Old News

A couple of years ago, I became aware of the fact that old (1928-2013) issues of our local weekly newspaper, The Smithfield Times, are now available on the Library of Virginia’s ‘Virginia Chronicle’ digital newspaper site.

It is easy to become so caught up in that site that you lose track of time.  Last week, I was preparing my upcoming “talk” for the Valentine event at Bacon’s Castle, so many of my thoughts were about my Mom and her family. I decided that it would be fun to search for articles about them, so I typed in her maiden name, “Ellis”.

There is an option to define the dates for your search, so I selected the 1920’s through the 1940’s.

I was not disappointed in my findings. The earliest result referenced an injury to my Mom’s youngest brother, Stanley. I don’t ever recall hearing of this accident, which occurred while the family was living at Bacon’s Castle.

The date on this news item was March 30, 1933. Family records show that he would have been ten years old. Sadly, there are now no family members to ask for the “rest of the story”.

It was fun to find this mention of my Uncle Andrew and Aunt Virginia’s wedding. Andrew was the eldest of my mom’s brothers. The date on this was January 1, 1935. Remember when the wedding announcement always included what the bride wore?  I’ll have to research what a “swagger suit” is.

This next entry made me smile. The date was September 5, 1935, and this was my granddad, Ben. Again, this occurred at Bacon’s Castle farm.

This next article also made me smile.  The date on this one is September 12, 1935. Bennie was also my mom’s brother, Sarah was her youngest sister, and Allie was my dad’s brother. The church they became members of is in my hometown and the one I attended for many years.

Mom’s brother, Bob, had a bit of bad luck in 1936 with his “Lizzie”.

This article almost brought me to tears, although I knew that he had been a prisoner of war. The date was December 13, 1944.

When I discovered that article, I immediately remembered this old family photo of my grandmother with Bennie (on the right) and Stanley.  I was always told that this was taken the day before Bennie reported for duty for World War II. The worry and sadness that she must have been feeling is so evident on her face.

But, imagine the family’s joy at getting THIS news. The date of the article is January 17, 1945.

I, for one, am thankful that so many newspaper articles are available for searching at no charge. Click here to visit the Virginia Chronicle site.  If you’re a Virginian, perhaps old issues of your local paper are available online. But, beware: searching old news is very habit-forming.

~These Days Of Mine~









12 responses to “Old News

  1. This is fascinating! FInding these old newspaper articles must have been exciting for you. Mom and Dad were married in 1949 and mom’s dress was described too. Did you find out what a swagger suit was? I found this Vogue pattern https://www.thevintagepatternshop.com/shop/vintage-sewing-patterns/1930s-sewing-patterns/jackets-coats-suits/1930s-vintage-sewing-pattern-b32-suit-swagger-coat-jacket-skirt-1739/ It looks like it’s a mid-length coat/jacket over a skirt. Looks very smart.

  2. What fun it would be to do that kind of research. We never lived anywhere longer than two years having been a military family and had no family anywhere near any of our posts. However, for those spending most of their lives in one particular area or town and getting to know so many people, it has to be interesting!


  3. AMAZING!!! I need to go on it again. It was neat to see all of the familiar names from church. I can see why it’s addicting.

  4. Oh my goodness! That is amazing! I love that you were able to find so many articles (both happy and sad) about your family. I would get sucked into researching as well if I had access to something as wonderful as that. Thanks for sharing. I loved reading this!

  5. This is definitely my favorite post from recently.. What a wealth of great info & articles- & I really like the way you presented them.. Keep searching on there !

  6. Shirley Matthews Dunn

    This was so interesting, Dianna. Thanks for the great research. At our time of life most of all the family we could asked have gone.

  7. I love researching my family history. It is great that you have access to information like that.

  8. Oh my goodness, so very fascinating! I can see why you would lose track of time reading all of the archives.

  9. Wow…what amazing finds! I loved reading through these…. “Lizzie” made me smile as well. So much here that is poignant yet humorous, and you have another dimension to fill in the gaps in creating your portrait and your story of your family. I loved the pic of Bennie, as well. Fabulous finds. Thanks for sharing these!

  10. You have such a rich family history and a wonderful gift for researching and bringing their stories alive. I wish all newspapers would follow suit and post the past issues online. Hopefully, that’ll happen in years to come.
    I’m thankful your Uncle Benny made it back to the states. Bless his heart.

  11. I would probably get lost for hours and hours and totally lose track of time. It’s just so interesting. Thanks for sharing.

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