Happy New Year!! I’m going to start the year off right and start blogging again. I’m not making any promises other than I hope to post more than one in a year!
To kick it off, I wanted to share about an experience I had recently in looking for information about a street, really an Alley where one of my ancestors lived. My 2nd great grandmother Maggie Calloway married Foster Calloway after being married to Albert Padgett. In the early 1920s, the family moved from Morgan County to Atlanta. The earliest City Directory I found them listed was the 1923 edition. If its true that information contained for individuals in City Directories was collected the previous year, that would mean that my ancestors arrived roughly in 1922.
There is an entry for both Foster and Maggie Calloway in the 1923 Atlanta City Directory on page 322 in the print version (page 164 in the electronic version on Ancestry.com). Foster’s address was listed as h1 Alabaster Alley. When using the City Directories, its advised that you also look up your ancestor’s address in the Street Directory in the back of the book. This helps to identify the neighbors who could also be relatives. This has been the case in several situations for my family so I recommend you spend the extra few minutes to look at the Street Directory.
So here is the quandary, where was Alabaster Alley? The 1923 Atlanta City Directory’s Street Directory only lists the name of the ‘street’ and its position to an extent to Piedmont Ave but where is it exactly? I looked at a few resources but I wasn’t able find the answer.
I’m sure you’re wondering what this has to do with the Atlanta History Journal? Bear with me, I’m getting there.
Recently, I visited the Atlanta History Center for an assignment and had to spend some time researching the institution. As an Atlanta native, I know this institution is one that could possibly help me with my family research. With that in mind, I came across the link to the Atlanta History Journal. So I thought, why not check to see if there is a mention of Alabaster Alley. I was ecstatic to say the least when I got a hit. It was mentioned in an article in the April 1931 no. 5 edition of the Atlanta Historical Bulletin (the name of the Journal changed several times over the course of its publication).
The 10 page article entitled “Queer Place Names in Old Atlanta” by Eugene M. Mitchell included a paragraph that provided a quick history of the area where the alley was found and the name change it underwent. He also included a quip about the irony of the name of the street with reference to its residents. The article also includes mention of other “queer” named locales including Beaver Slide, Snake Nation, Sandtown, Rough and Ready and Tight Squeeze.
In closing, (hopefully you’re still reading this), if you have ancestors who lived or spent time in Atlanta, the Atlanta History Center is an institution you should add to your to visit list and check out their online collections which can be found here – http://www.atlantahistorycenter.com/research/search-the-collections. You won’t know what you can find, until you look!