Story of a lost child yields some information of interest to us.

Hope of Finding Boy Alive Faint

(By Associated Press)
Eureka, Calif., Jan. 29– Nearly 200 men searched the desolate mountain wilderness 25 miles east of here today in the faint hope of finding a two-year old boy alive after two bitter-cold nights.
Robert McGaughey Jr., disappeared at 9 a.m. Saturday.
The area is part of the Trinity national forest and one of the wildest sections of California.  The mountain lion is the chief predatory animal.

A longer version of the story says, “A search party tramped through the rugged country in a fruitless hunt yesterday.” It also said, “… McGaughey’s ranchers (illegible) child about the same age … two years ago at their cabin … Bald mountain country.

Boy Found in Wilds

Eureka, Calif., (AP) – Two-year-old Robert McGaughey, Jr., was found alive today in the desolate Bald mountain country 25 miles east of here after being lost for more than 50 hours.

So why is this story of interest to us?

Image27Earlier this week, I found part the longer version of this story in very brittle newspaper fragments on the underside of 1×12 roughcut  pine roof decking while doing some renovations.  The older part of our home was moved here at some point from down in the valley.

I hoped that this fragment of newspaper or one of the others might give a clue about the minimum age of the house.

My first internet searches were associated with a different fragment that talked about a Lieutenant Cruz being sentenced.  Other words in the fragment included revolt, Cedillo, Potosi state and Cardenas.  From that little bit, I found information a failed revolt by a governor of one of the states in Mexico: “In 1938 President Cárdenas crushed the last significant regional revolt, which was led Captureby Saturnino Cedillo in San Luis Potosi.” That fragment, then, was from some time after 1938, since it talked about the sentencing of a participant in the revolt.

The lost child fragment was the subject of my second search attempt.

The first article,at the top of the page and on the right, is from the Benton Harbor News Palladium of Monday, January 29, 1940. (Click on images to view larger versions.)

The article telling of the boy being found alive is from the January 1, 1940 Daily Iowan.

Daily Iowan 1940-01-30So, now we know our house was very likely built some time before 1940.

But why would newspaper be put on the underside of roof decking?

On a hunch, I searched for temperature information for our area for the month of January.  It turns out that the mean January temperature was 12 to 15°F colder in 1940 than most of the other years on record.  In fact, it was the second coldest January for this area on record.

My conjecture is that whoever lived in this house that year was trying to to seal drafts.  The house wasn’t insulated.  We had the first insulation blown in to the walls and the attic in the early 1980s after a brutally cold winter – and that winter’s mean temperature was several degrees above that of 1940.

All of this information was accessed from home, sitting in a part of our house that was down in town during the Great Depression – and probably built before the hard times came.

Pretty cool, hmmm?


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