Every summer we loaded up the ole station wagon and made the trip to Grandma’s house. We generally stayed a little over a week, which was just long enough to make the local newspaper. I remember being so excited to see our names in the small town newspaper announcing our visit to our relatives. As a little kid, seeing our names in print made me feel important, if not famous.

Long before the days of Facebook, the newspaper was the place to learn about the goings on in small communities and it is there that I learned more about Sanford and his family. While the newspaper quips about Sanford Rainwater shared in my previous post were fun to find, there were a few unexpected jewels in other editions. One entry from the 20 February 1938 edition of the Aransas Pass Progress read simply as follows:

Mrs. Frank B. Kelly of Richards returned home Sunday after a month’s visit here with her father Sam Rainwater. 

Mrs. Frank B. Kelley? I couldn’t imagine who she was but was anxious to find out. The 1900 census was the only census showing Sanford with his wife Alice along with children Minnie and Jessie. A search of Texas marriage records on FamilySearch turned up the following for Frank B. Kelly.  I couldn’t believe my eyes.

Texas, Marriage Records, Aransas Pass, Weatherford, Sanford Rainwater, Jessie Mae Rainwater, Frank B. Kelley
Texas County Marriage Records, Parker County, Texas
Accessed on FamilySearch.org

Could this be Sanford’s missing child, Jessie Rainwater?  Following Sanford Rainwater’s divorce from his wife Alice Atkinson, I had been able to find and trace their daughter Minnie, but their youngest child, Jessie, had seemingly disappeared. It didn’t help that the only census showing Sanford with his wife and their two children indicated that Jessie was a son. With that lone piece of information I had searched high and low for a male Jessie Rainwater born in Texas about 1898. I had found a few males by that name and approximate age, but with a little research, none of them proved to be the son of Sanford Rainwater and Alice Atkinson.

I was thrilled with this find. Jessie’s sister Minnie lived a big part of her married life in Parker County where this Jessie was married. Armed with this information, I was off to learn more about this Jessie.

In addition,  I also now knew that although Sanford lived some distance from his children and ex-wife, he had had at least some contact with his youngest child, Jessie, leading me to believe that they were at least aware of his whereabouts and had possibly maintained some contact with him over the years. Maybe Sanford was not as alone as I had thought.

We may not find many common people on TV or in the movies, but small town newspapers can be a great place to find tidbits about some of our most common ancestors. And for once, luck was on my side as other newspaper articles helped fill in even more about Sanford’s life. I can’t wait to share more in a coming post.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2016, All rights reserved

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21 thoughts on “Where the Common Feel Famous

  1. I love newspapers! I found a lot of those visiting relatives tid-bits in my paternal grandfather's hometown paper. I just love them. They did not lead me to any missing people, however, this is great.

  2. Aren't they great! I am finding that part of the trick is figuring out what name they went by with friends. Sanford I learned was Sam–another man I had not previously been able to find in the papers I can now find using his his first and middle initial plus last name even though everything else lists him by his first name. I wish there were papers available for every area!

  3. I have a few newspaper clippings, but it seems that my ancestors lived in places where they haven't gotten around to digitizing any newspapers. I love reading old issues when I can find them.

  4. I've found a lot of nuggets like this in the small town newspaper from my ancestor's home in the late 1800's. I can't believe the stuff they reported about people!

  5. There is nothing worse than trying to find someone based on a single clue, especially if it’s incorrect! Well done.

  6. I absolutely love newspapers. Those little articles about who visited whom not only add to our ancestor's story, but, as in this case, lead to new information. What a great find Michelle.

  7. Very sad Linda, especially if they are small towns because they seem to like the trivial! I can relate though because there is an area my ancestors live that I have not found any newspapers for and it is so frustrating.

  8. How exciting Michelle! I love all the tidbits that I have found in newspapers also. Sometimes it's the only place I have found information to help in my brickwall research.

  9. Oh I agree Monique! I had looked everywhere for information about Jessie, but of course was looking for a male so this bit of information in the paper made all of the difference. Now if there was just a digitized paper for every location where our ancestors lived!

  10. What a terrific find! And, who would have thought to look for Jessie as a female, not a male, after seeing her as a him in the census? Got to love those newspapers!

    Thanks for your comment on my post… I responded that it is amazing how much we can do now that more & more items (like newspapers!) are digitized. I started researching in the 1990s. My great aunt was just finishing her work during that time. How much more she/we would have learned sooner in today's world!

  11. That's about when I started too Dana and I've had the same thought about my Grandma. She did a lot of research, but she lived in a rural town and she hired people, traveled to the Family History Library in SLC (she lived in Colorado) and wrote people—we are sure have it good today!

  12. I agree Grant—the small towns didn't need to report such things! I have always been frustrated my ancestors lived in such rural communities there are not city directories, but I guess the blessings of the small town papers helps to balance that out!

  13. I agree Grant—the small towns didn't need to report such things! I have always been frustrated my ancestors lived in such rural communities there are not city directories, but I guess the blessings of the small town papers helps to balance that out!

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