Monday, August 10, 2009

Lost History

As you may remember, I took the kids to Omaha last week for a short adventure. That adventure included SEVEN hours at the zoo, one hour at the hotel pool, three hours at the children's museum, $30 in in-room kids' movies at the hotel, two breakfast buffets and one panic stricken moment in which my youngest child disappeared and was discovered a few minutes later in a glass elevator on the fourth floor. More on that later though.

The only thing that was on my own, personal agenda for the Omaha trip was some genealogy scouting. I may have mentioned before that I have had periodic genealogy obsessions over the last ten years or so. Actually, my obsession began much earlier with the "family tree" assignment we received in sixth grade but the internet made things much easier. So, our first non-dial-up internet connection in 1998 spawned my current genealogy addiction.

Anyway. Omaha. My paternal grandfather's grandparents immigrated to America from Ireland at some point in the 1870's. They ended up in Omaha, which was a big railroad town. They had a few kids before they left Ireland. And they had several more after they arrived. One of those American-born kids was my great grandfather.

The entire family is listed in the 1880 census as living at 920 Davenport in Omaha. Sometime in about 1890, as far as I can tell, my great-great grandfather died. My great-great grandmother then lived with her children, according to subsequent city directories, at 1109 Chicago and 422 N. 11th St.

I was interested to see the streets where these ancestors walked - at least, what was left of them. I knew that portions of Omaha including the Old Market area, still had many restored old buildings.

Ultimately, I was disappointed to find that the entire neighborhood where my family lived was now the Qwest Center Arena and Omaha Convention Center. Nothing left of the neighborhood, not even a nearby block intact from which to launch my imagination. My roots are now in the parking lot of the arena and on the entrance ramp to the highway.

It made me a little sad.

My great-great grandmother died in 1894. She is buried in Omaha. We drove the small cemetery for about 20 minutes but didn't spot her gravestone. If the kids were older, I might have gotten out to walk but the children's museum was calling.

My great grandfather moved to Kansas City after his mother died. He and his siblings lived with an older sister until they married and moved out on their own. And now, 100 years later, here we are. I think I might start some local address spotting - hopefully, my local ancestral addresses haven't been replaced by the Sprint Center...

View Omaha Genealogy Map in a larger map

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