A Nostalgic Look Back at the Sears Christmas Wish Book

For many children, the arrival of the Sears Christmas Wish Book heralded the official beginning of the holiday season. The catalogs were carefully studied, and toys longingly admired until the pages were dog-eared and tattered. The first Sears Christmas Book debuted in 1933 offering items like the “Miss Pigtails” doll, live singing canaries, fruitcake, and a Mickey Mouse watch.

Letter to Santa – 1933

Over the years, the pages of the Sears Wish Book were filled with toys and gifts that offered a historical snapshot of what was happening in middle-class America at the time.

In 1937, Sears advertised tractor sets and Shirley Temple dolls. Pedal cars were all the rage and sold for about $10. Just five years later, in 1942, the world was at war. The Sears Christmas Book urged Americans to send gifts to members of the Armed Forces. The Christmas Book also allowed families to do their Christmas shopping from home, filling a need when wartime rations on gasoline and tires prevented shopping excursions into town.

Roy Rogers Inspired Gifts 1949

In 1949, Western TV shows and movies exploded in popularity. Roy Rogers was known as the “King of the Cowboys” and that year, the Christmas Book offered a variety of Roy Rogers inspired Christmas gifts and even Roy Rogers school supplies

America entered the Space Race in the 1960s. Children everywhere dreamed of becoming an astronaut and in 1968 the Major Matt Mason astronaut action figure was a popular toy. That’s also the year that Sears embraced the nickname of its Christmas catalog and officially renamed it the Wish Book. Other popular toys during the 1968 holiday season included Hot Wheels cars and G.I. Joe.

In 1975 as Americans prepared to celebrate the Bicentennial, nostalgic American themed toys such as toy fife and drum sets, Colonial dolls and models of the USS Constitution were popular. In contrast, that was the same year that Bill Gates and Paul Allen founded Microsoft. In a glimpse of the high-tech explosion soon to come, the Wish Book advertised the new electronic game Pong. It was described as a “fast-paced electronic ‘table tennis’ game you play on your own TV.”

Atari Pong Ad – 1975

Transformers exploded on the scene in 1984. The popular transforming robot toys proved wildly successful for kids. It was like getting two toys for the price of one. In 1984, a first-generation Optimus Prime sold for $22.99 in the Wish Book. That same toy is now highly collectible and according to some reports can sell for as much as $12,000

In 1993, as consumer shopping habits changed, Sears announced that it was dropping the Wish Book and getting out of the catalog business. Does the Wish Book bring back a flood of memories from your childhood? If you want to take a trip down memory lane, enjoy free access* to the Historic Catalogs of Sears, Roebuck and Co. on Ancestry through January 2, 2020; and search historic ads and news stories related to the Wish Book on Newspapers.com today!

*You can explore this amazing collection for free now through 11:59 pm MT on 02 Jan 2020.

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How World War II Changed Thanksgiving 75 Years Ago

Thu, Nov 23, 1944 – 1 · The News-Review (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma) · Newspapers.com


November 1944 found the United States celebrating its third Thanksgiving since entering World War II. And the war certainly wasn’t taking a break for the holiday, with Americans opening their newspapers Thanksgiving morning to headlines like “50,000 Nazis Trapped on Rhine” and “Germans Fire Rocket Bombs at U.S. Army.”

Two Thanksgivings

But the war wasn’t the only conflict brewing on Thanksgiving 75 years ago; there was also a ruckus much closer to home

The date of Thanksgiving was causing a stir in the U.S.—the result of federal legislation passed in 1941 declaring that Thanksgiving be celebrated on the fourth Thursday rather than the traditional last Thursday. So while 1944 saw the majority of Americans celebrating Thanksgiving on the 23rd, a few states were still holding on to custom and celebrating on the 30th.

LEARN MORE: Read our post about the fight over the date of Thanksgiving

Other beloved traditions had to change as well on that Thanksgiving. There had been no Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade since 1941, for example, since the company had donated the rubber in its famous balloons to the war effort. And Thanksgiving Day football games were played in far fewer places around the nation due to the number of men serving in the military.

Thanksgiving at Home

But then as now, Thanksgiving dinner was the main event of the day, and the war’s effects were seen even at the dinner table. 

By 1944, millions of American men and women were serving in the armed forces domestically or overseas, leaving empty spaces at the holiday table in many homes. In cities near military bases, some of these empty chairs were filled by servicemen and women who had been invited to share a homecooked meal for the holidays with a local family. In other homes, Thanksgiving dinner was held earlier or later than usual to accommodate family members who were working the holiday in factories and other war industries.

“Let Us Give Thanks,” by African American cartoonist Wilbert Holloway Sat, Nov 25, 1944 – Page 6 · The Pittsburgh Courier (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.com


Even traveling to the homes of distant family members or friends for Thanksgiving dinner was curtailed, since gasoline and tires were rationed and bus and train travel were discouraged to open up seats for servicemen and women on furlough.

The Thanksgiving Menu

When it came to the Thanksgiving menu, the war’s influence was seen yet again—this time in the form of food rationing.

By 1944, Americans had been through two previous Thanksgivings under rationing. Sugar was still rationed that year, as were cheese, butter and margarine, and canned fruit—creating a challenge for home cooks hoping to make favorite Thanksgiving dishes.

But Americans had reason to be grateful, as fewer food items than before were being rationed in the United States by November 1944. Lard, shortening, and coffee were no longer rationed, for example, and items such as red meat and processed foods were experiencing a temporary reprieve.

Still, Thanksgiving dinner in 1944 required more planning ahead than in the pre-war years. Those who had heeded the government’s call to grow Victory Gardens could cook Thanksgiving dishes with the produce they had canned or preserved. Other Americans made sure to save up rationing stamps to purchase ingredients for their Thanksgiving meal—aided by newspaper rationing calendars that listed which rationing stamps could be used when and for what products.

Entry for sugar from a 1944 newspaper rationing calendarEntry for sugar from a 1944 newspaper rationing calendar Fri, Nov 24, 1944 – 24 · The Boston Globe (Boston, Massachusetts) · Newspapers.com


The Turkey Challenge

But even food items that weren’t rationed could still be scarce. Such was the case in 1944 with the Thanksgiving centerpiece—turkey. Due to the military’s huge demand for turkey for the troops, the bird was hard to buy in some parts of the country—unless a person was willing to turn to the black market.

Spices and other imported food items also could be difficult to find because the war affected shipping. And non-local produce was limited too in some locations due to the effect of gasoline rationing on trucking.

With this changing availability of food on the minds of many, newspapers published articles about which items were expected to be available for Thanksgiving that year. And Thanksgiving recipes using alternative ingredients became a popular feature in many newspaper food sections.

A Spirit of Sacrifice

Despite the challenges and changes that Thanksgiving 1944 presented to Americans on the home front, people were generally willing to sacrifice for the war effort—especially when they considered how much their servicemen and women were sacrificing overseas.

One newspaper editorial published on Thanksgiving reflected on this spirit of sacrifice, remarking:

Thu, Nov 23, 1944 – Page 18 · Wilkes-Barre Times Leader, The Evening News (Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.com


Learn more about Thanksgiving during World War II by searching Newspapers.com. And follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more historical content like this!

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New Papers Added from Wisconsin

If you have ancestors from Wisconsin or an interest in Wisconsin history, we are excited about the addition of new papers from the cities of Kenosha, Lake Geneva and Viroqua, Wisconsin!

Kenosha News – March 1, 1919

Kenosha is in southeastern Wisconsin, on the shore of Lake Michigan, and just north of the Illinois state line. We have issues from the Kenosha News, the Kenosha News Courier and the Sunday News that date back to 1895. Originally a Native American settlement, Kenosha’s access to transportation lines brought white settlers in the 1830s. Later immigrants from Italy, Denmark, Germany, Poland, and Ireland came to the area.  

In the early 1900s, silent movies were a favorite form of entertainment. In 1914, the Burke Theatre opened on Market Street. When the film The Silver Horde opened in 1920, managers launched a treasure hunt to publicize the film. They hid 10 boxes of silver around Kenosha. The promotion created a stir as residents hunted the treasure. Four years later, the Burke was the scene of another kind when a skunk decided to visit the theater causing pandemonium with the audience.

About 30 miles away from Kenosha is Lake Geneva, Wisconsin and home of the Lake Geneva Herald and the Lake Geneva Regional News. Today Lake Geneva is a vacation destination, but when the Lake Geneva Herald began publishing in 1872, the population was just over 2,000 and the town had one school, a few churches and a smattering of small-town businesses. After the Great Chicago Fire in 1871, Lake Geneva attracted wealthy business moguls who moved to the area while Chicago rebuilt. Beautiful mansions like Stone Manor, Glanworth Gardens and the Wrigley estate line the shore and helped the area earn the nickname “Newport of the West”.

Glanworth Gardens – The Driehaus Estate

Residents living around the lake receive their mail by boat, a tradition that began in 1916 when roads were very primitive. The boat travels at a steady 5 mph, while a “mail jumper” jumps from the boat, races up the dock and swaps the incoming mail with the outgoing mail before the boat has traveled out of reach.

The Vernon County Censor is based in Viroqua and we have issues dating back to 1856. The paper was published weekly, however, on June 28, 1865, a deadly tornado swept through town destroying the printing office and leaving the town devastated. Two weeks later, the paper published an account of the damage. “Large houses were sucked into the air like a feather and tossed about like a wisp of hay in the air.” If you had ancestors from nearby communities like Harmony, Chaseburg, Newton or Westby, search the Vernon County Censor for updates from those towns.

Start searching our new Wisconsin papers today on Newspapers.com!

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The War of the Worlds — Relevant a Century Later

H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds has been, since its publication in 1898, one of fiction’s most lasting science-fiction stories. In 1938 a radio broadcast of the novel famously caused real-life panic. Multiple movie adaptations have brought the horror of the tripods into modern settings. And this year’s new BBC television series takes the story back to 1905, just a handful of years after the book’s first publication.

H.G. Wells' Martian fighting-machine

H.G. Wells’ Martian fighting-machine Mon, Oct 31, 1938 – Page 1 · Press and Sun-Bulletin (Binghamton, New York) · Newspapers.com

Setting this story in a time very like H.G. Wells’ own makes the technological superiority of the Martians all the more clear. It may also better emphasize the destruction of comfortable structure—a society of rules and customs—by a force that simply doesn’t care.

And yet the horror of The War of the Worlds transcends generations and even technology. Orson Welles, who directed and narrated the 1938 radio performance that made such a stir, expressed surprise at listeners’ reactions. He’d worried the story might seem “too old-fashioned.” But the frenzied fear of invasion that resulted just goes to show how pertinent such stories can remain decades—and centuries—later.

Orson Welles thought

Orson Welles thought “War of the Worlds” might appear “too old-fashioned for modern consumption” Mon, Oct 31, 1938 – 1 · The Huntsville Times (Huntsville, Alabama) · Newspapers.com

Perhaps the greatest reason for this was Wells’ emphasis on surrounding the fictional with the real. His stories were called “scientific romances,” an acknowledgement of the inspiration he found in scientifically-based speculation. He gave his aliens evolutionary traits, reasons for their existence and appearance, and even based their defeat on science we’ve witnessed in our own Earth-bound history. And among all this science was sprinkled a healthy dose of humanity, in which readers, listeners, and viewers see themselves and people they know.

Analysis of Wells' use of scientific and social inspiration in crafting realistic fiction

Analysis of Wells’ use of scientific and social inspiration in crafting realistic fiction Sat, Oct 27, 1962 – Page 19 · The Age (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia) · Newspapers.com

H.G. Wells had flaws too, which are reflected in his work. Women play little part in his stories, a fact he acknowledged in this contemporary interview, and that is remedied in the new BBC series. He held many troubling beliefs on race and religion. And as the article above states, some found and continue to find his endings too sentimental, and some plot points irrelevant. Nevertheless, H. G. Wells and his stories continue to fascinate and inspire more than a century later, which is perhaps the best review an author can hope for.

Find more clippings about H.G. Wells, The War of the Worlds and similar topics with a search on Newspapers.com.

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7 Unusual Pumpkin Pie Recipes to Make Your Mouth Water

Pumpkin pie image, 1921Pumpkin pie image, 1921 Tue, Nov 22, 1921 – 11 · Courier-Post (Camden, New Jersey) · Newspapers.com


November is here, which means it’s time to start thinking about that classic holiday dessert—pumpkin pie!

Pumpkin pie has been an American tradition for at least two centuries—which means a lot of people have a favorite tried-and-true recipe. But sometimes we’re in the mood for something a little different! So we took a look to see what non-traditional pumpkin pie recipes we could find in the historical papers on Newspapers.com.

Here are our top picks from across the decades. Beneath the original recipes, we’ve written them out in a way that’s a bit easier to follow. Click on any of the recipe images to see the original clipping on our site. And for even more pumpkin pie recipes, visit our Topic Page!

[Note: In old recipes, a “slow oven” typically means 300-325 degrees Fahrenheit; a “moderate oven” means 350-375 degrees Fahrenheit; and a “hot oven” means 400-450 degrees Fahrenheit.]

Pumpkin-Date Pie – From 1916

1916: Pumpkin-date pie1916: Pumpkin-date pie Thu, Oct 19, 1916 – 13 · The Bridgeport Times and Evening Farmer (Bridgeport, Connecticut) · Newspapers.com


Ingredients (for filling)

  • 1 pint pumpkin pulp
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup chopped dates
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp allspice
  • 1 cup cream or rich milk
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ tsp ginger
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg

Directions

  1. Blend all the ingredients to a cream. Beat up the yolks and whites of eggs separately and fold in the whites the last thing.
  2. Pour into crusts and bake.
  3. Serve cold with a layer of whipped cream on top flavored with a little vanilla and dotted, if liked, with a few crystallized cherries.

Note: These pies can be made in the form of patties.

Pineapple Pumpkin Pie – From 1930

1930: Pineapple pumpkin pie1930: Pineapple pumpkin pie Fri, Nov 21, 1930 – Page 40 · St. Louis Post-Dispatch (St. Louis, Missouri) · Newspapers.com


Ingredients (for filling)

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup drained crushed pineapple
  • 1 cup cooked and strained pumpkin
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 cup milk

Directions

  1. Make a flaky crust and line the pie plate.
  2. Mix sugar, pineapple, and pumpkin with spices and salt. Add slightly beaten eggs and milk; mix well.
  3. Turn into well-lined pie plate and bake in moderate oven 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Honey Pumpkin Pie – From 1932

1932: Honey pumpkin pie1932: Honey pumpkin pie Fri, Nov 11, 1932 – 9 · The Miami News (Miami, Florida) · Newspapers.com


Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups canned or cooked pumpkin
  • ¾ cup honey
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ginger
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 ¼ cups evaporated milk
  • Pastry

Directions

  1. Mix ingredients thoroughly. Pour into a pie can lined with pastry.
  2. Bake in a hot oven for 10 minutes, reduce heat, and continue baking in a slow oven until set. Time for baking—40 minutes.

Raisin Pumpkin Pie – From 1940

1940: Raisin Pumpkin Pie1940: Raisin Pumpkin Pie Wed, Jul 31, 1940 – Page 23 · The Daily Tribune (Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin) · Newspapers.com


Ingredients (for filling)

  • 2 cups stewed strained pumpkin
  • 2 cups rich milk or cream
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ginger
  • ½ tsp allspice
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • ¼ cup seedless raisins

Directions

  1. Mix pumpkin with milk or cream. Add brown sugar, eggs, salt, ginger, allspice, walnuts, and raisins. Beat 2 minutes.
  2. Pour into unbaked shell. Bake in hot oven 15 minutes, reduce heat, and bake 45 minutes in a moderate oven.

Apple-Pumpkin Pie – From 1941

1941: Apple-pumpkin pie1941: Apple-pumpkin pie Thu, Nov 13, 1941 – 33 · Dayton Daily News (Dayton, Ohio) · Newspapers.com


Ingredients (for filling)

  • 2 cups peeled, thinly sliced apples
  • 2 cups peeled, thinly sliced pumpkin
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ginger
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp orange flavoring, or 2 tsp grated orange rind

Directions

  1. Line a 9-inch pie plate with pastry and fill with apple and pumpkin slices.
  2. Sprinkle with sugar, spices, and salt. Add flavoring or grated orange rind.
  3. Moisten edge of crust, cover with top crust, and press edges together. Brush crust with milk or cream.
  4. Bake 450 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes, then 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 50 minutes.

Caramel Pecan Pumpkin Pie – From 1944

1944: Caramel pecan pumpkin pie1944: Caramel pecan pumpkin pie Thu, Oct 5, 1944 – Page 18 · The Pittsburgh Press (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.com


Ingredients

  • 2 ½ cups pumpkin
  • ¼ cup cream
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp allspice
  • ½ tsp lemon extract
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ Tbsp melted butter
  • 1 unbaked pastry shell
  • 1 cup pecans
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar

Directions

  1. Mix pumpkin, cream, and eggs. Blend the sugar, flour, salt, and spices, and add to the pumpkin mixture, stirring well.
  2. Add extracts and melted butter, and pour into an unbaked pastry shell.
  3. Bake in hot oven at 425 degrees Fahrenheit about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to moderate (350 degrees Fahrenheit) until filling is firm, or about 40 minutes.
  4. Cover filling with pecans which have been mixed with the ¼ cup butter and 1 cup brown sugar. Place under broiler until slightly caramelized. Makes one 9-inch pie.

Pumpkin Parfait Pie – From 1952

1952: Pumpkin parfait pie1952: Pumpkin parfait pie Wed, Nov 19, 1952 – 9 · The Semi-Weekly Spokesman-Review (Spokane, Washington) · Newspapers.com


Ingredients

  • 1 package lemon-flavored gelatin
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1 pint butter pecan or maple walnut ice cream
  • 1 cup mashed cooked pumpkin
  • ¼ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp cloves
  • 1 baked 9-inch pie shell

Directions

  1. Dissolve gelatin in hot water in 2-quart saucepan. Add ice cream by spoonfuls, stirring until melted. Then chill until thickened but not set (15 to 25 minutes).
  2. Combine pumpkin, brown sugar, salt, and spices. Fold into thickened gelatin mixture. Turn into the cooled baked pie shell.
  3. Chill until firm (15 to 25 minutes). Garnish with whipped cream and sliced dates.

Note: Mashed cooked sweet potatoes, yams, or squash may be used in the place of pumpkin in this recipe.

Want more vintage pumpkin pie recipes from newspapers? Visit our Pumpkin Pie Recipes Topic Page. We’ve got some already clipped for you!

Or find even more pumpkin pie recipes by searching the papers on Newspapers.com. And follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more historical content like this!

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Telephone Technology: Push Buttons and Party Lines

In the Spring of 1963, President John F. Kennedy sat down at his desk in the oval office. With cameras clicking, he picked up the handset of a telephone and pressed the numbers “1964”. The connection activated a countdown clock for the New York World’s Fair, set to open the following year. The photo opportunity was noteworthy, however, because Kennedy’s call showcased an amazing new technology – the push-button dial telephone

Later that year, on November 18, 1963, Bell Telephone officially rolled out push-button telephones to the public. A push-button interface meant customers no longer had to wind a rotary dial and wait for it to spin back when dialing each number. This technological achievement was the latest in a long line of telephone innovation that dated back to when Alexander Graham Bell received the first patent for a telephone in 1876.

Back then, Alexander Graham Bell and his colleague Thomas Watson shocked the world when they carried on a 30-minute telephone conversation from two miles apart. Their newly invented telephones converted sound into electric pulses that traveled along a wire connecting the phones.

The popularity of the telephone quickly grew and soon everybody wanted one. However, it wasn’t feasible to stretch a wire between every set of telephones, so inventors developed a telephone exchange. Each telephone connected to the exchange by wire. To place a call, a caller would pick up the phone and turn a crank. This illuminated a light at the switchboard at the central station and an operator would plug a wire into your jack and ask who you needed to reach. She then connected a wire to the appropriate customer and sent an electrical current down the line to alert them with a bell. 

Operators became a familiar voice to every telephone user. They generally worked with a relatively small group of customers and often knew each one. In 1903, one mother discovered a new use for her telephone when she opened the receiver and asked the operator to ring her at the neighbor’s house when her sleeping baby woke up! On any given day, an operator might soothe a frightened child, or even save a life. Rose Coppinger was an operator in Webber Falls, Oklahoma in 1914. When a fire raged through town, she refused to leave her post at the telephone exchange and warned neighbors of the approaching flames.

By 1918, ten million telephones were in use in the US. Rotary dials were the norm and party lines were common. A party line was a telephone line shared by more than one user and came at a reduced cost. It was not uncommon to pick up a telephone receiver and hear a conversation already occurring. The town’s news often traveled this way despite party line etiquette which dictated never listening in on another’s conversation. A party line presented challenges during emergencies, though, and tragedies occurred if users failed to yield the telephone during a crisis. The last operating party line in Woodbury, Connecticut shut down in 1991.

Technology has come a long way since party lines and push-button phones. Today, an estimated 5.3 billion people worldwide communicate daily using mobile devices. To learn more about the changing technology in telephone communication, search our archives today on Newspapers.com!

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The Ghost of Clinton Avenue

From 1878 comes this real-life ghost story that even the skeptics couldn’t explain. With its ringing bells and rattling doors, this residence on Brooklyn’s Clinton Avenue became the talk of the town.

The Ghost of Clinton AvenueThe Ghost of Clinton Avenue Fri, Dec 20, 1878 – Page 1 · The Sun (New York, New York) · Newspapers.com


The residence’s owner, Mr. Smith, appeared to be a level-headed, logical sort of man. But when a skeptical reporter visited the house nearly a week later, as reported in the article below, Mr. Smith was too nervous to be interviewed and believed the disturbances to be the work of an evil spirit.

The Clinton Avenue Ghost follow up articleThe Clinton Avenue Ghost follow up article Thu, Dec 26, 1878 – 2 · St. Louis Globe-Democrat (St. Louis, Missouri) · Newspapers.com

Find more ghost stories like this in the pages of Newspapers.com.

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New Papers Added From New Mexico!

Are you interested in the history of Rio Arriba County in New Mexico? We are pleased to announce the addition of the Rio Grande Sun to our archives. Based in the city of Espanola, the Sun is a weekly that began publishing in 1956. The paper competed with the Espanola Valley News until the Sun purchased the Valley News and shut it down. The Sun is known for its fearless old-school journalism and focus on local politics and issues.

The history of Espanola dates back to 1598 when it was founded as the capital of Nuevo Mexico. Some of the valley’s historic buildings remain, including La Iglesia de Santa Cruz de la Canada, a church built in 1733 that is still in use today.

In 1880, after the railroad expanded to northern New Mexico, the town took on the name Espanola. Early settlers described the town as “really wild and wooly, having eighteen saloons…” In 1943, the Los Alamos National Laboratory, located about 18 miles from Espanola, was founded as part of the Manhattan Project. The lab remained top-secret during the war and has provided many jobs in Espanola.

When the Sun published its first edition in the 1950s, the population of Espanola was about 3,000. The first issues were printed on an old press that required single sheets of newsprint to be hand-fed into the press one at a time. The population of the valley continued to grow and in 1957, local churches coordinated a door-to-door church census intending to document every resident.

As Espanola grew, some of the city’s historic buildings were torn down. In 1957, the city purchased a home that belonged to one of the valley’s early settlers and turned it into City Hall. Known as the Bond House, the historic home served as the city offices until 1979. After it was vacated, vandals broke in and did extensive damage. The Historical Society started a grassroots preservation effort and encouraged residents to donate $10 for repairs. In March 1982, the home was reopened as the Bond House Museum and celebrates the transition of Espanola from a frontier outpost to a modern city.

If you are researching ancestors that lived in Espanola, columns like Eavesdropping and the

Grapevine provides news on Espanola’s residents. You’ll also find birth announcements and obituaries like this one for one of Espanola’s oldest residents born in 1869!

Start searching the pages of the Rio Grande Sun today on Newspapers.com!

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6 “Buried Alive” Newspaper Stories to Send Shivers Down Your Spine

San Francisco Examiner, 07.19.1896
San Francisco Examiner, 07.19.1896

“The greatest horror that the human mind can picture is that of being buried alive,” read an article in the 1896 San Francisco Examiner. “The agony, of course, would be of short duration, but, even though it lasted only two minutes, it would, in its intensity, contain a world of misery and anguish too horrible to contemplate.”

Historical newspapers are full of bone-chilling tales of people being mistaken for dead and buried alive. Some of these stories are likely embellished or altogether fictional, while others have a ring of truth that make them all the more terrifying.

We’ve selected 6 of these “buried alive” stories from the papers on Newspapers.com. Decide for yourself if they’re true or not. If you’re brave enough to read them.

The excerpts below are just a taste of the full stories. Follow the links to read the jaw-dropping newspaper accounts in their entirety.

From 1729

The Pennsylvania Gazette, 02.24.1729
READ THE FULL STORY in the Pennsylvania Gazette, 02.24.1729.

From 1836

The York Gazette, 08.30.1836.
READ THE FULL STORY in the York Gazette, 08.30.1836.

From 1845

The Jeffersonian, 12.18.1845.
READ THE FULL STORY in the Jeffersonian, 12.18.1845.

From 1849

The Abbeville Press and Banner, 07.21.1849
READ THE FULL STORY in the Abbeville Press and Banner, 07.21.1849.

From 1850

Wilmington Journal, 06.06.1850
READ THE FULL STORY in the Wilmington Journal, 06.06.1850.

From 1883

Fall River Daily Evening News, 10.18.1883
READ THE FULL STORY in the Fall River Daily Evening News, 10.18.1883.

Find more “buried alive” stories by searching Newspapers.com. And follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more historical content like this!

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Destruction of the 1890 Census

1890 United States Federal Census Fragment sample image.

Genealogists and historians have lamented the loss of the 1890 census for more than a century. When researchers inquire about the 1890 census, their questions are quickly dismissed with the explanation that a fire destroyed the records. The truth, however, is more complicated. The 1890 census records did sustain extensive smoke and water damage in two different fires (1896 and 1921), but the damaged records sat languishing in a warehouse until the 1930s when Congress ordered their destruction.

The 1890 census was unique for several reasons. For the first time, officials decided to gather data on a separate schedule for each family. Families answered questions about race, immigration and naturalization, the number of children born and living, and questions relating to service in the Civil War. It was also the first census that used punch cards and an electrical tabulation system.

After enumerators finished the 1890 census, the Department of the Interior stored portions in Washington D.C. in the basement of Marini’s Hall. On March 22, 1896, a night watchman discovered the rear of the building was on fire and notified the fire department. Firefighters arrived to find dense smoke pouring from the basement. Though they extinguished the flames before sunrise, the fire damaged or destroyed the special schedules for mortality, crime, pauperism, benevolence, special classes (e.g., deaf, blind, insane) and portions of the transportation and insurance schedules. The general population schedules, however, were safe and stored in the basement of the Commerce Building.

The Washington Post, January 11, 1921

On the evening of January 10, 1921, an employee at the Commerce Building noticed smoke rising through the elevator shaft and sounded the fire alarm. For hours, firefighters soaked the building with water to quench the flames. When the smoke cleared, archivists found 25 percent of the 1890 census schedules destroyed, while half of the rest sustained serious water damage. Government officials debated whether the burnt and waterlogged records could be salvaged.

This tragic fire spurred discussion about the need for national archives to hold public records. While awaiting funding for an archive building, Census Director William Steuart warned the damaged records would continue to deteriorate. Not much is known about what happened to the census records between 1922-1932, but in December 1932, the Chief Clerk of the Bureau of Census sent the Librarian of Congress a list of documents deemed no longer necessary and scheduled for destruction. Included in the list were the 1890 damaged census records. The Librarian approved the list and forwarded it to Congress who authorized it and the damaged records were destroyed. Ironically, just one day before Congress authorized the destruction of these records, President Herbert Hoover laid the cornerstone for the new National Archives Building.

In 1934, the National Archives Building opened in Washington, D.C. In 1942, officials found a damaged bundle of 1890 census records from Illinois that escaped destruction. In 1953, they also found fragments of records from Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, and the District of Columbia. These rediscovered records comprise just a tiny fraction of the 1890 census, leaving 99.99 percent of the original records lost forever. Visit Ancestry.com to see the surviving 1890 census fragments, or search Newspapers.com to see more clippings about their destruction.

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