52 Documents in 52 Weeks #49 – Daniel Plant’s Employment

Far left, Nellie and Daniel Plant

Person of Interest: Daniel W. Plant
Relationship: Husband of my great grandaunt Nellie Garfield Hunt


Source Citation: “Mr. Daniel Plant,” employment announcement, New Jersey Herald, 17 September 1908, p. 8, col. 1; Bound newspaper stacks, Sussex County Historical Society, Newton, New Jersey.


Document Description: This is a photo of a newspaper article appearing in a local Sussex County, New Jersey, newspaper. My father took a picture for me and the original newspaper is stored in the bound newspaper stacks in the Sussex County Historical Society on 82 Main Street in Newton, New Jersey. Rather than photo copy an unwieldy bound newspaper volume, he took a digital photo to send to me. The quality is much better and the fragile newspaper wasn’t further manhandled at the copy machine.


Document Scan/Transcription: Mr. Daniel Plant has severed his connections with the meat market and taken a position as agent of the L. & H. R. Railroad at Great Meadows. Daniel is a trustworthy, sober, industrious young man, just the kind railroad men are looking after and want to employ.


Analysis: I love this short little article. It says so much about Daniel and his employment opportunities with the railroad. I like that they actually list the fine qualities he possessed and that these qualities were the type that the railroad was looking for. In a bit of what seems like foreshadowing, the word “severed” is used in this article.

It also provides little tidbits to dig into and questions to answer.

  • Was the meat market well-known enough that the newspaper didn’t need to name it? Answer: Needs investigation.
  • What is the full name of the L. & H. R. Railroad? Answer: Lehigh and Hudson River Railroad. For some great history on this now defunct railroad, check out railfan Marty Feldner’s page at the Lehigh and Hudson River Railway.
  • What are the job responsibilities of an agent of the railroad? Answer: Needs investigation.
  • How young is Daniel? Answer: In 1908, at the time of this employment change, Daniel was 18.
  • Was sobriety an issue in Sussex County around the turn of the century? Why is this particular quality pointed out? Answer: Needs investigation.
  • Where is Great Meadows in location to Lafayette, New Jersey? Answer: About 25 miles southwest of Lafayette and about 18 miles southwest of Newton.

This is an original record as it’s an unedited photo of the actual article that ran in the newspaper. It is undetermined information in that you can’t really figure out who is the informant. Did his proud family submit the information, did a newspaper reporter talk to Daniel himself, or did the information come from a railroad representative? It is direct evidence in that it answers the question, “What did Daniel Plant, of Sussex County, New Jersey, do for a living in 1908?” It is indirect evidence in that you can’t determine the answer to the question, “How old was Daniel Plant, of Sussex County, New Jersey, when he became employed by the L. & H. R. Railroad?” Other evidence must be combined with this article in order to answer that question.

There are also a few other articles found in local newspapers about Daniel and the railroad in the following years. We learn that in 1910 Daniel lost a finger on his right hand while working. He was still with the railroad but is now at the Lackawanna station in Branchville Junction, which may or may not be part of the L. & H. R. Railroad.[1]

In 1915, we learn that he had been promoted to baggage-master at the passenger depot in Newton and that he had succeeded John McKee who had resigned.[2]

CONCLUSION

These are great examples of what you can find in the newspapers about the social lives of family members. In the pre-Facebook era, this was one way for the people to keep in touch with what might be happening in their towns. Short, little snippets of your ancestor’s lives could be waiting for you to find in the local and neighborhood newspapers.


[1] Daniel Plant,” news article, Sussex Register, 14 April 1910, p. 5, col. 3; Bound newspaper stacks, Sussex County Historical Society, Newton, New Jersey.
[2] “Daniel Plant, of Andover,” employment announcement, Sussex Register, 23 September 1915; Bound newspaper stacks, Sussex County Historical Society, Newton, New Jersey.

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