Fun with Google Maps

I am a huge fan of the writer, Bill Bryson.  He used to write primarily hilarious travel books.  However, he seems to be interested in EVERYTHING now , and therefore has to write about everything.  I just recently finished his most recent book, At Home.  In this book he talks about history, but using the things that you find in your home.

A little, seemingly insignificant event happened to me in college that really made me more interested in houses and the histories within them.  I used to live in an off-campus house when I went to school at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana.  I LOVED my house.  It was 5 bedrooms, hardwood floors, dining room, garage (without functional doors, but a garage nonetheless), and a small yard.  I had great roommates too.  I have nothing but fond memories of my time there.  One of my roommates my senior year was dating a fellow named Zack (whom she eventually married).  The two of them were visiting with some of Zack’s family one day when Zack’s grandfather was asking her about college life.  When he found out she was living off campus, he asked her where abouts.  She told him it was south of town.  He said, “Oh!  I used to live south of town.  What street?”  She said, “2nd and Fess.”  He said, “Wow!  That’s near where I grew up!  I grew up ON Fess!”  He asked her what the address was and she told him his old address!  We were living in Zack’s grandfather’s house!  WHAT?!

That one experience left me so interested in the history, not only of our own home, but of homes in general.  I wonder what life was like for Zack’s grandfather in Bloomington in the 1930s.  I can’t even imagine.  I am guessing there were less couches on front porches.  I am guessing there was much less frisbee played down the middle of the street in the summertime.

So one of the things about genealogy that has me most interested is using Google Maps to see where my ancestors are from.  Using the census records (usually starting in 1900) on Ancestry.com you can find the addresses to anyone you’re seeking.  One problem I have come upon is that there are never addresses for farms (mostly because there weren’t really addresses for them).  Sometimes you can work out a nearby intersection, but that’s about it.

It’s interesting to see what the landscape looks like.  Even if it’s obvious that the home is no long on the property, you see their proximity to other places within a short walk.  Streetview, in Google Maps, has made it possible to even see what the exact home looks like from the front.  Even if some of the houses addresses may not be lined up EXACTLY with the homes, you can generally get the feel of the street.

Some homes are amazing, glowing in the sun on tree-lined streets.  Some houses, as I have stated in an earlier post, look like total crack dens.  Some houses look like they were probably once amazing…and are now homes to the animals and intravenous drug users, hiding from the cops.

I have included here some of my favorites so far.

My Fam

1910 Home of Bascom Taylor Lacey at 1559 Washington Street in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

This is the home of my great great great grandfather, Bascom Taylor Lacey.  Here is an example of a time when I was like, “I wonder if there’s any way to prove that I should have inherited his money.”  Amazing house, right?  And that name….Bascom Taylor Lacey.  A man with that name SHOULD live in that house.  A fun little sidenote about B.T.  (a nickname he often used), he was the President of the Green Ridge Club, which was a cycling club in the Scranton, PA area.  I learned recently from American Pickers that biking was a rich person’s hobby back in the early 1900s.  Bikes were VERY expensive.  Very.

The parking lot for this theatre seems to have taken over my great great uncle's home.

So, I have a great great uncle named Allison Kinsley.  It took me quite awhile to come to the realization that this man was actually a man.  Allison?  Yeah, he was a guy.  He moved to Denver, far far from the rest of my Kinsley family in Pennsylvania and New England.  He lived here in 1920 (I don’t know till when because I still don’t have a death date for him) and the Esquire didn’t open till 1927.  It was redone in the 1960s, as you can tell by its ugly boxiness.  But how about that Old Timey font on the front!  Capitol Hill is supposed to be one of the cooler and trendier ‘hoods in all of Denver.  I’m proud of my Uncle Allison.

Tucson home where my great grandparents lived.

You may be thinking, “Are those cacti in the front yard?”  That’s what I was thinking, and yes…yes, they are.  This is the house (or at least right next to the house) where my great great grandparents John Darl and Eva (Hill) Munn, moved in their middle life after their kids had grown.  They ended up moving back to Ohio later in their lives, but they spent quite awhile in Arizona when there was still not much going on there.

Andrew’s Fam

East 12th Street in Indianapolis, Indiana. There is really a house behind this.

When we were growing up we lived in a neighborhood for a few years where there existed an urban legend of a man.  His name was Weedy Man.  We called him that because he lived in a house that was so surrounded by weeds and foliage that you truly could not even see it.  When I looked this house of Andrew’s great great grandmother, Fannie (Galloway) Bastion Johnson, I was brought back to my childhood of terrifying neighborhood characters.  It looks like it was quite a large house and was probably quite lovely in 1920.  It is currently a hot mess.  This neighborhood is known for being in the middle of Sketchyville.

2021 Nowland Avenue - The home of many generations of Andrew's grandmother's family.

This house, on the near NE side of Indianapolis is where Andrew’s grandmother lived as a child.  I saw a picture of what this house looked like back then and wish I had it to post along with all this.

Friends’ Fams

4054 Saint Ferdinand Ave in St. Louis, Missouri. This was the home of Mary Margaret Hardin in 1930.

The one on the left is the home of my friend Ragin’ Nortron’s great grandmother.  You may remember a story I recently posted about Ragin’ and his family in Wabash, Indiana.  Much of his family is also from the St. Louis area.  This was one of my favorites.  You can tell that these houses were probably amazing when they were built and before they started becoming vacant lots.  I LOVE that this home still has shards of glass sitting in the frames.  I can just imagine the exciting adventures that go on behind those empty window frames.

This used to be a house.

As we can see from the steps, this used to be a house, and was most likely the house of Andrew Brosman in 1930.  He was the great grandfather of my friend C-Dogg.  He only lived for a very short time in Indianapolis, but when he did he was located at this home at 2546 N. Harding Street.  It was probably a great place to live then, within a short walk of Riverside Park.

Illustration of Riverside Park from an old postcard.

I am a traveling fiend, and sometimes I feel like Google maps lets me take little trips to the places where my family comes from without ever leaving this great. comfy, green chair.

Any genealogists out there enjoy this little mini-hobby as well?  Anyone have another fabulous use for Google Maps?

Old Timey Pictures

I have one other friend who is really into genealogy.  We’ll call her J-Wow.  Her love for geriatric hobbies goes well beyond my own.  She also loves to knit!  She even owns a spinning wheel!  (what??)  Luckily this friend is in town, and sometimes it’s nice to have someone with me to go hunting for gravestones, or scavenge through the state library.  She is usually up for such adventures.  In fact, she has recently gotten very interested in old pictures.  Not just her own, you see.  But everyone’s.  I think this is fabulous.

J-Wow was talking the other day about this new focus of hers, and how she was really getting into her own family photos.  I, on the other hand, was lamenting my total lack of any family photos.  I mean, don’t get me wrong, my mom kept scrapbooks like a champion, but if you’d look at the shelves of pictures you would think that nothing had happened before she was born.  I would LOVE to discover some rare tin-type of my great-great uncle in his army blues.  So yeah, I’m a little jealous.

J-Wow’s plan is really great though.  She is going to collect photos that are rare and in decent conditions, saving them from the trash cans they will surely find soon, and post them on the internet for family members to find.  This will be a much easier process with any names on the back, or information in general.  I think she is doing an interesting and helpful thing for those of us out there who have NO idea what our family members looked like.

So here’s my next and final thought.

I love old timey pictures, but sometimes old timey people creep me out.

This photo of Daniel Heaton (d.1863), is located in the family history at the Indiana State Library.

Case in point: Andrew’s great great great great uncle Daniel Heaton.  Creepy, right? Eek.

Friends for Generations

We have some really good friends.  I am one of those people who when I find a good friend, I hold on to them.  What I have learned recently was one of the most adorable things I have ever seen, and it involves my husband and his friend.

So I LOVE getting people excited about genealogy, although it may be sort of a selfish thing.  I MIGHT automatically assume people will think less of me if they know that I’m interested in such a geriatric hobby, so I try to make it sound REALLY cool and hip.  However, when I get people excited I will often hear, “Well, let me know if you have time to work on my tree.  That would be cool.” And honestly, I kind of like it.  I love looking into other people’s histories, almost as much as my own, only because they are so different.  My friends, C-Dogg B-Dizzle and husband Ragin’ Nortron (names have been changed to protect the innocent), are two friends whose trees I am working on.  I must say, it is a nice diversion from my own.

I was working on Nortron’s tree the other day and made a lovely discovery.  When I look through census records I love to find out the actual home addresses of the people in the tree and put those addresses in my notes section.  Then if you want to pull up the address on google maps, it’s kind of awesome.

“Oh look!  This is where my ggg grandmother lived, and now it looks like a crack den!”  This happens a LOT.

So I was looking at Nortron’s gg grandfather’s (Arthur Jones) addresses in the actual copies of the census pages and noticed something interesting on the page.  I recognized the name under him.  Delmar Morts.  Hmmm….  I know there were Morts’s in my tree because of Andrew but I wasn’t sure if they were from Wabash, Indiana like this one.  So I switch trees, and what do you know.  Delmar and Arthur were neighbors!  Delmar was my husbands gg uncle!  Now…this wouldn’t be strange if any of us were from Wabash.  None of us were.  In fact, I don’t know that any of us have BEEN to Wabash.  Maybe, Ragin’ Nortron.  I can’t say.

My husband and Ragin’ have been friends for years, since we were all in high school together (WAY too long ago).  Ragin’ wooed and married a friend of mine and an old roommate.  They are now close neighbors to us and they are delightful friends.  I wonder if Delmar and Arthur were good friends.  I’m just going to assume they were… and sigh a lot, thinking about how precious it all is.