Tag Archives: City Directories

An Older Brother?!

16 Jan

In my quest to learn more about William Ziesel’s life, I put some effort into researching his childhood. Looked up his parents, siblings, etc. Looks like William had three older siblings: George, Charles, and Annette (Annie).

Well, a few months into this search, I’ve determined that

A. William wasn’t the baby…there was a sister younger than him (which I’ll discuss later).

B. William actually probably had four older siblings, not three.

Let’s talk about Henry Ziesel (1861-1861).

While looking for obscure Ziesels that lived in Philadelphia in the 1800’s, I found an indexed death record:

Screen shot 2013-01-05 at 10.06.19 AM

Let’s go through a list and see what fits:

1. Henry has the right parents, Jacob and Christina Ziesel.

2. I can only find one Ziesel family living in Philadelphia in the 1865 City Directory, and it is Jacob (the tailor):

Screen shot 2013-01-05 at 10.27.08 AM

3. Baby Henry was apparently born on 1 August 1861. His older brother, George, was born in 1859. That’s enough time after that birth to have Henry. The next brother, Charles, is born in September 1862. That is enough time after Henry’s birth and death for his mother to get pregnant and carry Charles for nine months. So he fits within his family.

4. The 1870 US Census doesn’t ask if the mother of a household had any children who were not living. That’s too bad, because that could help with my research. Same with the 1880 US Census. That doesn’t matter because Christina had passed on by that point.

With that said, I do believe Henry is part of this family on the argument that there are no other Ziesels in Philadelphia, and the correct parents are listed. So, I’m adding him. And I like it.

I’ll tell you about finding his younger, baby sister soon…


My Love of Addresses!

30 Dec

I just went and looked at all of the census records I’ve downloaded from Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org and every one of them, except the really early ones, have addresses (or what look like addresses..some of the handwriting is abysmal, like mine). The early ones don’t. But if I’m looking post-1900, I can see addresses on the left-hand side of each of them…

I posted a little about addresses here.

As I was replying to a comment recently, I listed a few things I do to determine, deduce, or double-check the addresses. Let’s use one of William’s homes to illustrate:


Here is the 1930 US Census with William. Check out the bottom left hand corner for the address running up the side:

Screen shot 2012-12-25 at 7.04.20 PM

You never know what you’ll find. For instance, at first glance, William and his (3rd) wife, Mary, seem to live at either “So. Smedley Str.” or So. Smellyfest” or “So. Smulleyjest”. Hmm. I can’t tell. I know he said his home was worth $36,000. That’s like 400k bones nowadays. But if he lived on Smellyfest or Smulleyjest Street, I will disown him.

So, I’m zooming in (and rotating the picture instead of my head):


Like an idiot, I left my little cursor-hand-thing in the picture when I did the screen-capture, but you get the idea. Can you see “Spruce” in there, really lightly written? Here, this will make it easier:


“Spruce”? Yes, it looks like they lived on Spruce Street in Philadelphia. Or at least they might have. Better keep looking…


If I look at the street above William and Mary’s on the census form, I find “South 17th Street”. So I head to Google Maps and look for 17th Street. In fact, I look for 319 South 17th Street because that is the listing right above William. That may have been the house the census person visited right before he or she visited my ancestor. On Google Maps I find the following:

cross streets

You’ll notice that South 17th Street conveniently crosses SPRUCE STREET. And in fact, 319 South 17th Street is pretty close to 1626 Spruce Street.

There is a third thing I could try.


I searched the City Directory Index for Philadelphia in 1950, and I found Dr. Wm Ziesel at 1626 Spruce…

Screen shot 2012-12-25 at 7.29.35 PM

Awesome. I know that isn’t the only place he lived, and soon I’m going to use the census records mixed with the city directories to track him house to house until he died…I’ve looked at some of the addresses and used the “Street View” on Google Maps to see what the houses look like (if they are still there…).

And then I will trick-or-treat there…maybe.