Bros. I’ve reopened the investigation into the history of my house and the people who lived here long before us. I’ve always been so curious of this, and I’ve never been able to find many answers. There is something incredibly amazing about the history of homes and the people who’ve lived their lives in them. I consider our home a member of our extended family, and I know that my family history will live on with it. Seriously, like woah. Too deep for a Friday morning?
Also, it’s our five year anniversary of living in this amazing place so I thought it would be the perfect time to do some investigating.
I just restarted my ancestry.com account so that I can learn more about the few names I have of people who might have lived in this house. When we moved in I found a few photos, a postcard and some scraps of paper down in the tool cabinet, but don’t have any names to go with them – they could have nothing to do with the history of the house for all I know.
I was able to dig up some old Minneapolis directory information from the early 1911’s and am on the hunt for a Ellis W. Drisko and his wife Elizabeth, the original owners of the house in 1910. Unfortunately the Drisko’s never had any children and leads are coming up dry. I found an old city map from 1923 with details of our block, but no photos. A while ago I did some sleuthing, digging through old census records but it didn’t go far. I also got in touch with the special collections department at the Hennepin County Library and they are going to help me look up a building permit index card and we’ll see what we can find from there. I’ve also devoured the local history section of the Minneapolis Public Library Website.
The crown jewel to this investigation would be a photo of this house from the early to mid 1900’s and to know more about the first family that lived here for nearly 30 years.
Pay Stub with the Name ‘Otto Ross’
Two Family Photographs of the same group of people taken at ‘J.O. Anderson’ Amery, Wisconsin
A Photograph of a single man taken at ‘L. W. Lee studio’ at 28 Central Ave, Minneapolis
A note written in Swedish with the name Mr. B.G. Hager
A postcard of the ‘Range Swedish Lutheran Church’ – Range, WI sold by the ‘St. Paul Souvenir Co’.
A check from the year 1883
Are you an amateur genealogist? Have you found old photos of your house at a library or history center? Come on, don’t be stingy, give me some advice.
Fellow Minneapolis resident here! A good place to check would be at the special collections room at the downtown library. They have tons of old records about houses in MPLS. Just check the hours before you go they are somewhat limited but it always staffed with knowledgable and helpful people. Excited to see what you find. I really enjoy following your adventures!
I’ve been e-mailing with the special collections – I was able to find a little bit more about my home, but still no photos. Have you had experience looking specifically for info about old houses? Thanks for the tip, I might have to go down there in person and see what I can find.
The MN History Museum in St. Paul has a library with many geology sources, or so I’ve been told. Never gotten around to figuring out how to use them, but may be worth a check. They also have a huge amount of old photographs archived. Many of which have been scanned and are available for searching on-line and purchasing prints. I’ve purchased a couple for myself and a couple for gifts. Good luck!
Thats a good idea, for some reason I didn’t even think of heading over there. I’ll do some more poking around to see what sort of historical info they have archived on homes in the twin cities. Thanks for the tip!
My family’s lucky–our extended family is the second or third owner of the home that I grew up in, so we still have blueprints. I’ve traced the first owner’s family through careers and to modern times. We’ve also found out quite a bit about the architect who designed it as he designed some prominent buildings in the city. It’s pretty interesting stuff! No known historical photos, but given what we do have, I’m not complaining.
As far as tips go, I’ve also found our family in the city in the census records that are public so far. It’s not searchable, but using the MNHS info, you can figure out which section it’s in, and then page through a couple dozen handwritten pages to find your specific house. I’d budget time for that, though, as it’s neither the most interesting nor the easiest given that it’s not in linear order. I was doing so with my father who grew up in the area, so I’d read out names of kids who were close in age to him as I went through it, and his reminiscing made it slightly more rewarding. Be warned it’s a labor of love.
Aside from that, I’d share the names you’re looking for in as searchable a way as possible, and perhaps with local groups. Maybe set up a google alert. I’ve seen WW2 love letters, old photos, diplomas, etc. come through thrift stores, and I think there aren’t great mechanisms in place to hook those things up with people for whom they might have special meaning.
At least in my own browsing, I’ve seen names misspelled, perhaps because of Anglicizing them, or someone mishearing them.
Julia! Wow, that is is super cool to have the blue prints to have all of that family history connected to your house. What an amazing family heirloom.
Census has been a great resource so far – I was able to find the 1910, 1920 & 1930 census. However it appears that the owners never got recorded in the 1940 census. I’ve looked through the entire neighborhood info for that year and I can’t find anything :(
Good suggestion on setting up the google alert – I will do that right now. Thanks!
I googled the Drisko names and found this from the1920 Census Record:
Ellis M. Drisko, Minneapolis Ward 13, Hennepin County, Minnesota, United States. Ellis Drisko lived in Hennepin County, Minnesota in 1920. He was the head of the household, 63 years old, and identified as white. Ellis was born in Maine around 1857, and both of his parents were born in Maine as well. In 1920, Ellis was married to Elizabeth M. Drisko. He could read and write, and owned his residence.
http://us-census.mooseroots.com/l/19940953/Ellis-M-Drisko You wrote Eliss, but it’s coming up as Ellis with the same spouse, so maybe that will help.
Here is what it said about Elizabeth: Elizabeth Drisko lived in Hennepin County, Minnesota in 1920. She was the head of the household’s wife, 51 years old, and identified as white. Elizabeth was born in Canada around 1869. Her father was born in Canada, and her mother was born in Ireland. In 1920, Elizabeth was married to Ellis M. Drisko. She could read and write, and immigrated to the United States in 1870.
Ooops! Thanks for pointing the misspelling, Joy. It was just a post typo – but that is the name I’ve been searching. Through the local directories I was also able to find that he had a paint and wallpapering business. I like the idea of that very much. Thanks for rounding this all up for me and taking the time to write it down! I appreciate it!