Research Reminder: Look Before Leaping

Yesterday I located an 1844 Chicago city directory entry for Pelag Barker. (1)

1844
1844 Chicago city directory

I wondered what “Farmers’ Exchange” was, so I searched newspapers at GenealogyBank for clues. An 1848 Springfield, Illinois newspaper mentioned a new establishment called “Farmers Exchange, No. 9” (2) and based on that I thought  Mr. Barker might have been a grocery store proprietor before moving into the hotel and boarding house business.

Advertistment
Advertisement from a Springfield newspaper

I checked the business section of the 1844 directory for mention of the Farmers’ Exchange as a grocer, but found nothing. Instead, I found it listed under hotels. (3)

Hotel listing
Hotel listing from an 1844 Chicago city directory

Reading the two advertisements, I assumed that Mr. Barker had changed locations in the year prior to the directory being published. Luckily, I checked the previous  Chicago city directory, too. A similar entry appears in the 1843 directory, (4) meaning the move happened prior to that date.

Hotel listing
Hotel listing from an 1843 Chicago city directory

While I was looking for Mr. Barker, I made another important discovery.

The 1843 directory that is available on Ancestry.com is actually a reprint done in 1896 and it includes an obituary section in the back that lists “names, places, dates, and ages at death of some of Chicago’s Old Settlers, prior to 1843, and other well-known citizens who arrived after 1843, together with others prominently connected with Illinois history.” (5)

Mr. Barker’s name didn’t appear in the obituary section of the directory. However, his death was noted next to his name in the alphabetical section. (6)

City directory
P. A. Barker entry in an 1896 reprint of an 1843 Chicago city directory

Moral of this blog post: Be careful, careful, careful not to jump to conclusions and make sure to explore sources thoroughly.

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(1) J. W. Norris, General Directory and Business Advertiser of the City of Chicago for 1844 (Chicago: Ellis & Fergus, 1844; re-published by T. F. Bohan, 1903), 23, entry for P. A. Barker; digital images, “U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995,” Ancestry (www.ancestry.com : accessed 1 May 2016).

(2) “New Firm,” Illinois Weekly State Journal (Springfield, Illinois), 9 Aug 1848, p. 2, col. 7.; digital image, GenealogyBank (www.genealogybank.com : accessed 1 May 2016), Newspaper Archives.

(3) J. W. Norris, General Directory and Business Advertiser of the City of Chicago for 1844, 102.

(4) Robert Fergus, Directory of the City of Chicago for 1843, Fergus’ Historical Series, No. 28 (Chicago: Fergus Printing Company, 1896; originally published in Chicago by Fergus, 1843), 23, entry for Farmers’ Exchange and Lake Street House; digital image, “U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995,” Ancestry (www.ancestry.com : accessed 1 May 2016).

(5) Robert Fergus, Directory of the City of Chicago for 1843, Fergus’ Historical Series, No. 28, 105.

(6) Robert Fergus, Directory of the City of Chicago for 1843, Fergus’ Historical Series, No. 28, 34.

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