You would think that with history, things would be set in stone. I mean, history’s happened so the facts of what happened are there for everyone to see. That should make my job as a writer who likes historical topics easy.
Maybe. Maybe not.
I’ve run into two instances recently that have both frustrated me and intrigued me because they are a bit of a mystery.
This morning I’ve been culling through the internet, my research library and making calls to try and find out how a baseball league, that by all accounts ceased playing in 1930, was still competing in 1934. I went through an article I had from my idea folder and made notes about the season opening for the Chambersburg Maroons in the Blue Ridge League in 1934. I took the specifics of the event from the article and then started looking for background information on the team and league.
To my surprise, the league ceased operation in 1930. Every source I checked (2 books, some baseball internet sites, a newspaper sports editor) all tell me the same thing. The Blue Ridge League ended in 1930.
So how could the team be playing in 1934 and still have the original league teams in three states?
Now I’m curious. I’ve sent out some e-mails and made additional calls. Hopefully, someone will get back to me and we can track down what happened.
In the second instance, I’ve been working on a new book project about a small Western Maryland coal mining town. I wanted to put this project off because of timing issues with a couple of other projects, but it keeps pulling me back.
With this story, the facts weren’t that hard to get. The story my book is built around made national news for a couple of weeks. I’ve found plenty of stories, though many of them are simply wire stories that were reprinted. Finding pictures that ran in the newspapers will be impossible. Of the six papers I called, only one held out any hope of having pictures from 1949. The others said they had gotten rid of them long ago or just can’t find them.
The interested part with this story has been trying to find details about the events. With the newspapers that did original reporting thoroughly checked, I’m now trying to find people who were alive and living in the town then. This was 62 years ago in a town of 200 residents that is now a ghost town.
Most of them are dead, but I have tracked down a few people. They were youngsters at the time of the events I’m writing about so their memories aren’t that great about what happened. Still, they have given me some additional details and even some leads. My hope is that one of their parents kept a journal that will have some information.
So I keep digging, connecting dots and wondering why some people think history is boring.