03 December 2008

W & D in Rock Island 1888-1891

W & D didn't ring a bell with me, but I bet this is it: Weyerhaeuser and Denkman--who operated a lumber company at 107 4th Avenue in Rock Island. This is the directory entry that was suggested by a reader in an earlier blog post.

It seems reasonable that the Mortiers would have worked for a lumber company in 1888 or so. The 1895 directory indicates they were working for the Rock Island Lumber Company. People may change employers, but the type of work many times remains the same.

More about the history of the Weyerhaeuser Company can be found on its website. Denkmann was Weyerhaeuser's brother-in-law.

This directory is one of thousands recently posted and indexed on Ancestry.com.
The city directories at Ancestry.com can be searched there. I will be posting more about my work in these directories as time allows.

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02 December 2008

What is "W & D" in Rock Island in 1888?

The 1888-1891 directory for the City of Rock Island contains entries for August and Charles Mortier, both of whom are working for "W & D." Anyone have any idea what company this is?
This directory is one of thousands recently posted and indexed on Ancestry.com.

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25 November 2008

Ethnic Newspapers-Moline, Illinois

The image in this post is "copy" and "pasted" from scans I made from microfilm copies of the Gazette van Moline. The filmed copy was not the greatest, but I did the best I could.
Readers of the blog know that I am a big fan of ethnic newspapers. This obituary makes that point really well. The obituary for Louise Mortier that appeared in the local newspapers in Rock Island and Moline, Illinois, did not provide any specifics in terms of where Mrs. Mortier was born. Her death certificate was equally helpful--simply stating that she was born in Belgium.
This obituary was split over two parts of the paper. Unfortunately the "good" part was very difficult to read, but it can be deciphered. Mrs. Mortier was born in Oost Winkel, East Flanders, Belgium, on 20 April 1855. Of course, an obituary can contain an error, but I was glad to obtain this location as no other source in the United States mentioned the village specifically.
A quick google search for "gazette van moline" found several references to the paper, including one showing some libraries that have the newspaper. I wrote wrote about this obituary for Ancestry.com's blog a few years ago.

That article contains more information on ethnic newspapers and how to find them. They are an excellent genealogical source. Hopefully when I'm in Salt Lake City this coming May, I'll have time to research the records in Oost Winkel for Louise. Other records indicated her maiden name was Van Hoorebeke.
My wife is a descendant of Louise Mortier.

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19 November 2008

OCR Searches of Ancestry.com's City Directories

The city directories on Ancestry.com.are not like the older ones were. This is easier to notice when you search for names instead of browsing through the towns individually as I originally did.

The first screen shot shown in this post comes from the results when I searched on the last name Mortier.

I found several references I already had and some new ones.

One struck my interest. It was for Mrs. Louisa Mortier. In viewing the entry, I had to be careful and look beyond her name.

The temptation might be to just copy that one name and leave it at that. At least in this image, I do have enough of the source to see where the information was obtained (look at the "crumbline" in the upper part of the screen.

What is missing in this entry is who these people are---what their occupation or business is. Any entry must be viewed in context.

Resizing things just a little, we can see that Mrs. Mortier appears in the lists of Boarding Houses. The one thing I did not originally make a note of was whether her boarding house was in Rock Island or in Moline. In directories that combine more than one location in a book, but separate the entries by city, this is important. I should somehow notate that this list is for Rock Island. The directory contains all the Rock Island entries then contains all the Moline entries.

My search results did not find August in the same year. I wondered why this was. To the best of my knowledge he did not return to Belgium, but anything is possible.

I decided to perform a manual search of the directory for August and was not disappointed.

When I looked at the page for the Mortiers, I realized why their names probably were not returned when I searched. There is a black line running down the page. There is a reasonable chance this interfered with the OCR scan of the text.

August is Louisa's husband and Kamiel is his brother. Other records had not indicated she had operated a boarding house, not even the census. I learned a little more than I expected, after all I was just looking for examples to illustrate a blog entry.

The city directories at Ancestry.com can be searched here.

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19 June 2008

Henry Mortier Robbed in 1922

Sometimes one finds things one was not expecting. Ancestry.com recently released more newspapers on its site and one of the items added were some newspapers from Davenport, Iowa. One of the interesting things I found was a reference to my wife's great-grandfather, Henry Mortier (1885-1966).

The Davenport Democrat and Leader of March 17, 1922 explains. While his trolley was empty, Henry Mortier was robbed by a man in his early twenties. I knew Henry operated a streetcar, but this newspaper item was the first I had ever heard of him being robbed at gunpoint.

Mr. Mortier originally drove a trolley in the Illinois Quad Cities after moving his family from the farm in the 1910s. By the time he registered for the World War II draft, he was driving a bus and his employer was listed as the Iowa Ilinois Gas and Electric Company.

We'll post more about experiences searching the newspapers at Ancestry.com in an upcoming blog entry.

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