New Papers from Fort Worth, Texas!

If you have ancestors from Texas or an interest in the Old West, we are pleased to announce that we’ve once again partnered with McClatchy, the second-largest local news company in the U.S., to add the Fort Worth Star-Telegram to our archives. Included in this collection are other historic Fort Worth papers including the Fort Worth Record-Telegram 1912-1931; the Fort Worth Record and Register 1897-1912; and the Daily Fort Worth Standard 1876-1877.  The Fort Worth Star-Telegram was founded in 1909 when the Fort Worth Star merged with the Fort Worth Telegram. This archive has chronicled the growth of Fort Worth for nearly 150 years!

At a time when the American frontier expanded westward, settlers moved into the Fort Worth area in the 1840s. They met with local Native American chiefs and established a treaty where Native Americans would remain west of a line drawn through present-day Fort Worth. The line would mark, “Where the West Begins” – Fort Worth’s famous slogan that is still found on the masthead of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram today.

The front page of The Fort Worth Telegram chronicles devastation after the 1908 Messina earthquake and tsunami

In 1849, construction began on a fort, one in a line of military outposts meant to establish control over North Texas and protect settlers from Native American attacks. The fort was named after Maj. Gen. Williams Jenkins Worth and soon a small community of civilians sprang up in the area.

Daily Fort Worth Standard – May 12, 1877

Ranching has long played a part in the history of Fort Worth and ranchers herded millions of cattle along the Chisholm Trail. Our newspaper archive dates back to 1876, the year the first railroad came to town and helped establish Fort Worth as a center of the cattle trade.  

Fort Worth Star-Telegram – February 8, 1920

With all the cattle being driven through Fort Worth, the meatpacking industry developed in the late 1800s, bringing jobs in packing houses. The Texas oil boom brought additional growth to Fort Worth. In 1917, workers drilling for oil in Ranger, Texas, hit a gusher. More oil nearby discoveries followed, and Fort Worth’s strategic location meant that speculators, promoters, and interested parties set up offices in the Westbrook Hotel lobby bringing throngs of people to the city. Advertisements selling oil leases filled the pages of the Star-Telegram as many sought their fortune.

In the early days of radio, the Star-Telegram’s founding publisher, Amon G. Carter, started an experimental radio station WBAP. A ringing cowbell signaled listeners that their program was about to start. That cowbell was the first audible logo broadcast over the radio. The station broadcast livestock reports, rodeos, and even church services. In 1948, the Star-Telegram expanded its reach again and established the first television station in the southern half of the United States.  

Fort Worth Star-Telegram – December 24, 1922

In 1982, in a time before readers consumed information online, the Star-Telegram pioneered another way to deliver news when they began StarText. StarText was a subscription service that delivered the latest news, stock quotes, and classified ads 24 hours a day via home computer and modem.

If you are researching your ancestors from Fort Worth, there are countless stories about challenges faced by early settlers in Texas. Severe weather, snake bites, heat and humidity, and life in the wild west where six-shooters ruled were just a few. Be sure to search for birth announcements, wedding announcements, death notices, news about family reunions, and more. Start searching the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on Newspapers.com today!

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Memorial Day 1945

On May 30, 1945, the United States celebrated a Memorial Day full of conflicting emotions. The euphoria over the recently declared Allied victory in Europe brought hope to this war-beleaguered nation. There was also optimism that the war in Japan was winding down, bringing an end to WWII.

Fort Lauderdale Daily News – May 30, 1945

On the other hand, millions mourned their war dead, many soldiers were still missing or being held POW, and the country was reeling from the sudden death of wartime president Franklin D. Roosevelt weeks earlier. Let’s take a look at some historic newspaper clippings from Memorial Day 1945 to see how Americans honored their veterans.

Tucson, Arizona: Four-year-old Betty Jo Pacheco laid a wreath on the grave of her father, Pvt. Robert M. Pacheco, who was killed three months earlier in Germany. She was surrounded by veterans of four wars, including 105-year-old Civil War veteran Francis Mengoz.

Arizona Daily Star – May 31, 1945

Wilmington, Delaware: Memorial Day headlines brought happy news to Delawareans when The News Journal reported that seven POWs from Delaware had just been freed.

Munich, Germany: In Munich, American flags flew as soldiers from the 45th Infantry Division gathered at Konigsplatz to hear Memorial Day remarks from American military leaders. The square was the scene of an elite military parade several years earlier for Hitler and Mussolini.

Columbus, Indiana: Even with the war winding down, some were still being called to serve. On May 30, 1945, the Columbus Herald reported that William H. Burton had just been drafted into the Navy. The father of five served six months before being discharged.

Okinawa, Japan: There was intense fighting on Okinawa, and Marines from the First Marine Division moved towards Shuri ridge. Richard P. Ross, who had been aboard the USS Oklahoma when she sank at Pearl Harbor, braved sniper fire and hoisted a flag above a medieval fortress called Shuri Castle

San Pedro, California: In California, the San Pedro News-Pilot published a photograph of the fresh graves around the world and spoke of the millions of heartsick Americans. The paper noted that even though it was a holiday, work continued in war plants and government offices.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Capt. Joseph T. Marnell, serving in a medical detachment, sent a letter to his wife back home. It was printed on Adolf Hitler’s stationery and read, “You can see by this very personal stationery that conditions have improved some. I picked this up in Adolf’s private apartment in Munich when we arrived recently.”

Chicago Tribune – May 28, 1945

Rochester, New York: Sgt. James Ecksten, who had just been discharged from the war, rode alongside his great-grandfather, Civil War veteran William A. Hard, in the Memorial Day parade.

To see more headlines from Memorial Day 1945, search Newspapers.com today!

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Find Your WWII Soldier’s Story in Newspapers!

On May 8th, we celebrate the 75th anniversary of V-E Day, the formal acceptance of Germany’s unconditional surrender in Europe. To honor the legacy of our WWII soldiers, we want to help you tell their story. Historical newspapers are a great way to research your WWII veteran. Here are some tips and tricks for researching your soldier’s story in Newspapers.com.

  1. Begin your search by name. Just enter your soldier’s name in the search tab. You can narrow the results by refining dates, locations, or keywords. Maybe the local paper ran a story about your soldier enlisting. This can provide valuable clues about which branch of the service your soldier served in. You might even learn what regiment or company he or she belonged to. Hometown newspapers often reported when a local soldier was injured or killed, home on leave, or discharged. If multiple siblings served from one family, search all names, including the parents. Newspapers often include photographs of soldiers too. If you don’t find your soldier in a name search, don’t despair, there are some other tricks!
  2. Search for specific battles. If you know your soldier fought in a specific battle, use that battle as your search keyword. You might not find your soldier specifically mentioned, but others provided first-hand accounts. These details can help you construct a story.
  3. Search by battalion, division, company, name of a Navy ship, etc. Did your soldier’s company/battalion have a famous nickname? Or do you know the name of the commanding officer? These searches can also provide valuable results. Newspapers tracked the movements of our soldiers and reported daily on skirmishes and battles. You can create a timeline of your soldier’s movements by tracking those stories.
  4. Search by date. If you have records showing your soldier was wounded or killed on a specific date, search for battles fought at that same time and place.
  5. Search by location. Do you know, for example, that your soldier was part of the Japanese occupation force? Use that in your search term. When we searched that term and filtered the dates from 1944-1947, it returned more than 300,000 search results. Do you have a Navy veteran that served in the Solomon Islands? You could search “Asiatic-Pacific Theater”. The more details you have, the more you can narrow your search.
  6. Personal interviews. Over the years, many of our WWII veterans have given lengthy interviews in newspapers. These first-hand narratives provide amazing insight into what our soldiers experienced. Expand your search beyond the war years, some of these soldiers didn’t share their story for decades.
  7. Search the names of fellow soldiers. Do you have records, photographs, or journals that mention the names of soldiers that served with your ancestor? Research those soldier’s names for more detail.
  8. Search post-war clubs and associations. Many soldiers joined clubs, fraternal organizations, and associations after returning from their service. For example, the American Legion changed its charter after WWII to allow returning soldiers to join its ranks.
  9. Search obituaries. Often the families of deceased soldiers shared details and stories of their military service in their obituaries, even decades later. Even if you are not related to this person, their obituary may shed light on your own ancestor’s service.

Preserving the story of our WWII veterans is a great way to honor their service! Please share your finds in the comments below. Get started searching your WWII veteran on Newspapers.com today!

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New California Paper!

Sacramento is the capital city of California and we’re happy to announce that we’re adding The Sacramento Bee to our archives. The Bee is the longest-running newspaper in Sacramento’s history and the flagship paper of McClatchy, the second-largest local news company in the U.S. James McClatchy was an Irish immigrant and young journalist when the lure of the California Gold Rush brought him West. He became the second editor of The Bee, taking over just days after the paper began publication in 1857.

California was part of Mexican territory until the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo annexed California as part of the United States. In 1848, when gold was discovered at Sutter’s Mill, about 45 miles outside of Sacramento, thousands converged in the area. Many of them passed through Sacramento and the city experienced tremendous growth.

When The Bee began publishing in 1857, McClatchy aimed to provide an independent newspaper that championed the interests of the people. The paper recorded the growth of this area, including celebrating the starting point for the First Transcontinental Railroad in 1863.

When a 7.9 magnitude earthquake hit San Francisco in 1906, residents of Sacramento felt the shaking and observed the dome of the Capitol building sway back and forth. The front page of The Bee contained numerous updates throughout the morning as the extent of the damage became more clear.

April 18, 1906

During the Great Depression, high unemployment rates resulted in a rising rate of homelessness in the city. Some destitute families banded together and formed tent cities called Hoovervilles, named after President Hoover, whom they blamed for their economic situation. Although not officially recognized, these shantytowns located along the Sacramento River were overseen by elected officials and city charters. The cities, however, lacked systems for waste removal and officials found residents living in squalor and ordered them closed. Though evicted, some continued to camp out along the river throughout the 1930s.

Residents of Hooverville Seek Food – October 7, 1931

The Sacramento Valley’s fertile soil brought many farm workers to the area. In 1965, Filipino American grape workers organized a strike to protest poor pay and working conditions. The protestors joined forces with Latino farm workers led by Cesar Chavez. Together they walked 300 miles to Sacramento to raise awareness and pressure growers into changes. The two groups formed the United Farm Workers. Their strike lasted five years but eventually led to growers agreeing to better pay and working conditions for all farm workers.

If you have ancestors from the Sacramento area, The Bee is a great place to search for things like obituaries, birth announcements, wedding announcements, and death notices. The social pages also tracked news from communities like Napa and Chico. Start searching The Sacramento Bee archives today on Newspapers.com!

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Reunited Against All Odds: A Civil War Love Story

Occasionally we come across an old newspaper story that is so amazing, we can’t help but wonder if it’s really true. This story about Civil War soldier Otis H. Burton seems to fall into that category. After a little fact-checking, however, all available records seem to support this sweet love story. With all the heavy news lately, sit back and enjoy this 19th-century tale with miraculous twists and a happy ending!

Otis H. Burton was born in Bangor, Maine in 1837. As a young man, he decided to move west and seek his fortune. He ended up in Missouri where he fell in love with an accomplished young woman named Susan Mary Payne. Before he had a chance to profess his love to her, she moved to another state. They soon lost touch.  

About this time, the Civil War broke out and Otis enlisted in the 25th Missouri Regiment of the Union Army. While serving in the war, he was severely wounded and not expected to survive. He wrote a farewell letter to his mother but against all odds, he eventually recovered. After feeling well enough to rejoin his regiment, Otis joined them on a mission to transport supplies across the plains. During the journey, a band of Native Americans attacked the party, killing everyone in the company except for Otis, who received severe wounds.

Otis was taken prisoner and led back to the tribe’s mountain home in the Southwest. He gradually recovered from his wounds, adapted to his new surroundings, and started to gain the trust of his captors. All the while he was looking for an opportunity to escape.

One day, after about six months in captivity, tribe members returned to camp with several stolen ponies. Otis observed the horses and noticed one that was of a high breed and showed promise for speed and endurance. Otis cared for the horse, petting and feeding the animal. Eventually, they allowed him to ride the horse.

During one ride, Otis ventured out further than usual. Seizing the opportunity, he took off at top speed, riding furiously with his captors in close pursuit. Finally evading them, Otis rode hard for three days before finally clearing hostile territory.

In the distance, Otis saw smoke rising from the chimney of a small house. He shouted for joy, glad to finally be free. He approached the house and made his way to the door. After knocking, the door opened and there stood Susan Mary Payne, his love from Missouri. After the initial shock, Susan shared her story. She had married a Confederate officer, Joseph L. Robey, who was killed during the war. She was now living alone. Otis shared his story and the two happily reunited. They started to rebuild the relationship began so many years earlier in Missouri.  

In 1870, Otis and Susan married and lived out their lives in Texas. Otis passed away in 1898. To see more stories like this, search Newspapers.com today!

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April 29, 1903: The Frank Slide

In the pre-dawn hours of April 29, 1903, a huge landslide broke loose from Turtle Mountain in Alberta, Canada. Residents in the town of Frank heard rumbling and wondered if there had been an explosion in a nearby coal mine. Within minutes, approximately 90 million tons of limestone crashed down, entombing more than 90 of the town’s residents under 150 feet of boulders.

Calgary Herald – April 6, 1906

Turtle Mountain is located in a picturesque section of Crowsnest Pass in southwest Alberta. In the 1880s, settlers discovered a seam of coal in the area. In 1901, American entrepreneurs Henry Frank and Sam Gebo opened a coal mine, and shortly after the town of Frank became the first incorporated village in the Pass. By 1903, 1000 people lived in Frank and a dozen nearby coal mines were operating.

Coal miners honeycombed tunnels through Turtle Mountain without realizing that they were further weakening the already unstable geological structure of the mountain. Layers of sedimentary rock had been tilted to almost vertical over time and erosion in the lower part of the mountain created a dangerous overhang of rock on top. For millennia, water seeped into cracks in the rock. Repeated freeze-thaw cycles caused the cracks to widen, creating more instability.

When the residents of Frank went to bed the night of April 28, 1903, they had no idea of the power of nature about to be unleashed in their town. At 4:10 a.m. on the morning of April 29th, a loud rumbling awakened them. The sound was reportedly heard by residents living nearly 100 miles away. An avalanche of rock broke free from the mountain and careened down, traveling over 180 miles per hour. It reached the valley floor in just 100 seconds

The Province, Vancouver, British Columbia – December 14, 1946

George Hie was a miner in Frank and recalled hearing a cracking noise coming from the mine about two weeks before the slide. “The pressure was so great at this place that a six-inch timber was broken,” he said. The morning the Frank Slide broke loose, Hie was sleeping in his bunk. “I was thrown violently out by pressure. I ran outside and was startled to see a gigantic mountain passing down only twenty-five feet away from me.” After the dust settled, Hie saw the corner of a house protruding from the rocks. He heard a cry for help and frantically helped dig out a trapped woman. Her two children died. Later, Hie found the bodies of two boys about 200 feet from their cabin. “They were clad in pajamas. Their bodies never had a mark on them.” Hie wondered if they had time to run or if the force of the blast carried them there. 

The Vancouver Sun – August 12, 1944

Three young girls were among the survivors, dug out alive hours after the slide. Sadly, their parents and brothers perished in the disaster. The three sisters were adopted by separate families and reunited for the first time in 41 years in 1944. The bodies of most of those killed remain buried under tons of rock in Frank, and the scar from the rockslide serves as a visible reminder of the tragedy that occurred 117 years ago this month.

If you would like to learn more about the Frank Slide, search Newspapers.com today!

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New Paper from Illinois!

We are pleased to announce that we’ve added the Breese Journal to our archives! Breese, Illinois, is located in Clinton County in South Central Illinois. We have issues dating back to 1923 when Breese had a population of around 2,000. The headlines back then announced the installation of the town’s first stop signs and plans to build a sewer system (although according to this clipping outhouses were still around for another 35 years!)

Breese Families Without Food During the Depression

The city of Breese was founded in 1855 and settled in part by German immigrants who were drawn to the area’s fertile farmland. It was named after Sidney Breese, a senator and contemporary to Abraham Lincoln. The city is located about 40 miles from downtown St. Louis, so if you have ancestors from Eastern Missouri you might find them mentioned in this paper.

During the Depression, Breese established a Mayor’s Relief Committee to provide food and clothing for the town’s unemployed. Several years later, in 1940, as the world became embroiled in war, Clinton County resident William August Klasing enlisted in the US Navy. He was serving on the USS Oklahoma when Pearl Harbor was bombed, becoming Clinton County’s first casualty of war. Using DNA, last year his remains were identified and returned home after 78 years.  

The Breese Journal is a wonderful resource for researching ancestors that lived in the area. This clipping shows all the births and deaths in Breese during 1930! The paper reported when residents spent time in the hospital or made a visit to grandma, and notable events like when the Westermann family purchased a new Studebaker. Each page provides a historical snapshot of the time.

Many of the area’s residents worked in the railroad and mining industry. You can learn about Breese’s first coal mine that opened in the 1800s, and mining tragedies such as the East Mine accident in 1906.

The Breese Journal includes news from nearby communities including Staunton, Trenton, Aviston, Germantown, Beckemeyer, Carlyle, and others.

Start searching the pages of the Breese Journal today on Newspapers.com!

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What Can You Learn from Each U.S. Census?

Have you received your invitation to complete the 2020 Census yet? In 1790, about one year after George Washington was inaugurated, the United States conducted its first census. Since that time, the government has conducted a census every ten years. These decennial census records provide a historical snapshot of families and are key records for genealogical research. Check out some of the headlines surrounding the census over the years and find out what made each census unique!

News From the First Census – 1790

1790: Enumerators gathered the name of head of household; number of free white males 16 years and older; number of free white males under 16; number of free white females; number of all other free persons; number of slaves; and sometimes town or district of residence. 

1800: Name of head of household; number of free white males and females broken down into age categories; number of free white persons except Indians not taxed (Native Americans are referred to as Indians throughout these early records); number of slaves; town or district and county of residence.

1810: Name of head of household; number of free white males and females broken down into age categories; number of free white persons except Indians not taxed; number of slaves; town or district and county of residence.

1820: Name of head of household; number of free white males and females broken down into age categories; number of free persons except Indians not taxed; number of slaves; and town or district and county of residence; number of free white males to be naturalized; number engaged in agriculture, commercial, or manufacture; number of “colored” persons; and number of other persons except Indians.

1830: Name of head of household; number of free white males and females broken down into age categories; the name of a slave owner and the number of slaves owned by that person; the number of male and female slaves and free “colored” persons by age categories; the number of foreigners not naturalized; the number of deaf, dumb, and blind persons; town or district, and county of residence.

Census Marshall Says Those Who Take The Newspaper Make His Job Easier – 1830

1840: Name of head of household; number of free white males and females broken down into age categories; the name of a slave owner and the number of slaves owned by that person; the number of male and female slaves and free “colored” persons by age categories; the number of foreigners (not naturalized); the number of deaf, dumb, and blind persons within a household; town or district, and county of residence. For the first time, the 1840 census asked the ages of Revolutionary War pensioners and the number of individuals engaged in mining, agriculture, commerce, manufacturing, trade, and the navigation of oceans, lakes, and canals. Questions relating to education and learned professionals were also included.

1850: For the first time in 1850, enumerators recorded the name of every person in the household. Also included were: age; sex; color; birthplace; occupation of males over 15; value of real estate; whether married within the previous year; whether deaf-mute, blind, insane or “idiotic”; whether able to read or write for individuals over age 20; and whether the person attended school within the previous year. In addition, the 1850 and 1860 Federal Censuses included Slave Schedules that recorded age, sex, and color, and whether the slave was a fugitive, freed, deaf and dumb, blind, insane, or idiotic. However, the name of the slave was often omitted.

1860: Names of every person in the household; age; sex; color; birthplace; occupation of persons over age 15; value of real estate; whether married in previous year; deaf, dumb, blind, insane, a pauper, or a convict; whether able to read or speak English; whether the person attended school within the previous year. As noted above, 1860 also included Slave Schedules.

1870: Names of every person in the household; age; sex; color; profession; occupation or trade of every male and female; value of real estate; place of birth; whether mother or father were of foreign birth; whether born or married within the year and month; those who could not read or write; whether deaf, dumb, blind, insane or “idiotic”.

Residents Prepare for Census – 1870

1880: Name; address including name of street and house number; relation of each person to head of household; sex; race; age; marital status; ability to read and write; birthplace; birthplace of parents; occupation; whether blind, deaf, dumb, crippled, maimed, idiotic, insane, bedridden, or disabled.

1890: Most of the 1890 census records were destroyed in a fire. You can read about it here. There are very few surviving fragments. If you’re lucky enough to find your family, you’ll see that each family has an individual page. Enumerators gathered information including name; surname; relationship; race; gender; age; birthplace; birthplace of father and mother; and a Veterans Schedule that included information about military service.

1900: Name; address; relationship to head of household; color or race; sex; month and year of birth; age at last birthday; marital status; number of years married; total number of children born of mother; the number of those children living; places of birth of each person and parents of each person; if individual is of foreign birth, the year of immigration and the number of years in United States; citizenship status of foreign-born individuals over age 21; occupation; whether person could read, write, and speak English; whether home was owned or rented; whether the home was on a farm; whether the home was mortgaged.

Definition of a “Census Family” 1910

1910: Name; name of street; house number or farm; number of dwelling in order of visitation; number of family in order of visitation; relationship to head of household; sex; color or race; age; marital status; number of years married; for mothers, number of children born and living; place of birth, place of birth of father and mother; year of immigration; whether naturalized; whether able to speak English, or if not, language spoken; trade or profession, industry, employer, employee, or working on own account, whether person was out of work during 1909; whether able to read or write; farm or house, whether survivor of Union or Confederate Army or Navy; whether blind, deaf, or dumb. There were also separate Indian population schedules for 1910 in which the tribe and/or band was recorded.

1920: Name; name of street; house number or farm; number of dwelling in order of visitation; number of family in order of visitation; relationship to head of household; whether home owned or rented and mortgaged; sex, color or race; age; marital status; year of immigration; whether naturalized or alien; near of naturalization; whether attended school; whether able to read/write; place of birth; mother tongue; father’s and mother’s place of birth; whether able to speak English; trade or profession; industry or business; employer, salary or wage worker; number of farm schedule.

1930: Name; address; home owned or rented and value; whether home has a radio; sex; race; marital status; college attendance; ability to read and write; birthplace, birthplace of parents; language spoken before coming to the US; year of immigration; naturalized or alien; ability to speak English; occupation; military information.

It’s Census Time Again – Los Angeles Times 1940

1940: Name; address; home value and rented or owned; relationship to head of household; sex; race; age; marital status; education; place of birth; citizenship; residence in 1935; employment status; occupation; income in 1939; birthplace of father and mother; native language; veteran status; social security details; occupation; industry; class of worker; marriage information; number of children.

Genealogists are eagerly awaiting the release of the 1950 census which is scheduled for April 2022. To learn more about each decennial census and to see how newspapers reported on the census over the years, search Newspapers.com today or visit our Topics Page!

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March 14, 1942: First American Treated with Penicillin

In March 1942, 33-year-old Anne Miller lay near death in a Connecticut hospital, her body ravaged with a burning fever for weeks. She had developed septicemia, or blood poisoning, following a miscarriage. Doctors tried every known treatment, and in a last-ditch effort to save her life, decided to gamble on a new experimental drug called penicillin. The government released nearly half of its entire supply – roughly a tablespoon. Within a day, Anne’s temperature returned to normal and she was on the road to recovery. Anne became the first American treated with penicillin. This newly developed miracle drug would ultimately save the lives of millions, including countless soldiers during WWII.

In 1928, Sir Alexander Fleming was experimenting with the flu virus in a London hospital laboratory when he discovered the antibiotic properties of penicillin by accident. A staphylococcus culture plate inadvertently became contaminated with mold, and Fleming noticed the mold prevented the growth of staphylococci.

Fleming published his findings and Oxford researchers Howard Flory and Ernest Chain continued the research. After intense German bombings in London in 1940 made research difficult, Flory and biochemist Norman Heatley collaborated with the US government and the Rockefeller Institute of Medical Research and began work in a research lab in Peoria, Illinois. The first human trials involving penicillin started in London in 1941, but the US government didn’t approve a trial until Anne Miller’s doctor successfully lobbied for the drug in 1942. It was a huge success. After it became clear that penicillin could dramatically reduce infection, the US government ramped up production rapidly.

The use of penicillin to treat soldier’s wounds and amputations revolutionized combat medicine during WWII. Doctors reported that wounded soldiers who were weak and delirious began to improve almost immediately after being injected with penicillin. One soldier being treated at Bushnell’s Veteran Hospital in Utah lay sick in a hospital bed for 14 months. His festering wounds contained bits of uniform, missile fragments, and shattered bone. Doctors did not dare operate on the gangrenous wound. Once the soldier began receiving penicillin injections, he began to improve almost immediately. This soldier who suffered terribly for 14 months recovered in just 27 days.

Anne Miller may have been the first patient treated with penicillin in the US, but to date, penicillin is credited with saving the lives of millions and ushering in the age of antibiotics. These advances had a huge impact on medical care for wounded WWII soldiers, turning penicillin into the war’s miracle drug. Anne Miller went on to live another 57 years after that first dose of penicillin. She died in 1999 at the age of 90. To read more about the development of penicillin and its use during WWII, search Newspapers.com today!

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Solving a WWII Mystery Using Newspapers.com and Fold3

When Erik and Sonni Bornmeier purchased Sonni’s great-grandmother’s home several years ago, they had no idea that the military footlocker stored in the basement would take them on an incredible journey of discovery to find the remains of a WWII pilot shot down in France. The Bornmeiers’ used military records from Fold3, newspaper articles from Newspapers.com, numerous other sources, and some ingenious detective work to piece together the story of Sonni’s great uncle, 2nd Lt. George F. Wilson. He died in France in 1944 and to this day his remains have not been identified. Erik and Sonni are determined to bring him home. We share their journey in hopes that the tips and strategies they’ve learned along the way can help someone else in their research. 

2nd Lt. George F. Wilson

The journey to learn more about Uncle George began on Memorial Day in 2018 when the Bornmeiers’ watched Band of Brothers. Touched by the heroics of so many young soldiers, Erik and Sonni went to the basement and dusted off George’s footlocker. Inside they found a stack of letters from George to his mother. By the time they finished the last letter, they had come to know George and wanted to know what happened to him. 

The first answers came when Erik found a Missing Air Crew Report (MACR) on Fold3. The MACR revealed that George served in the 8th Air Force, 398th Bomb Group, 601st Squadron. On July 8, 1944, George was piloting a B-17 when enemy flak hit the plane severely wounding George. The plane was losing altitude and George ordered his crew of eight to bail out.

Seven crew members were captured and taken POW, and one escaped with the help of the French Resistance. All eight returned home after the war and all reported that George was gravely injured, never bailed out, and went down with the plane.

2nd Lt. George F. Wilson and Crew

Using the witness statements from the MACR, Erik learned that the German Army created a similar report to track all planes shot down. Those reports, called Kampf Flugzeuge (KU) reports, were captured by the US military after the war. Erik also learned French priests kept detailed reports of what they witnessed during the war. Using the information in the MACR, the KU report, and a French repository, Erik triangulated potential crash sites.

One witness in the MACR described that George avoided a small town and a castle before crashing into a field. The next step for Erik was to head to France and try to find the crash site.

Page From MACR Identifying Crew Members

Erik’s quest led him to the small town of Monchy-Cayeux. The town matched the criteria in the witness statement (town, castle and nearby fields). Erik met a local journalist and with his help, they started questioning the town’s older residents. They found three eyewitnesses who were young children during the war but remembered seeing a plane crash. One said, “I remember it as if it were yesterday.” They guided Erik to a field and before long Erik started to find pieces of debris. Word traveled and the town united to help Erik. A young man showed up with a metal detector. Before long, they found parts of a fuselage, gauges, bullets, and plexiglass from a windshield. They found a crash site!

Erik’s time in France was short, but he has since returned several more times. Each time he pieces together more of the story. The residents of Monchy-Cayeux have rallied behind Erik and are anxious to help him find answers. Two brothers who still live close to the crash site gave a detailed account of locals gathering up weapons from the plane and throwing them in the river. A local diver explored the river but failed to find anything. Another report said George’s body was moved to a nearby family graveyard. A third witness remembered a priest coming to bless a grave on the edge of the field. The search to find George’s remains continues.

Debris From Crash Site

In the meantime, back home in the US, Erik and Sonni started searching Newspapers.com to find information on George’s crew. They found clippings for many of the crew members, and before long, they learned that two of George’s crew members were still alive! Erik hopped on a plane and had a wonderful meeting with them. They provided Erik with personal accounts of that day and filled in many of the gaps.

Erick and Sonni Bornmeier

The Bornmeiers’ are working with the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), the government agency charged with bringing home the remains of Americans unaccounted for. They continue to research and are anxious to return to France. Residents of Monchy-Cayeux have taken ownership of this project and have begun holding town meetings to research the town’s history and the role it played in WWII. George is one of more than 72,000 Americans that remain unaccounted for from WWII. Each day, efforts are being made to bring those soldiers home. To learn the story of your WWII soldier, start your search today using Fold3 and Newspapers.com!

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