Before My Time is about the ancestry and extended family of my four grandparents: John Samuel Krentz (Indiana/North Dakota), Margreta Tjode Hedwig (Gertie) Buss (North Dakota), Rosmer Pettis Kerr (Pennsylvania/Michigan), and Evelyn Elvina Hauer (Michigan), and other topics in genealogy and family history.

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Saturday, November 23, 2013

Mapping Detroit Ancestors

I spent yesterday afternoon mapping my Detroit ancestors. This was my process:
  1. I first created a legend for the map. I determined which surnames I wanted to map and chose a color for each one. Under each surname, I listed the addresses chronologically. I used a city directory street guide to determine which cross-streets an address was between.
  2. Working from the legend, I marked each address on the map with a dot. For this job, I thought it would be pretty easy to use a period from large heavy font (I chose Bauhaus 93) at the 72-point size. I changed the color of the font as needed to match the dots to the surnames on my legend. (If I had put each color, i.e. each surname, on a separate layer, I could later drop out unnecessary dots if I want to feature, say, only the Hauer addresses, by making a layer temporarily invisible. I forgot to do it that way, though, so all my dots are on the same layer, darn it.)
  3. I saved the map as a Paint Shop Pro file, thus maintaining the ability to make adjustments to the map later if I so desire. I also saved a separate copy as a JPG file. Below is a detail from the map, along with a quick-&-dirty screen shot of the legend. It's a work in progress!

My map may not be perfect. I encountered a few problems. For one, in addition to the change in street numbering which took effect 1 Jan 1921, Detroit had some earlier changes also, not only to address numbers but in some cases even the street name was changed. I used an 1898 map which I pieced together from the 1898 city directory online. There were changes to the map over the years which, of course, are not reflected on the map. For example, when I marked the location of George Corneilson's ice cream parlor on Jefferson near Lycaste, I had to estimate its placement because Lycaste did not exist on the 1898 map. And I need to make some adjustments to my legend. All in good time!

Meanwhile, here's the map I used. It's a fairly large file (7.1MB) and measures 6563 x 5033 pixels. I looked into getting it printed and it would be in the $50-60 price range for a size about 3' x 4'. The printer wasn't sure it would print clearly, nor was he sure the street names would be large enough to read. However, I tried printing a section blown up to about the right size and found that the street names were legible, albeit tiny. My original idea was to tack the enlarged map to a bulletin board and mark all my significant places with little flags, but I couldn't bear the thought of poking holes in a $60 map, so I told the printer I'd reconsider printing after I've marked my significant places right on the map. (I do hope his estimate was for a color print!)

To download the map for your own use, right-click and select View Image, then right-click again and choose Save Image As and navigate to the folder where you want to save it. (No, my ancestors' homes are not marked on this copy!)

 You may also find it helpful to have this explanation of Detroit's house-numbering system:


Cheryl said...

This is fantastic work. Good job. I am very impressed.

Diane Hall said...

Thank you so much for this post. I love the idea of mapping my ancestors like this. I have many city directories with addresses to work from. I too come from Detroit and we go back to my great grandparents in that once grand city. I have your blog on my reading list already and just hadn't been here in a little while.

Diane @

TK said...

Thanks, Diane... these days you don't have to stop by here very often to keep up! ;-)

Blog Archive


Our Family in Books: A Bibliography

  • My Ancestors in Books (a library of resources and notes pertaining to Reverend Samuel Stone, Major General Robert Sedgwick, Elder John Crandall, and other early Americans in the forest where my family tree was grown)
  • The Zahnisers: A History of the Family in America by Kate M. Zahniser and Charles Reed Zahniser (Mercer, Pa. 1906)
  • History of St. James Lutheran Church [full title: A little of this and a little of that in the 141 year (1861-2002) History of St. James Lutheran Church, Reynolds Indiana] by Harold B. Dodge, published at Reynolds, Indiana, 2002; 170 pages.
  • Lisbon, North Dakota 1880-2005 Quasuicentennial, published at Lisbon, North Dakota in 2005; 391 pages.
  • The Paschen and Redd Families of Cass County, Indiana by Alfred Paschen, c. 2005 (Gateway Press, Inc., Baltimore, MD); 322 pages.
  • Sheldon Community History: Sheldon Centennial 1881-1981, published at Sheldon, North Dakota in 1981; 376 pages.
  • Sheldon, North Dakota 1881-2006 - 125th Anniversary: The Queen of the Prairie, published at Sheldon, North Dakota in 2006; 498 pages.
  • A Standard History of White County, Indiana, written under the supervision of W.H. Hamelle, c. 1915 (The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago and New York).
  • The Roots of Coventry, Connecticut by Betty Brook Messier and Janet Sutherland Aronson, c. 1987 (Coventry 275th Anniversary Committee, Coventry, CT); 206 pages.
  • "Elder John Crandall of Rhode Island and His Descendants" by John Cortland Crandall; New Woodstock, New York, 1949; 797 pages.
  • "The Descendants of Robert Burdick of Rhode Island." Nellie (Willard) Johnson, Pd.B.: H & L Creations, LLC.

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