I research in some capacity just about every day. Most of the time I don't find anything. I do more ruling out of theories and resources than anything. I learned from watching crime shows that even a lack of evidence is evidence. Maybe that is why I like research. Even the negative result tells you something and eventually proves useful. Over the last few weeks I have discovered a few interesting "one-off" items that I really want to share, but they don't warrant a full blown blog post.
These stories can get a bit long and we all have busy lives and schedules. Who has time to read so many words, right? With you all in mind I am introducing a shorter, more digestible blog format, called Genealogy Bites. I am sure that name isn't original. I'm going to use it anyways. It was a long day at work and I can't think of anything more creative right now.
So here we go....
Today I was poking around on the Missouri Digital Heritage website. The site is old. It still lists John Ashcroft as the Missouri Secretary of State. Honestly, it is hard to use. The search feature is straight out of the 90's. Imagine the Ask Jeeves layout but without the welcoming little butler. I have used this site to find Birth and Death records for a lot of the Alberti family. It's great to have those records online and free. What I have never done before is execute a plain old search for any of the family names.
Today I entered "Albert Alberti" in the search field and B-I-N-G-O!
The first results was a call number for a book from the Missouri Valley Special Collections Room. Also known as my version of heaven. This room sits at the top of the 10th Street library in downtown KC. It's a small room, but it is packed full of Kansas City's little known histories. I handed over my Special Researcher card and waited patiently for the archival librarian to pull my book out of the back stacks. I get really excited when they go back there to retrieve by book!
The book was titled: Kansas City In Caricature, published in 1912 by a group of newspaper cartoon artists from the Kansas City Star, The KC Journal and the KC Post. It's pages are filled with quirky little cartoon versions of Kansas City's business elite.
On page 65 was our very own Albert Alberti, Superintendent of Metropolitan Life Insurance. Even in cartoon version it is unmistakably him. The artist captured his stern gaze, strong jawline and pomade parted hair to perfection. I sat there, all alone, giggling over the contents of a 106 year old book...
I was tickled for so many reasons. One, because this is such a cool find. It is almost as good as the horsewhipping story. Two, because it looks JUST like him and for a man who I always assumed took himself very seriously, this was a relief to discover. He was able to laugh at himself! Perhaps I got my self deprecating tendencies from him?
Every person featured in this book provided a portrait for the cartoon artist to work from. It was all in good fun. I imagine this as the 20th century version of a comedy roast.
Our ancestor was in great company among these pages. Snuggled up with the likes of Tom Pendergast and JC Nichols. We might not be Italian royalty just yet, but we are certainly descendants of Kansas City's royal founding family.