Monday, March 7, 2011

The Birmingham Eccentic - Archives of Old Michigan Newspaper

OK - how much do we love librarians?  Seriously, can we all pause right now and applaud them one and all?

One of my brick walls is finding the parents of one Isabella Gillespie Greer, born 1813 in either Ireland or New York, died 1891, buried April 3, 1891 in Franklin Village Cemetery, Oakland County, Michigan.  Even though deaths were being recorded at that time in the state of Michigan, I have been unable to locate any official death record and thus any hope of a document that names her parents.

So what now?  The only idea I could come up with was that perhaps a local newspaper had published any account of her death, and if I am lucky, a mention of her parents.  I started with the Oakland County Library.  They do in fact have old copies of the Pontiac Gazette going back that far.  Would I give them a name and date and would I like them to do a look-up?  Holy cow.  Yes, please.  Well, sadly they did not find any mention of a Greer death in April 1891, but they suggested I should check the library for Bloomfield Township.  Well, ok, maybe I will.

Today in my email inbox is a short but pleasant email from Bloomfield Township answering my inquiry. Here is a link they sent me to access old copies of the Birmingham Eccentric, 1882-1929. There is no index and each page of the paper is its own PDF, but still, how terrific is this?

Sadly, I don't find mention of my Greer or Gillespie relations or even any other names I really recognize.  There is an occasional mention of Bloomfield, West Bloomfield, Southfield, Franklin, but most of the news seems to be about Birmingham.  Here is a map showing Birmingham, MI in relation to these other townships where my relations had settled:

View Larger Map

So the brick wall remains.  Nevertheless, it was fun to read these old newspapers and take note of all the churches, the businesses, the schools, the crops, the weather, the politics, and events happening elsewhere in the state and in the world.  It was a vibrant time and place to be sure.  If you are researching anywhere near this little part of the world during the decades just before and after the turn of the century, these newspapers will give you great insight.

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