One of the things you learn very quickly in doing genealogy research for the family is that aside from births and marriages most of what you find about your family in newspapers is going to be bad. Sometimes that can be criminal (I’m still trying to find a vaguely recollected census report of one 3x great uncle in a prison), but more often it relates to accidents. The thing is, even these brief hints can give you just enough information to put you on the right track. For example, this brief account, from the Philadelphia Inquirer 1892. 12. 16, concerning my 2x great-grandmother:
Fell on a Piece of Tin
Bertha Chambers, 13 years old, of 1206 Clarion street, was admitted to the Polyclinic Hospital yesterday suffering with an ugly gash in the forearm, severing all the muscles and blood vessels almost to the bone. The injury was inflicted by a piece of tin plate upon which the child fell, at 2029 Washington avenue, where she is employed.
[Personally transcribed from scanned original.]
The name, age, and even address all simply go to confirm previously found information. However, the address of the place where she was employed is new and exciting. See, some of the best places to start researching family history in the US are the Federal censuses. 1892 is right in the middle of what might be lovingly (or is that frustratingly?) called the great drought of US genealogy. The 1890 census was almost entirely destroyed by a combination of fire and bureaucratic negligence. And most of the children of my 3x great-grandfather, Dallas Chambers, came of age during the 20 year span from 1880 – 1900, meaning this period is especially frustrating for me. Those few lines of a census could have given me a lot of information about, specifically, their current occupation.
These few brief lines give me a starting point to find out just a little more. With that address, I should be able to check a city directory for that year and locate the business at which my ancestor worked. Further, it is possible that I might be able to find records of the hospital visit, which would provide a lot of information by Bertha’s health. Although the latter is doubtful, the possibility is always exciting.
Keep connecting the dots . . . .