Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Next, Expected News

I remember when I first was smitten with the genealogy bug. It was so long ago, people didn’t use personal computers to keep track of the records they found. It was when people sought out archives and hunted through card catalogs, grubbing for every morsel of information they could find.

I remember the curious feeling that overcame me when I located my first birth announcement in a local newspaper. It happened at the California State Library, where I was told that every newspaper that had ever been printed in the state had a copy resident in that repository.


What amazed me even more, though, was actually reading an announcement in one of those newspapers, heralding the birth of one of my husband’s humble ancestors. It wasn’t one of those perfunctory blips of news ink crammed on a page way toward the back of the edition, like you'd find in city newspapers nowadays. It was something you’d expect to be presented with during a cozy visit down home on the farm.

It was those birth announcements that were the ones that hooked me on a lifelong quest to “know more” about my ancestors. And, with such obliging local editors, can you blame me? Down-home editing has done more than its fair share in locking in this lifelong research habit.

So, in the course of researching John Kelly Stevens in Fort Wayne, would it come as a surprise to you to discover that there was not one mention of a birth announcement for his first grandson? No, not one. Not even two.

There were three different entries regarding the birth of baby John Kelly Stevens, named, appropriately, after his paternal grandfather.

While Will and Agnes Tully Stevens’ first baby was born, miles away in Chicago, on April 21, 1913, the Fort Wayne News didn’t pick up the story until April 24:
Born, to Mr. and Mrs. W. A. Stevens, of 507 Garfield avenue, Chicago, a son. City Patrolman Kelly Stevens is the father of Mr. Stevens.
The next day’s edition of the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette picked up the story, tucking it into the narrative of their “City News” column:
Patrolman Kelly Stevens received word yesterday that he is grandfather to a baby boy, born to Mr. and Mrs. W. A. Stevens, of Chicago.
And, of course, what would you expect the new grandparents to do next? It will come as no surprise to discover this entry in the Fort Wayne News the day after that, April 26, on page 14:
City Patrolman Kelly Stevens and Mrs. Stevens have gone to Chicago to spend several days with their son.
Tell me, now: wouldn’t you be doing the same thing, too?


  1. I don't know - I'll never have any grandkids.

    I do know the inexplicable excitement I felt when my mom gave me a note card from Cousin Franklin when I was about 10.. it had a picture of a English Church on it and a short note from the man saying, "He was there and hearing them play the bells that his 3-great grandfather had cast!"

    In all the years that have past since - I still get goosebumps thinking about his undeniable excitement.

    1. Iggy, that is definitely goosebump-worthy!

      Oh, grandkids...Iggy, I'm pretty sure if you did have grandchildren, you'd be one of the best granddads. As it is, you pour so much of yourself into others :)

  2. Yes I would be visiting! I love the social pages of the old newspapers:)


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