Overlooked oral family history story confirmed with newspaper search

How an overlooked family story was found with photo evidence and newspaper account

By: Michael S Sheaffer

Rose and husband Isaac Zeigler.

Rose Sheaffer and husband Isaac Zeigler.

Rose Sheaffer-Zeigler 1882-1946 was the youngest sister of my 2nd great grand-father John William Sheaffer 1865-1927 and to whom I was fortunate enough over the years to have been able to be given much information from her descendants. The stories handed down from them were that she had a hand “blown off” from an accident as a little girl from a stick of dynamite! Others had said she was “playing with gunpowder and it blew off several of her fingers”!  The few photos that I had been given of her over the years never really made me seek out evidence of her handicap. Sometime last year as I was researching the Sheaffer name (Shippensburg, Pennsylvania) on Newspapers.com I came across a small mention of Rose and the accident that caused her to lose several fingers. The article mentioned how the accident happened and the resulting injuries.I really felt fortunate to have found this article and decided to take a look at the old photos that I had stored away for several years.

Harrisburg Telegraph Nov. 17 1892

Harrisburg Telegraph Nov. 17 1892

Upon further inspection i could clearly see the missing fingers. How had I’d not noticed this before? Guess I decided it was a good story but felt there was no reason to check it’s validity. Thankfully I came across this arcticle and can wrap the oral history into a factual source. This just shows you that these little old family stories can sometimes be a topic of local discussion at the time of the event, and that you should never discount any fact be it little or small. I have now been able to source the oral family history to a photo identifying the handicap and a newspaper article detailing the event,place, and time. The lesson I came away from this experience is  to always remember to research every detail!

Rose and Daughter Sara Bigler. Look closely and you can see her hand

Rose and Daughter Sara Bigler. Look closely and you can see her hand

Closeup look at hand.

Closeup look at hand.

Closeup of hand

Closeup of hand

Sheaffer Family Genealogy

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