On This Day 122 Years Ago . . .

the Klondike Gold Rush was off and running as George Carmack, brother-in-law Skookum Jim and his nephew Dawson Charlie filed the Discovery Claim on Bonanza Creek in the Canadian Yukon on August 16, 1896.  Men (and women) began flocking to the Yukon as newspapers dubbed the gold fever “Klondicitis”.  A Honolulu newspaper just knew it was a fever and it was catching: IT’S KLONDICITIS! The Disease That Threatens the Country In California five victims of the new disease known as “Klondicitis” were being committed to the state asylum.  A preacher turned his back for good on the pulpit and headed for the North, a sure case of Klondicitis! This month’s feature article in Digging History Magazine, “Dreamers and Drifters, Gunslingers and Grifters (Simply a Great Mad Rush)”, includes not only a poignant story about a couple of young dreamers who just knew they could strike it rich, but stories about drifters like George Carmack and grifter-extraordinaire Jefferson “Soapy” Smith.  My third cousin, thrice-removed, Wyatt Earp, caught the Alaskan gold fever a bit later — he and Josephine had a grand time (while it lasted). And, it was good while it lasted as some came out rich beyond their wildest imaginations (“Klondike Christmas: A True Rags-to-Riches Story”) and more than a few went home discouraged and empty-handed (or, unfortunately, died trying). This month’s issue is on sale here, or consider purchasing a month-to-month, three-month, six-month or one-year subscription here.  Easy and safe to purchase or subscribe and subscription payments are recurring until you tell me you want to cancel.  Buy a one-year subscription and apply the discount code “2OFFSPGS”  at...

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...

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...

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...

Why?

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 Ancestry.com have perpetuated this for so long that I now consider it a brick wall which needs to be bulldozed in...

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: FIREWORKS 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...