The January 2004 issue of the Civil War magazine, North & South, featured a cover story about the 1862 battle of Lone Jack, Missouri—the little town where my ancestors moved in the 1830s. In addition to providing details of the battle itself, the article included photos, eyewitness testimony and a nifty graphic showing the layout of the buildings on the main street. Among the civilian casualties during this “most savage” battle was Lucinda Cave, hostess of the Cave Hotel and wife of my four-times-removed cousin.
Did the article lead to any breakthroughs in my Cave research? Not really. However, it did give me a “fly on the wall” perspective to an agonizing period in my family’s history.
This wasn’t the first time an article in a popular magazine focused on a place where my ancestors lived, or an event they experienced. The historic tidbits gleaned from the articles help paint a clearer picture of the family’s everyday life—and (in my opinion) provide clues to help me make informed guesses about what to research.
For example, the Lone Jack story sent me on a search to learn more about Lucinda and the Cave Hotel. Among my findings were a Web site that pictured Lucinda’s tombstone, and an article about the efforts to acquire the land where the hotel is believed to have stood.
If your family’s hometown witnessed history, you may find it mentioned in one of the popular magazines below. Many of these sites are accessible through HistoryNet, a site that links to online history articles. You also could contact your local library, historical or genealogical society to ask about regional publications that might have historical articles relevant to your family’s hometowns.
• American Heritage
• America’s Civil War
• Naval History Magazine (browse free articles from past issues)
• Civil War Times
• Military History
• Wild West
And of course, Family Tree Magazine should be your first stop for the latest news and techniques for climbing your family tree.