1916 City Directories – More than just names

When you find a relative in a City Directory don’t just take the one entry, look through the whole City Directory and find other entries for the family and maybe find information about where they lived.

Here is an example of what you can find in a City Directory if you take the time to look.
I was working on the Birkenbusch family and came upon this City Directory entry for Louis Birkenbusch.
01 - 1916 - Louis Birkenbusch 000
You can see the transcript has some good information but not all the information that is available on the original City Directory page.

02 - 1916 - Louis Birkenbusch Optician
For one thing it didn’t mention that he was an Optician.
We could accept this one page and move on to some other record but since we know how to page through records we will click on the arrows at the bottom of the page or type in an image number to see what else is in this City Directory.
We will start from the beginning and type in a “1” where the “139” is.

03 - 1916 - City Directory - Pekin, Illinois
We see the cover of the City Directory which gives us the city name and year.
We now type in a “2” or use the right arrow to move to the next page.

04 - 1916 - City Directory - Pekin, Illinois 001
We now type in a “3” or use the right arrow to move to the next page.

05 - 1916 - City Directory - Pekin, Illinois 002
Here we see a map of the city as it looked in 1916.

06 - 1916 - City Directory - Pekin, Illinois 003
On Image “9” we see the abbreviations they used in the directory and the start of the alphabetical listing.

07 - 1916 - Birkenbusch Family - names and address
On Image 18 of 171 we find an entry for the Birkenbusch family. We see their names and their addresses.
Henry Birkenbusch is a watchmaker, jeweler and dealer in diamonds. His store is at 420 Court and he rents a house at 600 Park Ave.
Mrs. Francisca Birkenbusch also lives at 600 Park Ave
Louis who is a jeweler as well as an optician also lives at 600 Park Ave with his wife Kate.
A Henry C. Birkenbusch rents at 105 St. Mary
Mrs. Katherine Birkenbusch the widow of William rents at 1006 Catherine and lives there with a William who works at P. C. Co.
The City Directory does not tell us how these people are related except when the man is listed on same line as his wife. The City Directory has given us their addresses so now we can look for those street addresses and see if there is additional information on those entries.

08 - 1916 - Mrs K and Wm Birkenbusch 1006 Catherine
We found the name listed on image 18 and we have to go all the way to image 121 to see the first street address, 1006 Catherine. Here is the same information we already have.

09 - 1916 - H and Louis Birkenbusch 600 Park
The next street address is on image 128 where we find 600 Park and it has the same information we already have.

10 - 1916 - Henry Birkenbusch 105 St. Mary
The next street address is on image 130 where we find 105 St. Mary and there is Henry Birkenbusch living with a Mrs. Catharine Weber. This is new information. Who is Mrs. Weber? Does Henry work for her or simply rent a room at that address?

11 - 1916 - Miss M. Birkenbusch 605 Washington
The next and last address is on image 132 where we find 605 Washington where we find Miss M. Birkenbusch living with an H. P. Weyrich. Again we ask who this person is and does Miss M. work there or just rent?

Since found all the names and addresses for the family we can leave the City Directory and move on but there is still much more to learn from the pages of this City Directory.

We move using the right arrow and page through the directory until we come to a section about the history of the area on image 153.

12 - 1916 - City Dir - History section 000
Let’s just see what information they have about the area.

13 - 1916 - City Dir - History section 001

14 - 1916 - City Dir - History section 002

15 - 1916 - City Dir - History section 003

16 - 1916 - City Dir - History section 004

17 - 1916 - City Dir - History section 005

18 - 1916 - City Dir - History section 006
This last page, image 169 of 171 shows us a map of the county and a picture of one of the building of 1916.
So you see a city directory can give us valuable information not only about our relatives but about the area where they lived.

I hope this little posting has given you some history and a better understanding of how to look at a City Directory. Now remember not all city directories have all this information but you will never know what it contains unless you go looking through the whole City Directory.

Thank You.
Jose from Clarkston, Michigan

By Jose A Munoz

Retired General Motors designer who now works on subjects dealing with genealogy. I create trees using items I find in old Google News Archive newspapers and I contact other tree owners notifying them about the news item concerning their relative and send them a link to the tree I created. I post a screen print of the news item on the tree for others to copy, so that my work will benefit others. Occasionally, I will post about the tree I created or the item that I found, always with a "how to" in-bedded in the post. I want my blog posts to help others with their family trees or with their genealogy experiences.

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