The New York Daily News Turns 100!

The New York Daily News, officially titled the Daily News, was founded in 1919 and initially known as the Illustrated Daily News. The paper attracted readers by pioneering the tabloid format and the liberal use of photography. For more than seven decades, its slogan was “New York’s Picture Newspaper.” The archives of the Daily News provide a stunning visual history of the 20th century and beyond and include coverage of city news, scandal, crime and violence, cartoons, and entertainment.

The first issue of the Daily News was printed in June 1919, not long after the end of WWI. The paper reported on the triumphant return of Gen. John J. Pershing and his American Expeditionary Forces in a parade through the city. Marching alongside the soldiers were women who served in the war in capacities like field secretary and canteen service.

The end of WWI brought a flood of new immigrants to the country. The archives of the Daily News provide a glimpse into the conditions they faced upon arrival. In 1920, the Daily News reported 3,319 immigrant arrivals at Ellis Island with accommodations for just 1500. Officials were overwhelmed and immigrants described horrible conditions. By 1921, officials addressed the complaints and conditions overall improved.  

The Daily News archives are full of sensational crimes like a 1964 jewel heist. Jack “Murf the Smurf” Murphy and accomplices cased the J.P. Morgan Hall of Gems inside the American Museum of Natural History. They found lax security and entered the museum at night through a window. They made off with 22 rare and priceless gems including the 563-carat Star of India sapphire and the 100-carat DeLong Star Ruby. The thieves were arrested days later and most of the gems recovered.

In addition to coverage of high-profile New Yorkers, the pages of the Daily News are filled with glimpses into the lives of everyday citizens. For example, in 1923 a young girl named Milly Terzian was visiting relatives in New York and became lost when the subway doors closed locking her aunt and uncle on the platform as the train whisked the child away. She later reunited with her father and uncle at a police station. In 1934, the Madison Square Boys’ Club was a place for boys to gather and learn new hobbies; a record snowstorm in 1947 didn’t sideline wedding plans for a young couple who exchanged vows in the Municipal Building; and this 1970 photo shows two young New Yorkers decorating the office Christmas tree in the newly opened World Trade Center.

Search the Daily News for the death notices, obituaries, and wedding announcements of your New York ancestors.

The pages of the Daily News provide a fascinating glimpse into history. Whether you have ancestors from New York; immigrant ancestors that arrived in New York; or an interest in history – start searching the Daily News today!

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The Federal-Aid Highway Act Signed: June 29, 1956

On June 29, 1956, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act, also known as the National Interstate Defense Highways Act, creating a 41,000-mile system of interstate highways that would forever change travel in the country! The highways would make travel more efficient and create key routes to evacuate urban centers in the event of an atomic attack.

An interstate highway system was a far cry from the rutted dirt roads that existed when Henry Ford introduced the Model T in 1908. Wet weather presented a challenge for drivers, turning dirt roads into muddy quagmires. As the number of households that owned a car increased, so did the need for safe roads. Building roads was expensive and the costs were often covered by private companies that invested in the infrastructure in order to reap long term rewards.

The State of Texas Builds Rest Stops

While serving in the military, Eisenhower noted Germany’s smooth and efficient autobahn. Even though an interstate highway system had been discussed for years, it became one of Eisenhower’s top priorities after he was elected President. The highway system would allow citizens to travel quickly and efficiently in the event of a nuclear strike. It could also provide a network of highways to transport military troops and goods efficiently if needed. The federal government would pick up 90% of the tab and states would be responsible for 10%. The project would be financed with revenue from a federal gasoline tax. A statute prohibited commercial facilities along the new highways, so officials planned “safety rest areas,” or rest stops. Rest stops would provide motorists with clean bathrooms, water, and picnic areas and would be placed about every half hour along the highway. They were designed to offer a respite for weary travelers and sometimes offered a colorful glimpse into the history and traditions of the area.

Historic Sign on Route 66

As the interstate highways opened, some communities experienced a negative impact when cars bypassed their towns in favor of modern four-lane highways. Roads like the Lincoln Highway and Route 66, popular when driving was still an adventure, fell out of favor. Families opted for speed along the interstate rather than meandering along the old roads where colorful signs and local businesses services competed for travel dollars. In some cases, the interstate cut through the middle of towns and displaced citizens. However, the time-saving ease and convenience of travel using the interstate highway system propelled the project forward. By 1970, a person driving from New York to Los Angeles could complete the 2,830-mile drive 17 hours faster than in 1956.   

To honor his memory, in 1990 a law passed changing the official name of the interstate freeway system to “The Dwight D. Eisenhower System of Interstate and Defense Highways.”

If you would like to learn more about the history of the interstate highway system including the 1956 Federal-Aid Highway Act and subsequent acts over the years, search Newspapers.com today!

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Memorial Day: Beach and BBQ or Cemetery and Ceremony?

Memorial Day is the first long weekend of summer and for many Americans, a chance to kick-off the summer season. The origins of Memorial Day, however, hearken back to a somber time in American history.

As the Civil War came to a close in April 1865, the nation mourned the loss of an estimated 620,000 war dead. Some were hastily buried in unmarked single or mass graves during the heat of battle. Soldiers didn’t carry official identification or dog tags, and many soldiers remained unidentified.

Soldier’s graves near General Hospital, City Point, VA

Shortly after the war ended, U.S. Quartermaster General Montgomery Meigs ordered an assessment of the condition and location of graves of Union soldiers. Many were reinterred in newly opened national cemeteries. This federal program initially applied only to Union soldiers. Outraged citizens of the South organized a similar private effort, often led by women, to remember the Confederate dead.

As the first anniversary of the end of the war approached in April 1866, some women from the South made plans to honor the Confederate dead by decorating their graves with flowers and greens. The idea caught hold and spread until cities all over the south declared April 26th as a day to honor the Confederate dead.

In 1868, the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), an organization of Union veterans, established May 30th as Decoration Day, or a day to remember the war dead of the nation. The first large observance was held that year at Arlington National Cemetery. More than 5,000 participants helped to decorate the graves of more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried there.

The tradition continued in following years and many northern states designated the day as a state holiday. Southern states continued to honor their dead on a separate day but the divide that separated North from South began to heal. In 1873, a little orphaned girl whose father died fighting the South placed flowers on a Confederate grave. “Would you decorate the grave of a rebel?” exclaimed a bystander. “Yes!” she replied. “Perhaps somebody in the south will drop a flower on papa’s grave.”

After WWI, Decoration Day gradually became known as Memorial Day and was expanded to honor the dead from all of America’s wars. Many cities boasted they were the first to hold Decoration Day observances. In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson officially declared that Waterloo, New York, be designated as the “birthplace” of Memorial Day because of early observances held there. In 1971 Congress declared Memorial Day a federal holiday and designated that it be observed the last Monday in May, although some southern states still set aside an additional day of observance for the Confederate dead.

How do you plan to celebrate Memorial Day? To learn more about the history of Decoration Day, and what later became known as Memorial Day, search Newspapers.com today! Do you have ancestors that served in the Armed Forces? Honor their service this Memorial Day by creating a Fold3 Memorial or search the Honor Wall to learn more about those who have sacrificed for our freedom.

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New Jersey Papers Added!

Do you have ancestors from New Jersey? We’re happy to announce that our New Jersey archives are expanding! We have 46 New Jersey papers from the Gannett Company that contain over eight million pages of content. Here are just a few of the titles:

The Record: Our issues date back to 1898 in the midst of the Spanish-American War. The Record covers news from Bergen, Hudson, Essex, and Passaic counties in New Jersey. You can also check for news from nearby New York counties like Rockland County.  The Record was initially published six days a week, but a Sunday edition was added in 1968. The Record archive also includes The Chronicle, a community weekly newspaper that started in 2005. The Record reported on one of the largest acts of foreign sabotage ever committed in the country when German spies attacked a huge munition depot in Kingsland (later renamed Lyndhurst) in 1917. The attack caused a massive explosion and contributed to America entering World War I.  

The Herald-News: With issues dating back to 1893, the Herald-News focuses on Passaic County. Our collection contains the archives of the Passaic Sunday Eagle, Daily News, Daily Herald, and The Item. Many of the county’s early residents worked in the metalwork industry and textile factories. The 1926 Passaic textile strike resulted in a work stoppage by more than 15,000 mill workers and lasted more than a year. At one point, the Workers (Communist) Party helped workers organize a “United Front Committee” to negotiate with mill owners. When the strike ended in 1927 it was the first Communist-led work stoppage in the United States.

The Montclair Times: We have issues of the Montclair Times that go all the way back to 1877, just a few years after the Montclair township was formed. This archive also includes issues of The Saturday Gazette from 1872-1873. Montclair became known as a desirable place for New York businessmen and their families to build a home outside the city. In the 1870s, as many as six-thousand Montclair commuters traveled to the city each day. In 1878, a huge fire destroyed an entire city block including the Jacobus Building that housed the press for the Montclair Times, but the paper managed still managed to publish the next edition. If you have ancestors from Montclair, search columns like Notes About Town for their names.

Court Records Survive Fire

The News: Based in Paterson, New Jersey, our archives for The News go back to 1890 and include issues from The Morning Call and the Morning News. Paterson was the nation’s first planned industrial city, laid out in part by Alexander Hamilton in 1792. A 77-foot high waterfall called Great Falls provided power for mills and factories and helped Paterson become an important industrial center. Edward B. Haines founded The News and chronicled the city’s headlines including the great fire of 1902. The fire destroyed more than 450 buildings. Many of the town’s important court records survived because they were kept in a vault.

Get started searching these and other New Jersey newspapers today!

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The 150th Anniversary of the Transcontinental Railroad

On May 10, 1869, a golden spike was ceremoniously driven at Promontory Point in the Utah Territory. The spike joined the rails of the Central Pacific and Union Pacific railroad and created the country’s first transcontinental railroad.  

Before this, a journey to the west could take six months by land; or six weeks by water either by sailing around Cape Horn; or by sailing to Central America and then crossing the Isthmus of Panama by train. It was also expensive, costing more than $1,000. After the completion of the railroad, the same trip took seven days and cost less than $150.

The idea of a transcontinental railroad dated back to the early 1800s. In 1845, New York merchant Asa Whitney asked Congress for a grant to purchase public lands to expand the railroad to the Pacific. Initially, his proposal received a lukewarm welcome. After the US acquired California following the Mexican War in 1848, it started to gain momentum. Whitney did his best to keep the issue at the forefront of public discussion by publishing a pamphlet called “Project for a Railroad to the Mississippi,” where he outlined possible rail routes.

In 1862, Congress passed the Railroad Act granting land and government bonds to the Central Pacific Railroad and the Union Pacific Railroad. 

The first track for the Central Pacific line was laid in Sacramento in October 1863. Their workers consisted primarily of Chinese laborers who managed to reach the summit of the Sierra Nevada Mountains by 1867. Meanwhile, the Union Pacific Railroad started building west from Omaha, Nebraska in 1865. Its workforce primarily consisted of soldiers from the recently ended Civil War, many of whom were Irish immigrants. Construction of the rail lines was swift, due in part to the fact that Congress offered bonds valued between $16,000 and $48,000, depending on terrain, for each mile of railroad completed. The enticement of land grants and government bonds led both railroads to work as quickly as possible. The two companies could have joined rails as early as January 1869, but the incentives kept them going and they laid 225 miles of parallel track before agreeing to halt construction.  

Just before noon on May 10, 1869, two trains, one from Central Pacific from the West and a Union Pacific train from the east, moved into position for the formal golden spike ceremony and the joining of the rails. After remarks from dignitaries, officials drove the ceremonial golden spike into in the rail. Telegraph lines carried the sounds of the spike being driven across the nation. The crowds cheered and a band played “Star Spangled Banner.”

Some have characterized the transcontinental railroad as one of the greatest achievements of the 19th century. If you would like to learn more about the transcontinental railroad or the golden spike ceremony, visit our topic page and search Newspapers.com today!

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New Papers from Massachusetts and Vermont!

Do you have ancestors from the New England area? We’re excited to announce that we’ve added new papers from Massachusetts and Vermont to our archives!

The Berkshire Eagle: Pittsfield, Massachusetts incorporated as a city in 1891, and we have issues of the Berkshire Eagle dating back to May 1892. The Berkshire Eagle chronicled the early growth of Pittsfield including the burgeoning business of electricity. William Stanley, the founder of the Electric Manufacturing Company, produced the first electric transformer and later sold his business to General Electric. The Berkshire Eagle also covered news from several nearby New York communities including New Lebanon, Stephentown, and Canaan. Pittsfield made national headlines in 1902 when President Theodore Roosevelt’s horse-drawn carriage was hit by a trolley car resulting in the first death of Secret Service agent while on presidential protection detail.

North Adams Transcript: About 40 miles from Pittsfield is the city of North Adams, home to the North Adams Transcript. Our archives date back to 1895 and document, among other things, the history of the mill industry in North Adams. Thousands of citizens worked in the mills and manufacturing was a big part of the economy. The Transcript covered mill accidents, work disputes, and the changing economy as the mills closed down. If you had ancestors that lived in North Adams, the society pages are a great resource for community news including announcements for weddings, births, and events.  

Bennington Banner: Bennington, Vermont has a rich military history that dates back to Revolutionary War times when a local militia headed by Ethan Allen took part in the Battle of Bennington. The battle led to the success of the Revolution. The Bennington Banner was established in 1841 and our archives go back to 1842. In 1887, the Bennington Banner reported on the opening of the Vermont Bennington Soldiers’ Home. The home cared for veterans from throughout the state, so the paper’s archives are a great place to search for your veteran ancestors. If you had ancestors from communities outside of Bennington like Rupert, Pownal, or Shaftsbury, be sure to check the Bennington Banner’s Local Intelligence column.

Brattleboro Reformer: Established as a weekly Democratic alternative to Republican-dominated papers, the archives for the Brattleboro Reformer date back to 1884. The Reformer prided itself on local news and advertised that it had correspondents in every county. Check the archives for news updates from Rutland, Franklin, and other counties. Brattleboro is home to the Brattleboro Retreat, an asylum founded in 1834 to treat the mentally ill from across the state. The hospital operated under standards considered progressive at the time. Patients were well-treated with modern therapies, though they were still considered inmates and sometimes held against their will. Author Rudyard Kipling wrote his famous book Jungle Book in Brattleboro and proving that little boys are the same in every generation, the Reformer advocated for restricted sales of bean-blowers used by boys in Brattleboro to terrorize the girls! If you are searching for your ancestors from Brattleboro, be sure to search the Society Page.

Get started searching our updated archives for Massachusetts and Vermont today on Newspapers.com!

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Newspapers.com Success Stories

What if you found out your ancestor was a female mining prospector in the 1800s, made a fortune but then lost it all, and later won a lottery and died a wealthy woman? That’s exactly what Lynzi Coffey discovered as she pieced together her family’s story using Newspapers.com. 

Lynzi Coffey

We wanted to share Lynzi’s story, and others from time to time, to show how our members’ research techniques and tips can inspire you in your own genealogical research.

Lynzi had census records for her ancestors and knew they traveled across the country. Plotting the locations where she knew her ancestors lived, she searched newspapers along the route between locations. In the process, Lynzi pieced together the amazing story of her 2nd great grandfather Michael O’Brien and his wife Mary Helde.

Finding Michael in the newspapers required time and patience. O’Brien was often misspelled. Sometimes the “O” was left off, or the apostrophe dropped, and papers spelled “Brien” in a variety of ways (click here to learn how to search for common misspellings using wildcards). Lynzi’s persistence paid off and she found newspaper stories that mentioned his Irish hometown, an employment history, and his family history. She even discovered that Michael was present at the Golden Spike Ceremony in 1869 and found his face in the familiar photo of the rails joining in the Utah territory. It was the resiliency of his wife Mary that really inspired Lynzi.

Michael O’Brien at the Golden Spike Ceremony

Mary Helde was already married when she met Michael, although she did not live with her husband. Through newspapers, Lynzi learned that not only did Mary lose three daughters in their early infancy, but she also had two sons that died tragic deaths. Mary operated a boarding house in Cheyenne, Wyoming when she and Michael crossed paths. She was already independently wealthy having purchased a number of mining claims that apparently paid off. One clipping described her selling her assets for $30,000 in 1866 (about $475,000 in today’s dollars).

Mary left Cheyenne, sold the boarding house and all of her possessions, married Michael, and accompanied him to Nevada and later Utah. Mary described herself as having a “speculative disposition,” and Lynzi realized how true that was when she found clippings of Mary’s numerous mining investments. Sadly, it appears that Mary’s speculation led to a loss of her fortune.

When news came of mining claims opening in North Dakota, Michael left for the Black Hills. Mary joined him about a year later, but their marriage faltered. In 1891, Michael reportedly drowned while swimming, leaving Mary a penniless widow. Unbeknownst to Mary, however, Michael was very much alive. He’d conspired with some friends to stage his accidental death and left town, a fact Lynzi uncovered in Michael’s Civil War pension file.

Alone and broke, Mary decided to take her last $20 and enter the Louisiana State Lottery, where she won $5,000! She then organized a group of women to invest in mining and once again grew her fortune. When Mary died in 1912, she had no heirs and divided her estate among friends who had helped her during difficult times, a children’s home, and her church.

The colorful story Lynzi uncovered on Newspapers.com shocked her. Her tips include searching for alternative spellings, plotting your ancestors’ locations and checking all the papers along the way, and exhaustive searches! “Discovering records about my ancestors helped me plot points in their lives, but finding them in Newspapers.com helped me bring their story to life,” said Lynzi. Have you discovered your family’s story? Try using Lynzi’s tips and start searching today on Newspapers.com.

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The Pony Express Begins: April 3, 1860

On April 3, 1860, the Pony Express began delivering mail across the overland route to California. Young men riding horses at breakneck speed carried the mail utilizing rest stations along the way where fresh riders and horses could relieve tired ones. The Pony Express enabled mail to travel faster than ever before – nearly 2,000 miles in 10 days.

A series of events in the mid-1800s including the Mormon pioneers westward trek to Utah, the California Gold Rush of 1849, and thousands of travelers heading west on the Oregon Trail created a need for faster communication between east and west.

In 1859, California Senator William Gwin persuaded the firm of Russell, Majors & Waddle to develop a service to quickly deliver mail to the Pacific Coast. They agreed and selected the city of St. Joseph, Missouri as the eastern terminus for the route. St. Joseph connected to eastern cities with railroad lines and telegraphs allowing messages and mail to quickly transfer to the Pony Express where they were loaded into special leather saddlebags called mochilas, and carried in one of the twice-weekly Pony Express runs to Sacramento, California.

The evening of April 3, 1860, a crowd gathered at the Pony Express station in St. Joseph. They were anxiously awaiting a delayed train that was bringing mail for the Pony Express. As soon as it arrived, the mail was quickly transferred to the Pony Express station. A cannon sounded and the crowd cheered as 20-year-old Johnny Fry spurred his horse to a gallop. This high-speed mail service did not come cheap! Initially, it cost $5 per half-ounce to send a letter (the equivalent of roughly $150 today). Later the price was later lowered to $1 per half-ounce.

In order to minimize the weight, riders were often small and lean. They took a loyalty oath requiring them to refrain from profanity, drinking and fighting as they rode at top speed in between relay stations built about 15 miles apart, where they mounted a fresh horse; and home stations, 75-100 miles apart, where fresh riders would take over. During the journey, riders were vulnerable to extreme weather, bandits, and hostilities with Native Americans. The risks did not go unrewarded. Riders’ made around $100/month – about triple the average monthly salary for the time.

Pony Express News – Lincoln Elected President!

Newspapers relied on the Pony Express to deliver the latest headlines like when Abraham Lincoln was elected president or when the City of San Francisco opened its first railway that ferried passengers around the city on horse-drawn streetcars. The Pony Express also helped deliver international news. Headlines that traveled over the ocean by ship could reach the opposite coast in just 18 days!

‘Bronco Charlie’ Miller was only 11-years-old when he filled in one day for a missing rider. He was later hired and became the youngest regular rider. He also lived longer than other riders, dying at age 105 in 1955.

In October 1861, the completion of the transcontinental telegraph made the Pony Express obsolete after just 18 months. If you would like to learn more about the Pony Express and see fun clippings from this historic time, search Newspapers.com today!

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Our Boston Globe Archives Have Expanded!

In 1872, six Boston businessmen got together to start a newspaper, The Boston Globe. The first issue hit the presses on March 4, 1872, and sold for just 4 cents. The paper was published six mornings a week and in 1877, a Sunday edition was added. About a decade later, an afternoon edition called the Boston Evening Globe began and remained in publication until 1979.

The Globe is an award-winning publication that has covered historic events like the Great Boston Fire of 1872. On the morning of November 9, 1872, the Globe released its usual morning edition. Local news included the Harvard Fall Regatta scheduled for that afternoon and the daily report of marriages and deaths. Nobody realized they were on the verge of what would become the largest fire in the city’s history.

About 7:20 p.m. that evening, a fire began in the basement of a warehouse on Summer Street. Before it was contained, it had consumed 65 acres and 776 buildings. Firefighters stopped the flames before they consumed the colonial era Old South Meeting House (the church was also saved from flames in 1810). The Globe did not publish the next day, but on November 11th, the headline read “Devastation!” and detailed the spread of the fire, the businesses and homes destroyed, and injuries and deaths incurred.

In 1901, the Boston Americans baseball team was organized in the newly formed American League. In 1907 they changed their name to the Boston Red Sox and by 1912 Fenway Park opened to house the team. Fenway is the oldest ballpark in the Major League Baseball. The relationship between Boston and sports runs deep and young people celebrated in 1920 when a new law passed allowing them to play recreational sports on Sunday.

Boston’s love of sports extends beyond team sports. The first Boston Marathon was held in 1897 and the Globe reported that the race was a great success and should be “an annual fixture.” It was 117 years later, in 2014, after coverage of the tragic Boston Marathon bombing that the Globe was awarded one of its 26 Pulitzer Prizes for breaking news coverage of the incident.

Boston has a rich immigration history. The city has welcomed immigrants from Ireland, China, Russia, Armenia, and Italy among others. If you had an immigrant ancestor that arrived in Boston, you may be able to find them mentioned in the paper. You can also search for the name of the vessel for reports of births and deaths during voyages.

If you have ancestors from Boston or are interested in historical events from the Boston area, our Globe archives are rich in content and contain nearly 150 years of papers from 1872-2019! Start searching The Boston Globe archives today!

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The Amazing Story of Frances Slocum: The White Rose of Miamis

Young Frances Slocum was just 5-years-old when she was kidnapped from her home by Native Americans in 1778. She was living near modern-day Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, in a valley primarily inhabited by the Shawnee and Delaware tribes.

Her father and brothers were working outside when Delaware warriors entered the family home in broad daylight and carried her away.

Wilkes-Barre Times Leader
July 19, 1941

Her heartbroken family searched for her relentlessly, even offering substantial rewards for her return, but she was gone. Nearly six decades passed without word of Frances. Her heartbroken parents died never knowing her fate. Meanwhile, Frances was adopted into the Delaware Tribe and raised as one of their own. She later joined the Miami Tribe after marrying She-Po-Con-Ah, who would later become a Miami chief. 

Frances Slocum

In January 1835, Col. George W. Ewing was conducting business at an Indian Trading Post in Indiana. Darkness forced him to lodge for the night at the home of Maconaquah, a white woman living among Native Americans. After dinner, Maconaquah shared an interesting story. She remembered being taken when she was young and knew her father’s name was Slocum.

Her story intrigued Col. Ewing and he became determined to reunite Maconaquah with her family. He had the story published in a newspaper, a copy of which made its way to the Slocum family. Frances’s siblings immediately set out for Indiana to determine if their sister was alive. Isaac Slocum, the younger brother of Frances, remembered a scar his sister received when they were playing as children. He wanted to see if Maconaquah shared the same scar.

Wilkes-Barre Times Leader
November 1, 1971

Tentatively, they reunited. They determined that Maconaquah was really Frances, their long, lost sister! They urged her to return with them, but she didn’t want to. Frances’s desire was to remain with her people. By an Act of Congress, Frances was granted a square mile of land in Miami County, Indiana, where she remained until her death on March 9, 1847.

Her family honored her by erecting a monument and sharing her story. If you would like to learn more about Frances Slocum, the White Rose of Miamis, search our archives!

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