52 Weeks to a Better Genealogy: Online Databases at Your Public Library

I’m just squeezing in this week’s challenge:

“Online databases at your public library. Search your library’s web site and see if your card grants you access to online databases. Libraries (even small ones) often have wonderful online tools including genealogy databases, historical newspapers and more! Take some time and play with these little perks that come with a library card. You just may get some help in your own genealogy research and gain some free research tools to boot. If you don’t know how to access online library databases or you’re not sure if your branch has them, ask a librarian for guidance. If you have a blog, discuss which databases (if any) to which your library subscribes.”

I constantly turn to the online databases available through the Talbot County Free Library, especially their genealogy and newspaper databases, most of which I can access from the comfort of my own home using my library card number.

Here are my go-to resources offered by TCFL:

  • HeritageQuest Online: provides access to census records, books and articles, Revolutionary War files, Freedman’s Bank records and the U.S. Serials Set.
  • Sanborn Maps of Maryland: great resource for viewing historical maps of towns across Maryland.
  • Archives of the Easton Star-Democrat newspaper via Newsbank (I only wish these went back further).
  • Archives of the Baltimore Sun via ProQuest.

I also can access the databases available through the Caroline County Public Library. When I did research in their Maryland Room, I registered my TCFL library card with them so I could access their databases too.

Their archives of the Denton Journal through Newspaper Archive are spectacular and have provided much needed clues for some of my research projects.

Early History of the Tylor House

The Tylor House, Built in 1888

The Tylor House located on South Washington Street in Easton, Md., was completed in 1888 by Wilson Tylor and his wife, Elizabeth Needles Tylor. The alley behind the house is named Tyler’s Lane, most likely after the property. The family name is spelled both Tylor and Tyler in various records.

Wilson Tylor was born in June of 1856 and died in 1941. He was the editor of the Easton Gazette, predecessor of the Easton Star-Democrat, from 1885-1912. In a May 2007 column in the Tidewater Times, Harold W. Hurst called Tylor “a dignified and learned man, he made his paper into one of the most respectable and influential publications on the Shore.”1 Tylor was raised in Denton, Md. He wrote the column “Denton 70 Years Ago” for the Denton Journal.2

After Tylor retired from the Easton Gazette, he operated a small printing press in a meat house on the property on South Washington Street.  He filled in the names of graduating seniors on diplomas for the Board of Education.3 Perhaps the structure in question is the shed that remains on the property today.

Historical marker for the Third Haven Meeting House

Tylor and his wife were Quakers. Wilson Tylor was at one time in charge of the Friends’ School in Easton. He and his wife are buried along with several of their relatives on the grounds of the Third Haven Meeting House, located only a block away from the Tylor House on South Washington Street.

Wilson M. Tylor Headstone

Elizabeth N. Tylor's Headstone

More can be learned about the Tylor family in The Tylors of Talbot and Caroline County, by Laurence G. Claggett. The book is available at the main branch of the Talbot County Free Library in the Maryland Room. Claggett was the Tylors’ grandson. Sadly, he passed away earlier this year.

An extended family history about the Tylors’ ancestors also was written by Claggett. Two Lives Entwined: Jonathan and Rebecca (2008) is also available at the main branch of the Talbot County Free Library. Tylor claims that his mother, Rebecca Morgan Huyck, was a grand-niece of Betsy Ross (a.k.a. Elizabeth Griscom), who famously sewed the first American flag.4

On page 74 of The Tylors of Talbot and Caroline County, there is a photo of the Tylor home*. It appeared much as it does today, except the front porch extended across the length of the home. The book says:

“In 1887, they bought a tract of land from Brookletts Avenue to the old railroad tracks on which they built the large Victorian… The house cost slightly less than $5,000.”5

After the Tylor children were grown and moved away, the house was divided into two parts. The Tylors occupied one part with, according to Claggett, “the north half being occupied at times by Capt. Frey, the Martin McHales, the Willard Daves, the C. Leslie Hammonds, among others.”6

After the Tylors passed away, their children sold the home to Mary Clough, who divided it into apartments.7 The property was and often still is used by nurses working at the hospital across the street.

Outlines of the house can be found in Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps starting in the year 1919. The lane behind the house was already called Tyler’s Lane according to that year’s map.8 The property has had three different house numbers since then.9

The Tylors are found listed at the property in the 1930 U.S. Census. The house at the time was valued at $20,000.10

Tylor House Front Porch Pillar

*Photos of the home may also appear in Quakerism on the Eastern Shore by Kenneth Lane Carroll and 75 years of caring: a history of the Memorial Hospital at Easton, Md., 1907-1982 by Dickson J. Preston (p. 173). Both of these books are also available at the Talbot County Free Library in Easton.

More details about the Tylors and how I performed this research project can be found here at my blog (use tag: Tylor). Interested in having me research your property? Email me.

All photos and text by Melissa Corley (c) 2009. All rights reserved.


Source List

Claggett, Laurence G. The Tylors of Talbot and Caroline County. Easton: Self-published, 1989.

Claggett, Laurence G. Two Lives Entwined: Jonathan and Rebecca. Easton: Self-published, 2008.

Digital Sanborn Maps 1867-1970. ProQuest. Digitial images. http://auth.esrl.org:2248/ : 2008.

“Eastern Shore Newsmen: 1830-1980.” Transcript by Tidewater Times, at“Tidwater Times,” Tidewater Times. http://www.tidewatertimes.com/HaroldW.Hurst-May2007.htm : 2007.

Maryland. Talbot County. 1930 U.S. census. Digital images. HeritageQuest Online. http://persi.heritagequestonline.com : 2009.


Reference Notes

  1. “Eastern Shore Newsmen: 1830-1980.” Transcript by Tidewater Times, at “Tidwater Times,” Tidewater Times (http://www.tidewatertimes.com/HaroldW.Hurst-May2007.htm : accessed 10 October 2009); citing original publication in Tidewater Times, May 2007.
  2. Laurence G. Claggett, The Tylors of Talbot and Caroline County (Easton: self-published, 1989), 73.
  3. Ibid, 74.
  4. Laurence G. Claggett. Two Lives Entwined: Jonathan and Rebecca (Easton: self-published, 2008), 80.
  5. Claggett, The Tylors of Talbot and Caroline County, 74.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Ibid.
  8. Digital Sanborn Maps 1867-1970. (ProQuest, 2008), 10, “Sanborn Maps of Maryland, Easton, May 1919”; digital images, The Sanborn Company (http://auth.esrl.org:2248/ : accessed 10 October 2009).
  9. Digital Sanborn Maps 1867-1970. (ProQuest, 2008), 14, “Sanborn Maps of Maryland, Easton, January 1927”; digital images, The Sanborn Company (http://auth.esrl.org:2248/ : accessed 10 October 2009).
  10. 1930 U.S. Census, Talbot County, Maryland, population schedule, Easton City Ward 4, p. 182 (stamped), enumeration district (ED) 21, sheet 10-A, dwelling 246, family 282, Wilson M. Tylor; digital image, HeritageQuest Online (http://persi.heritagequestonline.com : accessed 10 October 2009); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T626, roll 879.

SNGF: Satisfying Genea-Moment

Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings has asked us genealogy bloggers to talk about a satisfying genealogy research moment for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun. I’m happy to report on my latest, which happened today!

I’ve been meaning to look into the history of the building in which I’m living — a huge Victorian mansion in Easton, Md., that has been divided into apartments. My landlord had mentioned that it was built in the 1880s, and that’s all I really knew.

I started with Sanborn maps of the area and was able to find the home on a 1919 map, along with its original house number and the house number at that time (which is still different from today’s). This is really valuable information to have when looking for a street address in other resources like the census, which was my next stop.

Now, usually one starts searching the census with a name, but I didn’t have that yet. Sanborn maps don’t typically show who owned a property. I know something about the history of the area though, so I plugged in a family name I knew would have been in Easton in the early 1900s. After locating the page where that family was listed, I started paging through until I reached the neighborhood where my house is located. Easton is a small town — this technique probably would not have worked for most other locales.

I live on one of the main drags in Easton, so there were still lots of listings to sift through. I also wasn’t having much luck finding the particular house numbers I’d seen listed in the Sanborn maps. Still, I made notes on which families seemed to be located nearby and then tried to find them in the subsequent census — my hope was that in the next census, the house I was looking for would appear close to the same names.

Or so I thought. I had begun my search in the 1910 census and then moved on to the 1920 one. No luck. I was getting pretty frustrated after repeating the technique in the 1930 census, especially with the quantity of un-numbered house listings that were on my street. Was the census taker being lazy or what?

Then my eyes latched onto a name: Wilson Tyler. BINGO. Tyler’s Lane is the name of the alley that runs behind my house — the biggest house in either direction for a block or more. In retrospect, I could and probably should have started there, but there are equally large houses on the other side of the alley — I didn’t want to make too many assumptions as I dove into this project.

The 1930 census has information on the approximate value of the dwellings recorded as well — the listing for the Tyler home was $20,000 — far more than those surrounding it. (I still need to figure out what that is in today’s dollars.)

So now I’m relatively certain I have the right name. I went back to the previous censuses (censi?) and discovered that there were actually two different spellings — Tyler and Tylor.

Then, I went to your friend and mine, Google. There, I turned up the fact that Wilson Tylor was the editor of the Easton Gazette (now the Easton Star-Democrat) in his day — big news indeed! I felt that would ensure there would be plenty of material by and about him — I wasn’t disappointed.

A quick search of the catalog at my local library brought up two books, including The Tylors of Talbot and Caroline County. I wasted no time high-tailing it to the Maryland Room at my library.

A picture at the front of the book — a group shot from the silver anniversary of the Tylors — teased me with the possibility it may have been taken on the front stoop of my house. The photo was cropped close around the group, but the posts holding up the front porch roof above their heads had the same design as those at my house;  the latticework under what was then a porch extending across the entire front of the house looked an awful lot like that under a side porch on my building. (I had my laptop with me and had pulled up a picture I took of the house earlier this year.)

I beamed when I opened the book to page 74 and there was my building in all its original glory the year it was built, 1888, with some of the Tylor kids posed in front of it. The text on the page said that the house cost slightly less than $5,000(!) at that time.

The book I found also gave names of those who rented rooms from the Tylors over the years and details how it once served as a boarding house for nursing students working at the hospital across the street (it’s still a popular rental spot for travelling and other nurses working at the hospital).

So, mystery solved! I’m excited to know more about the history behind where I’m living. Turns out that the books I found at the library are written by a relative of the Tylors. He’s still researching and planning to write another book on his family’s history — I may look him up and drop him a note.

ADDENDUM (10-11): I’m saddened to discover that Laurence G. Claggett, the Tylor relative and historian/author of The Tylors of Talbot and Caroline County that I mention above, died only last month. According to the Easton Star-Dem, he passed away Sept. 1.