Local newspapers from 1920s Iowa are giving me a tiny window onto my ancestors’ daily lives. These small-town papers provide snapshots of ordinary days — travels and family visits, for the most part — that help paint a picture of the times. Sometimes they raise questions, too. I can glean from local news briefs that my paternal grandmother, before she was married, visited her older brother’s family in the spring and late summer, sometimes joined by her sister. She was probably going from central to southwestern Iowa, and I wonder how she would have traveled. The news clips don’t say. By train perhaps? The railroad would have run through both towns … In fact, my curiosity about this has led me to learn that Council Bluffs, through which my grandmother traveled, was a significant rail center.
We learn from brief news clips that in May 1920, our grandmother returned home “after a pleasant visit in the home of her brother,” who with his daughter, accompanied her as far as Council Bluffs on her return. The story is repeated in late July, when we learn that “Mr. Clausen and little daughter went up to Council Bluffs, accompanying his sisters that far on their way home, after a few weeks visit…” This “little daughter” carried our grandmother’s own unique middle name, and I gather that Grandma was close to her brother’s family in these years. We read yet again that in 1921 she spent a couple weeks in late summer visiting them, although this time the story tells us that her brother had just returned from Rochester, Minnesota, “where he had gone for examination and treatment at the famous Mayo Brothers hospital.” The purpose of his Mayo visit is unknown to us.
They are just local bits of news … brief mentions of family visits in the local, small-town newspaper … but they provide insight into our grandmother’s relationship with her siblings and texture to the portrait of her life as a young woman in Iowa … I am grateful to have them.
See other posts in this series, In the news …
(One good source for old newspapers is newspaperarchive.com. A few searches are free, but a subscription provides full access. Searching for names within certain counties has yielded little treasures that might otherwise have gone undiscovered.)