When was your very best “Aha! moment”? Mine came at the end of a very long and frustrating day sitting in front of a microfilm reader in the Birmingham Public Library. I had one of the worst headaches I’ve ever had, the library was closing in twenty minutes, and I was no closer to finding my grand-father-in-law than I was five years earlier.
As the library was beginning to close for the evening and people were packing up their paperwork, I turned the microfilm reel one more time to look at the front page of the next issue. A small headline to a short article caught my eye because it had the words “Leeds, Alabama” in it. That was where this grandfather had lived, so it was worth looking at. The article was about seven lines long, but it told us that John F. Parsons had died in Opelika, Alabama, trying to regain his health. Tears actually welled up in my eyes, and I didn’t know whether to shout, laugh or cry!
In the end, I extended my research trip one more day so I could go back and look at that newspaper again. There was no further information on this microfilm about John F. Parsons. In fact, what I had found was very scant and it would be another year before we found in yet another newspaper his place of burial.
So, is it any wonder that I consider newspapers a great source for genealogical research? If you have been reading our quarterlies for several years, you know there is a wealth of information abstracted from local newspapers. With the aid of full-name indexes for the quarterlies issued before 2005, and with full-name indexes in each quarterly from 2005 to the present, maybe you will have one of these “Aha” moments sitting in the comfort of your own home. It would sure beat turning that microfilm reel and trying to read the tiny print with a splitting headache!
NOTE: This third article in the Lo’ and Behold series is contributed by Betty Jo Parsons, CCGS Member. Members be sure to start writing your own article soon.