More tips on Searching in On-Line Newspapers

I keep finding new nuggets about my ancestors in newspapers. Lately I have been spending time researching my Harrop family and I thought I had done a thorough job searching but I am still finding new things.

Here are four ways I search through newspapers:

  1. Names: Starting with the name variations William Harrop, Wm Harrop, Bill Harrop, W. Harrop. Then I will move on to his children, Dorothy, Walter & Margaret, using variations of all their names.
  2. Locations: narrow the search by locations Canada, and narrow further by the newspaper. This is good initially but keeping it broad to Canada has helped me find other tidbits. Although William did not live in North Carolina, his first wife did and I have found many details by extending my search to that area.
  3. Place: William lived in Balcarres so I can search for this location and find the news of the area. Also by broadening the search this way I can sometimes catch articles that mention my ancestor that wasn’t picked up when I searched for a name. Indian Head, Saskatchewan was close to Balcarres so if your ancestor lived in a small place search for a community close by. Newspapers often cover nearby events and news from the surrounding communities.
  4. Date: If I know a specific date an event occurred narrow down the search for the newspaper closest to that event. Take the time to read the paper in case the event is missed using the other searches.
  5. Mentioned twice: Make sure you take note of how many times the surname appears in the paper. You may catch the death notice BUT there is sometimes a full obituary or details of the funeral located in the same paper which can be missed.

My searching that turned up my next clue was using ONLY the surname and no location. I browsed through the search results and low and behold and I found that Mrs. Harrop, William’s wife and wrote to her newspaper back in North Carolina about her honeymoon and her trip to Canada. With land opening up in Western Canada I am sure there was a great interest to farmers back in her home town.

Caroline Mascot (Statesville, North Carolina) 11 Nov 1897 pg.3
A Letter from Canada
The Trip From North Carolina to Canada By A North Carolina Lady
For the Mascot:
Perhaps a few brief notes of our trip to the far West and of the great wheat country would be interesting to some of your readers. My husband, little daughter and myself spent 24 hours in Asheville looking over the principal parts of the city. Then we bid adieu to the Old North State, the home of my childhood and the land of my nativity, and started for Knoxville, Tenn. Then to Cincinnati and on to Indianapolis. Then to Chicago and of course we spent some time in that great city, taking in some of its modern magnificence. Our travel was on one of the most rapidly moving express trains, hence we had very little opportunity for observation along the lines, but a glance was sufficient to convince one that the farming through that portion of the country was very systematic. From Chicago we started for St. Paul, Minn., one of the greatest Western cities of the United States. We spent quite awhile there, taking in the wonders of the West.

At 7:30 p.m. we started for Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, a distance of 709 miles which was made in 13 hours. Time passed swiftly by until we crossed the line for Canada. We find some of the most refined, educated, industrious and congenial people here. It is highly complementary to come in contact with such people in the wild West. Winnipeg is fast becoming a second Chicago. It was chartered in 1875, and now has 40,000 inhabitants, with all the modern advancements. It is beautifully situated on the Red river of the North and is the centre of railroads from all points. We spent 24 hours in this flourishing city. In the forenoon we were driven to some of the leading places in one of Canada’s latest styled carriages, drawn by some of her finest horses. In the afternoon we took the street cars and took in four of the most lovely parks. They are grand, especially in the evening when illuminated by electrical lights.

The wheat crop here is supposed to be equal to last year’s in both quality and quantity. It requires 20 cars for the daily shipment of wheat from Indian Head. There were 700,000 bushels shipped from this point last year. We have had snow amply sufficient for cutter-riding, but it has all disappeared, and we are now having fine weather. Your paper is always looked for with great anxiety.
Mrs. Wm Harrop
Indian Head, North West Territory Canada, Nov. 3rd.

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Caroline Mascot (Statesville, North Carolina) 11 Nov 1897 pg.3


I found this postcard of Winnipeg in the 1890s on the Prairie Towns website which is a great place to find postcards of Western Canadian towns and cities.

There are not too many times that a person finds out how their ancestors celebrated their honeymoon in 1897!

Harrop is not the most common of names and I tighten my search parameters when I am looking for names in my tree that are more common.

I hope more Canadian newspapers continue to be added online as the details about our ancestor’s lives are priceless.

Featured Image is the Town of Balcarres in 1909 also from the Prairie Towns website

  2 comments for “More tips on Searching in On-Line Newspapers

  1. October 25, 2019 at 7:37 pm

    What a delightful article. She provides just the right level of detail to let your imagination fill in the rest. Sounds like you’ve discovered great ways to maximize your search results. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • October 25, 2019 at 7:39 pm

      I agree she gave some great details and it was wonderful to hear about their journey around the States before venturing to Canada.

      Liked by 1 person

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