Our ancestor’s life was defined by his place in his family, the community and the world. His life was also influenced by everything available to him during his lifetime.
Newspapers have long been recognized as a source of genealogical information. We search for annoucements of births, marriages, deaths and movements to a new area, but how many of us read the ads to see what types of businesses were operating? Where did our ancestors buy their dry goods or groceries? Were doctors and dentists available locally or did residents have to travel to other towns? What products were available? Learning the answers can help us see our ancestors as real, living people instead of just names and dates on a chart.
If our ancestor lived in a small town, he would have done business with the companies there. Reading the advertisements in the local newspaper will tell us what resources he had to rear his family and conduct his business.
The Crittenden Press, which was published in Marion, Kentucky, shows that, in 1879, R.A. Moore was “prepared to furnish the country with anything and everything in the Drug Line” plus Fine wine and Liquor (for medicinal purposes only), fine perfumery and toliet soaps - Also a Select Stock of Paints, Oils, Dye Stuffs, Putty, Brushes and etc, etc.” Almost every family was in need of these items at one time or another. Was your family one of those families?
Harry A. Haynes was a dealer of the same items at his store in Weston, but he also sold school books. Tyler Elliott of Marion operated a livery stable and a horse and buggy could be rented for $1.50 a day or they could be rented separately for just 50 cents each per day. Both men provided services used by a majority of citizens. Perhaps your ancestor was one of those citizens.
Henry & Crayne owned the Marble Works in Marion and advertised that Monuments and tombs were a specality at their shop and their work was first class in every respect. Most likely this company would have provided tombstones for our ancestors living in this era.
E.E. Jennings, Forwarding and Commission Merchant at Fords Ferry, stated he had a “good, commodious warehouse and stock pen and [was] prepared in every respect to do the shipping of the County. Feed furnished for stock at cost.” If your ancestor shipped goods on the Ohio River, he probably utilized the services of E.E. Jennings.
G.C. Gray’s Dry Good Store had “the largest stock of Men’s and Boy’s ready made Clothing” with a large stock of overcoats, boots and shoes. M.L. & H.D. Hays made boots and shoes to order in the latest materials at their shop in Marion. This company may have provided the new shoes or suit your ancestor wore at his wedding - could it be?
M.D. Coffield was proprietor of the Bell City House at Fords Ferry. He advertised good rooms, dining room supplied with everything the market affords and special accomodations for commercial travelers.
Subscriptions to The Youth’s Companion, was available to anyone who could pay $1.75 per year. The magazine included “Brilliant Sketches ... Practical Articles ... Short Religous Articles.” Could reading this magazine have shaped the opinions and beliefs of your ancestor?
C.T. Davis was the proprietor of the barber shop in Marion. Shaves and hair cuts were needed by all and probably included your ancestor.
Dr. Akin of Princeton in Caldwell County made the rounds pulling teeth in Crittenden County.
We all want to learn as much as possible about our ancestors and how they lived. Reading the advertisements of the local newspaper may provide a better view into their lives.