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A Genealogist In The Archives: Documenting Your Ancestor's Transportation

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Documenting Your Ancestor's Transportation

As genealogists, we should be documenting every aspect of our ancestor's lives. It's just not enough to only document their birth, marriage and death. Researching and documenting the events and aspects of our ancestors lives that come between those vital events is what tells our ancestor's life story.

Have you ever thought about documenting your ancestor's transportation? From the horse driven buckboard to the family station wagon, from the train to the airplane, our ancestors had many avenues of transportation and documenting this part of their lives can add to their life story.

Wilson Averitt and Pearl Adams, ca. 1900, Houston County, TN. Archives

My Grandfather, Cody Lee LeMaster (1909-1972) never learned to drive. He always made sure the family lived near a bus station, bus stop, near a street car or lived close enough to everything so he could just walk. His philosophy when it came to family members wanting him to visit was "If they want me to visit them, they can come get me and bring me back home". He worked each and every day to provide for his family. He walked to work at Hamlin Metal Products, Corp. in Akron, Ohio until his death on November 18, 1972. He was holding the door open for a female worker and died of a heart attack on the spot. Knowing my Grandfather's thoughts and actions when it came to transportation has helped me understand why they lived where they lived.

Cody Lee LeMaster and Agnes Marie (Curtis) LeMaster, My Grandparents

Researching all the different types of transportation for my ancestors has been fun. I am fortunate in that I have photographs dating back to the 1940's of my family members with their vehicles. Talking to family members about the different kinds and makes of those automobiles, especially those that belonged to the person I am talking to has been interesting.

L-R Lanny Barker, Ruth Athalene (Burcham) Barker, Unknown, ca. 1940's

If you are not already researching your ancestor's transportation, consider adding it to the genealogy research to-do list. You just might be surprised by what you find!



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  1. Do you have any suggestions on how to learn more about a license plate number that you can see in a photo?

    1. Vicki, that is a great question! I don't know of any databases for license plates, especially old ones. I know that here in the Houston County, TN. Archives we do have some old Vehicle Registration records but not all archives have these. I would check with the state archives in the state the plate is from, that is where I would start. Hope this helps.

  2. California has vehicle registration records available but I don't recall where I saw the ones for Humboldt County.