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.

Digging History Magazine: Caprock Genealogy Conference Special

I attended the first annual Caprock Genealogy Conference on May 12 and had a vendor table for Digging History Magazine with special subscription rates available to all attendees.

Now I’d like to extend that special to everyone.  For one-week (5/14/18 – 5/21/18) I’m offering the same discount for ONE-YEAR subscriptions ONLY.  To access the special discount:

You will receive the first issue (May 2018) with your purchase.

ONE WEEK ONLY!  Take advantage of this special offer and you’ll also be entered into the current contest to win either a custom-designed family history chart or a ten-hour block of ancestry research (value $250-300).


Digging History Magazine: Who Would Name Their Son “States Rights”?

Who would name their son “States Rights”?  Certainly not a Yankee!

A few years ago while snooping around Find-A-Grave to research a person to write about for my “Tombstone Tuesday” column, I stumbled across men named “States Rights” whose parents turned out to be proud Southerners who made a statement by naming their sons in honor of the burning issue of slavery — before, during and long after the Civil War.

It’s an article written for the regular Digging History Magazine column, “Believe it or not . . . stranger things have happened” and featured in the Civil War-themed April issue.  Purchase a single issue or start a subscription (3-month, 6-month or one-year).

SPECIAL OFFER:  Everyone who purchases a subscription of any length between now and June 30, 2018 is entered to win either a 10-hour block of genealogical research or a custom family history chart, valued up to $300.  Recommend a friend and get TWO more entries.

Sharon Hall, Publisher and Editor, Digging History Magazine



Digging History Magazine – North and South: Profiles in Courage

When I decided to feature a Civil War theme for the April issue of Digging History Magazine, I knew I needed to find two compelling stories of men who fought on opposite sides.  While researching stories for the March issue related to the Zimpelman family (“Who Were You Roy Simpleman?” and “Feuding and Fighting:  The El Paso Salt War”), I decided the character I would feature to represent the Confederacy was George Bernhard Zimpelman, a German-born Texan.  What I didn’t fully realize was just how valiantly he served.

I also looked for a Union soldier to feature and found the riveting story of Francis Jefferson Coates.  He grew up as a Wisconsin farm boy and joined the much-heralded “Iron Brigade”, an amalgamation of hard-scrabble farmers and lumberman of Wisconsin.  After being wounded at South Mountain he was promoted to corporal and later sergeant, about four months before Gettysburg.  Gettysburg would be his last military battle, but not his final life challenge.

Two different backgrounds, two brave soldiers, two powerful stories.  The April issue is available on sale as a single issue, or start a subscription of any length (3-month, 6-month or one year) and receive it as your first issue.  SPECIAL OFFER:  Everyone who purchases a subscription of any length between now and June 30, 2018 is entered to win either a 10-hour block of genealogical research or a custom family history chart, valued up to $300.  Recommend a friend and get TWO more entries.

Sharon Hall, Publisher and Editor, Digging History Magazine


Digging History Magazine: Special Offers

Digging History Magazine launched with a BANG! in January and this introductory special offer will be coming to an end on March 31.  Purchase either a single issue or a 3-month, 6-month or one-year subscription for a chance to win one of these prize packages:

  • 1 hour ancestry research
  • 1 hour newspaper research
  • American History E-Book Package
    • American Eclipse
    • The Man From the Train
    • Killers of the Flower Moon
  • Nancy E. Turner E-Book Package
    • These is my Words
    • Sarah’s Quilt
    • The Star Garden
    • My Name is Resolute
  • Genealogy/DNA E-Book Package:
    • The Stranger in My Genes
    • The Foundling
    • Finding Family

All packages are worth approximately the same.  This special offer will run through March.  Enter to win here with your purchase.


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

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