If you’re anything like me, you want to know simply everything about your ancestors. I have fantasies about getting to heaven and being able to talk with my great-great grandmother about the color of the wallpaper in the upstairs back bedroom in her house! And recently I found a resource containing an unusual list.
City directories are great for locating where our ancestors were between census years. We can search directories by name to plot year by year where our ancestors were living. We can search them by address, to see who else might have been living with them – I’ve found women’s maiden names when I discovered their parents in the same house at the same time.
And many directories are filled with lists – lists of churches, fraternal organizations, funeral homes, cemeteries and more that our ancestors might have been involved with or used. But one list I saw in a directory blew me away.
How would you like to find something like the “Automobile Directory of Montgomery County, [Illinois]”?! From a 1918 directory I learned that Clem Bedinghaus on Rt. 1 in Farmersville owned an Overland. John Carroll from Ramsey owned a Hupmobile. Roscoe Heim of Harvel drove a Dort. (I’ll resist the temptation to tell you all about the four models Dort offered for sale. You’re a good researcher, and I’m sure you can find the info if I have piqued your interest….) Arthur Greenwood drove a Briscoe, John Hucker a Crow Elkhart and William Herzog a Paige. (Are you still with me or have I lost you to the early 20th century automobile section of Wikipedia?) Ed. Lessman owned two automobiles – a Ford and a Buick.
Explore city directories. You can find them on some of the genealogy websites and also on more general sites like GoogleBooks and Archive.org. But don’t just look for your ancestor’s name and address. Browse through all the pages to see what made their hometown the special place at was to them.
 Prairie Farmer’s Directory of Montgomery County, Illinois, (Chicago: Prairie Farmer Publishing, 1918); digital images, Archive.org (archive.org : accessed 7 July 2020).
The assignment for my ProGen group this month is to transcribe and abstract a document, and create a research plan to try to answer a self-created research question arising from information contained in the document. Suggested document types for this assignment include wills and deeds.
As a ProGen mentor, I’ve decided I will do the same or similar tasks as my mentees are doing. I transcribed three deeds from Westmoreland County. Interestingly, out of 24 participants in my ProGen groups, only three chose deeds, and all the rest worked on wills. I’m looking forward to meeting with them today, and maybe hearing a bit about why they selected the document they used.
In addition to the transcription and abstract, the ProGen assignment included creating a research plan. The deeds I transcribed are part of a larger piece of research I’m doing on my Bradley family who emigrated from County Tyrone to several counties in western Pennsylvania. Because of this, I opted not to do the research plan part of the assignment. But it was good practice for me to create the transcriptions and abstracts.
Here is my abstract of one deed in which James Bradley purchased land from Thomas Chapman. You can see the deed yourself on FamilySearch by following my citation in the footnotes.
Chapman to Bradley, Warranty Deed
Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania
Deed Book 27, p 168
Drawn 21 August 1843; recorded 13 September, 1843
21 August 1843, Thomas Chapman and Catherine his wife of Derry Township, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, for twenty five hundred & fifty five dollars paid by James Bradley of the same place sell
land in Derry Township described as follows:
Beginning at a post, at a corner of Jacob Walter’s lands thence by lands of Samuel Morehead, north seventy & three fourth degrees west one hundred and seventy nine perches to a white oak stump, north sixty three degrees west, sixty and one perches to a post, thence by land of Daniel Dunlap , north thirty seven and one fourth degrees east, forty three perches to a post, thence by other lands of said Thomas Chapman (of which this is a part) north seventy nine degrees east one hundred and eighty seven and six tenths perches to a post, north forty five degrees east, eighteen and two tenths perches to a white oak, south eighty one degrees east five and three tenth perches to a post, thence by land of Hardy Sloan, south one and one half degrees west, one hundred & thirty three perches to a post, thence by lands of Jacob Walters north south fifty two degrees west sixteen & three tenth perches to a post, and thence south twenty four degrees east twenty eight perches to a post the place of beginning: containing one hundred and twenty seven and three fourth acres and allowance [It being a part of a tract containing three hundred and twelve acres surveyed to Joseph Armstrong on application No 2180 dated third of May 1769.
Thomas Chapman and Catherine will warrant and forever defend, against all and every other person or
persons whomsoever, lawfully claiming or to claim the same or any part thereof, except the claims of the Commonwealth.
[Signed] Thomas Chapman & Catharine Chapman
Witnesses: Elizabeth Davis, Stewart Davis, Felix Bradley
21 August 1843, property delivered by Chapman and Catherine to Bradley, in presence of Stewart Davis
12 September 1843, acknowledgement by Chapman and dower release by Catherine.
What I still need to do with this deed:
I have a bit more work to do on this project, but I feel like I've made a good stard.
 Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, Deed Book 27:168, Thomas Chapman et ux to James Bradley, 21 August 1843; Westmoreland County Clerk's Office, Greensburg; digital images, FamilySearch (www.familysearch : accessed 21 July 2020) > United States, Pennsylvania, Westmoreland > Deeds, 1773-1886; Index > Deeds, v. 27, Apr 1843 - Dec 1844 > images 588-9 of 895).
 Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, Deed Book 37:456, James Bradly to Phelix Bradly, 22 March 1855; Westmoreland County Clerk's Office, Greensburg; digital images, FamilySearch (www.familysearch : accessed 21 July 2020) > United States, Pennsylvania, Westmoreland > Deeds, 1773-1886; Index > Deeds, v. 37 (p.1-568), Aug 1854 - May 1855 > image 684 of 756.
 Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, Deed Book 79:371-3, James Bradley to Mary Bradly, 3 September 1873; Westmoreland County Clerk's Office, Greensburg; digital images, FamilySearch (www.familysearch : accessed 21 July 2020) > United States, Pennsylvania, Westmoreland > Deeds, 1773-1886; Index > Deeds, v. 79, Oct 1873 - Apr 1874 > images 552-3 of 709).
Mary Kircher Roddy is a genealogist, writer and lecturer, always looking for the story. Her blog is a combination of the stories she has found and the tools she used to find them.