Local papers for local people Surprising details in press archives, but also errors

A new resource of searchable back editions for various newspapers published in and around Seward county, Nebraska, has appeared online, at the Seward Memorial Library Digital Archives {1}. As mentioned on the Going Abroad section of Cutlock & Co, this is where a number of Watts relatives emigrated to. It didn’t take a great deal of searching to find interesting material.

These rural American newspapers certainly go to town on their personal angles. Short items on who is visiting who – both those visiting local families and local families visiting elsewhere – aren’t something seen elsewhere. And not just at Christmas, as with this example.

Cutting dated 28 Dec 1910

The Jeary household was clearly busy that Christmas period {2}.

One family gathering even rates a photo, although appears here in rather poor quality after going through the press process and then getting digitally scanned!

Cutting from 1948

Mentioning all these names must be good for paper circulation figures, no doubt.

In common with many other newspapers is of course the obituary section. Unfortunately this extract for Doris B Scobie does illustrate how you can’t trust all you read in the printed press, or online media for that matter.

From Seward County Independent, 4 Nov 1998

‘Willard Badgett’, given as a son of Doris, was a new name to me. Having already added a couple of other names to the tree after the Digital Archive trawl, he got put on too but fortunately I do tend to review all such additions to check for basic info. At this point, as there was no other indication of his existence, a quick scratch of the head. It wouldn’t be the first time a reporter got surnames or relationships mixed up (e.g. see note 2) – could he be connected with her second husband (Forest E Scobie) rather than with her first? Well, yes. Forest Willard Scobie fits the bill, and is already in the tree, although as a step-son of Doris he isn’t a direct relation.

A reminder to take press cutting info as a guide rather than proof!


  1. Thanks to Larry Parker for mentioning this resource on the Ancestry message boards.
  2. Our first example of poor newspaper fact checking: Fred Watts and wife would actually have been visiting Fred’s sisters, Mrs RJ Jeary (Jane Watts) and Mrs William Flowerday (Emma Watts), not his wife’s sisters.
  3. If any of my Ancestry tree ‘guests’ are reading, please note that tree updates are only on my computer at present. This is due to the Ancestry/FTM sync mess described in the last Cutlock post. Update: The new version of FTM with replacement sync function, which was due out at the end of March is largely functioning at July 2017 – Ancestry guests will need to be invited to a new online version of the tree.

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