Monday, January 9, 2017

Newspapers Can Make Mistakes

I found the below news story in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch archives and considered it for my Amanuensis Monday series. But further research led me elsewhere.

St. Louis Star and Times, Sept 23, 1916, page 7


Four-year-old Harry Feinstein, 1340 Semple avenue, hid a burning wood brand under a chicken shed in the rear of the butcher shop of Fred Turpeson when a playmate shouted to him, "Your mamma is coming."

The shed and its contents of poultry and feed were damaged $325 by the fire which followed and a shed belonging to Mrs. M. Vogel, 1345 Arlington avenue, was damaged $50.

My second great uncle, Harry Feinstein, brother of my great grandfather, Herman Feinstein, would have been 32 in 1916. So this is definitely not him.

I can find no record of other Harry Feinsteins in St. Louis at the time. So I instantly knew the newspaper had made some mistake. But what was the mistake they made?

Harry had a son, Willard, born in 1912. Did they put the father's name in the newspaper by accident? That was certainly a believable option. And I knew that my great-grandfather had lived on Semple when he registered for the WW1 draft. Did his brother live nearby?

But several years ago I researched the St. Louis City Directories. I checked my notes, and Harry Feinstein and his family weren't recorded as living on Semple in 1916.

A 1918 St. Louis Post-Dispatch article indicates a Bornstein family living at 1340 Semple. Were they living there in 1916? An error with similar surnames is also a distinct possibility. There was a Harry Bornstein, but he was born in 1909, so he would have been 7 in 1916. (Did a handwritten 7 in a reporter's notes get mistranscribed as a 4? I've done that.)

I don't know who the child was, but I suspect he wasn't a relative.

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