|photo from The [Atlanta] Constitution, 15 March 1891|
Sometimes we spend our research time trying to find everything possible about a specific ancestor by using a wide variety of resources. Sometimes, however, it pays to mine a specific resource to see what information you can find concerning any relative or ancestor. By mining, I mean searching within a specific resource for any information related to a specific surname, in my case I searched for "Perkinson" in newspapers. The mining approach has enabled me to find some interesting information about a number of Georgia relatives, thanks to issues of Atlanta newspapers available through fold3.com, Ancestry.com, the Digital Library of Georgia, and the Library of Congress Chronicling America collection of historical newspapers.
I was actually skimming through the 15 March 1891 issue of The [Atlanta] Constitution for information about another relative when seeing the drawing above made me stop and start reading the article on the page. After all, it isn't every day you find a picture of your Great Grandfather in an old newspaper.
The article was part of a multi-page section about Cherokee County, Georgia.(1) The articles highlighted the history, civic leaders, and industries of the towns of Canton and Woodstock, towns that were home to a lot of Perkinsons, and "a section possessing as many God-given attributes as any that distinguish the South".
Captain W H Perkinson, as he was called in the article, was listed among the leading merchants of the town of Woodstock. The article also made reference to his large brick home, built at a cost of $4000, one of the few brick homes in the town.
Another part of the article provided more information about his business interests. The Alliance Company was founded after the fall of the firm of Perkinson & Benson, a prior business owned by William Howard Perkinson and a Benson relative. My Great Grandfather was able to gather 100 area farmers together to form this new Alliance Company with over $100,000 in capital, quite a sum for 1891. The company, at the time of the article, had already purchased a barn and converted it into a cotton seed oil mill and a fertilizer factory.
An older issue of The Constitution provided a short article describing a fire in Woodstock that destroyed several buildings in the business area in 1886.(2) A storehouse and a frame building were both destroyed, including about $1000 of inventory stored in the buildings for businesses owned by my Great Grandfather. Fortunately, his primary inventory in another building was covered by his insurance.
In the spring of 1891, William Howard Perkinson was a delegate to a World's Fair assembly held in Atlanta.(3) The purpose of this assembly was to decide upon an exhibit for the state of Georgia to build for the 1893 Columbian Exposition to be held in Chicago. The group meeting together consisted of, in the words of Gov. Northern, "the best men in the state". The next year his wife, Louella Dean Perkinson, was named by the governor to serve on the Women's Work Committee in conjunction with planning for the women's exhibit at the Exposition.(4)
William Howard Perkinson, in addition to his business interests, was also extensively involved in farming. For a number of years, he served as a Vice President of the Georgia Agricultural Association, representing the ninth district.(5)
Great Grandfather Perkinson was involved with the temperance movement. An article about the 1865 state convention of the International Organization of Good Templars related that W H Perkinson had been elected in its slate of officers for the next year.(6) He was also an active member of the Baptist Church, serving in 1883 as the first president of the Sunday School Association in the area.(7)
Capt Perkinson was also active politically in both state and congressional conventions. In the 1880s, he was active in the Democratic Party, serving as the Cherokee County party chairman. He was also selected to be a representative to the 1882 state congressional convention of the Democratic Party.(8) However, by 1892, he had become involved in a third party movement which nominated him to run for the US Senate.(9) It was apparently an unsuccessful run as I unable to find anything further about the campaign or the ensuing election.
This mining approach to area newspapers yielded a wide variety of family information. Gathering this information involved looking at over 150 newspaper articles. But it was worth it to weed through society announcements, articles about unrelated Perkinsons, and numerous legal notices to gain a richer picture of William Howard Perkinson. Through the articles, I learned more about him as a person, his business interests, and his involvement in local politics. Besides some isolated facts that I recorded in Family Tree Maker, I also discovered other nuggets of Perkinson information that I will be sharing in future posts.
Which family name shall I mine next?
* Have You Heard the News is a series of posts about family information gleaned from copies of Atlanta newspapers available through www.fold3.com, www.ancestry.com, the Digital Archives of Georgia, and the Library of Congress Chronicling America collection of historical newspapers.
(1) Blackworth, B M, "Cherokee County, the Heart of a Great Agricultural Section", The Constitution, Atlanta, 15 March 1891, p 4-5; accessed through www.fold3.com, content source Allen County Public Library.
(2) "Fire in Woodstock", The Constitution, Atlanta, 30 Dec 1886, p 2; accessed through www.fold3.com, content source Allen County Public Library.
(3) "For the World's Fair", The Constitution, Atlanta, 5 May 1891, p 7; accessed through www.fold3.com, content source Allen County Public Library.
(4) "The World's Fair", The Constitution, Atlanta, 22 Apr 1892, p 7; accessed through www.fold3.com, content source Allen County Public Library.
(5) "The Georgia Farmers, The Weekly Constitution, Atlanta, 19 Aug 1884, p 9; accessed through Digital Library of Georgia; content source Atlanta Historical Newspapers Collection.
(6) "Grand Lodge, I.O.G.T.", Sunny South, Atlanta, 16 Oct 1875, p 6; accessed through Digital Library of Georgia; content source Atlanta Historical Newspapers Collection.
(7) "The Sunday School Association", The Atlanta Constitution, Atlanta, 10 May 1883; accessed through www.ancestry.com.
(8) "The Popular Vote", The Constitution, Atlanta, 6 Jul 1882, p 1; accessed through www.fold3.com, content source Allen County Public Library.
(9) "Third Party Convention", The Constitution, Atlanta, 31 May 1892, p 1; accessed through www.fold3.com, content source Allen County Public Library.