City Directories – 2019 Update

US Census Records are essential records used in genealogical research. They are a treasure trove of information; however, they come out only once every ten years leaving huge gaps.  With the 1890 census having lost so many records in a fire, often there is a twenty-year gap in our family research.  Don’t overlook city directories as a potential source to fill in those gaps.

Many cities and counties have had directories published over the years.
They were created for salespeople and merchants to be able to contact businesses and individuals.  Every publisher had their format for information they presented, but if you find one that includes your ancestor, it can be the source for new information.

Typically, city directories give the name and address of the head of the household.  Often they give the wife’s name, usually in parenthesis, and sometimes the names of adult children living at the same address. They also typically provide the occupation of the individual.  Sometimes there is a reverse directory included which goes by street address and contains the names of the individuals living there. Always look for your ancestor in the name section, the business section, and, if included, the reverse directory to see who else might live at the address.

Sometimes a directory can provide an answer to a question or clarify what was happening.  As an example, for many years I thought a great-grandmother of mine moved from one address to another on the same street.  I thought it was odd, but not unheard of before. A city directory revealed that they renumbered the street one year. The neighbors stayed the same, but the numbers changed for all of them.

Directories often show maps, street name changes, addresses of businesses, churches, schools, cemeteries, post offices, hospitals, newspapers and the like.  Some will give a history of the city as well as the names of elected officials.

Another significant bit of information often given is if a person is a widow.  That can be key to narrowing down the year of someone’s death and provides a “died before” date.  In some occasions, the city directory may even list marriages, and deaths, including date, during the previous year.

Online Resources

Google Books is always worth a quick look to see if they have a directory you need. Go to books.google.com and then enter in the search box: City Directory [city of interest].  You may be surprised at what is available online. I noted the 1850-51 City Directory for Portland, ME, was available as a free eBook.

Probably better than Google Books is Google’s US Online Historical Directories site. A click on “Maine” shows that eight of the 16 counties have directories online and that seven Portland City Directories are available online.  Five of those directories are accessible through Don’s List, which is one of my favorite online sources for information. Check them out at: (www.donlist.net).

Another excellent source for directories is the Internet Archive (www.archive.org) and has Many Maine directories. A quick search of Directory Maine yielded 257 results including directories for Lewiston, Casco Bay, Bangor, and Portland.

One of the best sources for Directories is Family Search. After logging in, select Search – Catalog. Then under titles, enter Directory and State.  For “Directory Maine” there are 64 results returned. Be sure to look at the available directories closely. There is a directory for “Greater Portland” and directories for “Portland” which are separated by quite a bit.  Many of the directories are still only available on microfilm at various libraries but pay attention to them as they are likely to become available online soon.

Of course, Ancestry has many directories available with a subscription.  A search for “Directory” in the title with a keyword of “Maine” yielded 27 results. Several of them were city directories.

Off-Line Resources

Many libraries and historical societies have city directories in their possession. It is always worth an email or telephone call to find out if a library has a city directory. Often, they will do a look-up for you without charge or for a small fee.  Occasionally the directories have been microfilmed so be sure to speak with a reference librarian who knows the various collections available on microfilm. Sometime those resources may be ordered via interlibrary loan.

Scarborough Historical Society & Museum Collection[1]

Thomas Henley Collection, Shelf K-12

The Scarborough Museum has a small collection of city directories of Portland, including the following:

  • 1942 – Thomas Henley – K11
  • 1952 – Thomas Henley – K11
  • 1956 – (Upstairs Archive)
  • 1963 – Thomas Henley – K04
  • 1965 – Thomas Henley – K12
  • 1970 – Thomas Henley – K12
  • 1975 – Thomas Henley – K12
  • 1977 – Thomas Henley – K12

These directories are available for members to use at the museum for research.  If you cannot make it to the museum, the Genealogy Volunteers will be happy to look up a couple of names for you. Just let them know the surname and the year.

Of course, if you have a Greater Portland city directory, or another directory that includes Scarborough, please consider donating it to the museum.  We would be extremely pleased to add it to our collection.

Other Public Collections

 The Scarborough Public Library also has many city directories including Greater Portland & Surrounding Communities from 1960 thru to the current 2019 directory.

The South Portland Historical Society also has many city directories, plus it is a great museum to visit. Check it out.

Finally, both the Maine Historical Society in Portland and the Maine State Library in Augusta have substantial collections of interest to genealogists that include many city directories. Either are great resources.


Endnotes

  1.  I am a volunteer at the Scarborough Historical Society and Museum. I am using it in this article as an example of what might be available at any local historical society.

1875 Tax Valuation Records

Museum Monday

I had the opportunity to visit the Maine State Library and scan the 1875 Scarborough, Maine, Tax Valuation Record using their Zeutschel OS 12002. It is a multi-camera book scanner that creates high-resolution images of bound and oversized materials. The scanned images were then combined into a PDF file. A “Scarborough Books” collection was created and the PDF file uploaded with some metadata information. Thank you so much for the assistance of Adam Fisher of the Maine State Library for his help and assistance in this Project. The scanned images were then combined and compressed into a PDF file.  I then uploaded the resulting file to Digital Maine to make the images publically available.

Birth, Marriage & Death Collection

Pages 1-28 (as numbered at the top left corner of a page) are Scarborough residents, generally arranged alphabetically by surname. That is to say, all people whose surname begins with a “C” are together.

In the second section are non-residents who owned property in Scarborough. These pages are unnumbered and are divided by the towns the individual lived in and then semi-alphabetically by surname. The towns include:

  • Buxton
  • Cape Elizabeth
  • Deering
  • Gorham
  • Portland
  • Saco
  • Westbrook
  • Miscellaneous

A third, unnumbered, section indicates residents and non-residents that live in Scarborough but do not own property.

If you have ancestors who lived in Scarborough, Maine, in 1875, this book may provide information of great interest. It provides information on real estate values, personal property (horses, oxen, cows, swine, sheep, carriages, and furniture.  Also included are stocks and bonds, money lent at interest, and logs and timber held.

The 1875 Scarborough Tax Valuation Book is a great resource to add texture to your family history and genealogical research.

The download from Digital Maine is here.

Harmon’s Mill, Scarborough, ME

Mappy Monday
Museum Monday

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words; well, a good map can be worth ten times that. In my volunteer activities at the Scarborough Historical Society, I had been asked to confirm the locations for Scottaway Hill, Harmon’s Mill, and Mill Creek.

I looked into the society’s families files. The Harmon’s have a nice sized file, but all the documents we have seem to relate to other Harmons in the area (presumably descendants of Samuel Harmon). I looked at some of my other regular sources and found the same quoted information in several locations, “Samuel Harmon purchased several large tracts of land at Scottaway Hill in Scarboro, ME, built a mill on the river there known as Harmon’s Mill, and settled at the place in 1728.”

Map of Blue Point & DunstanI thought this should be simple; I had seen the Blue Point and Dunston map from The History of Scarborough, which does a great job of showing where Scottow’s Hill, Harmon’s Mill, and even Harmon’s Landing were. Of course, “the road to Falmouth” is Route 1 today and the R.R. shown on the map is the Eastern Trail today. I double-checked with the society’s curator and she confirmed that Scottaway Hill and Scottow’s Hill are the same place.

1.  Assuming the “Blue Point and Dunston” map is correct, Harmon’s Mill should be about 1/3 of the way between Route one and the Eastern Trail along the creek. That would put it right near the ninth hole at Willowdale golf course – behind the Portland Pie Company’s Corporate Headquarters.

My “go to” place for anything dealing with water is the USGS. They have a hydrography map that is incredible. http://viewer.nationalmap.gov/viewer/nhd.htm. Zoom in to the area you are interested in. I like to toggle on layers for Geographic Names, Structures, and Transportation.  You can toggle on imagery as well.

2.  To confuse things, the USGS map, and some other maps I’ve seen, indicate that Mill Brook is the right hand of the two forks shown on the Blue Point and Dunston map, not the one shown to host the mill. If so, the original site could be anywhere along that right-hand stream.  I think this is the least likely scenario, but one that could be considered.

3.  Finally, local tradition says that the mill was along the creek that doesn’t show up on any modern maps. Certainly, there is evidence that a creek ran through the area, but because of the development over the centuries there is no evidence of the mill there.  Also, this site would be along the way to Harmon’s Landing. 

Harmon’s Mill Location
Map by Google – Annotations by Don Taylor

 

So, if local tradition is correct and Harmon’s Mill was located along Manson-Libby Road, probably about half way to Harmon’s Landing. If so, then Scarborough History is incorrect. That said, three sites are really close to each other; all are within a half-mile circle and are within 1/2 to 1 mile from Scottow Hill. I may never know, for certain, where Harmon’s Mill was exactly, but to know that it existed and to know it was an important business in Scarborough 250 years ago is the important thing.

 

If you have evidence supporting that Harmon’s Mill was at one of these or some other location, I’d love to hear from you. I would like to know where Harmon’s Mill was, and I know the descendants of Samuel Harmon would love to learn where it was also.

 

List of Kings from the William King Scrapbook

William King Scrapbook

Page 28 – List of Kings 

Amanuensis Monday

[We have a project at the Scarborough (Maine) Historical Society (SHS) where we are scanning and digitizing scrapbooks.  Most of the pages are newspaper clippings and other documents which lend themselves to optical character recognition (OCR); however, there are also pages that are handwritten.  To make those pages searchable within the final PDF document, I have been transcribing them as needed.]

Scrapbook, accession number 62.74.4, is a scrapbook of William King which was donated to the SHS in 1962. Its contents are mostly newspaper clippings. The clippings go back to 1905 and the most recent clipping appears to be from 1952. The majority of the clippings are undated. The handwritten pages appear to be mostly genealogical lists of individuals that are ancestors of the King family and are also undated. This list is from Page 28, as identified in the scrapbook index. The original was scanned at 2550 × 3509 and is available at the SHS Museum. The original image was duplicated, cropped, resized for the web to 564 × 508, and is displayed here.

The following is my transcription of this document:

Richard King. Born 1761 Died Oct 27th 1830. Age 69 years
Hannah King. Born June 22 – 1771 – Died May 25 – 1845 age 74 years.

Cyrus King Born May 4 1790
Mary King   “      Oct 12 1791
Wm King            Jan 13 1794
Eliza King           Aug 31 1796
Joseph L, King   Jan 22 1799
Robert S King    Feb 28 1801
Benjamin S. B. King  Jan 11 1803
Jane Ann King    Mar 9 1805
Fidealia H King   Jan 9 1808
Robert S King     Mar 14 1811
Miranda S. King  Aug 9 1813

Transcribed by Don Taylor
Scarborough Historical Society
14 Apr 2016

———- DISCLAIMER ———-

Family Recorder – James Hawkes & Margaret Esthers

William King Scrapbook

Page 33 – Family Recorder: James Hawkes & Margaret Esthers

Amanuensis Monday

[We have a project at the Scarborough (Maine) Historical Society (SHS) where we are scanning and digitizing scrapbooks.  Most of the pages are newspaper clippings and other documents which lend themselves to optical character recognition (OCR); however, there are also pages that are handwritten.  To make those pages searchable within the final PDF document, I have been transcribing them as needed.]


Scrapbook, accession number 62.74.4, is a scrapbook of William King, which was donated to the SHS in 1962. Its contents are mostly newspaper clippings. The clippings go back to 1905, and the most recent clipping appears to be from 1952. The majority of the clippings are undated. The handwritten pages seem to be mostly genealogical lists of individuals that are ancestors of the King family and are also undated. The following page is from Page 33, as identified in the scrapbook index. The original was scanned in two parts at 2550 × 3509. The two parts were then stitched together using PhotoStitcher into a 3672 × 3958 file that is available at the SHS Museum. The stitched image was duplicated, cropped, resized for the web to 504 × 487, and is displayed here.

One aspect of this list that I found rather interesting is that rather than using traditional month names, the writer used number months, for example, “Fifthmonth” for May and “Seventhmonth” for July.  I encountered that use once before and am wondering if I should add “Numberedmonth” to my search methodology in the future. If you have thoughts about doing so, please leave a comment below.

Family Register 

Parents 
James Hawkes     Married      Margaret Esthers
Born                                           Born

                                            Children

Births.
Names.
Deaths.
20 Secondmonth 1771
Elizabeth Hawkes
16 Fourthmonth 1884
15 Tenthmonth 1772
James Hawkes
24 Fifthmonth 1857
25 Eleventhmonth 1774
Anna Hawkes
27 Seventhmonth
7 Secondmonth 1782
John Hawkes
27 Seventhmonth 1830
13 Fifthmonth 1783
Benjamin Hawkes
7 Secondmonth 1849
24 Eleventhmonth 1784
Eben R Hawkes
1 Tenthmonth 1853
29 Eighthmonth 1786
Margaret Hawkes
15 Eleventhmonth 1851
18 Eighthmonth 1789
Betsey Hawkes
15 Eleventhmonth 1851
27 Secondmonth 1792
Isiah Hawkes
3 Seventh-month 1858
13 Sixthmonth 1794
Eunice Hawkes
21 Tenthmonth 1844
18 Twelthmonth 1796
Aaron Hawkes
27 Sixthmonth 1866

I

Transcribed by Don Taylor 
Scarborough Historical Society 
14 Apr 2016 

Endnotes:
Because all dates are after 1752, they are presumed to be Gregorian.  I added a conversion for each of the months used for search purposes:
Secondmonth = February
Fourthmonth = April
Fifthmonth = May
Sixthmonth = June
Seventhmonth = July
Eighthmonth = August
Tenthmonth = October
Eleventhmonth = November
Twelthmonth = December

———- DISCLAIMER ———-