poetry and prose about place

searching the newspaper archives

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Still on the trail of my great-grandfather, I have turned for a short time to the wonderful source of the newspaper archive.  This may not uncover any new leads about my relative, but it is a fascinating way to search.


I know from my Aunt’s earlier search for information, my great-grandfather (Frank Norman) and great-grandmother (Ella Hawk) were married in Laramie, Wyoming on July 24, 1886.  I have written before about my great-grandmother Ella and her father, Josiah Hawk, who was a shoemaker in Pennsylvania (  In 2002, we drove out to Laramie as part of a vacation adventure, and saw where Frank and Ella were married.  It was amazing to know I was standing where they did so long ago!


My present search for Frank has taken me to the pages of the ‘Daily Boomerang’, a newspaper in Laramie.  This was a four page daily paper, reporting local and national events and providing advertising for Laramie in the 1880’s and 1890’s and beyond.  It included lots of local tid-bits in the ‘Personal Paragraphs’, ‘Personal Points’ and ‘About Town’ sections.  The ‘Laramie Boomerang’ continues today.




In 2002, when I visited Laramie, I spent part of the day looking at the fragile paper archives of the ‘Daily Boomerang’.  Although my time was short, I was able to find out a little about the Minister who married Frank and Ella.


Now, a little more than a decade later, I am able to access, online, every page of the paper.  This is thanks to the Wyoming Newspaper Project.  The project has converted over 800,000 pages of Wyoming newspapers into searchable digital format.  Today, all I have to do is type the searchword ‘Norman’ to find if Frank or Ella are mentioned in the pages of any of over one hundred Wyoming newspapers !  To search these papers, have a look at .


I know this effort may turn up some results since I already know of one article, found by my Aunt, about my great-grandfather.  On July 26, 1886, only two days after their wedding in Laramie, Frank receives a short mention in the ‘Daily Boomerang’.




Just a little below the center of the page above, under ‘About Town’, it says:

Frank Norman, while out riding yesterday, was thrown from his horse and had his collar bone broken.

I know from later records that Frank made his living as a ‘hod carrier’, part of a bricklaying team.  The ‘hod carrier’ is the worker who carries bricks on a hod – a v-shaped wooden carrier with a handle, carried over the shoulder.  A collar bone injury would have been a hard turn of events for someone whose work involved carrying heavy loads.  It must have been a tradgedy for the couple newly married.


I have a little work ahead of me since I want to look at all possible entries in the newspaper about Frank or Ella from the time of their marriage to about 1892 when Frank and Ella were living in Denver, Colorado.  There may be nothing more to find, and the search is made complicated because a common breed of horse for sale in Wyoming at the time – the ‘Norman’ !


I will keep you up to date on my search for information about my great-grandfather.  Have you ever used newspapers to search for information about a member of your family?


Copyright  2014   Jane Tims


Written by jane tims

May 7, 2014 at 12:39 pm

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