Mining Genealogical Gold: Early American “Tweetstorms” (He Said, She Said)

I just posted an article at the magazine site about an early American way for husband and wife to have it out in a public forum — what we today might call a “tweetstorm”, by exchanging jabs back and forth.

Check it out here at the Digging History Magazine blog.

Try a free issue?  Go to the blog page via the link above and on the right-hand side of the page (or bottom of any page) provide your email and subscribe to the magazine blog.  A free issue will be on its way soon!

Like Peeling an Onion: Uncovering History One Story at a Time

This month’s issue of Digging History Magazine seemed excruciatingly long to complete (it did run over my “normal” deadline of the first day of the month).  It’s out today, and even though it took a bit longer, I think it was well worth it to spend the extra time writing the lead article about the dreamers and drifters, gunslingers and grifters who caught Klondike fever.  They even had a name for it — KLONDICITIS!

The lead article features an “onion story” of sorts — one I’ve long wanted to write since stumbling across the original source material several years ago.  The more I researched (like peeling layers of an onion) the more the story developed.  Throw in some newspaper research with the original source material and something more than an article was written — more of short story about two young dreamers who married one evening and caught the next train to Seattle before hopping on a boat to Alaska and the Klondike.  Jesse and Lepha Mae (Bennett) Edgren were in love, full of hope for the future and oh so sure they could strike it rich in the Klondike.

I won’t be “spoiling” the story here, only to say it’s both a heartwarming story, yet full of pathos — perhaps more than any of the hundreds of stories which came out of the Klondike Gold Rush.  I thoroughly enjoyed researching and writing it and I hope (if you’re not already a subscriber) you’ll consider purchasing a copy which includes this short story/saga of Jesse and Mae.

Pick up your copy of the August issue here or buy a subscription here.  Buy a one-year subscription and use the “2OFFSPGS” discount code at checkout for $2 off.

Sharon Hall, Publisher and Editor, Digging History Magazine

Digging History Magazine: Sharpen Your Genealogy Skills – Read an Old Newspaper (or two or ten)!

Today I was putting the finishing touches on an article for the August issue of Digging History Magazine.  The article, originally published in November 2013, is being “re-purposed” (as I like to call it these days).  In the case of this particular article it involved almost a complete re-write of the original article.  The subject, Nellie Ross Cullens-Norwood, is the same, but her story has been updated with a far more interesting story than the original.  Why’s that?

Quite simply, online newspaper research — something I didn’t have much access to back in 2013 as I was just starting the Digging History blog and beginning to assist clients with family history research.  Since then, I’ve learned the rewards (despite the subscription costs) of newspaper research.

Genealogists love combing through old newspapers to (hopefully) find an obituary — the kind that provides the vital information we all look for:  birth date, birth place, parents, children and more.  Some items, however, amount to little more than a death notice, announcing a funeral service.  Those are disappointing for sure.

Don’t despair, though!  Try a different tack and look for items which mention your ancestor before their death.  You might be surprised as to what you’ll find.

In the case of the “Dash” article for the August issue, I found the more I dug around in old newspapers the more I learned about Nellie.  What had first caught my eye back in 2013 was the fact she appeared to have moved Alaska (about 50 miles from the Arctic Circle) sometime between 1924 and 1930.  She was born in 1859 so she would have been approaching 70.

The original article had a lot of “unknowns”, but when I began digging for more this weekend, I discovered (perhaps) some reasons for why she might have struck out on her own.  For genealogists, newspaper research is vital — and not just obituaries.  If you want the real story — the person’s life “between the dash” — start digging!  While newspaper archive subscription cost can be out-of-reach for some, consider looking around for free sites like these:

There are many more to choose from these days since states are beginning to provide this valuable resource.  These are but a few of my favorites — and I use them despite the fact I spend (big) bucks to subscribe to sites like, Genealogy Bank and  What’s great about the free state-based sites is you might find a small hometown newspaper.

Next month’s issue will be out on August 1, and given that August is often one of the hottest months of the year, we’re going north (way north) to Alaska and the Klondike.  Dreamers, drifters, grifters and gunslingers — men (and women) caught “Klondicitis” (that was an actual term used in newspapers!).  Missing an ancestor around the turn of the twentieth century?  Have you looked north?  If not, you should.  Gold fever was everywhere!

This issue won’t just be about one of the coldest places on earth, there’s an article entitled “Eleven Days of Hellish Heat” — weather so hot people were driven insane!  Monthly issues are available for sale as well as subscriptions of varying lengths:  month-to-month, 3-month, 6-month and one-year.  Use the discount code “2OFF SPGS” at checkout for an extra $2 off a one-year subscription.  Want to try a free issue before deciding whether to sign up?  At the bottom of any page of the magazine site, provide your email and subscribe to the blog.  A free issue will soon be on its way to your inbox.

Stay cool!

Sharon Hall, Publisher and Editor, Digging History Magazine



I’ve been thinking lately about why I take the time to write and publish Digging History Magazine every month.  Yes, I have subscribers and thus I must write!  I also want to continue writing (which entails a lot of digging and a lot of work!) because I’m finding it’s not only a good discipline, it makes me a better researcher for clients who hire me to find their ancestors.

Case in point:  The July issue included an extensively researched article about a long-forgotten event in early American history, the so-called Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence.  I stumbled upon this document and its premise while conducting ancestry research for a client about a year ago.  I made a mental note — that would make a great article!  Little did I know just how beneficial it would be.  While conducting a short research project for a client this past week I was studying a Revolutionary War record, a list of soldiers who were members of the North Carolina Rangers.

In addition to spotting a possible ancestor of the client’s, I observed a couple of other surnames which just might lead to clues as well.  I recognized the surnames of Davidson and Brevard, two names prominent in Mecklenburg County and surrounding areas during the Revolutionary War — not to mention a possible association with the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence.  Other researchers had placed my client’s ancestor farther west in Buncombe County, which by the way wasn’t organized until 1791.  Many trees on have perpetuated this for so long that I now consider it a brick wall which needs to be bulldozed in order to find another path to discovering the real story.

For those who think ancestry research is easy because they can just copy from other trees on (or any number of other sites), think again.  Genealogical research is not for the faint of heart and it should never rely on the “research” of others unless they have provided adequate (and credible) sources.  In the case of my client, his distant cousin seemed to be guessing at best, or had copied (and thus perpetuated) a research myth about this potential ancestor.  Based on studying the Revolutionary War record I already have alternative theories for finding the real story — theories which I have formulated based in part on researching and writing the article about Mecklenburg.

And, you know what?  I hope those who take the time to read Digging History Magazine become better researchers as well, or even just more informed about history and how our world has been influenced (good and bad) by the people and events we write about each month.  Are you a subscriber?  No?  Would you like to try an issue before deciding?

Receiving a free issue is easy.  Just go to the magazine site and scroll to the bottom of any page and find the “Subscribe to the Blog via Email” box.  Type your email and subscribe and a free issue will soon be on its way to your inbox!  Subscriptions are easy to purchase and available in varying lengths depending on your budget:  month-to-month, 3-month, 6-month and one year.  One year subscriptions are a better deal when using the discount code “2OFFSUM18” at checkout.  This discount code expires on August 31, 2018.  NOTE:  If you read this article after that date, contact us for another code — always happy to welcome more subscribers on board via special discounts!


Sharon Hall, Publisher and Editor, Digging History Magazine

July 4, 1876: It Was a BLAST!

July 4, 1876 – The United States was celebrating its first centennial eleven years following the end of the Civil War. In Philadelphia, soldiers from the North and South, “the Blue and the Gray”, marched together. There were lively and soul-stirring festivities held throughout the country, speeches galore, fireworks – or “Gunpowder and Glory”.  As cannons were fired and firecrackers lit, explosions and costly fires marred the festivities for some. In Philadelphia one headline read “A Salute That Cost Several Hundred Thousand Dollars.”  “A Dynamite Horror” occurred around the same time elsewhere in Philadelphia.  In Brooklyn headlines read:


DESTRUCTION:  What the Centennial Cost Brooklyn

It was America’s 100th anniversary and it was time to celebrate!  All the celebrating rattled more than a few nerves, however.  The Fourth was truly a blast (after blast, after blast)!  For more on this story, see the July issue of Digging History Magazine on sale here or celebrate the Fourth with a subscription here.

Victorian Fashion: Bicycles, Bloomers and Suffrage

“Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives women a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel…and away she goes, the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood.”

So declared Susan Brownell Anthony, social reformer and women’s rights activist, in 1898. For hundreds of years women had been dependent on a man to take them wherever they needed or wanted to go. Suddenly, with a little practice on the new-fangled two-wheeled machine, they were free to go wherever and whenever they pleased. It truly was liberating!

Young and old alike, women were discovering the joys of bicycling. At the age of fifty-three, following her mother’s death, Frances Willard – activist, social reformer, suffragist and one of the founding members of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union – decided she had new worlds to conquer. She would learn to ride a bicycle.

The rest of the story (plus all the controversies and perceived detriments to women’s health – what exactly was “bicycle face“!?!) can be found in the June issue of Digging History MagazineSubscriptions are also available (month-to-month, 3-month, 6-month and 1 year) — easy to subscribe and receive an issue every month in your inbox (60-70 pages of colorful graphics, history and genealogy focused articles and virtually ad free.  In other words, just history!).


Keywords: Amelia Bloomer, bicycle face, bloomers,Digging History Magazine,Frances Willard, safety bicycle, Susan B. Anthony, Women’s Christian Temperance Union, women’s suffrage, bloomerism. Mary Gove Nichols, Victorian fashion, Victorian dress reform, Dr. Mary E. Walker, wheelwoman, flopping skirts, scorchers, bicycle scorchers


Road-Tripping Across America (with everything but the kitchen sink!)

The June issue of Digging History Magazine features stories on road-tripping (as it’s called today).  These road trips, however, were a far cry from the ones we take today.  The early ones took weeks to cross America from coast-to-coast — shovels, shotguns and lots of patience were required!  Automobile races had been around for awhile and another one — possibly the most audacious of all — was to take place in the dead of winter.  This one would begin in New York and end in Paris, via Alaska and Siberia.  It’s been called The Great Race of 1908.

Yet, when J.M. Murdock decided to drive his family home to Johnstown, Pennsylvania from Pasadena, California in 1908 his hometown newspaper thought the Murdock trip could very well exceed interest for the planned race around the world later that year.  By the time the Murdock family had packed their car it was a good thing the maps were of the vest-pocket size, as they likely couldn’t have fit one more thing.  The description of what they took along on their trip reminds one of the I Love Lucy episode when the Ricardos and Mertzes were headed to California.  The article, entitled “Rolling Along in an Automobile:  America’s Love Affair with the Road Trip”, traces the history of family road trips, including early travelers hitting the road with their new-fangled machines and “everything but the kitchen sink”, earning them the somewhat pejorative nickname “Tin Can Tourists”.  From Tin Can Tourists came the auto camps which morphed into motor courts and then roadside motels.

The story of the Murdock family’s trek across the country will make you grateful for the traveling conveniences we all take for granted today.  The June issue is on sale here Subscriptions are also available:  a budget-conscious month-to-month plan (or take a “test drive”); 3-month; 6-month and 1-year.  Use the “2OFFSUM18” discount code at checkout for a one-year subscription for an even better deal.

Here’s a deal worth taking a look at:  On the right-hand side of this page find the “Subscribe to Blog Via Email” section, type your email address and Subscribe.  Then, look for a free issue of Digging History Magazine in your email inbox just for signing up as a follower.

Digging History Magazine: June 2018 Issue on Sale Now!

This month’s issue of Digging History Magazine is out and available for sale — or better yet, start your subscription with this “Road Trip!” issue.  Articles include:

  • On a Whim and a Bet:  America’s First Coast-to-Coast Automobile Trip
  • Rolling Along in an Automobile:  America’s Love Affair with the Family Road Trip
  • The Great Race of 1908:  New York to Paris (via Alaska and Siberia)
  • Victorian Pastimes:  Girdling the Globe
  • Victorian Fashion:  Bicycles, Bloomers and Suffrage
  • Appalachian Histories & Mysteries:  Edith Bolling Wilson – Virginia’s Ninth President
  • Genealogical Head-Scratcher:  Stumbling Across Hidden Cousins
  • Are Emerging Technology and Shifting Societal Norms Changing the Rules of Genealogical Research?
  • Ghost Towns of the Mother Road
  • Nineteenth Century Rainmaking: Part I
  • The Dash:  Henry P. Ewing, Blind Miner

Subscriptions are easy and affordable.  A new month-to-month option has been added recently for the budget-conscious.  Purchase a single issue (this month’s or search the archives) in the magazine store.  Save even more by applying this discount code at checkout when purchasing a one-year subscription:  “2OFFSUM18”.

Summer is just around the corner (at least when the calendar says it’s summer!).  Be safe out there!

Sharon Hall, Publisher and Editor, Digging History Magazine

Digging History Magazine: Why Subscribe?

Why should you subscribe?  Quite simply, you’re missing out!  Each issue has increased in size and content (January-40; May-70 pages) with virtually no ads — just stories:  Here are some recent comments from subscribers:

I started reading the first issue of Digging History yesterday. (It’s been a busy week.) I’ve already learned a great deal and am having a great time doing it. Your very well written articles are a joy. I especially appreciate your use of family stories to both engage a reader and at the same time emphasize and illustrate what to look for while researching. Your combination of extensive knowledge, experience, love of stories and sense of humor are a winning mix. Each of your articles has been a great read. Time and money well spent.  Many thanks, Ginny

Read the April issue and really enjoyed it.  Thank you so much for your hard work. — Lin

Thank you for sharing these issues, Sharon! You are right about their size increasing. They are packed full of articles I can’t wait to read! Just thumbing through them has brought some of my own genealogy adventures and discoveries to mind. Very thought provoking. I love that.  Thanks, again! — Tami

Subscribe in the Digging History Magazine Store.  Now offering month-to-month, 3-month, 6-month and 1-year subscriptions.  Purchase a one-year subscription before 11:59 p.m. May 31 and use the “2DHMAY” discount code applied at checkout for an extra $2.00 off PLUS receive the first FOUR issues of the magazine (January-April) absolutely FREE.  That’s 16 issues for the price (and a REDUCED one at that) of 12.  Special contest offer details here until the end of August.

Questions?  Contact me directly:

Sharon Hall, Publisher and Editor, Digging History Magazine

Digging History Magazine: Fab Four-Issue Special Will End Soon!

Don’t miss out on this “fab” deal which expires at 11:59 p.m. on May 31, 2018.  Purchase a one-year subscription and use “2DHMAY” at checkout for an additional $2.00 off.  PLUS for the price of a one-year subscription you will received the first issues (January – April 2018) FREE — 16 issues for the price of 12!

If that’s not enough . . . purchase ANY subscription (month-to-month, 3-month, 6-month or 1-year) and get a chance to win a GRAND prize at summer’s end (August 31).  Details here.

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