Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Mappy Monday/ Uncle John Crotty and the Disappearing Road

     John Crotty, the brother of my 3rd great-grandmother Honora Crotty Power was born in Tramore Parish, County Waterford in 1817.  He would have been in his late thirty's when the famine struck Ireland, but he didn't come to America until almost a decade later.  While I have no proof, I have the feeling he and Ellen Mullet were married here in America.  The only child I've found for them was Mary born in Farmington, Ontario County New York where John's farm was located.  

     I doubt I'm the only family historian who needs to know exactly where my ancestors lived, but I do.  I located the deed for Uncle John's land at the Family Search collection of NY Land Records, and while the deeds themselves are not searchable, they are organized by county, each having both grantor (the seller) and grantee (the buyer) indexes arranged by year and first letter of the surname.

     I also found his name on an old land ownership map of Farmington, NY,  but the location didn't look right to me, which is odd considering I grew up right next door in Manchester and still live nearby.  I pulled up a current map of the place and indeed the layout of the roads had changed.  

     In the 1950's New York State built the New York Thruway, a toll highway between the Pennsylvania border below Buffalo and New York City, passing through Manchester and Farmington.  Being born in the late 50's the current maps were the topography I'd always known.  I compared the two maps, old and new, and was able to line them up pretty closely except Sheldon Road where Uncle John lived.  It was pretty clear what had happened, when the new highway came through Sheldon Road was cut in half -- bringing up a satellite map proved this.  You can see the Crotty home site next to the red X in the photo above, this is where Sheldon Road ends today.  Looking further, you can still clearly see where the old section of road used to lie, now ending abruptly at the Thruway instead of continuing to Collett Road as it once did.  The same thing happened with Stafford Road, a few miles away and is also visible on overhead maps.

     It's surprising sometimes to think how much the landscape can change in a relatively short span of time.  My hometown can't be unique in that aspect.  Entire bridges and roads have come and gone in just my lifetime, some lowered and some raised.  A section of Main Street is now about ten feet higher; at that spot where what we called the "railroad underpass" used to be, is now level ground the bridge over it gone-- which interestingly is exactly how it looked in my grandparent's day seen below.  The more things change...
The crossing on Main Street before that section was lowered and a bridge built over it, raising the railroad bed above the street. Almost all the buildings pictured are now gone.



  1. I thought I was lost when I went home for a visit a while back, all the landmarks were gone! But then it struck me, the city had expanded nearly a 1/2hr more out from the boundaries I left behind! Amazing.

  2. Wow, that is amazing! Makes it hard to picture our ancestor's world while it's changing so much.