Friday, January 29, 2010

Minnie Van Every and the Happyhammers

Randy at Genea-Musings talks about his Forest Gump Method of Genealogy Research:
Genealogy research is like a box of chocolates - you never know what you're going to find, but you have to look everywhere your 'genealogy gem' might be hiding
He wrote about searching the newspapers at the Library of Congress’s Chronicling America. (Containing newspapers from 1880-1922 in Arizona, California, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Washington.)

I hadn’t searched it before, and I agree with the method, so I followed the link.

First I searched in Missouri for some paternal surnames, without any success. (None of the newspapers are from the St. Louis area.)

Then I went south to Texas and searched for some maternal surnames, and hit a jackpot of Happyhammers.

What’s a Happyhammer?
“The Happyhammers are the young people...who read the Youth’s Department of The Houston Post. There are no fees or charges of any kind connected with the club. Boys and girls who read The Post may be enrolled as active members by sending name, age, and address.

It is the object of all Happyhammers to hammer happiness when and wherever possible.” Hence the club name and motto.
My maternal great aunt, Minnie Van Every wrote almost a dozen letters that were published between 1897 and 1901, between the age of 13 and 17. (The final one was cosigned by her younger sister, Willa)

The letters are great fun to read, and show she was receiving a solid education in the Texas schools of that time.

There was even a tidbit of genealogical interest to record, as each letter indicated the town from which she wrote. Most of the letters came from Maxwell, Texas, where I knew my grandmother was born in 1900. However, a couple letters in 1898 came from Ganado, Texas, which is a good 100 miles Southeast of Maxwell. I didn't know the Van Every family had spent some time there. It was very brief though, since the 1897 letters were from Maxwell, too. It's even possible she was writing from there, but not living there. (Maybe visiting relatives.)

1 comment:

Miriam Robbins said...

There are some free online historical newspapers for the St. Louis area here, but I don't know if they cover your particular ancestors' timelines.