Those Places Thursday – Follow the Paper Trail Along Chicago Streets

There are times during Census research that a page by page search of an enumeration district in a Chicago Ward is required. A Look At Cook has several maps of each Census year’s Wards and enumeration districts. This is a fabulous resource when you need to do a page by page search.

Need more help – use online map resources like MapQuest to help pinpoint where the street is today. Especially useful if you have to do street conversions for numbers before or after 1909. Just remember, some streets in Chicago no longer exist – there are now college campuses, hospitals or expressways where those streets used to be.

I was looking for an address in the 500 block of Gilpin Place in the 1910 Census. I searched the Ward Maps. I then narrowed it down to one Ward and two enumeration districts. Sometimes the odd numbers of a street fall within one enumeration district and the even numbers in another. I then compared this to a Mapquest Map with streets surrounding Gilpin Place.

I searched page by page by page and came up with nothing. The street was not in either enumeration district. Very frustrating.

Next I consulted Tillotson’s Pocket Guide for 1925 Chicago. It has a list of streets and maps. The street list tells you which page in the book they are on and provides a list of street name changes. Gilpin Place was not listed as a name change. Looking at the map there was a small street called Gilpin Place. Moving across the page onto the next page where Gilpin Place would have been, it was called Ewing.

Now, I knew some people I was looking for lived on Ewing. But where was Gilpin Place? Did the census taker miss that small section of his enumeration district? A death certificate I had for 1913 said Gilpin Place. An obituary I found said Gilpin Place. A Chicago Tribune article about the Probate Court approving wills in 1913 said Ewing. Same house number, same person, same heirs as the family I was trying to find.

So what happened? I’m guessing at some point the part of Ewing where Gilpin Place was “supposed” to be underwent a name change at some point. Yet nothing I have found tells me that for sure. What I do know is several members of this family and related families used Ewing and Gilpin Place interchangeably. If it had not been for the paper trail I discovered and the Chicago street maps, I never would have put two and two together.

When you search the census and come up empty, consult street guides and make sure your street wasn’t something else where it “should” be located. Check Mapquest to help narrow down the enumeration district(s) within a Ward to search. Also look for other documents or news articles to help prove the address. You too may uncover some new information following the paper trail along a Chicago street.

Have you had a similar experience with Chicago streets? Tell us about it in the comments.

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0 thoughts on “Those Places Thursday – Follow the Paper Trail Along Chicago Streets

  1. A Look at Cook was disappointing, since it only gave Chicago information. I was looking for North Northfield, or Northfield as it was in 1870. Your article on the Fire, my Wesslings had a hardware store not sure exactly where, but there is a story about them watching the fire. Thanks for your great articles.

    • Jennifer Holik-Urban

      I’m glad you enjoy the articles. I’m not sure if Ward Maps/Enumeration District maps exist for other areas of Illinois. Something I should investigate.

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