Newspaper stories from the 1830s

Researching old newspapers is fascinating, and the snippets one finds can send you on time-consuming side-trips.

My husband’s 2X great-grandparents, Michael and Ann (Gallagher) Rowan, brought their young family to America from Foxford, County Mayo, in 1846. The surname had been spelled “Ruane” in Ireland.

I recently queried Findmypast’s Irish newspaper collection for “Ruane” and “Foxford.” Here’s one result:

Dublin Observer, April 27, 1833

Sunday about three o’clock, the body of a woman named Mary Ruane was discovered floating on the river Moy, near Foxford. She had been missing since the night of 28th ult., at which time she left her house, at an unseasonable hour, but whether her drowning was premeditated or accidental, has not yet been ascertained. This day a Coroner’s Inquest will be held on the body in Foxford. — Ballina Impartial

Here’s what I found when I queried “Gallagher” and “Foxford”:

Clonmel Herald, June 4, 1834

On Sunday last at Meelick, near Foxford, county Mayo, Laurence Gallagher was engaged in drying malt, attended by two of his little children, a boy and a girl. By some accident the kiln fell in, and the father and children fell into the flames. All were so dreadfully burned that the little girl died immediately on being taken out — the boy the next morning — and no hopes entertained of the father’s recovery.

What sad stories! Clearly newspapers have always reported the sensational over the mundane.

Michael Ruane/Rowan was born about 1790, his wife Ann about 1804.  Mary Ruane and Laurence Gallagher were their contemporaries. Siblings? Cousins? We will likely never know.

Nonetheless the stories provided a small lesson in 19th century newspaper customs regarding days and dates. “Sunday last” is self-explanatory.

By googling I discovered that “ult.” is the abbreviation for the Latin “ultimo,” which means “of the last month.” Further, according to the sources I found, “inst.” is the abbreviation for “instant,” meaning “of the current month.” “Prox.” is short for “proximo,”
which means “next month.” Good to know.

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