Unlocking History's Mysteries One Story At A Time

The Daily Dig

Simple curiosity and a little bit of help from a stranger can unlock history's mysteries.

Published on: February 15, 2013

[Back-story: We get many visitors into the Wallaces Farmer to say hello. Some just want to stop and say hello, others will talk about a potential story and some will be on a quest for a story written by a friend or family member. Since we have archives that date back to the very first publication of Wallaces Farmer in 1898, many people come in to look through them. My office is adjacent from where our archives are kept. I usually keep to myself as I am always on a deadline working online copy. Except for this particular day]

So this older gentleman, who flew in from Utah earlier in the week, came into the office this morning on a quest to find information regarding his grandfather, Lynford James Haynes (LJH). LJH was supposedly an editor at Wallaces Farmer around 1920-1928 before being called to the Department of Agriculture to work for Henry C. Wallace.

The page found written by L J Haynes.
The page found written by L J Haynes.

I went about my morning and soon approached lunch. I ran a few errands and came back to eat – as I was preparing my lunch I started talking to this man. He told me about his search – he came from Utah a few days ago and was leaving Saturday. He found the address of where his grandfather lived, but the house had been torn down. He was hoping to find anything with a byline on it that his grandfather may have written while at Wallaces Farmer. After sharing stories about his family, and about my passion for genealogy, I went back to my office.

I couldn't get it out of my head about the story I just heard – I thought surely he had exhausted all options. I found myself Googling his grandfather's name.  After about the third search phrase I tried, something struck my eye. A book titled, "The Agricultural Index 1916-1918" that not only had his grandfather's name but also the name of the magazine and some numbers. I printed off a copy of this and gave it to the man. He looked at it and said, this was the first documentation that he has found of his grandfather's. So I suggested that we look at the April 27, 1917 volume. I go back to work and leave him at it.

The reference to the book "The Agricultural Index 1916-198" that I found on a recent Google search.
The reference to the book "The Agricultural Index 1916-198" that I found on a recent Google search.

About 20 minutes later, this man comes walking into my office with tears in his eyes. He said well I looked up that date and this is what I turned to. I looked over and saw a full page story with the byline, L.J. Hayens. I was lost for words as I was happy he found something from his grandfather, all I could do was clap my hadns. We sat there for a brief minute both lost for words.

He had made the trip from Utah in hopes of finding something. He spent all day searching and looking through volumes of archived magazine issues. He was packing things up when I found that reference. After searching further into the volume, that was the only article by his grandfather that he could find.

He packed up and called it a successful day. And one more story will get to be told.