Talk about snail mail…

In September of last year I sent a letter to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington, Vermont regarding a marriage between a Samuel Johnson and Elizabeth Fox. The reason for the request was I wanted to find out if this Samuel was a brother of Almyra Johnson Brooks.

Well, nine months later I finally got a response. Samuel Johnson was the son of John Johnson and Margaret Fing. So, no he is not Almyra’s brother. Now he has been relegated to a possible cousin.

Great, this means I have to add another line of research to my Johnson quest, hopefully it won’t lead to another brick wall.

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One thing leads to another…

Recently I have been doing a lot of directory research and creating databases in an attempt to unravel the mystery of the Johnson family, as it related to Almyra Johnson who married John Brooks. I have to say intriguing and tantalizing bits of data have come to light, but still nothing but a lot of strings that aren’t connected. Yet.

Yesterday, in the midst of my research, I realized that I hadn’t attempted to find the name of the shop that the Brooks owned in Burlington. So I spent a little time trying to suss it out, but it appears that they merely manufactured cigars at the address and employed several people to help with the business. Including a William and Samuel Johnson at one time. I would venture to guess that these two gentlemen might be brothers of Almira Johnson Brooks. Samuel I have mentioned before.

Another bit of data I uncovered was about their daughter Almyra Brooks who married Dillon Franklin Hatch in 1873. D. F. partnered up with his brother-in-law, David Walker, and they ran a furniture factory, the nature of which changed over time. Walker and Hatch was the name for the most part eventually adding another name when they partnered up with another man.

For a while D. F. and Almyra Hatch lived right next door to her parents, at 85 King Street. If you look at the address now, on Google maps, it is the King Street Center.

Above is the Hatch entry in the 1881 Burlington directory. They lived at this address for a few years before moving to 181 St. Paul [st.]. By 1900 the Hatch family had moved to Ohio.

Here is an ad for the furniture business from 1879:

Update to this entry: I was going over Almira’s probate record to day and saw that there were several Walker grandchildren receiving part of the estate, they were all children of Anna who married a Walker and died before 1901 when the estate was being divvied out.

A little corner shop

Brooks’ former store, King Street is the one going off to the left in the picture, Pine Street is the one going off to the right.

Sometime around 1855 Almira and John Brooks headed on over to Burlington, Vermont to live. At this time I am not sure exactly when the Brooks started their store in Burlington, but I do know that by 1868 they were living and working at this address which was called ‘corner of King and Pine’ it didn’t have an exact address until sometime between 1872-1882. In this picture it is currently clad in hideous vinyl. It would be nice to see it in its original dress. According to records in 1890 Almira is the owner of the building, and John is still alive. He didn’t pass until 1898. So now the question is why is she the owner of the building and not both of them. Hmmm. Inheritance? She also owed the building next door at 176/178 Pine Street. Which I believe they lived in or used as a home at one time  or another.

The Historic Burlington: University of Vermont website describes the house as:

“This 2 1/2 story, wood frame building, which is clad in vinyl siding and has a pyramidal, slate-clad roof and a 2-story octagonal oriel on its northwest corner, was probably built between 1877 and 1886, although it may be of an earlier date.”

The family actually lived at 79/81 King Street for a year or two, according to city directories. Which is part of the building, see the door off towards the left with the small awning. According to the Historic Burlington: University of Vermont website a birdseye view of Burlington in 1877, apparently, clearly shows no buildings at that location, and the ‘massing’ of the 79/81 King Street building make it doubtful that is was built in the 1860s. I am not sure what we can say about that other than land records would likely clear the matter up along with tax rolls. The address would be considered 174 Pine Street if one numbered it from that side of the streets.

The building was used as a commercial business for a large portion of its life, the lower part being used as a shop of some kind or other, the top being used as apartment rentals. It wasn’t until sometime after the 1970s that the bottom was boarded up.

You can still see the building using google street view. Not very pretty, but it is one of the few remaining older buildings in the town.

I even have an update.

In looking over the website mentioned above, I found two plat maps that have the home listed on them. Which is curious because according to the University’s research the building isn’t there in the 1877 birdseye view map. That may be so, but it shows up on these two:

This plat is from 1853. The family is probably not living here at the time, but as you can see the building is there on the corner of King and Pine.

This map is from 1869. The family is definitely there now, as can be plainly seen by the J. Brooks entry on the map.

The building as it looked in 1933 just barely in the picture on the left edge of image.

Directories are the new census…

There are some names in genealogical research that are hair-pulling nightmares. Johnson is one of them. As is Smith, John, Brooks all of which we are blessed with. In this case I am researching Almyra Johnson, who married John Brooks, and her parents Samuel and Catherine in Albany, New York.

I have had no luck whatsoever in finding any of Almyra’s family in Albany County. I have tried many databases in some cases many times over, and had zero luck over the years. So I decided to try a new tact. Directories.

My first thought in my new line of research was why did the Brooks family move to Vermont in the 1850s. What was the draw? Did Almyra have family there? So I proceeded to check the Albany directories first just in case Samuel and Catherine show up. Needless to say it was a fruitless endeavor, as I can’t tell if any Samuel or Catherine listed is actually related to Almyra because none of the addresses appeared to clear the matter up. So I moved my efforts to Burlington, Vermont directories.

As I have already done the research on the Brooks in the directories in Vermont, I was comparing any Johnsons found to the same address or close. I hit pay dirt. I found a Samuel Johnson living at the same address as Almyra and John. A check of the census records about the same time period told me that this was most likely a brother of Almyras, due to his age in the census record. Samuel, jr worked with the railroad in town and there are a couple of other Johnsons working at the same railroad company living in Burlington, but at different addresses. Most likely all related. I have not found her parents yet, but the research is still young and I don’t have access to some of the records I need to continue with the leads. Just another item to put on the SLC research list.

I continued to research Samuel and his family in the hopes of finding something else of interest or a more tangible link, but so far nothing has turned up. It appears that he moved his family to Springfield, Massachusetts. Just a few miles down the road from our Shepard ancestors. They pretty much stayed there until they died.

It was a nice feeling to finally find some family for Almyra, hopefully future research will complete the picture for her.