I recently completed a free trial of Newspapers.com. I wasn’t sure what I’d find, if anything, because the limitations of optical character recognition (OCR) technology make searching for my Horn/Horne family challenging. So often OCR sees “Horne” as “Home.” And searching for “Horn” brings up thousands of mentions of brass instruments.
I saw the best results when forming very specific queries. Their collection included The News-Star (Monroe, Louisiana) for the range in which my own engagement and marriage announcements were published. Searching for “Jessica Horne” in the correct date range did not locate the articles — but as soon as I included “Collins” I was staring at my bridal portrait from 2006!
To be fair to Newspapers.com, this OCR frustration isn’t unique to their service. I have the same problem with NewspaperArchive, Adobe PDF Reader, and Google books. If OCR technology improved — or the printed source materials had just a tad more space between the R and N — how many more articles would I find for my Horn/Horne family?
I was excited to find a mention of my elusive great-grandfather John Thomas Horne in the November 12, 1898, edition of The Weekly Democrat-Times (Greenville, Mississippi). It’s a printed petition for a liquor license. (Because it appeared in a long, skinny column, I’ve only clipped to the portion where John Thomas’s name appears. Send me a message if you’d like the whole piece.) I’ve transcribed the upper portion below:
Petition for Liquor License.
To the Honorable Board of Supervisors of Washington county:
We, the undersigned, qualified electors of District No. 5 in said county and State, hereby petition your honorable body to grant unt
WILLIAM RICHARD EVERETT
a resident of said district, a license to sell vinous, spiritous, alcoholic, malt and intoxicating liquors in less quantities than one gallon, in a house to be erected on J. B. Sparks’ place on Jackson’s Bayou, in said District, County, and State, and we hereby recommend William Richard Everett to be of good reputation and sober and suitable person to receive such license and hereby certify him to be a resident of said District No. 5, and of good reputation; and your petitioners will ever pray.¹