An Amazing Rescue From Slavery

During the mid-19th century, the abolitionist movement gained strength in the Northern United States. Free states prohibited slavery, but many of those living in slave states were forced to suffer backbreaking work and constant forms of degradation. In 1847, one heroic mother, a freed slave, received a letter from the master of her two daughters. She had given birth to the girls while still a slave, making her daughters slaves according to the law. In the letter, the master threatened to sell the girls and send them to Louisiana unless she could raise $400 to buy their freedom. She had no way to get the money but was determined to save her daughters. This is her story, told from clippings from the Green-Mountain Freeman in October 1847.

After finding a few men who were sympathetic to her story, and able to help transport and hide the girls after their rescue, the mother devised a rescue plan. She immediately set out on foot, walking about 35 miles to the home where her girls were kept. Arriving at night, she waited in the woods until the following morning. Not wanting to raise suspicion, she went to the house as she always did when she visited her children. “I stayed there on Saturday and Sunday, til Monday evening; cooked and washed for them, and then bid my children goodbye, as if I should never see them again; for I told ‘master’ that I could not raise the money.”

Green Mountain Freeman, October 14, 1847

After leaving the house, the mother again hid in the woods until 11:00 pm. As she quietly approached the house, two dogs began to bark furiously. “I stopped a moment, and hid behind the fence, and saw ‘master’ get up and open the window, and look out. Not seeing anything, he shut down the window. I waited till I thought he was asleep, and then went forward. I hurried quick into the cellar kitchen, where my children slept.”

She waited until she heard the master snoring, then quietly woke the children and told them not to speak a word. “I got on their clothes as soon as I could, and fearing that if I went out by the door the dogs would bark again, I determined to go out by the back window. I found it fastened. I got up on the window sill to take out the nail, and as I was pulling at it, I prayed, ‘O Lord, defend me and my dear children this night; I commit myself and them to thee.’ At length I got out the nail, and opened the window, and lifted my children out; and then got out myself. The two dogs were there, but they only stood and looked at us, and never even growled.”

The three of them ran through the garden, over three different fences and palings, and walked four miles to a waiting carriage, reaching it about 1:00 am. Boarding the carriage, they drove as fast as they could towards the city, but had no intention of going to the city, “For I knew that ‘master’ would be there as soon as he could, after he waked up and found the children gone,” said the mother.

Instead, the three were secreted in a series of safe houses and transported first to Pennsylvania and then to Boston. Once in Boston, the mother was able to obtain work and her daughters enrolled in school and learned to read and sew.

Would you like to read other amazing and heroic stories about rescues from slavery? Search our archives for more amazing accounts, and check out our Underground Railroad topic page on Newspapers.com.  To see a beautiful short film on the Underground Railroad, check out Railroad Ties here.

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Greensboro Sit-In Protests Begin: February 1, 1960

On February 1, 1960, four young African-American men entered the Woolworth’s in Greensboro, North Carolina. They sat down at the segregated lunch counter and refused to leave after being denied service.

Joseph McNeil, David Richmond, Ezell Blair Jr. (later Jibreel Khazan), and Franklin McCain, all students at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, were inspired by Mahatma Gandhi and his doctrine of using non-violent protests as a way to achieve social and political progress.

After purchasing a few small items at Woolworth’s, the young men proceeded to the lunch counter with receipt in hand. Instead of heading to the standing snack bar where they were normally relegated, they sat at the lunch counter designated “whites only.”

After taking a seat, the young men politely waited for service. Someone called the police, but segregation at the lunch counter was a social custom and not a law. The men were paying customers and couldn’t be arrested.

The next day the Greensboro Four returned to Woolworth’s again. This time accompanied by additional African-American students. In subsequent days the numbers of protestors increased. By the fifth day, some 1,000 protestors joined in. The sit-in protests made nationwide headlines. Similar protests spread across the country, occurring in nine states and 54 cities.

The bold actions of the Greensboro Four took courage. It had been six years since the Brown v. Board of Education ruling had passed, eliminating separate but equal – but little had changed. Their protest led to a student-led civil rights movement. As the movement spread, so did the need to organize.

In April, under the direction of Martin Luther King, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference organized a meeting for sit-in protestors. King told attendees that protests were a civil right and not a social privilege, and he urged protesters to refrain from violence. Sadly, the civil rights movement was marred by violence.  Felton Turner, 27, was abducted by four masked white men, strung up by his heels and beaten with a chain. His attackers carved letters into his chest with a penknife before he was able to escape. He was one of many who endured attacks.

Six months after the sit-ins started, protestors achieved a measure of success when on July 25th, the Greensboro Woolworth’s lunch counter opened to all diners – black or white.

In 2010, on the 50th anniversary of the original protest, the building that once housed the Greensboro Woolworth’s reopened as the International Civil Rights Center and Museum. Part of the original lunch counter where the Greensboro Four sat down in February 1960 is now housed in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

To read more articles about the sit-in protests or the civil rights movement, see our archives and visit our civil rights topic page on Newspapers.com.

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New Papers From Kentucky and Pennsylvania!

Do you have ancestors from Kentucky or Pennsylvania? We’re thrilled to announce our newspaper archives from these states are expanding!

The Paducah Sun: Paducah, Kentucky is located just past the confluence of the Ohio and Tennessee Rivers and is home to The Paducah Sun. Our archives date back to 1896 and contain more than 1.5 million pages from The Sun and related titles including The Sunday Chat; the Paducah Weekly Sun; the News-Democrat; the Weekly News-Democrat; and the Paducah-Sun Democrat.

These papers covered important developments in the history of Paducah including steamboat commerce and railroad growth. One historic event that made Paducah headlines was the flood of 1937. Weeks of steady rain followed by sleet caused the Ohio River to crest at 60.8 feet. Flood waters consumed the city and some 27,000 citizens were evacuated. Many residents were trapped in their homes or stranded on the upper floors of downtown buildings. Following the disaster, the US Army Corps of Engineers constructed a 14-foot high floodwall. In the early 1990s, in an effort to beautify downtown Paducah, one citizen suggested painting murals along the floodwall. In 1996, the city hired an artist to paint more than 50 murals that depict the history of Paducah.

If you have ancestors from Paducah, society columns are a great place to piece together your family story. They often mention travels, and births and deaths.

The Daily Item: Based in Sunbury, Pennsylvania, The Daily Item archives go back to 1894. Thomas Edison made a mark in Sunbury in 1883 when he installed and successfully tested the first three-wire electric lighting system in a local Sunbury hotel. The hotel’s name was later changed to the Edison Hotel in his honor. Electricity in Sunbury led to one of the first electric streetcar systems in the country. In 1906, the State of Pennsylvania established a bureau to record all the state’s births and deaths. Before then, newspapers like The Daily Item published birth announcements and obituaries.

Just 13 miles from Sunbury is the town of Danville. We have archives from the Danville Morning News and the Danville News that date back to 1898. In the 19th century, Danville became an important stop along the early transportation routes that included railroads, the Susquehanna River, and roads. Does your family tree contain an orphan from the Danville area? These newspapers are a great resource for information about institutions like the Mother House of Christian Charity and the Odd Fellows’ Orphans Home.

In 1919, during the early days of aviation, Danville residents poured into the streets to see an airplane. For many, it was their first time! The government plane circled the town dropping leaflets advertising Victory Liberty Loans (war bonds) to fund the war effort.

These stories are just a sampling of many fun and historical stories in these newspapers. Get started searching our Kentucky and Pennsylvania archives today at Newspapers.com!

 

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2018 in Review: Over 5,000 Papers Added!

2018 Year in ReviewHappy New Year! We’re so excited for what’s to come in 2019, but we wanted to pause a moment and reflect on all we accomplished in 2018. Last year we:

    • Added more than 5,000 new papers
    • More than doubled the number of titles in our archive
    • Added more than 120 million pages
    • We’re adding 10-13 million pages each month
    • We now have nearly a half a billion searchable pages – making us the largest online historical newspaper archive

In 2018 we continued to increase our international newspaper titles from Canada, England, Scotland, and Wales. We’ve also added Puerto Rico. Plus, we added new papers from the following states:

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin

Our archives have unlocked roadblocks in family history research and provided a unique tool for those searching for historical and academic data. Did you make an incredible discovery this year using Newspapers.com? Tell us about it! From our team to you, Happy New Years!

 

 

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Homestead Act Takes Effect: January 1, 1863

On December 31, 1862, Daniel Freeman made his way to the land office in Brownville, Nebraska. It was just before midnight, but Freeman, a Civil War soldier on furlough, arranged for an obliging clerk to open the doors. He planned to file the first homestead claim under the newly enacted Homestead Act which took effect on January 1, 1863.

At 12:05 A.M., Freeman successfully filed his claim. He was awarded a tract of land in Nebraska that he lived on and cultivated until his death in 1908. Later, to celebrate the most progressive land redistribution in American history, Freeman’s property became the Homestead National Monument of America.

The Homestead Act was US legislation that granted 160 acres of unappropriated public land to any American citizen or immigrant who declared his intention to become a citizen, upon the receipt of a small fee. Applicants agreed to live on the land, improve it, and build a residence. Those applying were required to be 21-years-old or the head of a family. Women and freed slaves were also eligible to apply.

Enacting homestead laws did not come easy. Southern states regularly voted against homestead legislation, fearing it would create an agricultural alternative to the slave labor system. Others argued the legislation was inevitable. When the Homestead Act finally passed, it opened up the Great Plains and western United States to settlement.

Mary Myer and her husband Philipp were German immigrants to the United States. In 1860, they made their way to the Nebraska frontier and settled on a piece of land, planning to remain there until owners forced them to leave. Philipp died in 1861, and when the Homestead Act passed in 1862, Mary realized she could apply to own the land she and her three children already lived on. On January 20, 1863, Mary filled out application number 20 and received homestead rights, possibly becoming the first woman to own land under the Homestead Act.

Six months after legislators approved the Homestead Act, the Pacific Railroad Act passed. By May 1869, the transcontinental railroad provided easy transportation and lured homesteaders further West. As more homestead land became available, eager settlers snatched it up. By 1934, the government processed more than 1.6 million homestead applications and awarded 270 million acres of land to citizens. In 1988, 125 years after the first homestead claim, Kenneth Deardorff received the last grant of land under the Homestead Act for 80 acres in Alaska.

Did someone in your family file a homestead claim? Is the land still in your family? Learn more about the Homestead Act on our topic page and research your family’s homestead roots on Newspapers.com.

 

 

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New Papers From New Jersey and Kentucky!

Do you have ancestors from New Jersey or Kentucky? This month we’re excited to announce additions to our archives from these states!

The Coast Star is a weekly paper from the beachside community of Manasquan, New Jersey. Our archives date back to 1899 when the paper was known as The Coast Democrat. The population of Manasquan was just 1,500 back then – small enough that when a local mother wanted to visit a neighbor while her baby napped, she simply called the operator and left the line open so the operator could notify her if the baby cried.

After the turn of the century, beach cottages, many belonging to residents of nearby New York City, began springing up along the New Jersey coast. In 1930, plans were made to dredge the Manasquan inlet and open the waterway for boat traffic. Residents soon found that bootleggers were using the waterway to transport booze (it was the middle of prohibition) and stepped up patrols.

The Ocean Star is published weekly in Point Pleasant, New Jersey, just a couple of miles away from Manasquan and serves the northern Ocean County area. It launched in 1998 and among other news, chronicled heavy damage along the New Jersey coast from Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

The Franklin Favorite hails from Franklin, Kentucky. Our archives date back to 1887 and are a valuable resource for research in Franklin and surrounding communities like Russellville, Richland, Price’s Mill, and Stevenson; and Northern Tennessee towns like Springfield and Orlinda.

The paper reported on local landmark Octagon Hall. The octagon-shaped home was built in 1859 by Andrew Jackson Caldwell and served as a refuge for Confederate soldiers during the Civil War. Caldwell’s son remembered Confederate soldiers camping in the yard. He also recalled the time a weary soldier needed a place to sleep for the night. The family took him in and soon discovered the soldier was Caldwell’s long, lost nephew! 

The Messenger-Inquirer is published in Owensboro, Kentucky. Our archives go back to 1890 when the paper was known as The Messenger. In 1929, The Messenger was sold to the owners of The Owensboro Inquirer. The two papers merged and became known as The Messenger-Inquirer. Now owned by Paxton Media Group, the paper has a rich history in Owensboro.

Like other Kentucky communities, Owensboro’s history is closely tied to the area’s distilleries, and Owensboro has recently been named part of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. The Messenger-Inquirer also covers surrounding communities like Pleasant Ridge, Cleopatra, and Nuckols. The Neighborhood News column is a great place to search for relatives from nearby towns.

Get started searching our updated New Jersey and Kentucky archives today!

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Shackleton Sets Sail: December 5, 1914

On December 5, 1914, Ernest Shackleton, along with 27 crew members, set sail from the tiny whaling village of Grytviken on South Georgia Island. The expedition hoped to make the first crossing of the Antarctic continent. Instead, they encountered horrific gale winds and ice that destroyed their ship Endurance. The men spent nearly two years trekking across ice floes and struggling to stay alive. Miraculously, every man survived! This is the story of Shackleton’s expedition straight from the headlines as it happened.

Soon after leaving Grytviken in December, the Endurance entered the Antarctic ice pack and crossed the Antarctic Circle. In January, Shackleton spotted “200 miles of coastline and great glaciers discharging into the sea.” The crew had reached part of the Antarctic continent they named Caird Coast.

On January 18th, Endurance encountered gale force winds and ice closing in. Forced to take refuge behind a large iceberg, Endurance soon became stuck in ice. Unable to navigate, she drifted for 10 months. At one point, “the pack drove the ship towards a great stranded berg, and we were saved only by a sudden change in the drift,” wrote Shackleton.

Winter turned to spring, followed by summer. Still encased in ice, pressure mounted on Endurance. Her hull creaked and groaned, and by September her beams buckled. Unable to resist the pressure any longer, the sides of the ship opened up. Shackleton wrote, “Endurance hove bodily out the ice and was flung before the gale against masses of up-driven ice.”

Shackleton gave orders to abandon ship. Three lifeboats, dogs and provisions were lowered to the ice. The crew began a trek across the ice, but cracks and pressure ridges made travel precarious. The journey was “further endangered by the presence of killer whales, which would not hesitate to attack any man unfortunate enough to fall in,” wrote Shackleton.

On November 21st, the crew watched as Endurance sank. Relying on a series of camps, the men began a slow march toward open water. The crew survived subfreezing temperatures, hurricane force winds, and food shortages. By spring, Shackleton ordered the dogs shot and eaten. In March, they averted tragedy when a crack opened up separating the crew from their lifeboats. They managed to retrieve them.

After five more long months, they spotted land! Elephant Island appeared on the horizon. The men boarded lifeboats and reached the island after a horrendous seven-day journey. In a last-ditch attempt at rescue, Shackleton and five others set sail for South Georgia Island. They rowed and sailed 800 miles over two weeks in rough seas, bailing out water during the journey. Miraculously they made it. All attention then turned to the rescue of the men on Elephant Island. After three failed attempts, Shackleton’s fourth try was a success! On August 30, 1916, 634 days after leaving South Georgia, the remaining crew of the Endurance was rescued from Elephant Island.

To learn more about Shackleton’s Endurance expedition, search our archives on Newspapers.com!

 

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Canadian Collection of Newspapers!

This month we’re excited to announce that our Canadian newspaper archives are expanding! We’ve added several papers from publisher Postmedia Network and will be adding more pages and titles through 2019!  We have papers from Ontario, Québec, British Columbia, Alberta, and Manitoba. Here’s just a sampling of what you’ll find.

 

Parliament Burns – February 1916
The Ottawa Citizen

The Montréal Gazette: Founded in 1778, the Montréal Gazette is one of the oldest newspapers in North America. Though originally published in French, the Gazette has been English-only since 1822. Montréal is Canada’s second largest city and established itself early on as an important center for the fur trade. Our earliest issues date back to 1857 when the Gazette published this ad for fur coats made from beaver, doeskin or Siberian fur. This story printed in 1858 teaches readers how to care for and clean their furs. In the late 1800s, expansion on the St. Lawrence River canal system began. The river provided a water shipping corridor and the Grand Trunk Railway provided a land connection, enabling Montréal to undergo rapid growth industrialization. The Gazette recorded births, marriages, and deaths of many of Montréal’s citizens. It also reported on a tragic fire in 1927 at the Laurier Palace Theatre that killed 78 children who had gathered to watch a silent film.

The Calgary Herald: With issues dating back to 1888, we have papers chronicling life in Calgary for the past 130 years! The Herald was initially published in a tent at the junction of the Bow and Elbow rivers in 1883. Early on, Fort Calgary was established as an outpost for the Mounted Police. As homestead land became available, the population grew along with Calgary’s mining and ranching industries. The world-famous Calgary Stampede started in 1912 and celebrates that ranching heritage. In 1914, the discovery of oil at the Dingman well created a frenzy that died down as the First World War began.

Edmonton Journal: In 1903, around the time Edmonton got its first railway, three newsmen printed the first edition of the Edmonton Journal in the back of a fruit store. The population was just 4,000 back them, and the Journal has chronicled the growth for the past 115 years! In 1947, the Imperial Oil Company struck a rich deposit of “black gold.” The oil discovery sent the population of the city booming and cemented Alberta’s reputation as a province rich in oil and gas.

The Ottawa Citizen:  Royal Engineers set up a campsite in present day Ottawa during construction of the Rideau Canal (now a UNESCO World Heritage Site). In 1845, the Citizen published its first edition and 12 years later Ottawa was named Canada’s capital by Queen Victoria. Our archives begin in 1898 and cover notable events like the great Ottawa-Hull fire that destroyed a large tract of Ottawa and most of Hull in 1900. The “Social and Personal” column is a great place to search for historic news of your Ottawa ancestors!

Our Canadian newspaper archives are a great way to research your Canadian ancestors or Canadian history. Check back often as we’re updating this collection regularly. Get started searching our Canadian archives today!

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Town Unites to Honor Soldiers During WWII

During WWII, townspeople from Perkasie, Pennsylvania, banded together in a remarkable way to honor and support the young men and women from their community serving in the armed forces. In honor of Veterans Day and those who served, we wanted to share their story!

Servicemen's Edition News HeraldIn June 1942, Perkasie community members gathered at the local Fire Hall to organize the Perkasie Community Service Group (C.S.G.). After some discussion, the C.S.G. made a list of things they wanted to accomplish. They agreed to: send a weekly letter to every service member from the community; include a special servicemen’s pocket edition of the News Herald with community news; send each service member a dollar bill once a month.

The effort would require funding and donations. Members went door-to-door soliciting dimes, quarters and dollars.  Benefits and fundraisers were held. Members of the community were each assigned special duties. Some of those responsibilities included addressing envelopes or keeping the mailing list updated. Before the war ended, nearly 800 young people serving from Perkasie would receive 70,000 letters and more than $17,500 from the C.S.G. When a soldier didn’t make it home, the C.S.G. presented the family a Gold Star Flag and a letter of condolence.

Grateful service men and women loved the letters! Many sent expressions of gratitude to the News Herald. Richard E. Moyer was a 21-year-old infantryman who was wounded and sent home. He told the C.S.G. how he and 8 buddies spent months isolated in the Italian war theatre. “No mail, no nothing,” he said, “not even pay reached us for months.” Finally, when communications were re-established, Moyer received a backlog of 196 pieces of mail, but still no paychecks. “Among them were five C.S.G. letters with a buck each. As I opened one, the bill fell out and my buddies gasped ‘real money’, and asked whether my dad sent it. As I continued to open mail and find more dollars, I explained that all the kids from my home-town get a buck-a-month from the community, and my buddies decided they came from the wrong town. We had a glorious time spending the first five dollars we saw in months,” Moyer said.

Sgt. Howard Krout received his letter from the C.S.G., but two bills had inadvertently been placed in the envelope. Several weeks later he returned the extra dollar to the C.S.G. with the explanation, “two bills were sticking together, and I knew that I am entitled to only one.”

Another recipient was 21-year-old seaman Wilbur F. Hendricks. He kept these pocket edition newspapers long after the war ended. Upon his death in 2007, his family donated the newspapers to the Perkasie Historical Society in his honor. His collection is now digitized and available to view for the first time here.

Newspapers.com salutes veterans like Richard Moyer, Howard Krout, and Wilbur Hendricks; and we salute the Perkasie community. How did your hometown support the troops during WWII? Search our archives today to learn more!

 

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World War I Ends: November 11, 1918

WWI Ends!

WWI Ends! Mon, Nov 11, 1918 – 1 · Chicago Tribune

On the morning of November 11, 1918, at 1:55 A.M., the telephone rang at the offices of the Chicago Tribune. An Associated Press operator delivered a news flash with the short message, “Armistice Signed,” and then hung up. Fifty minutes later, the U.S. State Department released the official announcement: Effective this morning at 6:00 A.M. ET, the world war officially ends. An Armistice signed by Germany in the 11th month, on the 11th day, and in the 11th hour of 1918 brought an end to the fighting in WWI. 

In France, thousands of American heavy guns fired parting shots at that exact moment. WWI, also known as the Great War, resulted in more than 37 million military casualties and 8.5 million deaths worldwide. American Expeditionary Force (AEF) casualties numbered 323 thousand with nearly 117 thousand deaths. 

As the news broke, a sleepy nation woke to celebrate! In Chicago, US Navy men (nicknamed Jackies) poured into the streets cheering. News reached the West coast just before midnight. Fireworks summoned residents in Oakland, California, to a party downtown! 

With the fighting over, transporting troops home became the next big logistical challenge. Most soldiers made it home within a year, but a few thousand didn’t return until 1920. Every available ship, and a few seized German ships, helped to “bring the boys home!” 

All over the country, communities held celebrations. In Allentown, Pennsylvania, 50,000 citizens greeted returning soldiers with a confetti parade. 

Not all the boys were coming home whole. The physical and emotional trauma suffered by the sick and wounded was astonishing. Legislation like the Adjusted Compensation Act; the Soldier Rehabilitation Act of 1918 (that provided prostheses for those who lost limbs); and the organization of the American Legion sought to help returning soldiers. 

Among the many injured were Pvt. Anthony Kulig, 24, who spent 19 months at Walter Reed Hospital recovering from an amputated arm, a knee injury, and 52 wounds on his body. First Lt. John W. McManigal chronicled his injuries and others he observed during his time as a POW in a dramatic five-part series printed in the Kansas Democrat in 1919. He recalled one soldier in a POW hospital having both legs amputated without any anesthetic. 

The development of an improved veteran healthcare system is just one of the legacies left to future military generations by WWI veterans. Do you have an interest in military history or have ancestors that fought in WWI? How did your hometown celebrate the Armistice? Tell us about it and search our archives at Newspapers.com!

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