Construct a House History

Vicki’s Note: article from Family Tree Magazine 9-1-2016.  Quite a few Library patrons have come to the Beloit Public Library to search their house’s history.  Some want to know about previous occupants, (and who died there), because of being haunted.  Some just want to know more about their house’s construction and place in Beloit Wisconsin history.

I always suggest that they do a genealogy of their house, and people who lived there, by searching the earliest City Directory that they know about their house.  Then find the name of who lived there then, and search previous directories until that address is no longer mentioned – hence the approximate date of construction.

Of course houses can be moved from one location to another.  We just heard a story about a  building being moved across the Rock River (ice) in early 1900s to become a church.  The street names and house addresses can also change through history.  Look for the street intersections/ streets before and after house numbers.

The City Directories are criss-cross – searches by names, addresses, phone numbers, and business names/advertisement index.

We also have several maps, plat book, and local history books.  Look on our home page ‘” for “genealogy and local history” links to 29 digitized history books.  These are also listed on the BLOG’s page/top tab “Electronic Links and Genealogy Helps”.

You might also find it helpful to refer to our Genealogy/Local History Collection books –

Architectural and historical intensive survey report : City of Beloit, Wisconsin,
Sheboygan, Wis. : Legacy Architecure, Inc. ; 2016. 2016    GEN 720.9775 Architectural 2015-2016

City of Beloit Neighborhood Historic Property Reconnaissance Survey ,Madison, WI : Mead & Hunt, c2002. c2002      GEN 720.9775 B418n

We have  local history pamphlet files with businesses, historic Beloit people, Beloit area family genealogies, and (a very few) “Haunted Beloit”, and “Haunted Illinois”  files.  For houses, we never retain the house number, just the street or area.  Professional paranormal searchers do this also to maintain individual’s  privacy, and value of house resell.  However – it seems that finding positive results of paranormal activity in public museums (historic houses) etc.  leads to bragging rights, and a chance to raise funds!


Construct a House History

1/9/2013 By Chris Staats

Hammer out the history of your own home or an ancestral abode with these six simple DIY steps.

Whether it’s your own home, the stately painted lady on the corner or the dilapidated farmhouse where your great-grandparents raised their eight children—questions start to form in the mind. Genealogists are naturally curious creatures, and we want to know not only about people, but also about the places where they lived their lives. You might wonder who wandered the hallways of your own home before you did. When was that venerable Victorian built? And for whom? What stories does that long-neglected farmhouse hold about your ancestors?

“The house and all its changes allow [you] to physically connect with the stories of families who’ve left nothing behind but the house itself,” says New England house historian Marian Pierre-Louis.

How do you find the answers to these questions? By constructing a house history. Researching the history of a house isn’t that different from doing traditional genealogy. The information and records you need are at many of the same repositories and resources you consult in your family search. I’ll even venture to say there are distinct advantages to researching a subject that stays in place. Families migrate, but with very few exceptions, houses don’t—and that narrows the majority of your search to a specific town or county.

So grab your lunch pail, strap on some work boots and follow this blueprint for building a house history from the ground up.

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