My boss is fond of saying that every box at the National Archives contains a story. And it’s true – some of them are pretty boring but some of them are pretty exciting. I, on the other hand, am fond of pointing out that you never know who you’ll meet in the records. One day I’ll tell you about the day I ran into Lizzie Borden. And boy did she have an ax to grind.
My favorite box – make that file – in the whole entire National Archives is a great example of people I never expected to meet when I opened the folder. At first, I just thought I was going to find a letter written by the U.S. Marshall in Arizona about pesky cowboys and disturbances at a little place called Tombstone and some guys named Earp who helped to restore order. I expected that – it was the whole reason I was in the file in the first place. But then I ran into General Sherman – that General Sherman – who sent a lengthy telegram complaining about cowboys – everybody hated on cowboys back in the day. Last but not least, I met a grocer in Prescott, Arizona named Morris Goldwater who wrote a letter about a lawsuit he was involved in. Morris’ nephew Barry would eventually become the most famous Goldwater Republican ever.
You just never know who you’ll meet – or run into – in the records.
That’s what happened when I was looking at the manifest for the ship that brought the other Ludwig Wissmann to America in 1923. Ludwig’s on Line 24. But it was Line 7 that caught my eye.
Did I run into someone else I knew in the records?