Book helps those with Alabama roots

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 17, 2004

Larry Carver’s newest book, Death And Marriage Notices From Jefferson County, Alabama Newspapers, Volume II (1882-1906), has just been released. This is the second volume in a continuing series of newspaper transcriptions related to Jefferson County and picks up where Volume I ended.

The collection contains valuable historical and genealogical information on individuals who resided in the Greater Birmingham area during the 1882-1906 time period and will be a useful to those of you with roots in Alabama.

Transcriptions from surviving issues of the following newspapers are included: The Birmingham Iron Age (1882-1884, 1887), The Birmingham Age (1885), The Weekly Iron Age (1886), The Bessemer (1887), The Bessemer Journal (1888-1905), The Bessemer Herald (1897), The Humming Bird (1900-1902), The Silent Eye (1902-1906), The Daily State (1895), The Ensley Enterprise (1899), The Pratt Mines & Ensley Advertiser (1887), The Pratt City Herald (1899), and the Birmingham Times (1896-1902).

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In an age when newspapers came and went with frightening regularity, The Birmingham Iron Age and later The Birmingham Age were the predominant newspapers in the city.

The Iron Age included weekly columns, &uot;Died in Alabama,&uot; &uot;Married in Alabama,&uot; and &uot;State News&uot; which provided many death and marriage notices from all over the state. The columns included coverage extending north to Huntsville and as far south as Mobile. These early newspapers also included news items culled from newspapers in the surrounding counties of St. Clair, Shelby, Bibb, Tuscaloosa, Walker and Blount.

The Bessermer Journal was best known for its weekly columns from communities all around … especially in the western and southwestern sections of Jefferson County. Like many of our present day weekly journals, they employed &uot;correspondents&uot; in these communities to report &uot;tid-bits&uot; of social activities. Author Caver dubs this paper the &uot;people’s paper&uot; because their news truly came straight from the ordinary citizens on the street. What a great source to record day to day history.

Because all these papers utilized these resources, it is possible that vital information from some other rural Alabama newspaper, thought otherwise lost, could survive in these columns … and it could be just what you, the researcher, ordered.

The softbound, 441-page book is indexed by name only. Entries are in chronological order for each paper. The typeface is very clear and readable.

Those of you who have had the pleasure to research old newspapers previously already know the delightful experience that awaits you. First timers are in for a treat.

While there are a few cut and dried entries, most offer an intriguing glimpse into life (and death) at the turn of the century … in prose seldom seen in modern newspapers.

As an example, the following marriage announcement dated February 25, 1886, appeared in the Colombian Banner: &uot;A few nights ago Mr. Hugh FARRIER, aged 19 years, and Miss Bamma SKINNER, aged 29 years, both of Wilcox County, Ala., secured a horse and buggy and started for Selma for the purpose of being made man and wife, and while on the way the vehicle broke down, but they were not to be foiled in their design, so they borrowed a horse from a neighbor and continued their journey on horseback, but before they reached the central city they met a justice of the peace, and so intent were their desires to be made to share each others burdens and joys, they tackled this dignitary to perform the ceremony there and then. He consented to do so, and there, in the dismal swamps of Dallas, in the middle of the road, with the silent stars and hooting owls as witnesses, sat they on their horses and were made man and wife …&uot;

Amid the murder, mayhem, accidents, suicides and sudden deaths (enough material for several soap operas!), you have to smile when you find the obituary of &uot;Dice,&uot; the faithful old family mare of eighteen belonging to Mrs. A.R. Jones or the horse who fought on both sides in the Civil War and was buried with military honors.

Among the tales of lawsuits, long journeys, broken engagements, feuds and arguments you find dates, facts, pedigrees, and wonderful clues to filling in those blank branches on the family tree. Mississippi references abound, but will have to be found in the text or under the family names … all of which promises an enjoyable day’s reading.

The book may be purchased for $34 (postage included) by sending payment (check or money order) with your name and address to: Larry E. Caver, Jr., P.O. Box 680052, Prattville, AL 36068. Please make all checks payable to Larry E. Caver Jr.


… Bobbye J. Davis (14081 Browning Road, Greenwood, MS 38930-9717) is searching for the family of ALBERT H. TALBERT, a son of JAMES CALVIN LAWRENCE TALBERT, who was born about 1872 in Mississippi. He married FANNIE DANSBY (born 7 Oct 1877 in MS) on 21 Sept 1896 in Neshoba County. Fannie was the daughter of FRANKLIN SYLVESTER DANSBY (Ms. Davis’ great uncle) whose first wife was MARY ELIZABETH THREATT. His second wife was MARY JANE SMITH, a daughter of ELIHU and MILLY QUIMBY (Ms. Davis’ great great grandparents). Albert and Fannie had seven children: Calvin, Spurgeon, Inez, Franklin, Mert, and Flora. All are now deceased to Ms. Davis’ knowledge.

Albert may have worked at Angola Prison in Louisiana and possibly migrated to California. Fannie is connected to WILLIAM MOSES DANSBY II who was an optometrist and jeweler in Meridian. Does any reader have leads or information to share on this family?

Please send your announcements and queries to FAMILY TREES, 900 Main Street, Natchez, MS 39120 or email to

. All queries printed free of charge.