Amy Coffin of the We Tree blog invites us to explore Google Maps as a genealogy tool this week.
After searching in vain for my grandparents’ old house in Erie, Pennsylvania, and staring for a while at the office building that now stands where I lived as a kindergartner in Menlo Park, California, I ended up focusing on Worcester, Massachusetts, where Walter F. Knapp and his eventual widow Rosamond Guilford lived for decades.
Following the Knapp Family Through the Census
On June 5th of 1900, Walter and Rosamond Knapp were enumerated with their daughter Gladys at 32 1/2 John Street, shown on the map with the red push-pin.
On 23 April 1910, four years after Walter’s death, Rosamond and her two children Gladys and Kenneth were shown in the census living at 2 Ashton Street, tagged with a green thumbtack.
On 3 January 1920, Rosamond, Gladys, Kenneth and two boarders appear in the census living on 88 Florence Street, a ways south of their previous two homes, shown with the yellow thumbtack on the map.
By the 1930 census, Rosamond was living with Gladys and her husband Joseph W. Dennis on 12 Belvidere Avenue near Burncoat Park.
Thirty years in the same city. Amazing. The longest I’ve lived anywhere is ten years.
I really enjoyed this exercise. This is the first time I’d paid much serious attention to the street addresses in the first column of the various census records. Seeing Rosamond and her children move back and forth across Worcester added to my understanding of their experiences, but it also opened several new potential avenues of research:
- Walter’s death certificate says he died at 4 Holt Avenue in Worcester. Was that yet another Knapp family residence, or a hospital?
- Rosamond died in 1942 in Westfield, New Jersey. What brought her there? Did Gladys and her husband move to New Jersey and take Rosamond with them?
Amy’s challenge has definitely motivated me to make better use of Google Maps, to pay attention to street address info in records I uncover, and to do a better job of tying key events in my ancestors’ lives to the places where they lived. Thanks Amy!