…and detailing their labors
Recently I finally admitted defeat with my complete lack of organization of all things genealogical, so I’m on a crusade to rebuild my database from scratch and take care of some of those pesky little details like, oh, you know, source citations and whatnot. In addition to documenting the sources I’ve used, I also wanted to make sure I document all of the details from documents that I may have previously neglected.
In light of this, I had a few minutes of my lunch hour to spare today so I decided to make sure I had some digital copies of certain records. For no reason in particular, I decided to copy the U.S. World War II Draft Registration cards for my great-grandfather, Louis Pater, and his brother, Stephan. I’ve had good luck in researching the Pater family – I know where and when they were born and can trace the family back a few generations. But in looking at the draft cards, which undoubtedly I had already seen at some point in my research, I came upon the curious fact that in 1942 the brothers worked for the same company.
But that’s not the spooky part…
The Pater brothers worked for the Ardross Worsted Company. The company name meant nothing to me. But the address made my eyes widen in disbelief…it is about a half a mile from where I was sitting at my desk in work. What are the odds of that?
I knew the entire Pater family worked in the textile mills – not only in Philadelphia, but in the town in Poland from which they immigrated, Żyrardów. But I assumed the factories were in the neighborhood in which they lived – which is not close to the neighborhood where I work (at least when you consider that they didn’t have a car). This factory, which is no longer standing, was literally blocks from where I work. In another coincidence, my career involves today’s shrinking U.S. textile industry, so in yet another way I am “connected” to my ancestors (and how I knew that a “worsted” company was a textile manufacturer).
Last January I wrote a post entitled Fun with Maps in Philadelphia in which I highlighted the Greater Philadelphia GeoHistory Network. This is a wonderful resource, and it allowed me to see my current work neighborhood through the eyes of my great-grandfather and his brother. One of the available maps is a “Land Use Map” compiled by the Works Progress Administration in 1942 – the same year the Pater brothers registered for the “Old Man’s Draft.” The map is available courtesy of the Map Collection at the Free Library of Philadelphia, but the GeoHistory project provides it as an interactive map with an overlay for current map images. Here is where the Ardross Company resided in 1942:
Just when I think I have gleaned all the information I can from some particular document, I am surprised by some detail that I overlooked. It was a pleasant surprise to find out that my great-grandfather and I worked in the same neighborhood sixty years apart!
Have you seen, virtually or in reality, the workplaces of your ancestors? You might be surprised by what you find!