YOUR HERITAGE (& buildings)

Pioneer Day, July 24

We just had Pioneer Day here in Utah.  It's meant to celebrate the arrival of folks who had crossed the plains and the mountains before a railroad was available to carry them.  Many of the people who live here are descended from these brave souls and get out their family histories for a day of remembrance.

Family History & Geneaology

I don't have any pioneers of that sort in my own lineage, but I sure have some interesting characters!  I wish I could finagle a way to get on that show Who Do You Think You Are because I have enough information to know that there is a lot more very interesting stuff to find out.

I started two sites about my paternal & maternal family history, mostly to share historic pictures with my extended family (and hoping they might share with me).... but also a place to post cool stuff if I found it.

Right now I'm trying to take my Drinkwater line back one more generation.  Currently I have: 

John Thurston Drinkwater, born 1821 in Virginia, moved to Missouri with his parents when he was still young.  

I haven't been able to find information on his parents by any obvious avenues yet.  But then I began to find some information on what I believe to be a brother or cousin, Samuel.  One of the ways I learned about Samuel was from a history of Cooper County, Missouri that talked about the construction of a church building there in 1860.  

Building History

It hadn't really occurred to me before to research building histories when researching my family.  When I think of visiting family history sites, it's usually the grave sites where a family mourned, not a place where a family lived, worked or worshipped.  This is SO much better!

And I happen to know something about researching buildings, too, so that's extra nice.

There are so many digital resources available online these days that are utterly amazing.  However, just because you can't find it online doesn't mean it's not at your state or county archive.

Types of Resources

1911 Sanborn Fire Insurance map of part of my neighborhood.
"D" stands for dwelling.  
Pink represents brick construction and yellow represents wood.
The number of storeys is indicated with a number.
Distances between buildings are shown.

  • Sanborn fire insurance maps originally created for insurance assessment purposes: google "sanborn maps" with your location to see if there are any libraries that carry them.
  • HABS/HAER survey documents at the Library of Congress.  Many listings including measured drawings, photographs and histories are available online. Others that have not yet been digitized may be requested for a nominal fee via email.
  • National Register of Historic Places (neighborhoods or individual buildings).  This designation is typically reserved for special buildings or places where there is a special history for a given location. Residences are not usually included unless the owner was famous or the architecture was important.
  • County records of permits at a given property will tell you what work was done on what dates and who did it.
Happy Heritage!

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