Ozro Bales Sells Hogs – Free Online Newspaper Search [Genealogy] –
Once upon a time in 1919, my great-great-grandfather Ozro Bales sold some hogs. I only know this because of a spectacular free online tool that lets you search old newspapers from 1789 – 1963. Amazingly, I actually have this photo of Ozro Bales with some hogs. It’s always fun to be able to put a picture with some related biographical facts.
*This post contains affiliate links.
I suspect the children in this photo are Ozro’s daughter Blanche (who married Marshal Sickels) and my great-grandpa Ralph Bales. It’s difficult to see the faces because of the hats, but I think it’s clear the child with the legs hanging over the wagon is wearing a dress and stockings. Blanche was the only daughter of Ozro and Stell Bales who lived past infancy. You can find out more about Blanche in Gender-Confused, Transgender, or Just Messing Around. If that child is Blanche, the other child is likely Ralph who was very close in age to Blanche. There are many more details about Ralph in The Search for the Secret Lovechild of My Great-Grandpa. This photo of the hogs was likely taken circa 1908 to 1910 if my suspicions about the children are correct.
It just so happens that the newspaper clipping gives quite a bit of detail about Ozro and his hogs. The following is an excerpt from an article titled Markets Take Upturn in Week Despite Strikes: Live Stock and Grain Prices All Going Up – Much Bull Sentiment at Chicago by William R. Sanborn found in The Richmond Palladium and Sun-Telegram, September 29, 1919 (page 2):
With reference to the intake for the week, Rome Shurley, said: “D. Hoggatt sent in 65 hogs, fed by William Hearnley of Randolph County, which averaged 300 pounds, and brought $16.65 over the scales. Ozro Bales brought in 75 head that netted $2,581 at $16.75, and Ollie Hodgin marketed 93 head, fed by William Miller and Edward Medaugh, that sold for $2,398, at $16.35 per 100. Charles Longnecker sold 28 May pigs at $16, the net being $617.50.
The article also mentions that several small lots were brought in that totaled $2,880 altogether. These larger lots mentioned must have been relatively huge if they were each worth about as much as all the other small lots put together. You can view the full page of the newspaper if you would like to see the rest of the article.
I’ve shared a lot about Ozro Bales in other posts. We now know he sold some hogs, but we still don’t know the answer to What Ethnicity Was Ozro Bales?, and though I told you my suspicious in Could My Ancestor Have Been One of the Mysterious Melungeons?, I honestly have no clue. Ozro’s father operated the Bloomingport Livery Stable, so it’s not surprising that Ozro dealt in livestock. I know he also drove a school hack and later a school bus. Ozro Bales wasn’t all work and no play though. Remember we have that crazy photo of Ozro Bales Kidnapping Bertha Root.
More about Ozro’s livestock dealings are revealed in an earlier article in the May 12, 1919 copy of the same newspaper on page 13. The article is titled Heavy Break in Hogs at Large Market Centers is Reflected in Richmond and is also by William R. Sanborn. Under the heading “The Week’s Largest Shippers,” we find:
Ozro Bales of Lynn, made the largest delivery of cattle, sending in twenty head of steers that netted him $3,084. N.R. Hunt of New Paris sold seven head of cattle that brought him $782.50, while Ollie Hodgin, also of New Paris, sold the yards ninety-five hogs at a net of $3,657.80. Edward Hiatt of Crete, Ind. delivered eighty-seven hogs by truck and carried off a check for $4,007, while Vern Chenoweth of Hollansburg received $1,878 for forty-two porkers. John Money stated that he had received at the Richmond yards the most money that had ever been paid him for thirty-three light hogs, the total being $1,376. Another important shipper was J.V. King, of Gettysburg, who collected $1,806 for forty-six hogs.
Does anyone else find it amusing that John Money received the most money he’d ever received? His name is John Money, and he was getting interviewed about money! The article goes on to name nearly 100 other men who received checks from the stockyard that week, so if you are researching ancestors who lived in Randolph or Wayne Counties in Indiana during that time period, you may want to view the entire story to look through those names.
Chronicling America Historic American Newspaper Search
The U.S. Newspaper Directory is a joint effort between the National Endowment for Humanities and the Library of Congress. You can search these newspapers yourself at the Chronicling America Historic American Newspapers site. That first page on the site has a really fun feature where it shows you newspapers from 100 Years Ago Today.
You can find out some amazing information about your ancestors through old newspapers. People like to rant today about all the personal business that goes on Facebook, but 100 years ago, that same personal business was probably going in the newspaper. There’s clip after clip of who visited whom, who entertained whom for dinner, who hosted Bible study, and who moved into what house. Today when people get together with friends they often post pictures of what they’re doing on Instagram and tag all the people who were present. Way back, all those friends would have been tagged right there in the newspaper instead.
And forget HIPAA! HIPAA wasn’t even in existence until 1996, so in 1906 everybody’s health issues were getting plastered all over the local paper. If you had so much as a sniffle, it was going in the newspaper. Is it really any wonder people share so much on social media today? Sharing is nothing new, and everybody being nosy enough to read about the trivial details of everybody else’s lives is nothing new either.
A Couple of Search Tips
I was fortunate that clicking Indiana and simply typing “Ozro Bales” into the search bar at Chronicling America found me the correct Ozro Bales. I instantly had three pages of results all involving the correct Ozro Bales. If you are not lucky enough to have ancestors with weird names, you’re going to have to wade through a lot more results that may or may not pertain to your own relative. Sorry, all you Will Smith and John Jones descendants out there! You might want to add the name of a small town to your search bar to help narrow it.
When searching, also keep in mind that ladies were often not referred to by their own names in days past. Many of the hits for Ozro Bales were actually tidbits about my great-great-grandmother Estella (Sharp) Bales, known more formally in the newspaper as “Mrs. Ozro Bales,” hosting this or that, holding Bible study at her house, being under the weather, or visiting neighbors.
One really fun aspect of being able to read these newspaper accounts of the seemingly trivial events in the daily lives of these ancestors is that I have pictures that seem to go right along with so many of the clips. I have pictures of the group that I suspect was the Bible study hosted by Stell. I have pictures of the times neighbors came to visit (like the Bales, Huber, Oberender, and Mercer of Bloomingport, Indiana photo).
Be forewarned! The Chronicling America search feature can be addictive! It’s a really helpful tool, but before you know it, you’ll be hours into picnics and guest lists from 50th Wedding Anniversary parties. Go ahead and give it a try!
Let me know in the comments if you connect to any of the individuals mentioned with Ozro in the livestock sales clips posted above.
Please like, share, tweet, pin, follow and subscribe!
If you want to be sure you’re getting future installments of Way Back Wednesday where I share old photos and information on genealogy and local history, subscribe to The House That Never Slumbers’ email list.
Other posts related to this topic:
Other genealogy posts can be found under the Genealogy tab on the toolbar!