New Papers From South Carolina!

Do you have ancestors from Sumter, South Carolina, or an interest in the history of South Carolina? We’re happy to announce that we’ve added The Sumter Item and The Watchman and Southron to our archives, with issues dating back to 1881. The Watchman and Southron was a weekly (later a semiweekly) paper that was published through 1930 when it was absorbed by the Sumter Daily Item, which in turn became The Sumter Item.

The city and county of Sumter are named after Gen. Thomas Sumter, a Revolutionary War hero. South Carolina history is also closely tied to Civil War history. It was the first state to secede from the Union in 1860 and the state where the first shots of the Civil War were fired on Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor in April 1861. It’s also the place where some of the last shots of the Civil War took place. The Battle of Dingle’s Mill was a Civil War skirmish that took place when Potter’s raiders confronted Confederate forces on April 9, 1865, in Sumter County. This fighting is especially noteworthy because the Civil War officially ended the same day, but the word of the Confederate surrender had not yet reached Sumter where fighting continued until April 25th.

The Sumter Item is the oldest continuously family-owned paper in South Carolina, and one of the oldest in the country. It has been run by the Osteen family for five generations and was started by patriarch Hubert Graham Osteen. The Osteen family has chronicled the changing news in Sumter over the decades.

When the first automobiles arrived in Sumter in the early 1900s, The Sumter Item reported on several attempts by residents to climb the courthouse steps in their new automobiles. After several accidents, city leaders realized that they needed to enact safety measures and speed limits.

Prohibition took effect in Sumter in 1916 (four years before Congress mandated Prohibition nationally). Despite impassioned arguments against the use of alcohol, some Sumter residents operated underground, producing liquor despite the constant threat of police raids.

In April 1924, a tornado with a path 135 miles long struck Sumter causing multiple casualties. The tornado destroyed buildings, burying people in rubble and carving a path that resembled “a forest after an artillery barrage.” 

When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941, The Sumter Item published a special edition announcing the attack. In the following days, Sumter was on a high state of alert. Soldiers stood guard over public buildings and a Sumter bridge. The Item kept residents informed about local soldiers serving in the war.

If you have ancestors from Sumter, search the pages of this archive for things like death notices or wedding announcements. The society columns are another place to search for colorful details about your family. Start searching the pages of The Watchman and Southron and The Sumter Item today on Newspapers.com!

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Boomers and Sooners: The Oklahoma Land Rush of 1889

In 1889, as many as 50 thousand settlers poured into Oklahoma hoping to stake claim to a portion of nearly two million acres opened for settlement by the U.S. Government. Many had campaigned the federal government to open the land for settlement and were known as Boomers. The land, formerly occupied by Native Americans, was considered Unassigned Lands after the federal government forcibly relocated many Native American tribes. On April 22, 1889, at noon sharp, a bugle sounded, and hopeful settlers surged across the territory line. The number of settlers surpassed available land and they soon realized that some snuck into Oklahoma ahead of the April 22nd open date. This gave them a leg up on the law-abiding settlers and first in line for the most desirable land. Those early homestead seekers were known as Sooners.

In 1887, the Dawes Act was one of many federal laws that slowly stripped Native Americans of their tribal lands and paved the way for the Oklahoma Land Rush. It authorized the government to break up the tribal lands and allot them to individual Native Americans in parcels of 40, 80, and 160 acres. Only Native Americans who accepted the land could become U.S. citizens and any remaining land would be made available for public sale.

The Indian Appropriations Act of 1889, also known as the “sooner clause,” opened these Unassigned Lands to settlers, but specified that anyone who entered Indian Territory ahead of time would be denied land. There were, however, a group of “legal Sooners” who had permission to enter the territory ahead of time. This group included government employees, railroad workers, and others with special permission. In some instances, legal Sooners took advantage of their position to drive off early settlers, sending them back to the line, only to turn back and stake claim to the same property.

In the weeks leading up to the land grab, wagon trains snaked through neighboring states, many making their way to border towns. One newspaper reported a line of wagons 60 miles long! It wasn’t just men hoping to stake a claim, women were among those hoping to establish a homestead on some of the best unoccupied public lands in the country.

The mood was jubilant in border towns as crowds awaited the noon hour on the 22nd. Some abandoned their horses in favor of trains, hoping to get there faster. One newspaper reported that men packed the roofs of rail cars after the coaches filled up. Settlers had two ways to initiate a claim. The first was to file a claim at the land office, the second was to personally settle on a piece of land. If a conflict arose between two parties trying to claim the same land, priority went to those physically on the land.

When the clock struck 12:00 on the 22nd, the mad rush began. Those who snuck into the territory early concealed themselves in ravines and bushes, and when the bugle sounded “seemed to rise right up out of the ground” to claim the property. Thousands poured into Guthrie, Oklahoma, which saw it’s population go from 10 in the morning to 15,000 by nightfall.  Oklahoma City experienced similar growth and there were more than 11,000 filings for homestead land by the end of the day. Bitter resentment arose towards Sooners who entered the territory early. This led to many court cases for years to come where litigants protested hundreds of claims. The loss of tribal lands further marginalized Native Americans who saw additional land rushes take more tribal lands in subsequent years.

In 1890, the Unassigned Lands became the Oklahoma Territory and in 1907, Oklahoma became the 46th state. To learn more about the Oklahoma Land Rush, search newspapers.com today!

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The Deadliest Natural Disaster in U.S. History: The Galveston Hurricane of 1900

On September 8, 1900, the deadliest natural disaster in U.S. history occurred when the low-elevation island of Galveston, Texas, was struck by a category four hurricane that resulted in 135 mph winds and a deadly tidal surge. The hurricane, also known as the Great Galveston Storm, leveled 3,600 buildings and killed an estimated 6,000 to 12,000 people. Primitive forecasting techniques and ignored warnings contributed to the high number of fatalities.

Salt Lake Herald 9.10.1900

Galveston was the largest city in Texas at the turn of the century. It had a bustling shipping port and was among the richest urban areas in the United States. It had a population of 37,000 that swelled each summer when vacationers flocked to the island to enjoy the beaches.

Hurricane forecasting science at the turn of the century was not very sophisticated. The U.S. Weather Bureau relied on warnings from arriving ships or telegraphed warnings from islands in the Caribbean. In early September 1900, Cuban meteorologists sent warnings of an impending storm headed for the U.S. which were largely ignored. The U.S. Weather Bureau eventually issued a hurricane warning but predicted the storm would pass over Florida and continue north along the Eastern Seaboard. The storm headed into the Gulf of Mexico, however, and the first storm warnings in Galveston were not issued until September 7th. Few people heeded the warnings.

The morning of September 8th dawned cloudy and with a powerful surf. Soon the skies turned dark and the winds picked up. The Furniss family of St. Louis, Missouri was vacationing at the Beach Hotel in Galveston with their three daughters, unaware that a deadly hurricane was taking aim at the city. Galveston sat just nine feet above sea level and as the hurricane came ashore, a 15-foot storm surge rolled in.

The Atlanta Constitution 9.9.1900

When the storm hit, the hotel was completely demolished, and the Furniss family presumed dead. Their only other child, an 18-year-old son, was home in Missouri when he received news of the disaster. He quickly traveled to Galveston to search for his family. Upon arrival, a local militia involuntarily enlisted him into service to search for survivors and bury the dead. Thousands of bodies were strewn about the island and mountains of debris piled everywhere. The heat and humidity created a terrible stench and workers initially tried to bury vast numbers of the dead at sea. However, the tide just washed the bodies back to shore. Eventually, they burned the dead instead. The bodies of the Furniss family were among those finally found and buried at sea.  

St. Louis Glove-Democrat 9.15.1900

Another tragedy occurred at the St. Mary’s Orphans Asylum, which sat directly on the shore. It was built to take advantage of the fresh sea breezes which nuns hoped would protect the children from Yellow Fever and other illnesses that had killed their parents. As the storm intensified, the nuns gathered all 93 children and moved to the second floor to escape the rising water. As an added protection, the nuns tied themselves to small groups of children. Eventually, the storm ripped the orphanage from its foundation, trapping the children. Tragically, all were lost except three boys who clung to a tree.

As the stories of the devastation emerged, a nationwide relief effort sprang up to help the people of Galveston. To prevent a similar tragedy from happening again, Galveston built a 17-foot seawall and brought in tons of sand to raise the city’s elevation as much as 18 feet near the seawall, with a downward slope toward the bay. Buildings that managed to survive the hurricane were lifted to the new ground level.

If you would like to learn more about the Great Galveston Storm of 1900, search Newspapers.com today or see additional clippings on the Galveston Hurricane in our Topic Pages.

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Let Me Leave You My Calling Card

Want to take a peek into a fascinating social custom from the Victorian era? Calling cards (also called visiting cards or visiting tickets) were all the rage in the 19th century and represented an indispensable way to communicate. The cards did much more than just announce a visit, they relayed important social messages. For example, a calling card with a folded corner, or a card in a sealed envelope sent clear messages that accompanied strict etiquette protocols. By the early 1900s, calling cards fell out of fashion. Today’s business cards are a leftover relic from the calling card era.  

Calling Card of Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant

Calling cards first became popular in Europe in the 18th century and were favored by royalty and nobility. Their popularity spread across Europe and to the United States and soon calling cards became essential for the fashionable and wealthy. Society homes often had a silver tray in the entrance hall where guests left their cards. A tray full of cards (with the most prominent cards on top) was a way to display social connections.

Both men and women used calling cards and they were distinguishable by size. Men’s cards were long and narrow so they could fit in a breast pocket. Women’s cards were larger and during the Victorian era, became more ornate and embellished. According to this article from 1890, a typical society woman handed out nearly three thousand cards each year.

Victorian Calling Card

When wishing to arrange a visit, a caller generally waited in a carriage while a servant delivered the calling card to a household. If delivering the card in person, it was customary to fold the upper right-hand corner. This indicated that the caller made the effort to deliver the card personally. The visitor then returned home and within a few days would likely receive a calling card in return, sometimes with a short note written on the back. This usually extended an invitation to visit. Visits were generally short, formal, and at designated visiting hours. If a calling card wasn’t acknowledged, or worse, returned in a sealed envelope, it meant the offer to visit was rejected.

When leaving a calling card, different messages could be communicated by folding different corners of the card.

  • The lower left-hand corner to express condolences
  • The upper left-hand corner to express congratulations
  • The lower right-hand corner indicated the caller was planning a long trip and did not expect an acknowledgment

If the household contained more than one woman, a gentleman caller folded a corner to indicate he intended to visit the entire household. A woman also followed strict protocol when leaving calling cards. She never left her card at a home where a bachelor resided without also including her husband’s card. When leaving after a visit, a woman generally left two of her husband’s cards – one for the master of the house and one for the mistress.

The social rules were enough to make your head spin, but upper-crust society was schooled in the practice, and newspapers published calling card etiquette rules for others to navigate.

By the early 1900s, calling cards began to decline in popularity just as the use of business cards was on the rise. A change in formal social customs and new-fangled telephones led to a steady decrease in arranged visits. Businesses, which adopted the calling card custom, continue to use them today. If you would like to learn more about calling cards and their impact on the social customs from earlier days, search Newspapers.com!

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New Papers from the Pine Tree State!

If you have ancestors from Maine or an interest in the history of Maine, we are pleased to announce that we’ve added The Bangor Daily News, the Bangor Daily Whig and Courier, and The Weekly to our archives! In 1900, the Bangor Daily News merged with the Bangor Whig and Courier and we have both archives with papers dating back to 1832!

Maine is the “Pine Tree State” and these newspapers chronicle how the lumber industry played a part in the growth and prosperity of the city. Bangor lies along the Penobscot River and logs harvested from the Maine North Woods could be floated downstream to the city’s sawmills. By the 1860s, Bangor was home to the world’s largest lumber port. All that lumber also provided materials for the growing shipbuilding industry, which thrived in Bangor. 

During the Civil War, the 2nd Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment was the first to march out of Maine in 1861. They fought in the First Battle of Bull Run. Bangor residents felt the acute impact of war. The 1st Maine Heavy Artillery Regiment that mustered out of Bangor lost more men than any other Union regiment in the War with 683 deaths.

Bangor Daily Whig and Courier: May 14, 1861

The war left some children orphaned and the Bangor Children’s Home was established. The orphanage started in 1839 as the Bangor Females Orphan Asylum, but after the war, it was re-purposed to admit boys with a new and larger building dedicated in 1869.

On April 30, 1911, a fire started in a hay shed and spread throughout Bangor. The Great Fire of 1911 claimed the high school, banks, the post office, Custom House, churches, nearly a hundred businesses, and close to 300 homes.

The Bangor Daily News: May 1, 1911

The library, which was also destroyed, held books that contained historical records and genealogies of early Bangor residents. The press that produced the Bangor Daily News did not burn, but the building was without electricity. Nonetheless, the editors printed a paper just hours after the fire, setting it all by hand.

In December 1962, Bangor was hit with a huge snowstorm that dumped 37 inches. Howling winds caused snowdrifts 20 feet tall! For the first time in its 130-year history, the Bangor Daily News was unable to deliver a paper on December 31, 1962.

If you are searching for ancestors from Bangor, search for obituaries and marriage or birth announcements. Family reunion notices also provide a wealth of genealogical information. Start searching The Bangor Daily News, the Bangor Daily Whig and Courier, and The Weekly today on Newspapers.com

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August 15, 1945: The 75th Anniversary of V-J Day

On August 14, 1945, at 7:00 p.m., President Harry S. Truman summoned reporters to the White House for a special announcement. He read a statement from the Emperor of Japan which announced in part, “The unconditional surrender of Japan.” Three years, eight months, and seven days after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, WWII was finally over!

V-J Day (short for Victory in Japan Day) came at a steep price. The United States counted some 418,500 military and civilian deaths during the war. Worldwide, that number neared 60 million! For just a moment, in August 1945, a war-weary world set aside mourning to celebrate the end of WWII. People poured into the streets and church bells rang out. President Truman declared a two-day holiday, and on August 15th, the United States celebrated V-J Day.

In New York City, thousands flocked to Times Square. Alfred Eisenstaedt, a photographer for Life magazine, pulled out his camera to capture the exuberance of the crowd. His iconic shot of a sailor kissing a nurse captured a defining moment in history.

In Tinley Park, Illinois, Mildred Pritza recalled hearing the news, “We cried, we hugged. Bells were ringing. Everyone went outside and everyone was hugging…There was real cohesiveness in the nation with everyone working for a shared goal.” The country was united in spirit and purpose and V-J day was a celebration of shared sacrifice. Pritza, who had never worked before the war, recalled her job building crankshafts for airplanes for $1.09 an hour. With her husband in the Navy and a new baby to care for, she did what was necessary.

In Plainfield, New Jersey, police officer Cornelius Coffey was assigned traffic patrol and said the city had the worst traffic jam he’d ever seen as everyone came out to celebrate. He chose to ignore the 10 p.m. wartime curfew for youngsters that night.

News of the Japanese surrender came at 4:00 p.m. PST in Spokane, Washington. The Spokesman-Review reported that crowds spilled into the streets, and at first there was a stunned silence. “Then automobile horns began to blow. In a few moments, their blasts became a solid wave of sound in downtown streets. Their noise drowned out the shouting and even the noise of the siren atop city hall. A storm of confetti swirled down from windows of high buildings as office workers gave vent to their joy.”

On the island of Oahu, the bells in Kawaiahaʻo church pealed, bringing a flashback memory to many who heard the same bells ring out a warning on December 7, 1941. The roof of the Honolulu Advertiser building was crowded that December morning in 1941, as dazed and stricken citizens watched black smoke rise from the distance. Now 1,347 days later, the same rooftop was filled with people tossing shredded paper to the street below in celebration.

Do you remember V-J Day? Have you heard V-J Day stories shared in your family? To read more about the end of WWII and to see more stories on V-J Day, search Newspapers.com today!

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A Summer of Ghost Towns

Summer vacation plans have changed for many this year. If you’re headed out on a road trip, consider stopping by one of the hundreds of ghost towns across America. Deserted, rickety homes, and public buildings pique our curiosity and leave us wondering what life was like before they were abandoned. Fortunately, historic newspapers help reveal those secrets. We’ve scoured our archives to learn about a few ghost towns, but if your travel plans don’t include one of these, just bring along your device and access Newspapers.com to learn about others!

Bodie, California
Los Angeles Evening Express January 10, 1881

Bodie, California: In 1859, four prospectors discovered gold in the hills north of Mono Lake, 75 miles southeast of Lake Tahoe. The discovery brought a surge of prospectors but within a few years the gold ran out, and most moved on to seek their fortune elsewhere. In 1875, a mine cave-in revealed large amounts of the precious mineral and Bodie once again became a boomtown. At one point, the population numbered near 10,000. The town had a reputation for being lawless with frequent murders and crime. “Bad Man From Bodie” became a synonym for any rough-edged prospector. By 1881, the mine was running out of gold and the population of Bodie dwindled to just 800. Eventually, the small amount of gold mined couldn’t support the population and the town became a ghost town. In 1960, California announced that Bodie would become a state park, and today visitors can get a glimpse of what life was like in an 1800s California mining town.

Grafton, Utah

Grafton, Utah: The first settlers arrived in Grafton in 1859, sent by Brigham Young, president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, to cultivate the Southern Utah territory. The town was built along the Virgin River where residents grew cotton and other crops. Grafton was prone to flash floods and irrigation challenges.

Deseret News – Feb. 12, 1862

In 1862, a raging flood destroyed most of Grafton, and the town was rebuilt about a mile upstream. Constant challenges plagued settlers who eventually abandoned Grafton. The picturesque ghost town, complete with adobe schoolhouse that doubled as a church has been the backdrop for numerous movies including Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. In 2000, a partnership purchased Grafton in order to preserve the historic ghost town.

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in 1996

Cahawba, Alabama: Cahawba was an antebellum river town and the capital of Alabama from 1819-1826. When the capital was relocated to Tuscaloosa in 1826, scores of residents left town. A new railroad line brought people back to Cahawba in 1859, but during the Civil War, the Confederate government dismantled the railroad and used the rails to expand an area of track elsewhere. They also turned a cotton warehouse into a Union prison called Castle Morgan.

Union Prisoner describes Castle Morgan – The Racine Advocate April 26, 1865

In 1865, a flood forced many to leave Cahawba, and shortly after the war ended, Cahawba became a ghost town. Within 10 years, many of the buildings were dismantled and moved away. In 1973, Cahawba was added to the National Register of Historic Places and is now an archeological park. Efforts are ongoing to preserve its history.

Rhyolite Ghost Town

Rhyolite, Nevada: In 1904, about 120 miles northwest of Las Vegas, a couple of prospectors discovered a hillside covered with greenish rock with chunks of yellow. The rocks resembled the back of a bullfrog, but the metal was in fact gold! The ensuing gold rush brought thousands to the area known as the Bullfrog Mining District and the town of Rhyolite sprung to life overnight. In its heyday, the town had saloons, an ice-cream parlor, hospitals, an opera house, swimming pools, banks, hotels, and schools.

Los Angeles Herald – Oct. 28, 1906

One landmark building is the bottle house. It was built in 1906 utilizing 50,000 bottles. The 1906 San Francisco earthquake and the financial panic of 1907 restricted capital in the mining industry and within a few years, Rhyolite was on the decline. The lone remaining resident of Rhyolite died in 1924. Rhyolite is maintained by the Bureau of Land Management.

Kennicott, Alaska: In the summer of 1900, prospectors were exploring an area near the Kennicott Glacier when they discovered copper in an outcropping of rock. They staked a claim and opened the Kennecott mine (a worker misspelled the glacier’s name) Between 1911-1935 miners pulled nearly 600,000 tons of copper and 9 million ounces of silver from the mountain. A company-owned town with bright red buildings perched above the rubble field arose.

Daily Sitka Sentinel – October 25, 1989

Nearby, a second town called McCarthy sprung up. By 1938, both towns were abandoned. Many left their furniture and possessions in their homes, creating a sort of time capsule. The same year, the railroad discontinued service to the area. Many of the homes and mining buildings still remain, and in 1986, the mine was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Have you visited an awesome ghost town? Tell us about it in the comments below. Search Newspapers.com today to learn more about the history of ghost towns.  

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July 18, 1955: Disneyland Opens to the Public!

David MacPherson, a 22-year-old student, arrived at Disneyland about midnight on July 17, 1955. The amusement park was holding a public grand opening the next morning and MacPherson wanted to be the first in line. He waited alone in the dark through the night, determined to be the first person to buy a ticket and enter the park. By dawn, the line had grown to 6,000 people, but MacPherson maintained his spot at the front. On the morning of July 18, 1955, Walt Disney arrived to greet guests at his new amusement park. He picked two children from the back of the line and allowed them to enter the park for free. Macpherson’s long night paid off, and he purchased the first ticket to enter Disneyland. After years of planning and preparation, Disneyland opened for the first time 65 years ago this month.

Walt Disney dreamed of creating a park that would delight children and adults alike. He started creating sketches of Disneyland as far back as 1932. Using the proceeds from successful movies like Snow White, Disney began formulating plans for an amusement park. He hired the Stanford Research Institute to investigate possible sites, attendance expectancy, and cost. Artists created thousands of sketches and architects worked feverishly on blueprints. A 1953 illustrated map of what Disneyland might look like sold for $708,000 at a 2017 auction! When the Stanford Research Institute recommended Anaheim as the best site for the park, Disney purchased a 160-acre orange grove and construction began.

The Sacramento Bee – July 16, 1955
Longview News-Journal – June 28, 2017

As opening day approached, the highly anticipated park was called a modern “Wonder of the World.” One paper reported that “never in history has any attraction, including World Fairs, ever received so much advance publicity…and worldwide attention.” Tickets to enter Disneyland cost $1 for adults and 50 cents for children. Parking cost 25 cents a day and the overall cost to build the park was $17 million.

Some 50,000 visitors flocked to Disneyland on opening day. Cars backed up for miles on the Santa Ana Freeway and the parking lot was filled to capacity by 10:00 a.m., leaving hundreds of cars waiting in line. David MacPherson walked around the park for a little while that first day, before heading back to campus to attend a class without riding a single ride. Although he was allowed to keep that first ticket as a souvenir, he sold it for 50 cents after leaving the park to buy gas to get home.

MacPherson’s night at the ticket booth, however, came with a big reward. He was given a lifetime pass to Disneyland. Each January he receives an annual pass for four which covers admissions, free parking, and rides.

Nearly 20 million visitors visit Disneyland each year. Do you remember your first visit to the park? Read more about the opening of Disneyland on Newspapers.com today!

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New Papers from Miami and Raleigh!

Our archives are expanding again! We’ve added new newspapers from Miami, Florida, and Raleigh, North Carolina, bringing wonderful new content from the Southern United States.

The Miami Herald – September 20, 1926

The Miami Herald: In 1891, a woman named Julia Tuttle left Cleveland after the death of her husband. She purchased 640 acres in what is present-day downtown Miami and persuaded a railroad magnate to extend the rail lines south to Miami. Miami was incorporated in 1896, with a population of just over 300, and The Miami Herald began publication in 1910. Initially published six times a week, it became a daily in 1913. Our digital archives date back to 1911 and chronicle the growth of southern Florida.  

In 1926, an intense hurricane brought death and destruction to Miami. For days leading up to the Miami Hurricane, meteorologists warned that a storm was brewing, but didn’t think it would make landfall. The first storm warnings were issued on September 18, 1926. The Miami Herald was unable to publish a paper on the 19th, but on September 20th, the Palm Beach Post allowed the Miami Herald use of its publishing facilities and the paper reported that Miami suffered “the worst disaster in its history” with more than 10,000 homes damaged or destroyed. The famous Art Deco District sprung up during the era of post-hurricane re-development.

In 1959 Fidel Castro rose to power and hundreds of thousands of Cubans emigrated to Miami. The Spanish-speaking population burgeoned and in 1975, the Herald created a Spanish insert called El Miami Herald. It featured Spanish translations of the stories in the Herald. Pleased with the success, the paper decided to launch a separate Spanish newspaper and in 1987, El Nuevo Herald began publication.

Search the pages of Herald for news on Miami residents, obituaries, marriage and divorce news, birth announcements, and more. Stories like anniversary announcements can also contain a wealth of genealogical information.

The News and Observer: Raleigh is the capital of North Carolina and the progressive, Pulitzer Prize-winning News and Observer has played an influential role in the history of the city and state, particularly in terms of political issues. Our archives date back to 1880, about the time that then-Governor Thomas J. Jarvis used the pages of the paper to advocate for the building of a proper Governor’s Mansion to conduct state business. The public agreed and construction began. Jarvis’s predecessor, Governor Daniel G. Fowle, was the first to occupy the mansion, though it was short-lived when he died unexpectedly just months later.

The News and Observer – June 1, 1890

In 1884, a group of young men, all under the age of 30, established a group called the Watauga Club. They promoted educational, agricultural, and industrial development in the state. In 1887, the club was the driving force behind a new college in Raleigh. Construction got underway, and in October 1889, North Carolina State University opened as the College of Agriculture and the Mechanic Arts. The college aimed to provide an education for the children of farmers, mechanics, and other workers.

The News and Observer – December 23, 1887

The Observer supported women suffrage and reported on the efforts of the suffrage movement under leader Cornelia Petty Jerman. Jerman was at the forefront of the movement in North Carolina and was the first woman to serve as a delegate to the Democratic State Convention. At the time of her death in 1946, the News and Observer called her the “State’s First Woman.”

The News and Observer is a wonderful resource if you have ancestors from North Carolina. Search for your family in articles like family reunion notices, society pages, and marriage announcements. Start searching the pages of The Miami Herald and The News and Observer today on Newspapers.com.

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Before Ellis Island: Entering America Through Castle Garden 1855-1890

Since the founding of America, millions of people hoping for a brighter future left their home countries and immigrated to the United States. The number of immigrants increased dramatically after the Civil War with nearly 12 million arriving between 1870-1900. More than 70% of all immigrants entered through New York City. Castle Garden opened in 1855 as the primary immigration processing center and operated as such until Ellis Island’s opening in 1892 (though from 1890-1892, the center was moved to the U.S. Barge Office). We’ve scoured our newspaper archives to find the stories behind some of those immigrants’ arrivals.

Castle Garden Opens August 1, 1855 as “Emigrant Landing Depot”

The Arrival Experience: This story, published in 1855 described the arrival experience for immigrants. They registered their names, recorded the amount of money they carried, and were shown to a bathhouse where up to 24 bathed at the same time.

The Boston Globe – September 6, 1884

Children Traveling Alone: Like many families, the Slinsbys’ couldn’t afford passage for the entire family at the same time. In 1884, Maggie and Mary, 9 and 10-years-old, arrived at Castle Garden with their names painted on heavy cardboard signs attached with a “profusion of green ribbons” to their bodies. They were reunited with their parents in Ohio. In 1887, Irish immigrants living in Cleveland were finally able to send for their children who had been staying with a grandmother. Castle Garden sent a telegraph to their parents informing them that after a rough and stormy journey, the two children, ages 9 and 11, had arrived safely. In this clipping, the Superintendent at Castle Garden tagged three children after their arrival and shipped them to their father who was living in Chicago. This 1887 clipping tells the story of a 10-year-old girl who arrived at Castle Garden from Ireland. Her mother and two brothers left her in the care of nuns until they could afford to pay for her passage to join them six years later. This final clipping tells the story of a mother desperately searching for her daughters after they arrived at Castle Garden. We’re so anxious to learn what became of them, but we can’t find any follow-up stories (maybe one of you genealogical sleuths can help).

New-York Tribune – June 14, 1884

Beware of Swindlers: Sometimes unscrupulous individuals preyed upon new immigrants. Language barriers, poverty, and fear left many immigrants vulnerable. In this clipping, a swindler sold railroad tickets to several immigrants who later learned the tickets were fraudulent. This sad story tells the tale of an immigrant who showed up at Castle Garden hoping to find a way back to Hungary after he lost his fortune of $500 in America. 

Reunion with Loved Ones: In 1890, a woman from Russia arrived at Castle Garden to reunite with her sweetheart who arrived two years earlier and sent money for her passage. The journey took more than a month and her funds ran out. Thanks to the kindness of strangers, she finally made her way to Minnesota. Read her story here. In another instance, a Prussian man prepared for the arrival of his wife and five children in 1897. He rented a home in Maryland and purchased some furniture, but sadly suffered a fatal fall just hours after they reunited. This final clipping tells the story of Michael O’Brien, an Irish immigrant, who left his family to seek his fortune in America. He sent letters and money until one day when communication suddenly ceased. His worried wife and four children sailed for America, arriving at Castle Garden in 1878. The determined woman searched for O’Brien, only to learn that he had remarried and had another child. He undoubtedly had some explaining to do.

Do you have ancestors that arrived at Castle Garden? Use historic newspapers to learn about their experiences. Search Newspapers.com today!

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