Thursday, February 8, 2018

Why it's Worth it to Take a Second Look

When the answers aren't forthcoming on our diligent search to locate an ancestor, it pays to go back and take a second look.

I find myself saying that when, barely a week ago, I was talking about newspapersand how I couldn't find the obituary for the youngest girl in a hundred year old photograph I found in a northern California antique shop.

Well, I took a second look.

I can't say exactly how I stumbled across this serendipitous link, but I was prompted by the discovery of four more photographs linked to Alta Barnes Williams, the little girl in the photograph from Kansas I've been talking about lately.

What I did, this time, was head back to Google and search for the name of newspaper publications in the area of Cowley County, Kansasthe place the Barnes family called home for at least three generations. Thankfully, in the catalog of hits for that search term, Google served up one that caught my eye: a repository for free access to the newspaper archives for Arkansas City, Kansas.

Apparently, though not the county seat for Cowley Countythat honor goes to neighboring WinfieldArkansas City is the county's municipality with the largest population. Thankfully, some civic-minded residents supporting the Arkansas City Public Library, with the assistance of the V. J. Wilkins Foundation, saw to it that the city's newspapers were digitized and made freely available online at the library's website.

With the collection ranging in dates from 1876 to 2009, it offered me an excellent resource for tracing any mention of the family members related to Alta Barnes Williams. Since the family had been long-time residents in the county, and since old-time newspapers often carried columns focusing on the social news of various communities served by their coverage, I was abundantly rewarded for my tentative foray into search mode that second time. Everything from mentions of Alta coming to town to visit relatives while she was still attending high school to obituaries of the family members, one by one through the years, was readily located, thanks to the collection's search function.

Since I've found those additional Barnes and Tousley family photographs, I can now couple some of them with the details gleaned from the newspaper collection at the Arkansas City Public Librarya match made in researchers' heaven.


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