Greensboro, Pennsylvania Yesterday and Today: mappy monday

Today I learned how to add a google map to my wordpress hosted blog, quite a simple accomplishment, actually. The big secret is to access google maps in the classic mode. Open http://www.maps.google.com, and your page automatically loads the New Google Maps. In the lower right hand corner you will find a tool bar. Click on the question mark on the left, and you will have options to take a tour, send feedback, ask questions, or return to the classic mode. That action returns you to the “old” map, and once you have zoomed into your desired location, look to the upper left. Do you see the get directions block? Look to the right and click on the link symbol. Here is secret #2. You must copy the HTML code, not the short code. Return to your wordpress blog and paste the code into your post. Check out the results with a preview!! Finish up your writing, save, and publish!!

Caldwell's Illustrated, Historical, Centennial Atlas Of Greene County, Pennsylvania. From actual Surveys by & under the directions of Henry Cring, C.E. Assisted by C.T. Arms, Sr. C.E. J.A. Underwood, C.E. J.A. Howden. P.L. Mason. W.J. Kerstetter, C.E. W.F. Arms, C.E. H. Cring, C.E. Published By J.A. Caldwell, Condit, Ohio. 1876. Engraved, Lithographed & Printed By Otto Krebs, Pittsburgh, Pa.: accessed digitally from David Rumsey Historical Map Collection, http://bit.ly/1dIaFYm, on February 18, 2014.

Caldwell’s Illustrated, Historical, Centennial Atlas Of Greene County, Pennsylvania. From actual Surveys by & under the directions of Henry Cring, C.E. Assisted by C.T. Arms, Sr. C.E. J.A. Underwood, C.E. J.A. Howden. P.L. Mason. W.J. Kerstetter, C.E. W.F. Arms, C.E. H. Cring, C.E. Published By J.A. Caldwell, Condit, Ohio. 1876. Engraved, Lithographed & Printed By Otto Krebs, Pittsburgh, Pa.: accessed digitally from David Rumsey Historical Map Collection, http://bit.ly/1dIaFYm, on February 18, 2014.

Caldwell's Illustrated, Historical, Centennial Atlas Of Greene County, Pennsylvania. From actual Surveys by & under the directions of Henry Cring, C.E. Assisted by C.T. Arms, Sr. C.E. J.A. Underwood, C.E. J.A. Howden. P.L. Mason. W.J. Kerstetter, C.E. W.F. Arms, C.E. H. Cring, C.E. Published By J.A. Caldwell, Condit, Ohio. 1876. Engraved, Lithographed & Printed By Otto Krebs, Pittsburgh, Pa.: accessed digitally from David Rumsey Historical Map Collection, http://bit.ly/1dIaFYm, on February 18, 2014.

Caldwell’s Illustrated, Historical, Centennial Atlas Of Greene County, Pennsylvania. From actual Surveys by & under the directions of Henry Cring, C.E. Assisted by C.T. Arms, Sr. C.E. J.A. Underwood, C.E. J.A. Howden. P.L. Mason. W.J. Kerstetter, C.E. W.F. Arms, C.E. H. Cring, C.E. Published By J.A. Caldwell, Condit, Ohio. 1876. Engraved, Lithographed & Printed By Otto Krebs, Pittsburgh, Pa.: accessed digitally from David Rumsey Historical Map Collection, http://bit.ly/1dIaFYm, on February 18, 2014.

Walking Down May’s Street: mappy monday

May Laura Stevenson lay under covers, listening to eight siblings rustle from bed’s warmth into cold, thick wool layers.  Procrastinating would not reduce her chores or delay the walk to school, so up she sat, throwing off her blankets, reaching for her clothes. In quick fluid movements May covered her shivering little body, and joined the familiar morning jostle.  Ice had to be broken from animals’ water troughs; pigs had to be slopped, and chickens fed.  Stalls needed to be mucked out, and cows milked.  Breakfast had to be fixed, the table set.

May’s early life was spent on Gabler’s Knob, a farm that looked out over the bustling river town of Greensboro, on the Monongahela River in Greene County, Pennsylvania.  Born in 1874, May was the seventh of nine children born to Ellis and Mary Jones Stevenson.

Prints of LightAfter a hearty breakfast the school-age Stevensons set off down the hill, past Dr. G. F. Birch’s orchard, and turned left onto the main road of the Old Glass Works*.  As William, Presley, Permelia, and May walked up the village street, they were joined by young Kramers, McCoys, Mercers, Blacks, and Gablers.  The wind coming off the river hurled the winter damp through their coats, and the would-be scholars hurried past Mr. Neil’s ferry, round the corner, and into the school house.  All together they learned to read, to write, to do their figures.  At day’s end, the group trudged on home, the Stevensons to return to more chores before settling down for the dinner and a good night’s sleep.

Floe on the SusquehannaOn Sunday, the family traveled into town, to attend services at Greensboro Presbyterian Church, on the corner of Clear and Second streets.  The sanctuary was just a block down from the Star Pottery and Tile Works, owned by Frank Hamilton and John Jones,  Mary Stevenson’s cousin. After church service, May and her family walked three blocks south on Front Street, to eat Sunday dinner  with the Jones’.  Uncle David and Aunt Cill ran Greensboro House, a family business handed down from father, John Jones, and the home to the Jones family since the late 1840s. Her double first cousins, Anna and Fannie, would regale May with stories about the latest hotel guests, and the difficulties steamboats had when the river ice grew thick. The girls imagined a day in spring when they would saunter down County Street to the quay, and board the Packet Dean Adams, traveling all the way to Pittsburgh, just to shop for a dress.  Laughter and dreams and family.

That is what I imagine for May, my great-grandmother, as I walk down May’s street in my mind. [click on the maps below for enlarged viewing]

*Some seventy years before May was born, the village on the banks of the Monongahela River had been occupied by the first glass making factory west of the Allegheny Mountains. German immigrants like May’s great-great-granduncle, Adolphus Eberhart, lent their expertise to the making of frontier window glass and bottles.

Mapping My Ancestors: An Update to the Wilson-Minor Transactions

Have you ever wondered  if anybody ever reads what you have so passionately researched and diligently recorded?  Just as I despair that my family storytelling has NO audience, I got a comment, followed by a description, followed by an email with PHOTOGRAPHS.  This post was originally published two years ago, and today, because of curious reader, I have additional descriptions of land purchased 170 years ago by John Pearson Minor.  

Drawn on thin paper discolored to a light blue, the survey map described a distinct parcel of land with corners marked by Black Oak, Water Beech, Limestones, fence posts, stakes, and Hickories.  Lines connected the corners and were labeled with surveying code–S37 W 151/2 poles and the like.  Unnamed squiggly lines posed as small streams crossing the land, emptying into an unnamed creek boundary. Lines cut the map into pieces; within one rectangle was the name A. Minor, within another the name R. Minor.  The outside bore a cryptic “plot of Virginia land 575.”

Five hundred and seventy-five was the amount of land that John P. Minor purchased from James P. Wilson in 1841 and 1842.  As I reread those deeds I traced my finger along the lines of this map, and with great excitement realized that I did indeed have a map which depicted the Minor land acquisition of 1841 and 1842 in Harrison County, (West) Virginia!

Five Hundred Seventy-five Acres along Simpsons Creek

With that confirmed I could with great certainty know that the bigger stream indicated Simpson’s Creek, and the smaller streams were Limestone Run and Stout’s Run.  However, I still didn’t know when this map was created or where this parcel of land was on a current map.

unto the said Abia and Robert Minor their heirs and assigns for ever all that tract or parcel of land situate lying and being in the county of Harrison in the state of Virginia and bounded as follows

The 1849 document transferring a piece of this property to Abia and Robert Minor was never executed.  It was as if the boys had given John P. some reason to pause before deeding title. BUT the document gives a surveyor’s description of the considered transaction, and that plot is only the piece labeled R. Minor in this map–a clue that this map was created sometime AFTER 1849.  Other documents related to this land include John P. Minor deeding the tract of land labeled here A. Minor to Abia Minor in 1854. Therefore, I conclude that my surveyor’s map was created sometime between the years 1849 and 1854.

The when of the map was closer to being settled at this point, however I was left no closer to understanding where these 575 acres were located. For that I consulted  the Federal Census data hoping to track the residences of the young men.  My hunch was rewarded with an interesting trail.

1840                          Abia has a child and wife in Greene County, PA
Robert is not listed anywhere
1850                          Can’t find either Abia or Robert
1860                        Abia is in Moultrie County,Illinois
Robert is in Harrison County, Virginia
1870                         Abia is in Moultrie County, Illinois
Robert is in Harrison County, West Virginia
1880                        Abia is in Harper County, Kansas
Robert is in Harrison County, West Virginia

If Robert was on that land so long then searching for a map of that 1860-1880 era might yield some clues.

At Historic Map Works I did indeed find such a map–An Atlas of West Virginia, published by D. J. Lake and Company in 1886.   This map labeled not just towns and streams, but homes and businesses. I found Robert Minor’s name by a square that sat on a small stream, presumably Stout’s Run, that emptied into Simpson’s Creek north of Bridgeport.  Limestone Run had been renamed Barnet’s Run by 1886.  With these facts I could look at a Google map with new eyes and locate the ‘Plot Virginia Land 575′.

Limestone Run was renamed Barnet’s Run by 1886, and the farms were covered by interstate and malls by 1986.

A mystery is solved, and leaves me with mixed emotions.  Now I know where my ancestor once walked; where, finding coal and water and good land for farming, John P. Minor expected to give his sons a great leg up in life.

Phillip Wilson stopped by my blog, and read through this post, recognizing immediately that he grew up on Robert Minor’s farm.  His parents, Robert and Helen Wilson, purchased the land in 1962.  Their home, built around 1940, sat close to the “cellar house”, the basement of the original home.  Phillip played for hours down by the creek while his mother kept a watchful eye from the patio, til they paved paradise and put up an exit ramp. 

Robert Minor Farm, photo from Philip Wilson 3.2.2013

Robert Minor Farm, photo from Philip Wilson 3.2.2013

Robert Minor Farm, photo from Philip Wilson 3.2.2013

Robert Minor Farm, photo from Philip Wilson 3.2.2013

**With sixteen passes of the Flip Pal I had successfully scanned the map before me and stitched it together into a seamless jpeg file with the built in Stitch Tool.  Flip Pal. LOVE. IT.  Check it out here.

Mapping My Ancestors: The Kings of Rhode Island

“Regular maps have few surprises: their contour lines reveal where the Andes are, and are reasonably clear. More precious, though, are the unpublished maps we make ourselves, of our city, our place, our daily world, our life; those maps of our private world we use every day; here I was happy, in that place I left my coat behind after a party, that is where I met my love; I cried there once, I was heartsore; but felt better round the corner once I saw the hills of Fife across the Forth, things of that sort, our personal memories, that make the private tapestry of our lives.”
― Alexander McCall SmithLove Over Scotland

My Sayles ancestors did not leave a trace of their personal maps; only clues left in letter heads or the handwriting of a census enumerator reveal the location of family at a given point in time.  It is left to my imagination to draw smiles, hear wails, to listen for laughter or argument.  I found this map of Wallum Pond, Rhode Island while searching for brain-twizzling information on the King family. *  The book chronicled the history of a 20th century sanatorium and included the early landowners of the area.  Identified in the map’s key was the location of the James King farm, at points 16 and 17, at the southern  tip of Wallum Pond.

Wallum Pond, Burrillville, Rhode Island

I can read all sorts of information from these squiggles – the lay of the land influenced the establishment of waterways, transportation networks, farms, mills, communities.  My imagination has to supply the “at the top of this hill James and Rhobe discussed what road to take west,” or “here is where Sarah cried after learning that her parents were moving to Pennsylvania.”  This map marks the spot where James King learned to farm from his father, James, during the late 1790s.  It marks the spot  where James and Rhobe reared a family and raised their stock, drained the bog and grew their corn, and where they packed their belongings and loaded up the youngest members of their brood as they headed out to the wilderness of Tioga County, Pennsylvania in 1822.

I have to supply the imagination that weaves the tapestry of their life.

*Ira Sayles is my great-great-grandfather on my father’s side, and the impetus to my participation in the Family History Writing Challenge, February 2013.  His father, Christopher Sayles, was the son of Burrillville, Rhode Island residents, Christopher and Martha Brown Sayles; Ira’s mother, Sarah, was  the daughter of James and Merrobe Howland King of Wallum Pond, Rhode Island.

Mapping My Ancestors: Where’s Donald?

Accessed from MyTopo: Historical Topographical Maps, July 25, 2011

In 1904, the year this topographical map was drawn, my grandfather Minor, Donald Corbly Minor, was a two year toddler living on the family farm on Ceylon Lane, a tiny road leading out of Whitely, Greene Township, Greene County, Pennsylvania.  Today it remains a tiny road, gravel and oiled to keep the dust down.  I pass by the old farm house, and remember the trips we made out to these hills when I was just shoulder high to my mom.  We walked through cow-nibbled grasses, hunted for old trash pits among the trees, dug up jars to be treasured back home.  Topo maps are small snags of information that reflect the part of a community that changes least, its topography.  Granddaddy’s hills and streams will remain when the farm’s foundations support vines instead of walls.