Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Clues From Volumes of the Past


In pursuing all the siblings—alive or dead—listed in William C. Woodworth’s 1928 obituary, we were able to create a brief outline of the family grouping of their parents, the senior Lafayette D. and Eliza Smith Woodworth.

In the process of piecing together the story of family members as remote from William’s final resting place as his sisters Lillian Woodworth Hoskins in Michigan and Emma Woodworth Larabee in Wisconsin, a few interesting discoveries popped up about their father’s travels, too. Some of these discoveries give a clearer picture of how and why William and a few of his siblings ended up as residents of California. Thankfully, some provide a clear listing of not only the siblings mentioned in William’s obituary, but another sister, too.

You may have noticed in the comments to yesterday’s post that one reader—“Iggy,” otherwise known as the blogger “Intense Guy”—unearthed an informative text file from amidst the myriad records at the Library of Congress International Global Gateway. That link provided a confirmation of the names of the children of Lafayette D. Woodworth.

If you remember, William’s father was considered to be among the pioneer settlers of the San Gabriel Valley, so this new-found biographical sketch contained much more than just the names in this family. We’ll take a look at what that entry had to say about the family’s history over the next few days, and compare that 1901 publication with the information from a much earlier version, published in Wisconsin in 1879. Due to the length of the articles, though, I’ll share them in shorter segments over the next few days, along with a few observations. Almost without fail, though, such publications include discrepancies, which we will also review.

Thanks to the perseverance of authors and historians of a time removed from us by over one hundred years, we can—once we find such “outdated” resources—return to those pages and glean the information we crave in our quest to recreate our family history narratives. And thanks to the skilled efforts of fellow researchers and readers, we help each other along on our path to tell our own ancestors’ stories.


Photograph of Lafayette D. Woodworth, Senior, above right, and signature below, from the 1901 volume, Historical and Biographical Record of Los Angeles and Vicinity, written by J. M. Guinn, then Secretary of the Historical Society of Southern California; courtesy Library of Congress

8 comments:

  1. I've gone back to read the complete bio. It's quite a story and really enriches your family tapestry!

    The OCR errors are irritating, but one can decipher most of them, and be thankful that enough was right in order for Google Search to "hit" it. :)

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    1. Yes! I was amazed at the wealth of information it provided. Of course, I'll want to try and verify what I can of his incredible journeys--that was quite a distance he covered--but if it turns out not to be an exaggeration, that narrative is quite a find! Thanks so much for discovering it, Iggy!

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  2. What a great and confirming find by your reader. It's like several people gathering around the table to pool their efforts on a big jigsaw puzzle.

    I'm so often impressed by the care with which some people (not all!) could keep records a hundred years ago. It is as if they knew we were coming to find them!

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    1. Mariann, when it comes to finding resources online, Iggy is amazing! Your comparison to the team effort on a jigsaw puzzle is great. That's what I love about this concept of "crowdsourcing."

      I don't know why so many of these "Biographical Sketches" history books were in vogue back then, but I've had many occasions to realize how helpful they've been to researchers today. There must have been a zeitgeist of "Appreciate Your Roots" for that nationwide thrust to capture these local history vignettes. And it was with great care--some of those volumes are hefty!

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  3. Even back then people liked to write..and thank goodness for those who liked to preserve their family history. Personally I enjoy reading the Biographical Sketches..maybe I am strange...if so oh well:)

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    1. Don't worry. You have plenty of company! ;)

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  4. Wow---what a find and what a wonderful addition. It truly is amazing what collaboration can produce!

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    1. Michelle, Iggy is phenomenal when it comes to online research! But every time someone points me in a new direction, it also becomes a chance for me to learn something new about search technique, which adds to the repertoire for the next challenge. That's how we all grow and learn, if we take those opportunities to expand our horizons.

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