Monday, September 26, 2011

Mappy Monday: Mapping Morehouses in Cincinnati

My Morehouse and Warwick families had largely left Cincinnati by the time that Sanborn maps are viable research tools.  But, I'm hoping that the maps can help me solve the mysterious disappearance of Sarah Jane 'Sallie' (Morehouse) Warwick (1846- ).  If nothing else, understanding more about the community she lived in might help locate her in other records.

Sallie was a young widow found living in her mother's boarding house on 32 McFarland Street in the 1880 Federal population census.  She also appears in the Cincinnati city directory for the last time in 1880.  Her mother, Mary Ann (Rees) Morehouse, continues to be listed in directories intermittently until her death in 1894. Between 1880 and 1894, Mary Ann lived on 32 McFarland, 180 West 3rd, 199 Everett and 7 Gorman Street.  I'll start with Mary Ann and see if there are some clues in her neighborhood.

At the time of her death in 1894, Mary Ann lived at 7 Gorman Street, Cincinnati, Ohio.  There are two Sanborn maps that might give me information about the house - 1887 and 1891.  Both of these maps are available on microfilm at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.  But, I'm not at the library, so I'm looking to see what I can find out about the neighborhood on the 1904 Sanborn map which is available online the the PLCH Virtual Library.  I'll check out 1887 and 1891 later.

From the index, I learn that Gorman Street is on Map 80.  But, looking at the map, I don't see 7 Gorman Street.  Doug Magee warned us not only about street name changes but also numbering changes.  I remembered that Mary Ann (Rees) Morehouse had a daughter that continued to live on Gorman Street.  The 1896/97 directory gives Alice McLean Morehouse's address as 1507 Gorman Street.  Bingo!  (I'd still like to confirm this is the same house in other sources.)

Cincinnati, Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.  "Insurance Maps of Cincinnati, Ohio, Vol. 1."  Virtual Library.  : 2011.
Several things immediately jump out.  First, Armory Avenue (once Everett) is in very close proximity so even though Mary Ann moved from 199 Everett to 1507 Gorman it was likely a move within the same neighborhood.  From Doug's talk, I know that the 'F' indicates that the building was a Flat (apartment) and that it was 3 stories high.  The pink coloration tells me the building was brick.  The 'D' designates a dwelling so this was a largely residential neighborhood.  A larger view of the map gives additional neighborhood information including other churches and businesses - perhaps sources of additional information!

This neighborhood is very close to the boundary between maps so I also looked at the map of properties south of Armory Avenue (map 72).  And much is made clear!  Mary Ann (Rees) Morehouse's daughter, Alice M. Morehouse was a schoolteacher.  In Map 72, we see that the flat where mother and daughter resided was very close to the 11th District Public School.  This is good news and bad news.  It does provide new information about the likely place that Alice worked but it is also possible that the family's living arrangements were driven by proximity to the school rather than proximity to other family members.

Cincinnati, Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.  "Insurance Maps of Cincinnati, Ohio, Vol. 1."  Virtual Library.  : 2011.
I always like to see pictures of the places my ancestors lived and worked.  I've looked for a photo of Gorman before without success.  This time I searched for images of the 11th District Public School and found images of the Washburn School on Clinton between Linn & Baymiller. The interesting thing is that one of the images is  Old Eleventh School District 1907 and notes that the school is about to be destroyed.  Another image is a postcard depicting the New Eleventh School District.  Since the map above is the 1904 Sanborn map, one might assume that it is the Old Eleventh School on the map.  Guess again!

This is one of the tricky things about the 1904 Sanborn map that Doug Magee warned us about.  Because of the exorbitant cost of producing maps, from 1904-1930, corrections were simply pasted into the 1904 map books.  A careful inspection of the Sanborn map reveals that both the school and the annex were pasted  in later.  The map shows the New Eleventh School District building as can be confirmed by viewing the images of the Old and New Eleventh School.

The Morehouse flat on Gorman could be tracked through later Sanborn maps (1917, 1922, 1934, 1937, etc.) to get an idea of the property's transition over time.  A list of available Sanborn maps is at  But, my Morehouse families had already moved along. 

From a genealogical perspective, tracking the earlier family properties, determining who owned the flat, and checking the records of nearby churches and schools just might give me the break through I am hoping for! First, I'll want to take a closer look at the 1887 and 1891 Sanborn maps and other early maps to see if there are other even more promising sources of additional information.

If you have made an interesting discovery using the Sanborn maps for Cincinnati, please comment or better yet, write a post!

Update:  PLCH has the 1987 Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps digitized and online.  However, the library also has a link to Ohio Link where Sanborn Maps dating from 1867 - 1970 are digitized and available online.  To get to this site, take the following steps:

  1. Logon to the library site at: http://
  2. Click on "Research and Homework"
  3. Click on "Research Databases"
  4. Click on "S" under "Browse Resources by Title"
  5. Click on "Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps"
  6. Submit your zip code.
  7. Begin your search.  I have found that one of the most efficient ways to search for a street is to type (Name of street, Cincinnati/Hamilton) or (Name of business, Cincinnati/Hamilton).


  1. Liz,
    I love how this post brings together many of the things we learned from Doug on Saturday. I know you sent me a link to one set of Sanborn maps. Are the 1892 maps that he discussed online? I couldn't find them.

  2. Kathy, the 1887 map is the one that Doug said was online. It is not at the Library of Congress but may be available through OhioLink. You need to have a university affiliation to use OhioLink. (You are in luck! I may have to beg.)

    The 1892 book that Doug mentioned was for the Decennial Tax Valuations. It is online at The book is organized by Ward.


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