Mappy Monday: The Jordan Township farm

2012 was the year that I just had to find where my 4x great grandfather Peter Wetzel lived in 1860.  Based on the census records, this was the same farm that the Wetzel family lived 10 years prior.  Could this also have been where my 3x great grandfather Henry was born?  I searched…and searched…I spent so many hours scouring through records and microfilm but I wasn’t coming up with anything but I was not about to give up.

While preparing for a trip back up to Northumberland County to go cemetery hopping, I did a quick search for township maps for the county to help me get around (sometimes maps are just the preferred method over a GPS).  A few clicks later I was looking at an 1858 land owner’s map of Jordan Township and there it was in flashing neon “P Weitzel”.  Oh, but how could I be certain this was my Peter?  The map showed the landowners and the Federal Census lists the “Value of Real Estate owned” so let’s compare.  Ha…his neighbors match up!  I found Peter’s home…at least on this roadless, streetless map from 1858.

1858 Jordan Township land owner's map

1858 Jordan Township land owner’s map

Luckily, I have been using the U.S. Geological Survey’s website www.usgs.gov for quite a few years so I immediately used their site to pull up a map of the general area.  From there it was a matter of matching up natural and man-made features to find the right location.  I actually got really lucky with this as the nearby features were the same then and now but the nice feature was the line of Troutman owned houses in 1858 with was easily found on the current day map as Troutman Lane.  I now knew the exact location of the farm my family owned so many years ago.

2010 USGS street/topo map

2010 USGS street/topo map

Now you didn’t think I was going to be in that general area and pass up tracking this farm down now did ya?  Once the coordinates were in the GPS it was not only easy to find but it was also exactly where I thought it would be based on the maps.  What to do once there…uh, knock on the door?

Original barn and outbuilding in background

Original barn and outbuilding in background

It turns out that the property was purchased from my ancestors by the current owners ancestors…how cool is that!  For an hour and a half they shared with me all they knew about the property, the buildings (two of which are original), the area as well as local cemeteries I may find my family buried.  Before leaving, they invited me to look around and take some pictures.

I am so thankful that someone thought to make these maps in 1858 and that others have protected them and made them available to others over the past 155 years.

 

The original house is underneath some nice upgrades.

The original house is underneath some nice upgrades.

 

Map source: 1858 Jordan Township map, http://ancestortracks.com/; 2010 road/topo map, http://www.usgs.gov

 

Those Places Thursday: My Wetzel homestead

My first time I found documentation on my 3x great grandfather was in 2000 and it was purely accidental.  I had been tracking my great grandmother backwards and was hoping that the 1910 census would show her married and possibly with a child or two.  While I was very happy to find this was the case, I was not surprised by the information.  The surprise that I found in this census was that not only was she living with her husband and child but was also living with her grandfather who was listed as the head of the house.  There he was, Henry Wetzel aged 64…living right where I knew our people were from.  At that instant, not only did I feel connected with Henry but I was also drawn to Trevorton like never before.

In a relatively short period of time I found that Henry had moved to Trevorton by 1870.  At some point between 1880 and 1900 he purchased the home where multiple generations of my family would be born, live and die.  It is this home where I found him in 1910.

The family home in 1891.  The woman in the picture is Catherine, my 3x great grandmother.  This is the only photo I have ever seen of her.  The young girl in front of her is my great grandmother.

The family home in 1891. The woman in the picture is Catherine, my 3x great grandmother. This is the only photo I have ever seen of her. The young girl in front of her is my great grandmother.

To say I am obsessed with this house might just be an understatement.  After Henry’s death in 1913, his son Howard purchased the home from the estate and in turn raised his family in the place he grew up.  Though I was not certain what happened to the house after 1940, I never stopped looking or searching for more information on it.

In 2012 I met many of the descendants of Howard and was incredibly happy to find out that the house remained with the family until after Howard’s passing in 1957 and that everyone had many wonderful memories and stories of the “Wetzel Homestead”.  Through this portion of the family I have had the privilege to view many old family photos that clearly show the importance this house played in the lives of so many.  It was also through these photos that I realized that I knew this house.  This was the green house directly across from the school I attended in my youth.

I have made the three hour trip back home many times for genealogical research and always make sure to take a quick drive by though always refraining from knocking to ask for a looksie.  Can you imagine my surprise when I opened my RSS reader a couple of weeks ago only to have the address of my ancestors home jumping off the screen at me.  The news article was about the “life change” the owners were experiencing and while I feel bad for them, I couldn’t stop my first thought from wondering if my house was going to be put up for sale.

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