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?

New Year for New Adventures

As this year comes to a close, I still have one little trip planned for next week.  My friend, C-Dogg B-Dizzle, showed some interest in visiting nearby Monroe and Greene counties to see the places where her B-Dizzle ancestors first came to Indiana.

Next year I have a short list of places I would like to visit to continue on my search:

1.) Darke County, OH – Again.  I have already been out there this past year, but there is SO much research to be done on my Dad’s side and Andrew’s Mom’s side.  I could do work there for an entire week.  Maybe I’ll get crazy and even find a cheap hotel and do an overnighter.

 

Garst Museum in Darke County (Greenville, OH) where researching ancestry is made easy by great help!

2.)  Keithsburg, IL – This is the farthest back I can get in the Nelson branch.  While I know that James A. Nelson was born in Kentucky, and spent some time in Indiana, he was last heard from in Keithsburg, IL, a town along the Mississippi River.  What worries me is that Keithsburg, and much of Mercer County, has a horrible habit of being flooded.  I am afraid that records will be scarce.  We shall see.  While taking a trip to Keithsburg I am determined to stop in Springfield on the way and visit the Lincoln attractions.  I am gonna nerd it up ALL the way.

3.)  Pennsylvania/New York – Pennsylvania has very poor online records, which is unfortunate for me because my Mom’s entire family came through Pennsylvania.  I would really like to have a Scranton, Lock Haven, Laceyville, Binghamton NY trip.  One thing I am really interested in seeing are some buildings in the Binghamton area that my ggg grandfather built, as he was a regionally known architect.  At one point I had a whole map created about the route to get there, where to stop, and where to stay.  I think it’s perfect for a summer trip.

4.)  Local libraries.  I still have not gotten to the Indiana State Library.  Shame.  Also, the Ft. Wayne library is KIND of calling my name.  It’s supposedly the biggest genealogy section outside of the Salt Lake City collection.

5.)  Union, SC – This is kind of the stretch.  I very highly doubt I’ll make it to South Carolina, but this is the absolute farthest I have been able to trace my Brown family online.  Some fellow named Alexander Brown left Union, SC and settled the family in Darke County, where many still remain today.  I would LOVE to get down there.  If not this year, maybe next.

Happy Holidays!  Here’s to a new year of research excitement and adventure!

Indianapolis Pioneers

New Pioneers

As I have mentioned before, my family is not from Indianapolis.  My dad’s side comes from Western Ohio for generations.  My mother’s side was from Pennsylvania and nearby New York towns for generations.  My Grandfather Kinsley changed that for all of us.  He moved the family from Scranton to Alabama (where my mother attended school) and then he settled in the Indianapolis area.  During his short time in the city he certainly made his mark.  I would almost consider him a pioneer.  He was a developer, and had huge impacts on trying to improve the downtown Indianapolis area.  He was even one of the founding board members of the Near Northside Community Development Corporation.  He was an important part of bringing businesses to the area that still remain in the city today.

Charles W. Kinsley Office

My grandfather, Charles W. Kinsley in his office....with a cigar....and why not?

Now, when I was growing up I didn’t know any of this about my grandfather.  All I knew was that he was kind of scary.  My memories of him include him refusing to read me Cathy from the comics because, “Women shouldn’t be writing the funnies”.  Even at age six I thought that was a weird thing to say.  I mean, I think Cathy is horrible too.  I just don’t think that’s the type of thing to say to a kid.  Anyway, I didn’t know much about him growing up except the stories I would hear from my mom, aunt, and uncle.  They were often kind of scathing.  But as I began to research the family in my own search I found out that my grandfather was kind of a pioneer for the city of Indianapolis….or rather current Indianapolis.

Old (Timey) Pioneers

Now, as I have ALSO mentioned before, I am kind of jealous of Andrew’s family because they have been here for ages, so it’s much easier to research that branch.  But I hadn’t realized that they had been here for so long.  I had hit a brick wall for so long on his Nelson branch.  The farthest back that I could get was a James A. Nelson who was born in Kentucky in 1814 (who knows where…?) and died at some point before 1870, after living in Keithsburg, Illinois.  I also knew that James was married to a lady named Sarah Heaton.

So one day I was just messing about on the Internet trying to work my way through that wall.  I very rarely use Census information before 1850 because the information is so sparse it’s hard to match up with real people.  However, I typed in James A. Nelson in Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois.  I found one living in Washington Township, Marion County (which was considered outside Indianapolis at that point).  Turns out this James Nelson lived next to a family of Heatons!  BINGO!  Based on this information I tracked the Heaton branch farther back.

The most interesting part was finding out that Andrew’s great great great great grandparents (Eli and Mary Heaton) are buried about a mile from where his parents live now.  No one in the family had any idea!  They are buried in Union Chapel Cemetery, and have been living in Indianapolis since the early 1800s; although, like I said, this was well-before this area was part of Indianapolis.

Eli Heaton's headstone in a cemetery just about a mile from Andrew's parents current home.

They are some serious ye olde Indianapolis pioneers.

The Girl Scouts stole my cemetery!

I had a few hours to burn and had recently been trying to find some information on Andrew’s Indianapolis pioneer relatives.  There are a few cemeteries around town where I haven’t been able to find the best records and I think there MIGHT be a chance they’re buried there.  His branch of the Sparks Family were folks who lived up on the Northwest side of Indianapolis in and around Pike Township.  Just south of Pike Township is the Old Union Cemetery.  I actually think it might technically be in Speedway.  Anyway, I thought I would go check it out either way, Pike Township or not.  I like cemeteries.  So I checked it out on google maps and plotted my course.

I followed the directions.  I ended up in a cul-de-sac.  There was no cemetery here.  There were, however, suspicious residents.  I guess people don’t get lost there often.

I pulled up the map again on my phone and found another road that looked adjacent to this supposed cemetery.  As I turned into the only road on that street I realized where my cemetery was.  I was at Camp Dellwood, a Girl Scout Camp!  The camp ate my cemetery.

I wasn’t really sure what to do.  I thought about looking for someone to help me but I didn’t want to seem creepy (which could easily happen at a children’s campground) so I decided to try and call them to make an appointment or something.

I made sure to glare at everyone that I saw as to accurately reflect my disapproval.  I’m not sure they cared.  I’m pretty sure they didn’t.

**As a side note, there will be a lot more postings initially on this blog because I have to catch up on what has already happened.