30 June 2009

City Directories + Google Maps = Happy Dance

funston_ollie_joe My Great-Aunt Ollie (Britt) Funston is unique when compared to the rest of the women in my family. Unlike her ancestors and contemporaries, Ollie left home. All other women in my tree married and settled down. A few followed their families to the next town or county, across the state or to the one next door. None left the south east. But Ollie traveled. She married a man from Pennsylvania named Joe Funston, who's family seems to have been a bit wealthy. Joe was in the army and he and Ollie criss-crossed the country together. They had no children to hold them back.

But all of this movement makes them hard to track. On top of that, Ollie and Joe died relatively young, leaving only a few clues behind - and those few clues make me even more curious about their lives! There are photos and postcards from the many places they visited, newspaper clippings from Joe's time in the army and golf tournaments he played in, and Ollie's Aircraft Assembly Certification Certificate. Along with these documents, as well as obituaries and the scant facts remembered by family, I know that the couple spent quite a lot of time in California, so I've been concentrating my searches there. Today, I had some success (and this is where the title of my post comes in).

I've searched city directories for this couple before, but today I had success. I found Joe and Ollie living in San Diego in the 1947-48 City Directory. Yay!

Armed with an address, I headed to Google Maps to see if the house was still there. Google Maps is a toss-up for finding good results. Sometimes you can locate a house and sometimes you can't. There are a number of factors: the building might no long exist, the address might have changed, etc. Even if these factors are still true, the location that Google gives is not always accurate. For example, if I were to search for my home, Google would put me two houses down the street.

Because of these challenges I have a strategy: go into street view and look for house numbers. Sometimes you luck out and the house you're looking for has a prominently displayed address, but often not. I've often "walked" half-way down a street to find a house number, but it was worth it. You'll confirm what side of the street is odd or even, and can find a numbering pattern. In my search today, however, I was lucky and the building I was looking for had a prominently displayed house number.

You can see at the bottom right of the building, just above a plant, a sign that reads "2463 In Rear." It's not often that I can find a sign pointing the way to an ancestor's home. Happy Dance!

Although it it likely that the couple lived here only a short time, it is still exciting to be able to see even such a small part of their lives. It also gives me hope that I will continue to find more.

1 comment:

Miriam Robbins said...

I love using city directories, Valerie, which is why I started compiling links to online directories (free or pay-for-use) at my Online City, County, and Rural Directories website. Currently, I don't have San Diego city directories linked, but I will eventually!


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