City directories offer tidbits about family, business history

Posted March 22, 2009, at 10:55 p.m.
Last modified Feb. 13, 2011, at 10:43 a.m.

I’ve had the 1947 and 1977 city directories for Bangor on my desk at work for years. It’s so wonderful to look back at what used to be where, and who used to live where, even if they’re not my family. Bangor is certainly my adopted home.

Of course, I don’t need to own every city directory for Bangor, but somehow, when I was downtown on a recent Saturday afternoon, the shelves at Lippincott’s called to me.

And there I found it, the Bangor Brewer Veazie and Hampden 1901 directory.

There was no map, no listing by street, no relatives of this Piscataquis County girl except a few distant cousins — a couple of Hayfords, a trio of Peirces.

Home I went with my newly purchased treasure — “I can use it for work” I told my patient husband, who has been encouraging me to prune our book collection, not add to it. (And I do prune, and find good homes for things in libraries.)

Ah, but this city directory is special. Not just name and address and occupation. How about these useful tidbits for 1901 Bangor?

· Name of widow’s late husband. Here are a couple of entries. “Peckham Abbie S., widow of Isaac B., h. 116 Essex.” “Pendleton Margaret D., widow of Erastus O., h. 14 Kenduskeag Ave.”

· Place of occupation, in many instances. “Pellum Hiram, teamster, J.F. Woodman & Co., b. 184 Center.” And “Pellum John, teamster, Bacon & Robinson Co., b. 43 Hodgdon.” The abbreviation “b.” stands for “boards,” although sometimes it seems obvious that the person is living with family.

· Died during the previous year. “Peck Asa B., died Dec. 4, 1899.”

· Both work and home addresses. “Peirce William B. lawyer, 49 Hammond, h. 25 Parkview Ave.”

· Works and lives at the same address. “Pentzel T.M. Miss, dressmaker, 90 Main, h. do.

ä Officer listed for business or organization. “Penobscot Lumbering Association, Chas. H. Adams, clerk, 106 Exchange.” “Penobscot Log Driving Co., John H. Rice, clerk, 94 Exchange.” “Pearl & Dennett, (Charles S. Pearl and Carl P. Dennett), real estate and insurance, 45 Hammond.”

As you will note, in many cases this is more information than you would find even in the 1900 census. Of course, that census lists month and year of birth for each resident, which also is vital information.

Consider this — three women named Mary Keefe in Bangor in 1901. The city directory sorts them out very nicely for us:

· Keefe Mary, widow of James H., h. 172 Washington.

· Keefe Mary, widow of Patrick, h. 108 Garland.

· Keefe Mary, widow of Thomas, died Sept. 10, 1899.

The census would list each woman and her age, but not the name of her late husband.

This and other city directories are available in the Bangor Room on the third floor of Bangor Public Library, 145 Harlow St. There is an elevator just inside the door of the children’s entrance on the right side of the building.

I’ve been doing research at BPL for more than 30 years, and I’m still discovering new things.

···

The Maine Historical Society, PCA Great Performances and the Canadian Consulate in Boston invite you to learn about the shared cultural resources of Maine and Canada at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 25, at the Maine Historical Society, 489 Congress St., Portland.

“Traverser la Frontiere — Across the Border” is a lecture and discussion where presenters and audience members are encouraged to communicate in French and English.

Participants will include:

· Dr. Barry Rodrigue, University of Southern Maine professor and editor of “Voyages: A Maine Franco-American Reader.”

· Dr. Eric Waddell, author and associate professor at Laval University in Quebec.

· Greg Chabot, Franco-American playwright and actor.

· Marie Cormier, actress.

· Normand Beaupre, Francophone playwright.

The event is part of PCA Great Performances’ Traverser la Frontiere series.

The event is free and open to the public. For information, contact PCA Great Performances at pcabox@pcagreatperformances.org or call 773-3150.

···

The Aroostook County Genealogical Society will meet at a new location starting today at 6:30 p.m. at Cary Medical Center, 163 Van Buren Road, Caribou. The society meets the fourth Monday of each month except in July and December.

Send genealogy queries to Family Ties, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor, ME 04402; or e-mail queries to familyti@bangordailynews.net.

SEE COMMENTS →

ADVERTISEMENT | Grow your business
ADVERTISEMENT | Grow your business

Similar Articles

More in Living