As I sit, poised to give you the run-down of all the instances where I've found the name Albert Roberts in the Council Bluffs, Iowa, newspapers from one hundred years ago, I find an announcement for a free webinar advocating nearly the same exercise as I'm currently slogging through. The only thing is: while I'm working on one name in one location which may turn out to be reporting the identities of two different men, this workshop focuses on tracing one name through many locations.
The free webinar I'm referencing is a presentation by Dr. Jan Joyce, to be offered the evening of next Wednesday, December 19, by the Southern California Genealogical Society. I was particularly encouraged by one line in the SCGS promotion of the event:
With an exhaustive search resulting in negative evidence, the case can be proved of one person.
Did someone say exhaustive? I know I'm exhausted after going through those thirty-plus newspaper clippings from the Council Bluffs newspaper, in search of any mention of Albert Roberts, the man who, with his wife, posed over one hundred years ago in a photography studio in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Now I have the photograph, rescued from an antique store in northern California, and I want to return it to family—but to the family of which Albert Roberts is the question.
From my vantage point, mid-search, I'm already convinced there were at least two gentlemen by that same name in the vicinity during the time period of my focus, from the mid 1880s through about 1950. Still, I could only glean a bird's-eye view of that timeline, because of gaps in the collection for Council Bluffs held by GenealogyBank, my main resource for the local newspaper.
Today, let's go through a Reader's Digest version of the entries I found. To spare you the exhaustive part, I'll focus today on what I could glean about the Albert Roberts who lived in Riverton, a city outside Council Bluffs in nearby Fremont County. The earliest entries I could find, unfortunately, did not start until 1900.
- January 7, 1900: Daughter born January 4
- April 6, 1901: Mrs. Roberts sick and under doctor's care
- February 24, 1910: The Roberts' daughter is "some better"
- April 20, 1914: Mrs. Lillian Cowger and son Edward visit Mrs. Roberts; from Omaha
- July 18, 1922: Mrs. Lillian Fouts and daughter Alice Elizabeth visit from Omaha
- July 26, 1922: Albert Roberts to Omaha, visit daughter Leta, who is sick; returns home with granddaughter Alice Elizabeth Fouts
- August 7, 1923: Before moving to Fremont, Nebraska, Mrs. Lee Edwards and baby visit her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Albert Roberts
- June 2, 1925: A family reunion is held on the Albert Roberts farm; surnames of those in attendance include Hatton, Scharay, McKissick, Jones and Beam
- June 4, 1925: Storm damage on Albert Roberts' farm, barn roof damaged
- November 9, 1926: Birthday celebration for Albert Roberts; visitors include families of Edward Cowger, Lillian Fouts, Lee Edwards, Ed Parkinson
- December 29, 1926: Guests at Lee Edwards' home include Lillian Fouts and daughter, Albert Roberts and son Stanley, Ed Parkinson family, Mrs. Chancy Parkinson and daughter Nellie, and Leta Roberts from Omaha
- January 4, 1927: Mrs. Albert Roberts sick, perhaps "gall trouble"
- October 18, 1927: Minerva Cowger visits brother Albert Roberts; returns home following Mrs. Roberts' death
- October 24, 1927: Edward Cowger family visits with his grandfather Albert Roberts
- January 12, 1928: Albert Roberts and daughter Leta and Mrs. C. M. Parkinson and daughter Nellie visit relatives in Farragut
- February 5, 1930: Mrs. Minerva Cowger caring for brother Albert Roberts and daughter Leta and son Stanley, then returned home to Farragut
- September 30, 1932: Albert Roberts critically ill; Daughter Mrs. Lillian Fouts visiting him
- October 21, 1932: Albert Roberts in critical condition; daughter Lillian Fouts called here from Omaha
- November 2, 1932: Mrs. Minerva Cowger of Farragut visited; brother Albert Roberts in critical condition
- June 12, 1958: 50th wedding anniversary celebration of Mr. and Mrs. Edwin C. Parkinson, married at the home of the bride's parents, Mrs. and Mrs. Albert Roberts.
With that span of fifty eight years, we now have a list of all the mentions of that name, Albert Roberts, associated with the location, Riverton, Iowa—enough, in fact, to build a viable family tree. Whether that is the right Albert Roberts, however, is yet to be seen. Unfortunately, the photograph I found only showed us that he and his wife got their picture taken in Council Bluffs. The Albert Roberts from the photograph could possibly be one and the same as this man mentioned so many times from nearby Riverton. Or he could be someone else.
Fortunately, there were plenty of newspaper mentions of another Albert Roberts, this time from Atlantic, Iowa. Tomorrow, we'll take a look at those other mentions, as well as some local news articles for which no location was given.