Lately, a big chunk of my genealogy research time has been dedicated to tracking down past residences of my ancestors. I've been mapping and researching census and vital records to learn more. Did they own their house? Did they live in a luxury apartment on the Upper East Side? Were they farmers working on their own farm? Is the house still there?? So much to be learned.
What records might include an address? Census Records, Vital Records (Birth, Marriage, Death), Naturalization Records, Passenger Lists from ocean trips abroad, Cemetery Records, Passport Applications, Draft Registration Cards...to name a few.
My Recent Philadelphia Pursuit
The day after the 4th of July celebrations, Jackie and I took to Center City and the Waterfront of Philadelphia by foot. We explored the neighborhoods of my Grimm and Nolen ancestors.
In the 1880 census my ggg grandparents Jacob Grimm (born in Germany 1845) and Catherine (born in Ireland 1839) were living at 220 Stamper Street, Philadelphia, PA with their 3 children (ages): Fredericka (11), Catherine (8), and Thomas (6). Jacob is listed as a "laborer". I am the gg granddaughter of Fredericka Grimm.
I took these 2 pictures standing about where I think 220 Stamper Street would have been. The street lasts just one block and is lined with well maintained historic homes. The beautiful cobble stone street is unbelievably narrow! I didn't find a house with the exact address I was looking for, but the historic vibe was there. Today it would be a dream to live on this street, but I wonder if that was the case in 1880?
In 1881 they were living at 619 South Front Street, Philadelphia, PA. In April of 1881 their son Thomas Grimm died from an accidental drowning at the age of 7. Tragedy struck the family a second time just a few months later when, in December 1881, Catherine died from heart disease at the age of 42. This left her husband Jacob a widower at the age of 36, with 2 pre-teen daughters.
Fredericka Grimm married Thomas J Nolen around 1884. He was about 30 years old and she was just 15 years old. I'm wondering if Fredericka's family situation played a role in her marrying so young. I'm sure it was a tough time for her father, loosing a son and wife within months of each other, all before he was 37. Jacob may have remarried. I haven't been able to track him down after 1881.
And now for an interesting twist...
In 1880, Thomas J Nolen was living just a few houses down from Fredericka at 612 South Front Street, Philadelphia, PA. He is lised in the census with his brother and both have "Boatman" as their occupation. Now that I know they were neighbors, could this be how they met?
Sometime after 1888 Thomas and Fredericka moved across the river to New Jersey. In the 1900 census they lived at 1716 Ferry Ave, Camden, NJ. Just one year later Fredericka died, she was only 32. They had 7 daughters: Margaret (15), Katherine (14), Mary (13), Ann (12), Fredericka (10), Elizabeth (9), and Sabine (7). Her husband Thomas was widowed at 47 years old with seven daughters
This house on Ferry Ave in Camden remained a family homestead for the next 35+ years. Mary Nolen Wright, my great grandmother raised my grandfather and his 4 brothers there. One generation has 7 daughters and the next has 5 sons, isn't it weird how that happens? And two generations of male widowers left with teenage daughers. I haven't been to Camden to visit this house, but I am lucky to have this picture taken by my dad's cousin in 1998.
For me it's not all about seeing the actual building or exact spot on a map. Everything I learn from the pursuit helps me better understand their challenges and successes within a community.
Find out where your family has lived! If you have old pictures of any of the places, take the pictures with you when you visit. You can take a "now" picture to compare to the "then"! See examples... my 5th Ave Brooklyn pictures.