Research tip: Societies and Organizations

Societies and organizations can provide a clue to city life for both sociological and biographical researchers. Membership in the Elks, Masons, International Order of Odd Fellows, Woodmen of the World and similar societies can help genealogists make sense of their ancestors’ after-hours activities.

In this case, the Arizona Weekly Journal-Miner published a report of a Chautauqua group meeting in Prescott.  Chautauqua meetings were part of a national system of adult education featuring lectures, musical performers, and religious preachers. It had both local chapters and a tent-show circuit. Prescott’s appears to be a local, or “daughter,”  chapter.

Chautauquans 7-25-1888
Arizona Weekly Journal Miner : July 25, 1885

 

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Researching property history in Arizona, Part 5: Flood Control District Aerial Photos

What was in a vacant lot, in the time before it became vacant? Was there ever anything there? Photographs freeze time, helping researchers to see what a house or landscape looked like in the past. Google Earth shows current aerial views, but for historical aerial photos across the decades, consult the Maricopa County Flood Control District website.

By default, the site shows the most recent available year. Clicking on “Change Aerial” on the right side of the screen opens up a small menu to the left of the screen, with choices of “View a Single Year Aerial”, “Compare 2 Years of Aerials” and “View Oblique Aerial”.

Comparing two years divides the screen with a slider, showing decades of change with a drag of the mouse. The “View Oblique Aerial” option is only for 1930 and shows the map with associated oblique photos and instructions on how to view them. Resolution varies yearly, and some years had very limited coverage. Zooming out completely shows total coverage for each year.

Portland St, Phoenix 1930
Portland St, Phoenix 1930

Researchers will likely want to zoom in on a particular mile or half-mile, then note changes for each photo set. For instance, the area in the Simm’s Addition subdivision, part of which now contains Hance Park, shows change each decade. 1930 shows a row of houses south of Culver, with larger, wooded lots north of Westmoreland. By 1959 some of the lots have emptied, with nearly no houses by 1979.

Portland St, Phoenix 1979
Portland St, Phoenix 1979

The 1986 image shows something like a large quarry, but what was Westmoreland Park is still there. 1991 shows the beginning of the current park, but large blank patches and signs of construction remain. The green lines of what would become I-10 are overlaid throughout, and these photos show how, over the decades, land was cleared along its path.

4. Portland 1986
Portland St, Phoenix 1986
Portland 2013
Portland St, Phoenix 2013

For historians studying development in Phoenix, quick access to these photos proves an invaluable resource.  They can witness neighborhoods expand and contract, or just find out if a house had a pool—or was simply a vacant lot.

Researching Arizona’s place names

place names 3Questions regarding colorful Arizona place names often take place on the highways, where exit signs point to places like “Bloody Basin Road.” If curiosity survives the miles, where can someone look up how these places get named?

There are two standard works for such research: Arizona Place Names by Will C. Barnes and Arizona’s Names: X Marks the Place by Byrd Howell Granger, and both have a place in the State Research Library’s ready reference collection due to frequent use. The library’s copy of original edition of Barnes’ book is heavily annotated and the first few pages are falling apart.

The two books have an intertwined history: Arizona Historian Will C. Barnes’ book was first printed in 1935. Granger revised Barnes’ book for the University of Arizona Press in 1960. Granger published her own book in 1983, and the current edition of Arizona Place Names was published in 1988, and remains in print.
place names 2
The bibliography for the current Barnes book is two pages. Granger’s book contains nine pages of cited publications and three pages of persons interviewed for oral history. Granger explains “Where a family name is cited, the reference is to information learned during visits with “old timers” or those knowing local history. During the early years of research, the oral sources were most important, for the true pioneers were increasingly being silenced by time.”
Both Barnes and Granger give the location of the place name. Sometimes more than one place in Arizona has the same name!

So to answer the question of Bloody Basin, according to Barnes, it is “Said to have been so called because of the many battles with Indians that took place in this region.” (Barnes,54). Granger repeats this, but also adds that “Fred Henry and four other prospectors were attacked here by Apaches in May 1864 and all were wounded. Henry went for help despite having been wounded in both legs.” She also notes the story of a bridge over a gorge where Bloody Basin is: “During one of these crossings, the suspension bridge collapsed and the sheep fell to a bloody death in the “basin” below.” (Granger, 76).

Arizona Territorial Census Records Now Available Online!

A significant group of valuable Arizona historical record collections, provided through a partnership with the Arizona State Archives and Ancestry.com, are now available on-line and free to residents of the State of Arizona through Ancestry.com.  This includes the Arizona territorial census records covering the years from 1864 through 1882.

All Arizona records are available at azlibrary.gov and can be found on the Doing Research at the Archives page or directly at https://www.azlibrary.gov/arm/research-archives/archives-resources/ancestry-arizona.

This access requires a free Ancestry.com Arizona account. To set up your account you simply go to the web page and enter your five digit Arizona zip code in the space at the bottom of the page.  Once your account is established researchers gain unlimited access to Arizona records that are a part of the State Archives of Arizona’s extensive holdings.

Congratulations Chris!

ChrisAward

Chris Seggerman, Genealogy Researcher was recognized at today’s meeting of the Arizona State Library, Archives, and Public Records Advisory Board meeting for rising to the occasion and ensuring a smooth transition of the genealogy collection to the Polly Rosenbaum History and Archives Building. Pictured left to right: Secretary of State Michele Reagan, Chris Seggerman, Library Advisory Board Chairman Brenda Brown.

To learn about the genealogy resources at the Polly Rosenbaum History and Archives:

http://www.azlibrary.gov/arm/research-archives/genealogy-and-family-history (this link no longer works as we no longer have a separate genealogy collection. However, you can click HERE to see what genealogy material we still have in our catalog.)

To learn more about the advisory board:

http://www.azlibrary.gov/about/boards-and-commissions/advisory-board  (link still works, however the Advisory Board Of The Arizona State Library, Archives And Public Records was repealed effective August 9, 2017).