City Directories

In one of the earlier posts about the Genealogy Road Trip, I mentioned that I love City Directories. Here’s why.

Census information is great, but it only comes out every 10 years. There’s also an embargo on it — I think it’s 75 years. The 1930 data was just recently released. City directories were the equivalent of phone books before everyone had a phone. Here’s a page from the 1910 Butler book, showing great-great uncle James and his wife Amelia:

Why only this McGee? I don’t know. Great-grandfather Ben seems to have spelled his name “Magee” a lot, and it may have been on another page. Here’s his whole family listed in the 1912 directory:

It shows the names and occupations of B. Allen (Benjamin) and his family. Alonzo (my grandfather), around 14 at the time, had already dropped out of school and was working as a laborer. Quitting school was something he’d end up regretting. Also in the same house at 152 Kittanning were sisters (great aunts) Celia and Katherine. My dad remembers them well and fondly, especially his aunt Celia.

Armed with an address, we were able to scout the location. The actual building is long gone, and the lots at 150 and 152 were combined. Here’s the the closest mailbox:

It was getting dark, and this picture is blurry because as I was taking it a not-particularly-friendly local stuck his head out the door to see what the hail we were doing on his property.

I snapped off the photo, and then pretended that he wasn’t annoyed with our presence and asked him a few questions anyway. He’d bought the building a few years earlier, but knew that it had been built in the 1940s. And that’s about it. Further details will have to wait for a future road trip and some prowling through the deeds at the county courthouse.

One thought on “City Directories”

  1. I wish we (you) could figure out what the road is called that used to be Plank Rd. where Uncle Cricks and Caroline Lackey Cricks lived. I deliberately left you the Butler map thinking you could use it even tho i have a penchant for maps as you know, which is just a few clicks above a penchant for city guides.

    And it’s too bad we didn’t get a shot of that blue house up the hill on Kittanning St. Where the road forked and we drove up the right side of the fork and i pointed at the house I had driven by once before and we drove up a gravel road which turned out to be the driveway (am i remembering this right?). That was the one where my dad says someone tried to throw him off the stairs when he was little (at Aunt Cele’s place). I described the house to him. It was the right house, however, the staircase we saw came straight down the front of the house from a small porch,(the stairs looked relatively new). Dad says he doesn’t recall a porch, but there was simply a small landing and a long steep staircase went off to the right toward the driveway. He also said they were built over stones. The stone is all gone now. If memory serves, the ground to the right toward the driveway was sloped. In order to get from the front door to near the driveway the staircase would need to be longer and steeper i think.

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