Moving Day Records
Americans move, a lot, all over the country, every day. Utility bills, telegrams, school records, journals, cards, and letters can be sources of those moves. Those records are likely to be found in a family’s ephemerel piles of paper. In addition, records of some moves may be found in small local newspapers.
- Land Ownership
- Go West
When is Moving Day Worthy of Note and Likely to Leave a Genealogical Trail?
Purchasing a house or farm, in addition to starting a real estate paper trail in the county Recorder’s Office or Register of Deeds, often results in a snippet in the newspaper or inclusion in an entire column of property transfers. (Connecticut and Vermont have town clerks, Louisiana has parish records.)
Migration trails were pretty well known from East to West. With the advent of fully indexed census records with varying searchable traits, it is possible to use the census for at least those moves or stops along the trail in the decennial years. Wagon trains, push carts, horses, walking, ships, however you could get west worked. There may be newspaper articles about the families leaving on specific date or for a specific trail or later there may be articles about remaining family members visiting relatives out west and conversely articles about distant family members returning home to visit remaining family. In the example below at the end, “Mrs. Daniel S. Himmelreich, of Brooklyn, New York is visiting her mother, 710 N. Street,” isn’t clear about who moved to or from Reading and aggravatingly leaves out the name of the mother, but does include her address. Remember depending on the decade, go west could mean across the Appalachian Mountains, across the Rocky Mountains or all the way to the Pacific Coast.
The general mass moving day when leases expired and/or renewed was known as flitting day, April 1st was the Pennsylvania custom. Chicago, Boston and New York custom was May 1st. Sometimes those moves, from farm to farm, house to house or store to store, were written up as news or enumerated in the local newspaper the last week in March and first couple days in April or for Chicago, Boston and New York, the last week in April and the first couple of days in May. The business records of an expressman would be worth checking for that day or week for the most moves.
Reading Eagle, 30 March 1884, p. 4
When a student left for college, many times the local newspaper printed a blurb. An example below describes John Riley Esenwein who left Reading to attend the School of Pharmacy in Philadelphia. City directories in a hometown often listed a child as a student but not where. In addition to the leaving home notice, other college news like Dean’s Lists, awards, and graduations, were likely articles in a local newspaper. Almost all specific college or univeristy alumni magazines had a “news of our graduates” section to keep track of those who wished to be located. Boulder-based Mocavo at Mocavo.com has indexed a nice set of college and high school yearbooks with the added bonus of photographs of seniors and sometimes other classes.
The photograph includes two men in military style outfits, a couple bow ties, one woman, and lots of men with center parts.
An alphabetical listing of the University of West Virginia freshman class of 1905 including six women: Samuel Clement Abersold, Henry Ahrens, Arthur Arnold, Gohen Clark Arnold, William Garnet Bayliss, Clyde Mortimer Bennett, Oscar Berman, John Charles Berry, William Thomas Brown, Evalyn Sage Burns, Frank Morris Boyles, George Okes Conner, Ray Cornelius Crago, William Lee Coogle, Arthur Spencer Dayton, Paul Pliny Dennis, Maude Evans Dille, Mary Dorothy Edwards, Joel Wilbur Evaul, Ralph Bernard Fairfax, Joseph Kelty Falls, Melvin Llewellyn Forbes Jr., Winter Reginald Frantz, Robert Gatheram, Joseph Applegate Gist, Ethel Everill Green, Emily Elizabeth Hall, Arthur Hall, Harry William Hart, Welch Hudson Henritze, Stephen Goodloe, Clarence Ivan Lantz, Eugenede La Pointe McCormick, Perry Wade McMillen, Harry Albert Meder, Russel G. Millan, Warren Daniel Miller, Charles Raymond Morgan, Wilfred Armstrong Morris, Nellie Delia Morris, Norman Edward Morin, Clifford Myers, Harold Irving Multon, Clarence Post, Dell Roy Richards, Wilbur Howard Robinson, Joseph Edward Settle, Dudley Shields, Walter Richard Simmons, Anna Eliza Smith, Robert Parvin Strickler, David Lee Talkington, Charles Encelle Wayman, James Elmer Wilson, Charles Evans Wells Jr., Herbert Addison Woffter, John Harold Young. The pages in the year book include degree and hometown.
Last but not in any way least, when a young man or nowdays a young woman enlisted in the service, records were kept by the draft agency, the enlistment office, each branch of the service and very likely, the local newspaper.
Reading Eagle, 2 Sept. 1882, (Reading, Berks Co., Pa.), p. 1 contains an example of a daughter visiting her mother and an example of a son going off to college.