I have spent many hours reading newspapers at the Barrington Library (located in Barrington, IL). The library has the local Barrington paper on microfilm beginning in 1890. It has been a wealth of information over the years and has helped flesh out the Schwemm and Pahlke family trees.
Poison at a Children's Party
Newspaper research helps us learn when, where and how our ancestors lived their daily lives making them more real to us. They become more than just a group of vital statistics. They become members of the family who suffered through family tragedy, celebrated marriages, graduations and birthdays. Some even broke the law!
During my research I found that children's parties were quite often front page news. In the March 7th edition of the Barrington Review there were multiple parties! Here is a clipping from a party my great uncle Fred Schwemm attended.
Barrington Review - March 7, 1896 pg 1
Parties Held During the Week
Miss Homuth's Party
Monday evening about twenty of Miss Rose Homuth's friends assembled at the home of her parents, Mr. and Mrs. H. Homuth to help her celebrate her birthday. Games of various kinds kept those present in a jolly mood until a late hour. "Poison," "I'll Bring Back What I Borrowed," "Keep House," "Fruit Basket," "Roll the Platter," and other games were played. At 10:30 o'clock a dainty lunch was served, girls choosing partners. A most pleasant time was spent by all. Among those present were:
Misses Tillie Hobein, Louisa Sadlic, Emma Schultz, Martha Groff, Maud Cady, Lillie Smith, Ella Homuth, Laura Homuth and Edna Homuth.
E. Weiseman, H. Robertson, Ed Groff, Charlie Schultz, Chas. Schwemm, Walter Homuth, Fred Schwemm, Reuban Homuth, Wilbert Smith and Mr. and Mrs. E. Hachmeister.
POISON is a children's game? While unusual, since it was in the paper I assumed that it was a harmless game which needed to be renamed. After I transcribed the newspaper article into my database I did not think much more of it.
Free Books and my eReader
Today while eating lunch I was browsing for free books on Amazon.com for my Kindle and came across Games for the Playground, Home, School and Gymnasium by Jessie H. Bancroft. Since the copyright was 1909 it was FREE so I downloaded it. I wondered if it would have a reference to the game "Poison" and it did! Poison is a variation on the game of Tag, quite harmless and not deadly. I searched Google Books and it is also available there. I also found a book titled "What Shall We Do Now" which contains 500 games and pastimes written in 1907 by Dorothy Canfield.
Over the past few years I have downloaded many free books from Google Books, Barnes and Noble Online and Amazon. The great thing is that I can read them on my computer, my eReader or print out pages of interest to read or highlight.
I have been loading my Kindle with all types of free books. I have histories written at the turn of the century, fairy tales from countries of my ancestors origin and a popular 30 volume series featuring Ruth Fielding. When my grandmother died I came into possesion of a Ruth Fielding book - so I now have a complete series. Just think, my grandmother may have read them!
Over Labor Day I am going to be in Minneasota with Chuck's extended family, I may teach the kids how to play Poison, now that I know the rules of the game.