Jul 16, 2011

Trash Talk-1850s Style & All the News That's Fit to Print

I spent a few hours at the Stearns History Museum, reading 19th century newspapers on microfilm. My third great grandfather, Isaac Parks (1820-1894), opened up a brickyard in St Cloud, Minnesota in 1858 with a business partner, George Dunton. So far, I've gone through various St Cloud newspapers from 1858 to mid-1860, but to no avail. There are plenty of ads for different kinds of stores, attorneys, surveyors/engineers, carpenters, a mason/plasterer, and lime and other construction materials. If there was a need for a mason and lime, there must've been bricks, but apparently they didn't advertise much. I did find Isaac's death notice in The Avalanche newspaper from Sauk Centre, Minnesota, but it didn't provide any new information.

However, in the process of skimming the newspapers, I ran across several amusing articles. My favorite was a snippet from a Pennsylvania newspaper, announcing a hunter had killed a 140 lb deer. The subsequent trash-talking commentary is hilarious:1
We're justifiably proud of our deer in Minnesota–they're generally bigger than deer in other parts of the country.

The second story was kind of sad [but I didn't think to scan it]. Some conjoined twin girls (Siamese twins) were kidnapped from their family, and literally sold from one freak show to another. Eventually, they were reunited with their mother, and she was offered $50,000 to give up her daughters. Not a small sum of money in those days, but the mother didn't budge and the family was back together for good. At least it had a happy ending.

Finally, you may recall the Jackass cast member who killed himself and his passenger last month, driving over 130 MPH while drunk.2 One hundred fifty one years prior, this article shows people have always found ways to kill themselves when being careless:3
I think that would qualify for a Darwin Award, had they been around in 1860. But a larger point can be taken from this: newspapers have always printed sensational stories to attract readership. The old cliche, "if it bleeds, it leads," has been true for a long time. Radio, TV, and other media today have merely followed the same trend.

1. "Deer Hunting," St Cloud Democrat, St Cloud, Minnesota, 25 November 1858, page 2, column 6; microfilm, Minnesota Historical Society, St Paul, Minnesota.
2. Alan Duke, "Police: 'Jackass' star Ryan Dunn was drunk and driving over 132 mph," CNN, West Goshen, Pennsylvania, 22 June 2011 (http://articles.cnn.com/2011-06-22/entertainment/ryan.dunn.drunk_1_fiery-crash-jackass-star-car-crash : accessed 16 July 2011).
3. "Cut Off His Own Head," St Cloud Democrat, St Cloud, Minnesota, 23 August 1860, page 3, column 1;
microfilm, Minnesota Historical Society, St Paul, Minnesota.

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: My Heritage Pie Chart

I've been seriously procrastinating about blogging lately. There are several posts in various stages of draft, but none I'm ready to publish. Randy Seaver has a good idea for "Saturday Night Genealogy Fun." Create a pie chart based on the birthplaces of our great-great-grandparents. I should probably brainstorm more ideas like this to write quick, easy blog posts, but mine usually end up as novels.

His list is very detailed, including the exact dates and places of birth, marriage, and death. I'm going to take a couple shortcuts, since I don't know those for some of my ancestors. I'll just list the years, and as close of a place as I know. But I'm going to up the ante, so to say, on the chart. A few of my great-great-grandparents were born in America, which says little about their "heritage." As a result, I'm going to create charts based on birthplace and ethnicity.

Plus, I'm not a big fan of the software he and some of the prior bloggers used to create the charts. They're simple, static graphs, and not very high resolution. I think it's geared more towards children (it is hosted on a website called Kids' Zone). Instead, I'll continue using the spreadsheet on Google Docs to create nice, interactive SVG charts.

Here are my great-great-grandparents (in alphabetical order):
  • Frederick Otto Behrend, born 1850 in Germany, died 1931 in Sauk Rapids, Benton county, Minnesota, USA. German.
  • Johanna Berqvist, born 1841 in Spjutstorp, Tomelilla, Scania, Sweden, died 1920 in Sauk Rapids, Benton county, Minnesota, USA. Swedish.
  • George Burtram Callahan, born 1862 in Marion county, Indiana, USA, died 1940 in Grey Eagle, Todd county, Minnesota, USA. Father Irish and English; mother Welsh, Irish, English, and Scottish.
  • Edward William Click, born 1853 probably in USA?, died 1913 in Elmdale township, Morrison county, Minnesota, USA. Parents unknown, ethnicity unknown.
  • Jacob Cziok, born 1853 in Poland, died 1924 in Sauk Rapids, Benton county, Minnesota, USA. Polish.
  • Isabella Hannah Harris, born 1865 in Eagle Lake, Blue Earth county, Minnesota, USA, died 1951 in Grey Eagle, Todd county, Minnesota, USA. Father English and Irish; mother English and Danish.
  • Wilhelmina Hill, born 1854 in Germany, died 1928 in St Cloud, Stearns county, Minnesota, USA. German.
  • Amalie Christiane Friederike Koerber, born 1840 in Stuttgart, Baden-Württemberg, Germany, died 1919 in Russell, Russell county, Kansas, USA. German.
  • Ole Nels Lagergren, born 1837 in Lunnarp, Tomelilla, Scania, Sweden, died 1918 in Sauk Rapids, Benton county, Minnesota, USA. Swedish.
  • Ludwig Matschulatis, born 1853 in Warglitten a Hohenstein, Osterode, Königsberg, East Prussia, Prussia (now Warlity Wielkie, Ostróda, Ostróda, Warmia-Masuria, Poland), died 1938 in Sauk Rapids, Benton county, Minnesota, USA. Father Prussian (Sudovian or Old Prussian) and Polish, mother Polish.
  • Wilhelmina Carolina Mittelstaedt, born 1843 in Posen, Prussia (now Poznań, Greater Poland, Poland), died 1903 in Bass Lake, Starke county, Indiana, USA. German.
  • Margaret Rebella Parks, born 1861 in St Cloud, Stearns county, Minnesota, USA, died 1940 in Upsala, Morrison county, Minnesota, USA. Father English; mother Irish.
  • Anna Rehberg, born 1853 in East Prussia, Prussia (now Warmia-Masuria, Poland), died 1910 in Sauk Rapids, Benton county, Minnesota, USA. Father German, mother Polish.
  • Gottliebe Sontopski, born 1855 in Poland, died 1919 in Mayhew Lake township, Benton county, Minnesota, USA. Polish.
  • August Stein, born 1845 in Gailsbach, Schwabisch Hall, Baden-Württemberg, Germany, died 1912 in Russell, Russell county, Kansas, USA. German.
  • August Ferdinand Wobith, born 1843 in Pyritz, Pomerania, Prussia (now Pyrzyce, West Pomerania, Poland), died 1922 in Wanatah, LaPorte county, Indiana, USA. Pomeranian (probably mixed Germanic and Slavic).
The chart based on the country where they were born, as it was known at the time, isn't very interesting. Of my 16 great-great-grandparents, ten were born in Prussia, which no longer exists.

Of those ten, six were born in what is now Poland, and four in present-day Germany.

What's more interesting to me is their ethnicity, based on as far back as the ancestors on those lines have been traced at present.

So what's all this mean? I'm a complete mutt, and 100% American.