I love Newspaper archives. Not only do I search for ancestors in them, I read them issue by issue, just to get a feel for the time. And what wonderful results that can yield!
With newspapers now readily available online I can read newspapers anytime day or night. Sites like Genealogy Bank, Ancestry.com, ProQuest, Footnote, Libraries, Historical Societies, Colleges and Archives; all are to be commended for putting these invaluable resources out there for researchers around the world.
It was while I was just going through old newspapers online, that I finally jumped over the brickwall that was my great-greatgrandfather, John Niess.
One evening I was putting in variants of my grandmother’s maiden name and came across a familiar name, and then the date jumped out at me! According to my great-great-grandmother’s obituary, her husband had “preceded her in death nineteen years before.” Since she died in 1905 and the date of the newspaper I was looking at was July of 1886, it was a strong probability, that my John Niess, was the person mentioned in this little blurb.
This deserved to be looked into a little further, so the next morning, I walked on down to the library for a look at the local newspaper’s microfilm. I almost jumped up from the viewer and did a “grateful dance” around the microfilm viewer! (Key word in that sentence is “almost!”) I had finally found his death date! That little blurb from a Philadelphia newspaper led me to this article in a Lancaster newspaper:
DEATH ON THE RAIL
An Old Man struck By a Locomotive and Killed at Mountville
John Neiss, a man aged seventy-seven, was struck and killed by extra engine west, No. 374, of the Pennsylvania railroad, at the east end of the village of Mountville, this forenoon. The property on which the deceased lived is situated along and extended back to the deep cut through which the railroad passes. Between 10 and 11 o’clock a. m. his wife sent him out to empty some potato parlings down the railroad embankment. The bucket containing them fell out of his hand and rolled down upon the track. He went after the vessel, and while standing on the track was struck by the engine. He was not mangled, but died in less than a half hour after he was struck. Coroner Honaman was notified, and he left this city at 2 o’clock for Mountville to hold an inquest.
The deceased had resided in Mountville for some years, and besides a wife leaves several grown children. One of them, a daughter, lives at home. Neiss was crippled in one of his arms and was a laborer.
The more expanded version helped to verify that this was indeed, my great-greatgrandfather. It was just one more fact I learned about his life, thanks to the newspapers online and on microfilm.
Had it not been for those wonderful sites that post newspapers, I would have never found this! I had been searching for his death date for years.
John Niess, you should have let that bucket lay!