Sunday, May 27, 2012

A Gem of a Map for Chicago Researchers




If you are doing research in a city, you may be able to benefit from a great resource threesome – city directory, census, and map. Although each of these tools can be very helpful alone, together they pack a powerful research punch.


I have been working on a project on my Chicago Carney/Kearney line. My goal that I described in a post on April 30, 2012  is to sift out the possible candidates for my John Carney/Kearney from all the other John Carneys/Kearneys listed in the Chicago City Directories and US Censuses in the time period of 1870-1880.

While I had studied the 1870 and 1880 City Directories, I decided to check out the 1875 edition as that year is close to the 1877 birth date of Patrick William Kearney – the infant son of John Kearney and Mary Duffy who died in 1879 at age one year and two months. And I know from Patrick’s death record that his residence was Hastings at Halsted. 

Most of the John Carney listings for 1875 were the same as the ones from 1870, but I found two new John Kearneys in 1875:

Kearney, John, engineer, residence 2 N. Wells
Kearney, John, painter, residence 173 W. Adams

When doing Chicago research into addresses pre-1909, you have to be careful to check the street changes record as many streets were re-numbered in 1909. I used an online tool, “1909 Street Renumbering”, made available by the Newberry Library in Chicago, to update the Wells and Adams numbers. This is what I found:
Pre-1909 Address                                    Post-1909 Address
2 N. Wells                                                319 N. Wells.
173 W. Adams                                         766 W. Adams

I checked these addresses on maps.google.com. While neither of these is near Hastings and Halsted, they are both near the area where Mary Carney lived in 1895 after her marriage to Henry Kreis – Chestnut and Wells.

Another address for a John Kearney that appeared in the 1870, 1875 and 1880 directories was 22 (1100 post-1909) Better. I wondered where this street was, but as it no longer exists, maps.google.com could not help me. This is where a gem of a map comes in. 


The University of Chicago Library has digitized a number of old Chicago maps. Although you can choose from twelve different maps, my favorite is the 1876 map, published by S. Augustus Mitchell because it has a handy street legend at the bottom.



I looked up Better Street, found the coordinates and located them on the map. Better was a short street one block south of Good St. and eight blocks north of Hastings and Halsted! Here was another possible candidate to add to my list.

When our ancestors don't seem to have left a clear paper trail, we have to resort to creative strategies in our effort to trace them. I have tried to establish some anchor points for my John Carney/Kearney great, great grandfather. The two points I have documented are:

  1. the 1879 address for one John Kearney and Mary Duffy (who may be my ancestors as the names match those given by Mary Carney, their daughter, on her second marriage application) and listed on their son's, Patrick William Kearny, death record: Hastings at Halsted.
  2. the 1895 address for Mary Carney and Henry Kreis, (stated by Mary Carney Kreis on her daughter's , Irene Kreis, delayed birth certificate in 1942): Chestnut and Wells.
My strategy has been to use city directories and census documents from 1870-1880 to identify addresses for John Carneys/Kearneys  and see how they stack up against the anchor points. This is a work in progress.

Categories: genealogy tools

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