PAALLEGH-L ArchivesArchiver > PAALLEGH > 2003-07 > 1057371421
From: "adamslab" <>
Subject: Re: [ALL] Ancestry newspapers, etc.
Date: Fri, 4 Jul 2003 22:17:01 -0400
References: <email@example.com> <006101c3428e$3ad2f940$90b1fea9@1>
I agree that Ancestry.com's newspaper subscription isn't the most useful
search vehicle, especially since they don't have any Pittsburgh papers
But, FWIW, here's my story.
I already had the ancestry census and basic record subscription, so adding
the newspaper feature was comparatively low cost. Even so I hesitated, since
my available funds for genealogy are really limited.
For more than 20 years I have been chasing the family story that my
Pittsburgh-born great great uncle, John ERDLEN, was found lying dead in a
field with his throat cut from ear to ear, and it was ruled a suicide.
ERDLEN is a very rare surname. All the ones listed in Allegheny Co. today
are close relatives of mine. I had exhausted census records, obituary
searches, visits to Allegheny Co. courthouse, cemetery searches, family
interviews, bulletin boards, you name it. My mother and her sister thought
that the man had been found near Somerset, PA, and even though I couldn't
figure out what he would have been doing there, I had run that lead to the
ground more than once. I found a John Erdlen in Beaver Co. in 1920 - wrong
age, birthplace, etc. I found a John Erdlen in Somerset Co. in 1930, but
none of the facts seemed to fit. It seemed that the death occurred around
1930 - no help from Vital Stats.
So, on the day I purchased my newspaper subscription, I keyed in "ERDLEN"
and found a few hits. Most of them were not surprises to me - there was a
famous photographer from Colorado, and an early newspaperman named ERDLEN.
But there was one hit from the Helena, Montana newspaper in Nov. 1932. I
figured it was probably the photographer.
I don't have high speed internet access, and one thing I will say is that
these newspapers take forever to load via phone line. But, up it came, and
the article headline said, "Series of Murders on Farm Suspected."
I realized that there must not have been too much news in Helena that week,
because this was an article that they had picked up via the AP newswire from
Meyersdale, Penn. And there was the story! It's really much more gruesome
than my mother or her sister remembered, and something certainly does seem
to have been rotten in Denmark - or Meyersdale. A farm hand's dismembered
and decapitated body was found in a ravine on the farm Erdlen owned. [Still
can't figure out why he was in Somerset Co.] Erdlen, who was 72 years old,
WAS found in a field, with his throat cut. But somehow, the coroner decided
that it was the 72 year old Erdlen who killed the farm hand and mutilated
the corpse; and then killed himself by slashing his own throat. The
housekeeper and another farmhand were missing, and instead of suspecting
either of them, the police were assuming that Erdlen must have killed them
as well, and were looking for additional bodies.
I can't wait to get back to Somerset Co. now that I have some real data. And
I have to think that I would NEVER have found this event without the
So for me, even if I never find another connection with my year's newspaper
subscription, I'm a happy camper.
|Re: [ALL] Ancestry newspapers, etc. by "adamslab" <>|