Monster Porkers, Bushels of Buckwheat, and a Temperance Man: Using Chronocling America to Fill Out the Stories of Our Ancestors

A little background about “Chronocling America”:

“Chronicling America (ISSN 2475-2703) is a Website providing access to information about historic newspapers and select digitized newspaper pages, and is produced by the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP). NDNP, a partnership between the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Library of Congress (LC), is a long-term effort to develop an Internet-based, searchable database of U.S. newspapers with descriptive information and select digitization of historic pages. Supported by NEH, this rich digital resource will be developed and permanently maintained at the Library of Congress. An NEH award program will fund the contribution of content from, eventually, all U.S. states and territories.”

All that is to say it’s a part of Library of Congress (LOC) that provides access to digital copies of historical newspapers.

Like much of the online LOC, it’s easy to fall into, sometimes hard to escape. And I sometimes forget what a resource it can be for genealogy.

True, I’ve rarely found hard facts relating to birth, marriage, and death — the holy trinity BMD of genealogy — but I occasionally stumble across a jewel, like these tombstone inscriptions from Union County Pennsylvania. UnionTownshipTombstoneInscriptions1903
Many of the surnames match those of my tree, and eventually, I’m sure a first name will also match.

Recently I was scouring the site for Sholley ancestors and — once I remembered the Pennsylvania Sholleys spell the name as “Sholly” — I was overwhelmed with information, most of it unrelated to what I was searching for.

Who knew newspapers once published the names of those who subscribed and when their subscriptions lapsed?

Now I know my maternal grandmother’s great uncle David S. Sholly was a regular reader of the Middleburg Post. 

He was also a Justice of the Peace who performed marriages (many of them faithfully documented by the Post). And he was on the school board for Selinsgrove in the late 1890s.

Apparently, he was an early supporter of prohibition as well. sn84026106-18820928
The article reads:

Constitutional Prohibition Meeting

Port Trevorton, September 20, 1882

A public meeting in the interest of Constitutional Prohibition was held this evening in the Evangelical church at this place. The meeting was organized by the election of Hon. D Witmer, Pres. and D.S. Thursby, Sec. After singing a hymn, Rev.U. Gambler led an impressive prayer. The President appointed Rev. U. Gambler, Jeremiah Boyer and Daniel Snyder a committe on permanent organization. W.D. Blackburn, state organizer, of Mechanicsburg, Pa., then addressed the audience in an manner that will, no doubt, produce good results. 

The committee on permanent organization reported as follows: Pres. Hon. D. Witmer; Vice Pres. Gen. E.C. Williams, Daniel Krebs, Jacob Burns, Sec. D.S. Thursby, Treasurer T.W. Hoffman. 

Executive Com. D. Witmer, D.S. Thursby, T.W. Hoffman, Emanuel Bordner, J.B. Swartz, Samuel H. Snyder, David S. Sholly, Albright Swineford, E.S. Stahl.

Delegates. Rev. U. Gambler, Rev. J.W. Bentz, N.T. Dundore, T.W. Hoffman, H.  O’Neil, E.S. Arnold, Mrs. Maria Dundore, Mrs. Kate Bogar, Mrs. A.E. Williams, and others. 

Nine dollars were subscribed for the benefit of the State Association. 

On motion adjourned to meet the call of the President. 

— D.S. THURSBY, Sec

It would appear David S. Sholly was quite the pillar of his community, if his press is anything to go by.

He makes my 2x great grandfather Peter look like a bit of a slacker.

But my favorite David S. Sholly story is about his “monster porker,” an 12 January 1888 article which states:

David S. Sholly, of Dundore, Pa., killed a monster porker on the 2d of January. The hog measured nine feet from from tip of nose to tip of tail, was three feet one inch high and measured six foot seven inches around the girth. The animal dressed 685-1/2 pounds and made 800 pounds of extracted lard. The hams and shoulders — after close dressing, weighed respectively 50 and 48 pounds. The animal was a male of a full Chester-White stock pair, purchased of Edward Walter & Son, West Chester, Pa., a very extensive dealer in blooded stock. Mr. Sholly states that he can supply parties with blooded stock in the spring.

Well, as Charlotte once said, “Some pig”!

David and Peter’s father was also a farmer of note.

On 6 November 1857, the Lewisburg Chronicle & West Branch Farmer featured this tidbit:

“Simon Sholly, of Chapman Township, Snyder county, has raised, by sowing 1-1/2 bushels of Buckwheat, 89-1/2 bushels.”

Good return on his investment, don’t you think?

I eventually found a newspaper mention of Peter, though not in the LOC database. A distant relative posted a scan of a news article about his death on Ancestry. He died in an accident at age 31, leaving four children and another on the way.

Article from Ancestry tree: Citation Information

Transcript

FATAL ACCIDENT-On Saturday the 18th inst., as Mr. Peter Sholly, of Rye township this county, was on his wagon unloading wood, he slipped, and his foot catching in one of the standards he fell to the ground on his head and shoulders, receiving such internal injury as to cause his death on the Monday following. Mr. Sholly was only about 30 years of age. He leaves a widow and four children to mourn his sudden death.

Detail
Perry County Advocate & Press
Other information
Copied from microfilm the newspaper account of Peter Sholly’s death
Edit Source
Source Information
Title
Advocate & Press
Note
Newspaper Article May 29th, 1872, Perry County
Repository Information
No repository specified for this source.

Perhaps Peter didn’t have the chance to do anything noteworthy.

 

2 thoughts on “Monster Porkers, Bushels of Buckwheat, and a Temperance Man: Using Chronocling America to Fill Out the Stories of Our Ancestors

  1. Pingback: My Great Grandpa Was a Love Rat, and Great Grandma Was a Loose Woman | The Byrd and the Bees

  2. My great-great-grandfather is David a sholly my great-grandfather is William Clifford sholly my grandfather is mildly sholly my father is William Miles sholly I am William Mark sholly so I guess we’re related and I guess that makes Simon sholly my great-great-great-grandfather but I know no dates of his birth or his death I will keep looking though

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s