Monday, September 22, 2008

The Dead Speak

Spending a warm, September Saturday afternoon in a cemetery is fun, but talking to the dead makes it special.  The 2008 Cemetery Tour of the North Platte, Nebraska Cemetery, sponsored by the North Platte Public Library Foundation, was held this past Saturday.  And, indeed the dead spoke!  

The theme of the cemetery tour was "The Movers and Shakers of Little Chicago."  North Platte had a reputation of being linked to the mobs.  Maybe they just created their own gangs and hoodlums. That era in our history is always interesting.  

One of the leading players in the cemetery was Annie Cook, a ruthless character who ran the poor farm and preyed upon other, even her own daughter, for her personal rewards.  From the time she was a young girl she knew she had to have money to succeed in life and she would obtain the money and status any way she could.  She realized that to obtain that success she would need to grease the palms of corrupt government officials and there were plenty of them in Lincoln County, Nebraska.   

Her own daughter became an employee and she put her out to work in prostitute houses that Annie eventually owned.  Selfish, greedy Annie is buried in the cemetery.  The person portraying her did an excellent job, even jabbing at the crowd with slurs about them and others that she knew.  She was definitely a part of "Little Chicago."  Rocking at the foot of her grave, Annie told her story, leaving out no details or expressions of hatred.  

Others included Dr. Marie Ames who benefited from treating gunshot wounds and prostitutes, and the undertaker, William Maloney, who reportedly wrote out death certificates to the advantage of those who forked over the money.  Ever consider that when you are doing your research?  Maybe the information was padded or totally incorrect.   There were many mysterious deaths at the Lincoln County Poor Farm that were covered up by Maloney.  

The best book to read about the Little Chicago era of North Platte and Lincoln County, Nebraska is Evil Obsession by Nellie Snyder Yost.  It was published in 1991 by Tom Yost Publishing.  Now deceased, the author anguished writing it, knowing about the corruption that prevailed in this area and how it was accepted and covered up.  

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A Library to Love

A few weeks ago I spent quality time in the Alexandria Library, 717 Queen Street, Alexandria, VA. The local history room was most appealing!  They have a large collection of books pertaining to Alexandria and Fairfax County.  This patron-friendly library also has many books pertaining to all of the counties in Virginia, along with the surrounding states.  Their microfilm of the Alexandria Gazette is particularly helpful if you are researching in that area.  It is also indexed.  

I was impressed with their collection of books and resources dealing with the Civil War, particularly the Confederacy.  Their Confederate Corner contains a Roster of Confederate Soldiers containing of names and units.  If your ancestor served from Virginia, you will be able to find the roster in the Virginia Regimental Series.  There are also specific Northern Virginia regimental records on microfilm.  Major Civil War compilations, such as Dyers Compendium can be found in this section of the library.  

The library has an extensive collection of photographs, manuscripts and maps.  Their rare book collection is the original collection of the Alexandria Library Company which was begun in the 1790s.  If your ancestor happened to live in Alexandria, you will want to use the city directories along with film of building permits and other documents to determine exactly where they lived. There is a good chance the house is still standing. 

I have added this library to the top of my list.  They deserve another visit!