31 Days to Better Genealogy – Day 13

31 Days to Better Genealogy – Day 13

I’m taking Amy Crow’s challenge for 31 Days to Better Genealogy and blog Amy’s questions, with my answers; I plan to make one blog post, adding daily. Hopefully by the end of the 31 days, I will learn how to better solve some of my genealogy questions. If you haven’t signed up yet, just click on the link below… never too late to catch up!

31 Days to Better Genealogy by Amy Johnson Crow gives you practical steps to make your research more productive. Whether you are just beginning to climb your family tree or have been doing this for years, you can adapt the tips and methods in 31 Days to Better Genealogy to suit your needs

Day 13 – Use Newspapers (and Not Just for Obits)

I love finding a newspaper clipping with my ancestors names and photographs – who doesn’t! You can easily fall down the rabbit hole as you search – what does that mean? Well, haven’t you found yourself reading and reading all the articles coming up in your search, as it’s all so interesting – and it all isn’t just on your ancestor – it’s fun reading the history of the era and sometimes what they published as news of the day – is very comical to us today and sad.

My first search in Chronicling America on Dahlonega, Georgia turned up this clip!


Two well-known names in the Dahlonega, Georgia area; I wouldn’t be surprised if they weren’t connected to my Bryan lines as distant cousins.

I took Amy’s ideas to search differently today – in newspapers – and began with her listings she posted below.

·         Chronicling America, by the Library of Congress

·         Fulton History (It looks a little “different,” but it has more than 35 million pages of newspapers.)

·         Trove Digitised Newspapers (Australia)

·         The National Archives (UK) Links to Digitised Newspapers

I will be exploring these newspapers in more depth…. but work is calling so it was a few short searches; the accounts I found of life and times in Dahlonega caught my interest!


Dahlonega life in 1838

This newspaper article from 1838 gave accounts of the area from where my ancestors arrived first arrived in 1834. Dahlonega sits at the foot of the Alleghany Mountains in Lumpkin county and reported to be the wealthiest gold region in the United States.

It referred to Dahlonega as a village, and I guess with a population of around 500, then it was a village. Their homes at that time were simple log cabins – built from the forests that surrounded the area. My mind is immediately picturing those cabins – how picturesque! Although I might not have thought that if I lived in one – in 1838! There were harsh winters in that area…. I imagine the winds blew right through those cracks if not enough chinking; a word I learned from watching Barnwood Builders. (Love that show)

As the gold belt in Georgia ran directly through Dahlonega, it wasn’t uncommon in the year of 1838 to even see villagers hunting for gold actually in the streets.

The discovery of gold is what brought them running to the area, and most of them were men – only there for the gold – which wreaked havoc on the area. By 1839 many moved on to the California gold rush, some even leaving their families to defend for themselves. My gggg Grandfather Tillman Gooch was one of those very ones!

Even today in Dahlonega, many things still center around “gold” – there are several gold mining attractions at the very real gold mines that were once worked. I’ve panned for gold a few times on my trips there and have the gold flakes to prove it. I was hoping to find a gold nugget, but no such luck! At the Consolidated Gold Mine they have an actual mine they take you down into – it’s awesome! The temp never rises above 60 degrees and if the lights go out down there – it’s completely pitch black! Your guide will look completely like he just stepped out of a mine – complete with the long white beard and overalls!

I liked Amy’s suggestion of exploring a newspaper for the area news of where your ancestors lived, not just looking for the obituary – but looking for other events your ancestors lived through; I have some thoughts on other searches for this at a later date. I can easily become lost when reading old newspaper – and I’m reading for hours.

Anniversaries: I haven’t found any of my ancestors anniversaries listed, but that’s another search I will exhaust another time. Wouldn’t it be exciting to find a 50th :anniversary?


Wild women Dancing in Church – because of too much drinking!

Other Events: This category suggestion of Amy’s could be so many things, from the announcement of a baby, or family visiting from out of town – which they seemed to post many announcements on, or who women who had a little too much to drink!


Dahlonega – April 30, 1838

This 1838 clipping wrote about early Dahlonega… actually called a “village.” It was written that all the houses appeared to be built chiefly of logs. My mind immediately began visualizing log cabins – it sounded so picturesque! This new village was only less than a dozen years old and its population was about 500 villagers – talk about small! This picturesque village was located on a hill, surrounded by uneven lands and the Alleghany Mountains.

As the “gold belt” in Georgia ran through Dahlonega, it wasn’t uncommon in the year of 1838 to see the villagers hunting for gold right on the streets. This area was reported to be the wealthiest gold region in the United States.

By the strong discovery of gold in this southern Appalachian area, a U. S. Branch Mint was established in Dahlonega in 1835. This area was changing quickly from that day in 1828 when Benjamin Parks stubbed his toe on a gold nugget!

Another clipping in 1920 saw a different view of the area – how times have changed!


By 1920 the area surrounding Dahlonega had become picked and prodded from the spades and pick-axes of the gold miners – who for the most part had become a thing of the past. Brooks and streams had been dug so much that now new waterways resulted, which changed its original beauty from what it once was. There wasn’t a hill around that wasn’t riddled with shafts and tunnels running through them from the men of the 1828 gold discovery.

That account was from the viewers eye… who took that rode through Lumpkin County and reported the area was now of great disrepair!


Dahlonega today is still known as a “gold” town and celebrate every year during “Gold Rush Day’s” on the third full weekend of October. So guess what? You still have time to attend this year, Gold Rush begins on October 15th. Don’t Be Late!

Here’s just a sample of what will be happening there this weekend. I’d sure love to check out that “hog calling” contest, but what sounds really interesting is… the “Liars Contest”  -sounds right up my alley!

2016 Gold Rush Days Festival Schedule

8:00 – Gold Rush 5K, sponsored by the Dahlonega Rotary – UNG Memorial Hall
9:00 – Festival Opens
10:00 – Beard Growing Contest and Hog Calling Contest
10:30 –Gold Country Squares (square dancing)
11:00 – Doc Johnson’s Magic Show
11:30 – Old Time Fashion Show
12:00 –T.W. Holeman Music Group (Southern Gospel)
1:15 – Liars Contest (short stories/tall tales)
1:30 – Doc Johnson’s Magic Show
2:00 – King & Queen Coronation
2:15 – Chattanooga Choo Choos (Clogging)
3:00 – Gold Rush Parade
4:45 – 6:00 –Radford Windham & Step Back Cadillac


In searching for newspapers in Ct., I found a printed account of interesting tidbits from the formal local daily newspaper, The Evening Sentinel. The paper covered the areas of Shelton, Ansonia and Derby, CT. (All articles have been transcribed)

August 15, 1930 – Shelton: City’s last blacksmith shop, on the northwest corner of Coram Avenue and Bridge Street, will be replaced by a gas station. “The only horses being used now are in the country, but they are few in number. The only business concern in the city that uses horse drawn vehicles is the bakery of B. H. Wetherby on Howe Avenue.”

September 12, 1930 – Shelton: Shelton Rural Road Improvement Association founded at Huntington School, designed to improve dirt roads. This is part of a statewide network whose slogan is “Get Connecticut out of the mud”

September 24, 1930 – Shelton: It is rumored that Newark Rivet Company, which occupies the Bassett Building on Bridge Street, will close October 1. On the positive side, the Sidney Blumenthal Company announces it will rehire most of its previously laid off night shift due to an upsurge in orders.

January 15, 1931 – Shelton: Grocery and meat market owned by Louis Bogen at 137 Oak Avenue was robbed of $170 at gunpoint. This transcribed article caught my eye as my father in law, Stephen Insalaco lived on Oak Avenue next door to this meat market. He hold told me several times about working there as a delivery boy, from the time he was around 8 years old; he would have been working there when that happened.

January 20, 1931 -Shelton: The City’s Grand List reveals 1,617 dwellings, 1,178 barns or garages, 2,663 house lots, 93 stores, 44 mills or factories, 185 horses, 990 cows, 60 chicks, 65 wagons, and 1,755 automobiles are on the tax rolls.

The Insalaco family was now living in the valley area of Shelton – he would be a few months shy of ten years old. I found this informative as to the size of the area and what was on the tax rolls. They charge tax on horses, cows and chicks? I never knew that – did you? This was a large industrial factory area, just one town over in Ansonia, they boasted of 73 factories and mills.

 January 29, 1931 – Shelton:  The city’s representative to the State General Assembly, Mrs. Alice Russ, introduces a bill to build a “Merritt highway”, which will take 2 years and $4,000,000 to build. (We drive on that very Merritt highway – it’s more known today as the Merritt Parkway)

February 14, 1931 – Shelton: The First National Store on 439 Coram Avenue held up by two gunmen. This is the third holdup in Shelton in a month. Our Insalaco family also lived on this street – Shelton seemed to be having a problem with robberies!

February 25, 1931 – Shelton: Weavers from the Sidney Blumenthal Company meet at Clark’s Hall. They are upset over a recent company decision that makes them run two looms, with a 45% decrease in wages and no bonuses, in order to stay competitive during the Great Depression. After debating for several hours, they vote 190-6 to go on strike, beginning at 10 PM on the following day. This is a major development, the “Shelton Looms” as the company is also known, is one of the major employers in the area, and they have admitted that they are in trouble from the Depression. A strike which ran from 1912 to 1913 at this firm turned very unpleasant. (My husband’s grandfather would have been working there at this time – he was a weaver. As I have found several more additions about this strike, I will be posting them in a separate post with a link back here)

July 7, 1931 – Shelton: Two turtles, weighing a combined total of 75 pounds, are found by “Huntington Lake” near Huntington Street. (I’m assuming these were snapping turtles – but they sound extremely large)

 July 7, 1931 – Shelton: The Shelton Police department gets their first patrol car. It is a Ford sedan which reads “Shelton Police Department” on its doors. (What were they using before – would be interesting to know)

July 14, 1931 – Shelton: Complaints that young men at The Maples colony along the Housatonic River, which is becoming an increasingly popular swimming spot, are wearing full bathing suits, but taking off the top and winding it around their waists, exposing their chests. (Now that’s funny – hope it wasn’t the women complaining!)

August 4, 1931 – Shelton: The infantile paralysis (polio) epidemic has not reached the area yet, but it has popped up in New Haven, Bridgeport, and Milford. Derby’s health officer Dr. Thomas Plunkett advises people to stay away from the shore. Later in the day, the first local infantile paralysis case is diagnosed, a 24 year old Shelton man who lived on Coram Avenue. He is taken to New Haven and placed on a respirator. (My husband’s grandparents lived on Coram Ave., Shelton, CT.)

July 15, 1932 – Shelton: The City pays a $1 bounty for a gray fox shot off Rocky Rest Road. The foxes are considered pests against chickens. Despite the bounty, many are still seen in that area.

May 10, 1933 – Shelton: THE END OF PROHIBITION IN CONNECTICUT – 3.2% beer and wine is now legal in Connecticut, for the first tine since 1919. Despite this, alcohol is in short supply in the Valley. There are 133 alcohol selling permits pending at the Superior Court at New Haven pending, mostly for chain stores in area. (I read other articles about Moonshine raids in Shelton, now I know why – they were dry!)

July 20, 1933 – Shelton: White Hills residents have been overrun by rabbits, which are destroying gardens. Now they are being told by the State Deputy Game Warden they may shoot jackrabbits, but not cottontails, even if they are caught destroying a garden, because cottontails are endangered.

July 24, 1933 – Shelton: The City’s biggest employer, the Sidney Blumenthal Company (Shelton Looms) starts a 40 hour week for its employees in the Production Department, and expand to 3 shifts. Hourly and piece work rates are being raised. This is in compliance with NIRA code.

July 30, 1933 – Shelton: Over 6,000 people at Indian Well State Park, which at the time was the largest one day total since park opened 3 years before. 1,000 cars are parked in the lots.

August 4, 1933 – Shelton:  The National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) administration is requesting the Sidney Blumenthal Company to operate its looms which make automobile upholstery and dress velvet 96 hours a week, instead of 80, due to the seasonal nature of business. In order to do this, the plant will operate 6 days a week, and daily hours will remain the same.

August 23, 1933 – Shelton: A major storm, now called the 1933 Chesapeake Potomac Hurricane, strikes the Atlantic Coast, bringing high winds with 80 mph gusts and 1.17″ of rain, frightening many. Limbs fall down, and there is some damage to crops. Most summer flower gardens are destroyed. SHELTON – Country roads are washed out, shutters and awnings blown off, and trees are down.

September 19, 1933 – Shelton: Local police seize a large 1,000 gallon still and related items in a White Hills barn. An Ansonia man is arrested. Bags of brown sugar, an ingredient for moonshine, have the name of a Central Street, Ansonia grocery store, where they were bought recently using twenty $10 that were later found to be counterfeit. The police believe the barn to be a large distributing center for moonshine. The woman who owns the farm denies all knowledge, saying the barn was rented to the bootlegger, and she was unaware that activity was taking place.

February 20, 1934: One of the worst blizzards to occur in this region in the twentieth century occurs today. The Evening Sentinel runs a reduced edition, with the banner headline reading “BLIZZARD BURIES THE WHOLE EAST, SHIPS WRECKED ON NEW ENG. COAST”. The storm began yesterday evening, and by midnight was a “howling blizzard”. The northbound train is stuck in snowdrifts between Derby and Ansonia for about 3 hours before it could be dug out. School is cancelled for the rest of the week; most are unable to make it to work. Automobiles are buried. There are no milk or mail deliveries. Snow is about 2’ on the level, with drifts from 5’ to 15’ deep, and the storm is considered the worst since 1888.

February 20, 1934 – Shelton:The entire city is snowbound, with many automobiles abandoned. Echo Hose is now responding to emergencies in a horse-drawn sleigh. A baby is born on New Street right after midnight during the blizzard, assisted by a local doctor and a district nurse.

February 21, 1934 – Shelton: 358 CWA workers are clearing snow. A milk station has opened at the Charity Headquarters on Howe Avenue because no milk deliveries have been able to come through. Osbornedale Farm in Derby is one of the few to make its milk deliveries, using 2 horses pulling a sleigh.

February 22, 1934: In the wake of the Blizzard of 1934, the best way to get about today is with skis, snowshoes, or sleighs. Snow is being shoveled from the principal streets, mostly by hand, and dumped into the rivers. Horses are being enlisted to assist in the cleanup. Bread, coal, and oil stocks are starting to run low. Large sections of the Valley are still completely snowbound. Later in the day, rain falls, and channels have to be cut in the snowdrifts along the cleared streets to allow the rainwater out. The volunteer firemen stand down in most stations, after being on continuous duty for 72 hours. New Haven Avenue is still blocked to automobiles, but trolleys are getting through.

Quaker Farms residents in Oxford were tired of waiting for the state plows, and opened 3 miles of Route 67 on their own with oxen, horses, and shovels.

February 24, 1934: A deep freeze has turned the slush from yesterday into ice, compounding the snow cleanup. The government restates its position, saying it will now pay CWA men for snow removal.

February 26, 1934: Another 6” of snow falls. The Federal Government extends the time they will pay for CWA men to help clear snow. Schools have been closed since the blizzard, and now it looks like they will remain closed until winter break, next week.

February 28, 1934: Temperatures are -15 at 6:30 AM. People are still being urged to keep their automobiles off the roads and use the trolleys to get around. CWA work suspends at 5 PM, when the federal mandate for snow removal runs out again. Many streets had to be shoveled out a second time. (My husband’s father told him he never remembered it being as cold as it was in about 1980 – he told his son that the winter in 1980 was the coldest he had ever seen. He would have been about 13 years old in 1934 – I guess he forgot that winter!)

March 30, 1934 Derby & Shelton:Today is Good Friday. An estimated 7,950 dozen hot cross buns are consumed in Shelton today, and 12,850 dozen are consumed in Derby. The conservative estimate is about 154,200 buns were consumed between the two cities.

April 12, 1934 – Shelton – Huntington: “The nervous ‘play dead’ opossums have suddenly taken to this locality for making their homes. During the past few weeks a number of these animals have been seen on the highway, caught, and taken home to become pets for children. It is very unusual to see them in this neighborhood and many are wondering if this is a sign of a very hot summer since these animals are from the south”.

April 19, 1934 – Shelton: “With the approaching warm weather, much activity can be seen on and around the race track on the Huntington Speedway, Huntington. This is a good half mile track for racing cars. Plans are already being made to have the tracks ready for races by Sunday, April 29”.

HUNTINGTON SPEEDWAY – Located on the grounds of the former Huntington Fair off Mohegan Road, a race track was built on the old half mile oval horse track. It became very popular by 1933, with fans and racers gathering from miles about to race. Crashes were common.

December 10, 1934 – Shelton: In making up the grand list for 1935, the assessors have found that the three oldest automobiles listed in the properties are two Fords, one from 1914 and the other from 1916, and a 1914 Pierce-Arrow truck.

Well you can see I became a little carried away in reading through their newspaper clippings – but it was fun! Reading about Shelton through the years – of where my father in law grew up – gave me much insight into the area.

What’s your favorite?

Context: By reading through older newspapers, we can learn about their life and the events of the day – like looking through a camera into their life. If you’re lucky, you might even find your ancestor involved in one of those current events – and I’m always hoping to discover that black sheep in my family!

So just look at all the “context” I’ve discovered by reading old and even new newspapers. Hope I’ve interested you into giving it a whirl of a newspaper search, but don’t say I didn’t warn you – it’s addicting!

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© 2016, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

About Jeanne Bryan Insalaco

My blog is at: https://everyonehasafamilystorytotell.wordpress.com/
This entry was posted in 31 Days to Better Genealogy: Ver. 2.0, Daily Writings and funnies... and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to 31 Days to Better Genealogy – Day 13

  1. I love using newspapers! Some of the best stories I have uncovered have come from papers. I have ancestors from Dahlonega too, my Corn, Davis and Miller lines. Thanks for sharing your finds.



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