A fantastic resource I've used for genealogy research is the Library of Congress's "Chronicling America" website. This site provides detailed information about & scanned pages from American newspapers spanning the years of 1836 - 1922. Typically these newspaper pages are not easily searchable through Ancestry.com, so when I am looking for more detail about a family member, I use this resource.
The James Berkley & Alice Marmaduke family (my maternal 3rd Great-Grandparents) are of particular interest to me. My family has a series of letters written by Alice Marmaduke in 1902-1903. Alice had been a widow for 10 years by this point, and she was writing the letters to her young daughters Jeannette & Bettie. Alice's letters reference family troubles, but what piques my interest the most is that she is separated from her daughters who are 11 (Jeannette) & 14 (Bettie). My biggest questions are why they are separated and who the girls were with. So I searched the Chronicling America historical newspaper collection in hopes of finding answers.
I did not find the answer to my question about the girls, but I did find a distressing blip on the family's timeline. Here is a link to the article, but below is a screen shot of the item.
The blurb says "Last Friday the dwelling of Mr. Berkley Marmaduke, in Spotsylvania County, about six miles from Fredericksburg, was destroyed by fire, together with nearly all of the furniture and wearing apparel." Alexandria gazette. (Alexandria, D.C.) 1834-1974, January 29, 1890, Image 2
It amazes me that I could be so affected by something that happened 123 years ago. This 1 sentence blurb in a newspaper makes me wonder how the family recovered from the tragedy.There were 4 children at this point, all under the age of 10. Because the majority of the 1890 US census records were destroyed in a fire, it is difficult to know where the family's home was. But I do know that as of 1900, the Marmadukes lived in a home in Spotsylvania that was surrounded by extended family. How would this family's story have changed, though, if the fire never happened? Would Berkley still have died in 1892? I have so few pieces of information about the Marmadukes, yet each piece is so fascinating. More to come about Berkley, Alice, and their children in future posts...