Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Workday Wednesday: Exploring Occupation in Family History Research


Along with knowledge of the area being part of successful family history research (the topic of Monday’s post), knowledge of occupations in the family can be helpful as well.

On our recent research trip, my mother-in-law Ruth took me to see the Our Lady ofVictory Basilica in Lackawanna, New York. It is an awesome Roman Catholic Church building. We explored the Father Baker museum in the basement first and then toured the sanctuary afterwards. She remembers taking first communion there. At the museum, I purchased Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America book on the history of Lackawanna. Reading this later also helped me to better understand Ruth’s family history and their connection to the area. Ruth had mentioned a couple of times that from what she understood, part of her Backus family lived in Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania and found it coincidental that they also lived in a town called Lackawanna in New York. It turns out there was more than coincidence. 

From the Lackawanna history book, I learned that “before the town of West Seneca was established, the land west of Abbott Road to Lake Erie was known as Limestone Hill.” The town of Seneca was formed in October of 1851 from parts of nearby Hamburg and Cheektowaga and included the area of Limestone Hill. In the year 1900, the Lackawanna Steel Company relocated from Scranton, Pennsylvania in Lackawanna County to the shores of Lake Erie and expanded their mills and plants to the area of Limestone Hill. In 1909, legislature voted to form the city of Lackawanna from that part of West Seneca.

No doubt, this relocation of the Lackawanna Steel Company is what brought some of Ruth’s family from Scranton, Pennsylvania to Lackawanna, New York. Though her knowledge of this connection did not include the information about the steel company, nonetheless her story was true and it was the family’s occupation that brought them to the area.   

Image from the Steel Plant Museum, Lackawanna, NY

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