Welcome to my genealogy blog. Ancestors I Wish I Knew is a combination of genealogical information and stories about individuals in my family tree. The focus is on those from my Cochrane, Eitelbach, Merrett, Minarcik and Richards lines and their descendants.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

#79 Chronicling John Wesley Hannah in Chronicling America

When researching my ancestors, one of the things I like is to find out more about them than when they were born, married, and died.  Know how they earned a living, where they lived, if they traveled, etc. makes them come alive for me.

Last winter I was introduced to a wonderful source for adding other information.  The Library of Congress in Chronicling America has local newspapers on line.  Now if you are thinking they have newspapers from only big cities on line, you are wrong.  They focused on papers from small towns and cities all over the United States.  In fact they have 1967 papers which were published from 1836 to 1932.  As far as I can tell, they have papers from all the states with the exception of Hawaii and Alaska.

I love to read these local papers.  They give me a pictures of life in America at a simpler time.  Also they report all kinds of events that would never make it into the papers today.  I was pleased to find out that one of the papers on line was the
Butler Weekly Times and  the Butler Daily Democrat.  My great grandfather, John Wesley Hannah, moved to Butler in 1866.  Now I could search and see what the paper reported about him and his family.

There are several ways to search.  I think that the advanced search options are the best as you can narrow down the hits to those you are most interested in.  I learned that it is important to know how the paper referred to the person you are interested in.  When I tried John W. Hannah or J. W. Hannah, I got very little.  By reading what I did get, I discovered that the paper often referred to him as Capt. Hannah.  When I used that in the phrase box, I got numerous and appropriate hits.  It is also possible to combine two key words.  Because John Wesley Hannah was the proprietor of the Palace Hotel and I wanted to know more about the hotel, I put Palace Hotel into the search box and check the Butler
papers.  That gave me a very large number of hit.  When I looked, all the stores that were located on the first floor of the hotel and who advertised came up.  That was interesting, but not what I wanted. I narrow the hits down by adding Capt. Hannah.  I still got a large number of hits but they were all appropriate.

It is possible to save the entire page of the paper that has the article you are interested in or to use the snipping tool and just save the article.  The problem with the first strategy is that you will not know where on the page the article is and the problem with the second strategy is that you will not know the date of the article.  I ended up saving just the article, but putting the date into the file name.

There are 36 articles that focused on the Palace Hotel and John Wesley Hannah and 81 articles on John Wesley Hannah.  I have downloaded the articles on the Palace Hotel.  Some of them report on events that happened at the hotel.  There were parties, marriages and conventions.  Other articles described the improvements that John Wesley Hannah was making to the hotel—redecorating rooms, painting the outside of the hotel or adding a billiard table.

My next task is to read the 81 articles on John Wesley Hannah.  I know that there will be some overlap with the articles on the Palace Hotel but I expect to find out more about his life apart from the hotel.   Stay tuned.  Next week I will blog about what I found on John W. Hannah.

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