Friday, May 25, 2018
When a Hint is Not Much of a Hint
While there were no full names written on the photo postcard of Susie and Juanita—one of the abandoned family photographs I found in a northern California antique shop—one encouraging thing was that the card did include an address.
To whom the address belonged, though, wasn't exactly clear. It could have belonged to the "Ira" mentioned in the message posted on the back of the picture—but then, why wasn't it put on the side of the card meant for an address to be written? Could it have instead been referring to the two girls featured in the picture?
Not really sure how to approach this unclear point, I had to strike out in some direction. Going nowhere would only lead to...going nowhere.
So I chose to assume the name Ira and the address—3006 Pine Street in Saint Louis, Missouri—were the two items to pair up for my next search. Since the logo on the back of the postcard led us to discover the possible dates for the photograph—any time between 1906 and 1912—the first logical step would be to search in the 1910 census for an Ira who lived on Pine Street in Saint Louis.
Talk about an exhaustive search. Ira was apparently a popular name back then, at least in Saint Louis. There didn't seem to be any good prospects for our targeted mystery man.
Perhaps our Ira was only in Saint Louis for a few years—from, say, 1906 through 1909. Maybe he left Saint Louis just before the 1910 census enumerator knocked on his door.
All is not lost, in that case. There are always city directories, which became my next step in this needle-in-haystack process. I set my search parameters to look for every Ira in Saint Louis during the original date range of the postcard stamp box—1906 through 1912 and then some, just in case.
Talk about an exhaustive process. I scoured through the many search hits for men named Ira in Saint Louis, but out of hundreds of entries I reviewed, only a few were of people listed as living on Pine Street—and none at the specific address we were given.
This, of course, called for Plan B. I couldn't just give up at this point. The alternative was to delve deeper into the history of addresses in the city of Saint Louis, and to check out any other possibilities. This becomes the sausage-and-politics part of genealogy which is best enjoyed after the process is over, so I will spare you at least most of the gory details. But there are a few things to consider, just in case you find yourself looking at a forsaken family photograph in an antique store sometime in the future and consider the possibility that you, too, could try your hand at sending it home.
We'll check out those discoveries on Monday.