Wordless Wednesday: 1909 Artochrome Postcard of Waynesburg, Pennsylvania

Wordless Wednesday is an ongoing blog-prompt hosted at Geneabloggers.  The author frequently uses the opportunity to share the vintage postcard collection of her grandfather, Donald C. Minor.

My branch of the Minor Family lived in Greene County, Pennsylvania for over 16 decades.  Most of that time my ancestors lived on a farm outside Gerard’s Fort, on a tiny back road called Ceylon Lane.  The closest large town was also the county seat — Waynesburg.  It was the political, economic, social, and educational hub for generations of Minors.

In this artochrome postcard from my grandfather’s collection, a German printer has lithographically processed a half tone photograph to create a full color photocard of west Waynesburg.

The Waynesburg of my childhood family reunions didn’t look like this.  Donald and my grandmother, Kerma Bradford Minor, had moved from the farm in the 1950s, and lived in a brick house on a hill, with a huge side yard and a carport covered by grapevines.  I remember Waynesburg as blocks and blocks of homes surrounding the Waynesburg College campus, with a main street that ultimately led to an ice cream parlor, the only building that really counted for anything, in my opinion.

When I look at this 1909 view I am puzzled by the smokestacks and large rectangular buildings.  From what angle was the photographer observing the town?

Accessed from Historic Map Works, July 26, 2011

While trolling the internet I happened upon Historic Map Works, a site that sent my heart a twitter.  This 1897 bird’s eye image of Waynesburg was among the Greene County collection.  I spotted a building that appears on both this image and on my granddaddy’s postcard.

Accessed from Historic Map Works, July 26, 2011

This bird’s eye image gives a greater sense — though mightily flattened out — of how large Waynesburg was at the turn of the 20th century.  The 1909 autochrome reduces Waynesburg’s scope, but stays true to the topography of its land.  Taken together the images provide a framework for my family stories that I find just fascinating.  My eye turns inward, images now combined, and I soar like a crow over town; imagining my family walking these streets,  wandering through shops, attending weddings in churches, drinking lemonade with school chums on shaded porches.  What stories can my family heirlooms now tell me?

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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.