Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Don't throw away your history!

I found a discarded envelop addressed to my Great-grandfather, Henry Christian Overson (b. 1868, d. 1947) hiding in the bottom of a seemingly empty box. It was addressed to
Mr. H. C. Overson, Gen. Supt.
Neban Light &. Power Co.
St. Johns, Ariz.
Now, this envelope would undoubtedly be classified as junk. In our house, it would have long ago been relegated to the circular file (trash can). But somehow, this piece of dietris has escaped the landfill and ended up in a box in some of my documents.

However useless this one small envelope would have been considered then and now, it has opened up a whole new line of inquiry. What was the "Neban Light & Power Co.?" This is the first time in my life I have ever seen that name in print.

The point here is simple. Even the seemingly insignificant pieces of information from the past may open up a whole new level of inquiry. Finding an envelope addressed to one of your ancestors may solve an entire area of research, or as in this case, open up an entirely new area of research never before imagined.

In this case, this envelope's mystery was quickly resolved. The name of the power company was obviously misspelled. Why was the name misspelled? Simple, my ancestors and their neighbors would always have used either a Biblical or Book of Mormon name for their organizations. After a short search, I found the following name for the company in the St. Johns Herald for October 11, 1917, Nebo Electric Light &. Power Company.

It turns out that the Nebo Electric Light and Power Company was established by my Step-grandfather, David King Udall with the help of John P. Rothlisbergeer in 1912. See David K. Udall Career Chronology. I also found the documents establishing the Nebo Electric Light and Power Company:

American Telephone and Telegraph Company. Commission Leaflets; Recent Commission Orders, Rulings and Decisions from the Following States. 1900.

Why is this important? Something like this may just be the clue you need to find your ancestor or explain a mystery. See, hoarders aren't all bad. (just kidding). By the way, further searches in the St. Johns Herald have a lot more information. Well, for example, I found that Henry Chistian Overson's younger brother, Ove Ephraim Overson, had a company called the Northern Arizona Real Estate and Investment Co. Although, I cannot fully explain the irony of this entry here in a blog post, Ove E. Overson wanted to sell 2000 acres of land in Apache County! Those who are very familiar with our family may recognize this connection. A hundred years later, we are still trying to sell 2000 acres of land in Apache County (not the same land, I hope).  See

On that same page is the entire Articles of Incorporation for the Nebo Electric Light and Power Company.

This entry also points up the extremely valuable resource of local small-town newspapers for genealogical information.

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