Searching Microfilmed Newspapers
Posted by Diane
This Federation of Genealogical Societies conference
is the first confab outside Ohio where I’ve been able to research ancestors. As
soon as I got to Little Rock Wednesday, I checked into the hotel and ran off to
the state archives.
I didn’t have a specific article to find—rather, I wanted
any news item about my great-grandfather’s criminal trial for bootlegging. There
wasn’t a name index, so I knew I was in for some heavy-duty scrolling. I had the
conviction and incarceration dates, but not a date of arrest, so I had several
months to cover in 1913.
First thing when I arrived, I got my very own research card.
The archivist had me double-check holdings for the newspapers I wanted. I’d
neglected to bring singles or a $5 bill for a copy card, so I also ran to the
concession and bought a soda to get change.
Next, I requested a couple years’ worth of microfilm and
started scrolling. I started with the dates I knew and scrolled backward
through earlier papers, then forward, looking for headlines on the faded pages.
Bootlegging arrests filled the news--apparently
the sheriff was really cracking down. The few items mentioning my ancestor’s
name told when he was arrested, how he filed for a writ of habeas corpus, and
how two others arrested at the same time jumped bail.
Though not the play-by-play trial accounts I was hoping for,
the articles also gave me a clue to what might’ve happened to his missing
He served his prison sentence in Texas and his case is indexed in Bowie County, Texas,
records, but a batch of files that includes his case number is missing.
According to the newspaper articles, some witnesses lived on
the Arkansas side of Texarkana, and Bowie County officials traveled to the
courthouse in Miller County, Ark., for a pretrial motion. So maybe his case file ended up in Arkansas.
Miller County court records for the years I need aren’t on
Family History Library microfilm, so I’ll send a request to the circuit court
clerk the minute I get home. Fingers crossed.
court records | Libraries and Archives | Newspapers
Friday, September 04, 2009 10:23:56 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)