Who Was New Castle’s Oldest Resident in 1925?

Just who was New Castle, Pennsylvania’s oldest resident in 1925? It was none other than my 3rd great grandmother Esther Callahan Rogan. Grandma Rogan was born in Liverpool, England on April 23, 1832 and arrived in the United States in 1851. After living in New York and briefly in Ontario, she was living in New Castle by 1870 with her husband James and children. Many of her later birthdays, including her 84th and 90th, were featured in the New Castle News. The blurb below, written as an answer to a newspaper trivia question, tells us that 93 year old Esther Rogan of 467 Blaine Street is the ‘most aged’ lady or gentleman in the city.

Grandma Esther died in New Castle February 19, 1927 at the age of 94.

“Are You Familiar With Your City?”, New Castle [PA] News, 11 Jun 1925, page 2, col 5; online index and digital image, Newspapers.com (http://www.newspapers.com : accessed 6 Jan 2016), Newspaper Archives, 1700s-2000s.

Newspapers.Com Is Newest Tool In My Toolkit!

I’ve been pretty quiet on the blog lately, but that’s because my genealogy research has been moving along at full steam and I can’t find the time to write! I recently obtained a subscription to Newspapers.com and have spent countless hours searching their vast archive of newspapers. Included in that archive are over 100 years of New Castle, Pennsylvania papers and several decades of East Liverpool, Ohio papers. As my paternal family spent many years in or around those two cities, I’m finding great articles covering births, deaths, baptisms, birthday parties and weddings. The Groucutts, in particular, were a very well written about family.
For the last two years, I maintained a subscription to GenealogyBank.com. GenealogyBank is also a newspaper archive site but had very little material for the regions of the country where my ancestors lived. In fact, in going through my saved records, I can find only two GenealogyBank articles of any use. Meanwhile, I searched for the surname ‘Groucutt’ and located almost 525 records in Pennsylvania newspapers alone. Most of those are from New Castle and almost exclusively the mentions belong to my ancestors. 

Over the next few months, I’ll try and do a regular feature with some of the newspaper articles I’ve located. Some include content that would never pass muster in today’s news. Thanks to modern journalistic standards and medical privacy laws (such as HIPAA), I doubt any legitimate newspaper would publish an article detailing a nervous breakdown of someone, let alone someone who is 14 years old as Mary Groucutt was when this article was published:

“Rogan Groucutt Wedding, October 22”, New Castle [PA] News, 13 Oct 1913, page 3; online index and digital image, Newspapers.com (http://www.newspapers.com : accessed 24 Nov 2014), Newspaper Archives, 1700s-2000s.

“Ms. Annie Connor”, New Castle [PA] Weekly Herald, 1 Jun 1904, page 2; online index and digital image, Newspapers.com (http://www.newspapers.com : accessed 24 Nov 2014), Newspaper Archives, 1700s-2000s.

“Social News”, New Castle [PA] News, 6 Apr 1914, page 3; online index and digital image, Newspapers.com (http://www.newspapers.com : accessed 24 Nov 2014), Newspaper Archives, 1700s-2000s.

Death Certificate of James A. Rogan

My 2nd great grandfather James Rogan died on 21 April 1938 at 78 years of age. His death certificate tells a lot about both how he lived and how he died. He was born in Aurora, New York to James Rogan and Esther Callahan. He was a second generation American, as both his father and mother were born in Ireland. His primary occupation was in the steel mills, although what he actually did is not discernible.
The last months of his life were no doubt difficult both for him and his family. He suffered a serious fall on 10 January 1938, which led to a fracture of his right femur (thighbone). The femur is the largest bone in the human body, and it takes significant force to break. Breaks of the femur and the hip to which it connects can have significantly detrimental effects to the lifespan of the elderly, who suddenly lose all mobility. About 10% of people who break their hip die within the first 30 days. That number increases dramatically if there are other complications, including pneumonia, heart trouble, or another acute medical problem. In James’s case, he suffered a pulmonary embolism, no doubt brought on in part by his sudden immobility.
At the time of his death, he was being cared for at Saint Elizabeth’s Hospital in Youngstown but was previously living in the home of Catherine Rogan. His final arrangements were handled by D. A. McVean in Youngstown, long considered the Lowry family funeral home. However, he was a long time resident of New Castle, Pennsylvania, and that is where he is buried.

Click to enlarge.

“Ohio, Deaths, 1908-1953,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-21757-24359-29?cc=1307272 : accessed 09 Sep 2014), James Rogan, 1938; citing Youngstown, Mahoning, Ohio, reference fn 24019; FHL microfilm 2023561.

Why You Shouldn’t Trust the Ancestry.com Indexer

When the 1940 U.S. census records were released, Ancestry.com paid some folks a lot of money to transcribe and index them, which would allow average Joe’s like to me to go in and find people with a simple keyword search. I appreciate that these indexers were faced with records for millions of people to index and handwriting that could be atrocious, but these indexers sucked at their job.

I introduce for the prosecution Exhibit A: the 1940 Census of Mercedes Rogan Clark and her husband John.

In 1940, one of the questions asked by the enumerator is where the person lived in 1935. The objective of the question was to capture additional changes to information from the 1930 census. And how did the indexer transcribe the answer to that question asked of Mercedes: Pen Argyl, Molesmer, Ohio.

I’m not a geography whiz, but I know a few things. Pen Argyl is in Pennsylvania, not Ohio, and Molesmer is a fictitious place. What is clear to me is that the line reads, ‘Youngstown, Mahoning, Ohio.’

1940 U.S. Federal Census, Lawrence County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Enumeration District 37-19, Sheet 16B. Clark, Charles; digital image, Ancestry.com (link), accessed 29 January 2013), citing National Archives microfilm publication Roll T627 3537.