The Life From The Roots blog topics have changed several times since I began this blog. In 2009, with my first posts, I wrote only about the family history I had been working on for 20 years. Many ancestors lived in New England so it was easy to visit gravesites and towns where they lived. I shared many photo. Years later, I was into visiting gardens, historical homes, churches, libraries that had genealogical collections, historical societies, war memorials, in general, anything to do with history. I enjoy posting autographs and photos of famous people I met or saw.

My New England roots are in Connecticut and Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire). Other areas include New York, New Jersey, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, and the Eastern Townships of Quebec, Canada.

Please check out the labels on the right side for topics. Below the labels and pageviews is a listing of my top nine posts, according to Google. Four of them pertain to Lowell, MA, three are memorials, one about a surname and one about a discovery I made. These posts change often because they are based on what people are reading.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Did I Find a Genealogy Clue From The Address Book? Will You?

I was more than pleased to find a huge selection of newly printed books in large print at my local library. One book caught my eye and I knew I had to take it out, even though I knew nothing about the author nor the topic. I never thought about how addresses came about but found many of this author's stories very interesting. When were many of the street names and numbers developed and what were their origins? The author, Deirdre Mask answers this question in one of her 14 chapters. Beginning with The Development and Origins of street names in the Slums in India, Haiti, Rome, London, Vienna, Philadelphia, Korea and Japan. In the second category, she discusses politics regarding street names in Iran and Berlin. The fourth category covers race in Hollywood, Florida, St. Louis, and South Africa. Class and Status is the last category and it covers Manhattan: How Much is a Street Name Worth? and Homelessness: How Do You Live Without an Address?

My large print book was over 400 pages, so I skimmed some. I loved the part about West Virginia and learned that many towns didn't have street names. "For generations, people had navigated West Virginia in creative ways." They described the area where somebody lived, like near a white church, the brick church, the old post office. Can you imagine being a genealogist years ago searching for your ancestor's roots and not having a street name? I never thought about the problems you could have if you didn't have a street name or a number. How can you receive a credit card, visitors, Amazon packages, etc.

There were many sections that I thought a genealogist or a lover of maps would be interested in this book especially when I read, "An adviser to George Washington, Clement Biddle devised this system in 1790 when Philadelphia was conducting a census. Odds on one side evens on the other takes much of the guesswork out of knowing how far a number is along a street." The information about naming the New York City streets from First Street to 155th, the avenues from First to Twelfth. "Numbered streets are a peculiarly American phenomenon. Today, every American city with more than a half-million people has numerical street names. "Second Street is the most common street name in America. "There was a large section about William Penn and Quakerism. I learned that "in some years, more than 40 percent of all local laws passed by the New York City Council have been street name changes." Wow, good luck trying to find somebody there. What about names, especially in the 1700s in England when 90 percent of men had one of only eight names: John, Edward, William, Henry, Charles, James, Richard, or Robert. Good luck if you are researching somebody who lived on 37 King Streets, 25 Victoria Streets, 34 York Streets, 37 Edwards Streets, or 64 Charles Streets or 64 New Streets!

In the author's Notes on page 519, she mentioned Their Gothic Revival cottage, built by an old Dutch family: Tom Miller, "The Lost Ten Eyck House--Park Avenue and 34th Street," and said, "Miller's fantastic blog details the history of the house at length." I am sharing a part of this article because Ten Eyck was my grandmother's maiden name.

"On January 7, 1859, The New York Herald announced that no longer would "the New York and Harlem Railroad Company, or any other company or person" be permitted to run "steam engines or locomotives on Fourth avenue, below or south of Forty-second street."  The new regulation was in response to what today would be called a class action suit by residents in the recently-developing neighborhood.  Listed among the plaintiffs were "Peter Ten Eyck and Margaret Ten Eyck, his wife."  Peter, in fact, had initiated the proceedings.

The Ten Eycks had personal reasons to oppose the locomotives.  They had erected a commodious and charming home on the northeast corner of 34th Street and Fourth Avenue two years earlier.   The Gothic Revival residence no doubt took its inspiration from the 1842 Cottage Residences, by Andrew Jackson Downing.  The book was highly responsible for the popularity of the Gothic Revival style in domestic architecture.

An example of a Gothic house from the 1842 Cottage Residences.  (copyright expired)

The Ten Eyck house was clad in red brick, its openings trimmed in stone square-headed drip moldings.  Gothic tracery dripped from the eaves, a picturesque oriel clung to the eastern corner, and a high stoop led to the ornate pointed-arched doorway.

The Ten Eyck family had been in America since 1650 when Coenraedt Ten Eyck (was my 8th grandfather) and his wife Maria arrived from Amsterdam.  Peter had married Margaret S. S Troutman in 1843.  She was the daughter of Sir John Troutman of the British navy.  Decades later, in 1881, historian James P. Snell noted "Miss Troutman was a lady of culture and possessed of many virtues.  She was a graduate of the Moravian seminary of Bethlehem, Pa., was a fine artist and musician, and possessed a voice of exquisite power and beauty.

Five years later Ten Eyck graduated with honors from the Medical Department of the University of the State of New York.  The well-heeled doctor was also a recognized linguist and inventor.  He held patents for a vehicle brake and the "Rocking-and Revolving Chair."  The couple had two children, Blendenia and Charles Richard.

Just three years after moving into the new house, Peter Van Eyck died on February 11, 1860, at the age of 43. James P. Snell said, "In his own home he was ever the faithful and considerate husband and father, and by his removal, the hearthstone of one of the happiest of New York homes was made forever desolate.

Margaret immediately left the house she had built with her husband; selling it later that year to paper merchant Charles W. Kearney. That year, on April 14 The New York Times noted that Fourth Avenue above 34th Street was "now christened Park-avenue."  It would see one other owner, shipwright Augustus Berrian, before becoming home to Dr. Edward Keyes by 1885."

At first, I thought this would be a project, but as it turned out I was able to connect the above Peter Ten Eyck to my tree within an hour. He and I are 3rd cousins 5 times removed through Jeremiah Field and Mary Van Vechten and 4th  cousins 4 times removed through Mathys Ten Eyck and Janntje Roosa.

From the New York Times
By Sarah Vowell
April 14, 2020
THE ADDRESS BOOK What Street Addresses Reveal About Identity, Race, Wealth, and Power By Deirdre Mask

Since the turn of this century, Portland, Ore., has changed the name of 39th Avenue to Cesar E. Chavez Boulevard, Portland Boulevard to Rosa Parks Way and a stretch of Southwest Stark to Harvey Milk Street. Civil rights icons seem on brand for such a cartoonish lefty town. BOOKS: Be the first to read books news and see reviews, news and features in The New York Times Book Review. Sign Up Yet, having whiled away a premature midlife crisis in Portland at the end of the 1980s, back when it was nicknamed “Skinhead City” after a trio of young white supremacists murdered an Ethiopian student with a baseball bat, I remember why Front Avenue is still called Front. In the ’80s, when the city sent a survey to Front’s merchants and residents about renaming it after Martin Luther King Jr., more than 200 respondents vetoed the idea and only nine endorsed it. I’ll never forget the morning in April 1990 when downtown commuters did a collective double-take at a prank perpetrated by artists who called themselves Group X. The tricksters had pasted over the Front Avenue street signs with impeccably silk-screened facsimiles labeled “Malcolm X St,” a tongue-in-cheek admonition of pleasant Portland’s ugly edge. The city rebranded a different street as Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, though not without bellyaching among the citizenry. As Deirdre Mask recalls in her chapter on streets named for King in “The Address Book: What Street Addresses Reveal About Identity, Race, Wealth, and Power,” “dozens of people heckled outside the renaming ceremony.”