Part of my devotion to (a/k/a obsession with) genealogy comes from the fact that my own immediate family knew and preserved so little. My paternal grandma was awesome for the photos and stories of her generation and even of her parents’ peer group, but of anyone further back she had no knowledge. For me, and for most researchers I know, family history has always been about so much more than names on charts. The entire Greene Connections project grew out of a desire to find and share the rare history hiding in attics and drawers and shoeboxes that could bring our ancestors to life in image and storied detail. And, so, a random little find prompts me to write today.
A month or two ago, I tracked down an 1880 marriage announcement in the microfilm of the Waynesburg Republican available at the Cornerstone Genealogical Society in Waynesburg, Pa. On the same page, I noticed an article about my Cook family. I printed the whole page to study later and today I finally got to read it thoroughly. The following is a story I never knew about my great-great-grandfather Thomas Hamlet Cook [1859-1928], while he was still a young bachelor, and had things gone differently my family would never have been.
"Accidentally Shot Himself" article, Waynesburg Republican, Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, 14 January 1880, page 3, column 7.
"Accidentally Shot Himself"
On New Years day, a young man named Thomas Cooke, son of Mr. Wm. H. Cooke, of Centre township, near South Ten Mile Baptist Church, accidentally discharged a load of shot into his person, inflicting a severe wound. He and two or three other young fellows were out with guns and he was standing resting the breech of his shot gun on the ground, when by some unknown means the gun was discharged, the charge entering the unfortunate youth's breast near the left nipple and passing through the shoulder making a ghastly orifice. Medical aid was immediately summoned and at last accounts, the patient was slowly improving. It was a narrow escape from death, and we trust it will not disable him to the extent feared."Interestingly, a “Mere Mentions” column that I found a few years ago in the same local newspaper, also revealed one of the few random facts I know about another great-great-grandfather, William Daily Buchanan [1847-1922].
Will Buchanan article, Waynesburg Republican, Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, 17 February 1875, page 3, column 2.
"Will Buchanan, two miles from Waynesburg, discovered a den of skunks last week. He dug down until a small aperture was made into the hole, and as one would show his head--attempting to get out--he would take it on the snout and lay out his skunkship. He took out eight of the odoriferous animals, and it wasn't a very good day for them either. The eight hides netted him about ten dollars."Two random stories, unintentionally discovered, brought a little life to my family tree. Keep your eyes open as you search, you never know what unexpected discovery awaits.
If you have made some surprising and interesting discoveries in your Greene County research that you want to share, please post to the comments section below!