Isaac Cline had witnessed some unusual weather events during his career.  Probably the most unusual one sounds like a far-fetched tall Texas fish tale — how it happened and why it happened were astonishingly true, however.

Isaac Cline had witnessed some unusual weather events during his lifetime. Following his graduation from medical school in March of 1885 Cline was assigned to the weather station at Fort Concho near San Angelo, Texas. Weather was what he was always interested in apparently, yet he received a medical degree to claim a scientific background. Instead, he surmised he could study weather and its affects on people, thus welding the two disciplines.

Isaac must have thought he’d arrived in hell. The landscape was largely barren and it was hotter than Hades during the summer months. The Concho River was dry during this particular season of the year. Yet, one evening in August as Isaac was strolling along, crossing the bridge over the river, he was startled to hear a distant roar. Was it thunder? No, but it wasn’t long before he saw with his own eyes where it was coming from.

Read the rest of these stories (and more) in the March issue, available on sale here.  Or, purchase a subscription here (buy a subscription during March and it will begin with March issue).

Keywords:  Cleng Peerson, Ellis Island of Texas, Erik Larson, Fort Concho, Galveston, Hotel Galvez, Isaac Cline, Isaac Cline fish story, Isaac’s Storm, Jean Lafitte, Jewish immigration, Karankawa, New York of the Gulf, Norwegian immigration, San Angelo Texas, St. Mary’s Orphans Asylum, Swiss immigration, Texas immigration, The Guide to Texas Emigrants, Galveston 1900 hurricane

Digging History Magazine: Introducing Appalachian Histories & Mysteries

Even though I’ve never experienced the trauma of dealing with a family member’s tragic death by murder, I can still imagine how those left behind would wish their loved one could somehow appear in court, exacting revenge by testifying against the monster who took their life.  Unfortunately, ghosts can’t testify — right?

No, of course not — except it did happen one time, the event commemorated with a historical marker no less.  The story begins like this:

Death, that indomitable specter lingering above all humanity, forgets no one. For millennia, humans have routinely encountered, feared, personified, glorified, deified, and battled death – for it is a thing that exists with absolute certainty yet lives without face or home. In our modern world, we push the immediacy of death to the outskirts of our lives. Modern medicine and technological advancement means that we now live longer and safer than ever before and that our sense of life is no longer fleeting and fragile. Modernity and industry failed to sever our deep-rooted ties to the ethereal; we continue to believe in the things that go bump in the night and what might reside in the old, derelict house down the road for reasons lost to time.

I am thrilled to introduce a new contributor (the first!) to Digging History Magazine.  Kalen Martin-Gross describes herself as a “passionate historian” with Appalachian roots running at least eight generations deep.  She grew up “mean as a snake” (her words) in southwest Virginia listening to stories her great-grandmother told of days long gone by.  She and her great-grandmother, a major figure in her life, had a special bond.

Kalen believes her upbringing in rural Virginia helped shape her view of the world and views herself as an old, artistic soul who often sees the value and appreciates the beauty of the seemingly ordinary. Her photographic work has been described as raw, authentic, and beautiful. I think the same can be said of her writing and passion for history.

You will not want to miss Kalen’s debut article for Digging History Magazine, a true-to-life story of a ghost who had her own day in court, so to speak.  The March issue is on sale hereSubscriptions are also available (3-month, 6-month and one-year).

Sharon Hall, Publisher and Editor, Digging History Magazine

Digging History Magazine: Subscription by Check?

Potential Digging History Magazine customers have been asking. “Can I pay by check?”  The answer is “Yes” but for subscriptions only.  Monthly and Special Edition issues are by Credit Card or PayPal only.  Why is that?  It would simply be too cumbersome to keep up with monthly individual issue purchases.  However, since subscriptions are for a term of your choosing (3-month,  6-month or one-year) it’s a bit easier to accept checks and keep track of customers.

If you’d like to buy a subscription, but prefer to pay by check, simply send a message on the Contact Page.  I’ll contact you and make arrangements for payment by check.  Note:  Payment via Credit Card or PayPal is preferred because it’s easier to keep track of subscribers, but realize some customers aren’t comfortable making purchases online.

Payment by Credit Card or PayPal (safe and convenient payment gateways) assures you will receive your first issue immediately.  Paying by check will delay delivery of your first issue because the check must be mailed and processed before you receive your first issue.

I appreciate your interest in Digging History Magazine and I’m proud to offer it to like-minded lovers of history!  Subscriptions are now available.  Purchase any subscription level this month (February) and you’ll also receive a free copy of the inaugural January issue.

Sharon Hall, Publisher and Editor, Digging History Magazine

Digging History Magazine: Subscriptions Now Available (Finally!)

You asked for it and now it’s even easier to get the monthly issue of Digging History Magazine delivered to your inbox.  Subscriptions are finally available!

The magazine site has been re-designed and tweaked and you’ll find it easier to navigate.  Ready to make a purchase?  Just go to “Magazine Store” and start shopping:



Buy a Subscription

Here you may choose three levels of subscriptions:

  • Just want to test the waters?  Select the $9.00 Quarterly Subscription (3 issues).
  • Want to wade out a little farther?  Select the $18.00 Semi-Yearly Subscription (6 issues).
  • Ready to take the big plunge?  Select the $36.00 Yearly Subscription (12 issues).

Your first issue (current month of purchase) will be attached to the receipt. Thereafter, throughout the course of your subscription, you will receive the next issue sometime between the 1st and 5th of the month via email.  Download to your computer or tablet and enjoy!

Monthly Issues

Click to shop monthly individual issues.  The latest month’s issue will be at the top — click an image to view table of contents.  There is also an archive selection box in the right-hand sidebar area of the page.

Special Editions

Click to shop Special Edition issues.  These will be added from time to time and most will be dedicated to a specific topic, e.g. “Early American Faith” (99 pages) which is currently available.

Individual Articles

Did you see an article previously posted on the Digging History blog and you’d like to have a copy?  Many articles, such as those posted under “Tombstone Tuesday” were popular with family history researchers.  Click here to purchase individual articles for a nominal fee.  All articles will include footnotes and sources.  If you don’t see the article you’re looking for, just contact us and we’ll try to get it for you (for a nominal fee).

Free Samples

Still not sure if you want to purchase an issue or try a subscription?  Go to this page to download a magazine sample which will contain a few selected pages so you can see the design and selected pages of content.

The Blog

The magazine site also has a blog page where site news and notices of special offers will be posted from time to time.  Don’t want to miss out?  Look for the “Subscribe to Blog via Email” area on most pages.  Just provide your email address and subscribe.

Special Offers You Say?

Here’s a special offer for you — purchase any subscription level this month (February 2018) and automatically receive a free copy of the January 2018 inaugural issue (delivered separately).

March 2018 Issue

The March issue is being designed and written now and will be available on March 1.  This issue will feature the introduction of our new columnist, Kalen Martin-Gross.  The name of her column:  Appalachian Histories & Mysteries.  Kalen describes herself as a “passionate historian” of all things Appalachian.  Born and reared in western North Carolina, she brings a unique perspective to her stories.  I can’t wait to introduce her to you!

Thanks for your patience while the site was being designed — and thanks to those who made individual issue purchases from the beginning.  Your support is greatly appreciated!

Sharon Hall, Publisher and Editor of Digging History Magazine


Baby, It Was Cold Outside: Historic United States Blizzards

The word “blizzard”, at least in terms of a violent snowstorm, hasn’t been around as long as one might think. “Blizzard” or “Blizard” are ancient family names, although speculation abounds as to its origin as a surname. One source proposes it may have been a variant of the word “blessed”, perhaps even a nickname.

Two instances in Olde English (”blieths”) and Middle English (”blisse”) mean joy and gladness, and by adding the French suffix “-ard” a term emerges which means a person with those particular qualities. It is only a theory, however.

The word “blizzard” came into usage in America, perhaps in the early nineteenth century, but not as a reference to a snow storm. Colonel David “Davy” Crockett used the term in a memoir of his tour to the “North and Down East”.  At Delaware City he boarded a steamboat to Philadelphia and at dinner with his fellow passengers was called upon to offer a toast. Not knowing the sort of people he was dining with, nor what they thought of him personally, he wrote:

. . . . .

The Washington and Jefferson Snow Storm of 1772

This historic storm, called the Washington and Jefferson Snow Storm of 1772, was one of the largest snow storms to ever hit the northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. area . At the time, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were prominent landowners and both were interested in the weather and how it affected their agricultural interests. We know this because both future presidents recorded weather details in their personal diaries.

. . . . .

The School Children’s Blizzard

This epic storm is reminiscent of an episode of Little House On The Prairie, entitled “Blizzard”. It may well have been based on the 1888 storm which came to be called “The School Children’s Blizzard” or the “School House Blizzard.”

On January 12, 1888 the weather had cleared after a late December-early January storm system dropped massive amounts of snow across the northern and central plains, which was then followed by a four-day cold blast of extremely low temperatures. Between January 11 and the early morning of January 12, many places saw temperatures rise dramatically, twenty to forty degrees.

The temperatures had risen in advance of a significant Arctic cold front being fed by Gulf of Mexico moisture. Many had been home-bound for days because of the snow, ice and brutally cold temperatures. The “balminess” of January 12 lured people out of their homes – little did they realize how quickly the weather was about to change.

, , , , , ,

1913: The Year of Epic Weather Disasters

From beginning to end, the year 1913 was a meteorologically-challenging year. In 1912 the Mississippi River had flooded, killing two hundred people and causing $45 million in damages.

1913 would bring even more catastrophic weather events with extremes from epic blizzards to rain in near “biblical proportions” to scorching summer heat. On July 10, 1913 the highest temperature ever recorded in the United States occurred in Death Valley (134 degrees!).

. . . . . These are but a few snippets of the feature article on historic United States Blizzards.  To read the entire article (complete with footnotes and sources), purchase the February issue of Digging History Magazine ($2.99).  A few sample pages are available for download at this link if you’d like to see the entire table of contents.  This issue features several articles, most related to snow in some way — amazing how much history one can find about snow, blizzards and such — baby cages and snowbank cradles, the ghost town of Snowball, Arkansas, Civil War snowball fights and more.  An information-packed 52-page issue which includes a bibliography and a special supplement relating to an article about genealogical fraud.

Keywords:  The Big Die-Up, The Great White Hurricane, Children’s Blizzard, Washington and Jefferson Snow Storm of 1772, Great Blizzard of 1888, Knickerbocker Theater Disaster, Great Appalachian Storm of 1950, Washed Way by Geoff Williams, David Laskin, School Children’s Blizzard, Davy Crockett, blizzard, historic blizzards, Blizzard surname, Snowball Arkansas, Ghost Towns, baby cages, snowbank cradles, genealogical fraud, Gustave Anjou, Fighting Civil War Boredom, Civil War snowball fights, 1913 weather events

Digging History Magazine: February 2018

The February issue of Digging History Magazine has been posted and is available for purchase here:  February 2018

It’s winter and it’s all (mostly) about snow.  Who knew snow had so much history — 52 pages packed with lots of history, footnotes and sources and a special supplement!

  • Baby, It Was Cold Outside:  Historic United States Blizzards
  • Believe it or not . . . strangers things have happened:  Baby Cages and Snowbank Cradles
  • Don’t be Duped:  Genealogical Fraud
  • What’s in a (Sur)name? . . . “Snowy Surnames” and Snow Ships
  • Ghost Towns:  Snowball, Arkansas
  • The Dash:  Isaac Lafayette and Arabazena Ottalee Castleberry . . . and more!

The inaugural January issue is also available for $2.99 and the Early American Faith special edition is available for $4.99.

At the stroke of midnight … this deal ends!

The clock is ticking on this one — FOUR more hours (Midnight, CST) and the January issue pf Digging History Magazine won’t be free, but still available for its regular price of $2.99.  For complete details on this offer, click this link or contact us on the Magazine Contact page with your name, email address and type “Free Copy” in the message box.

Never fear … we’ll have more special offers and giveaways now and again.  Follow us on Facebook and you won’t miss out:  https://www.facebook.com/digginghistorymag/


The February issue will be up in a few hours.  Here are some highlights (our “practically all-things-snow” issue):

  • Baby, It Was Cold Outside:  Historic United States Blizzards
  • Believe it or not . . . strangers things have happened:  Baby Cages and Snowbank Cradles
  • Don’t be Duped:  Genealogical Fraud
  • What’s in a (Sur)name? . . . “Snowy Surnames” and Snow Ships
  • Ghost Towns:  Snowball, Arkansas
  • The Dash:  Isaac Lafayette and Arabazena Ottalee Castleberry . . . and more!

Help us build our customer base and get the magazine off to a great start!  Share this post on Facebook and other social media or purchase a copy and send us feedback.


Sharon Hall, Publisher and Editor


It’s Free: What’s to Lose?

The January issue of Digging History Magazine is FREE until Midnight — just 12 more hours to claim your free copy before the February issue goes on sale!  See full deal details here.

It’s easy… just contact us here with your name, email address, and type “free copy” in the message box.

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