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As I was deciphering the handwritten notes that my great grandmother, Maude Rury nee Hilton, had written on the backs of the photos, I wondered what the area looked like now.

Sometimes a trip is the way to solve such mysteries but other times, like this one, a trip isn’t practical.  I live in Oklahoma and the address I wondered about was in San Diego, California.  The next best option, I discovered, is to use Google Maps.

Maude labeled the photo above as being on Kettner yet the street name visible in the photo is Walnut but the house appears to be at a corner.

I needed the exact address and in the California Voter Registrations, 1900-1968, available through ancestry.com, I found that Maude Rury was a registered democrat and lived at 3605 Kettner in San Diego.

Next, I typed in ’3605 Kettner, San Diego, CA’ into google maps.  Then using the street view*, I instantly could see that Walnut and Kettner intersect.

(Click the ‘x’ on the street name in the map below so you can actually see the area as it is today.)

While the area in 1939 was residential with cute, little, white fences and flowers in porch boxes today it’s a service road with an entrance to a highway.  While I had no idea what the area would look like today, I am somewhat disappointed that it no longer is a quaint street with homes.

As I look back at these old photo albums, it seems that Maude communicated with her daughter Ottie, who lived in Oklahoma, through letters that often included photos with descriptions on the back of them.  Many of these are in photo albums and if you take each one out of its glued photo corners you learn a little tidbit about Maude.  Here’s the album page about the house on Kettner where Maude talks of the flowers and the apartment garage that she and her other daughter were fixing.

Click & then zoom to see the details

It might have been better if I would have scanned all of the backs rather than transcribe them but they weren’t always very easy to read.  Thankfully, I did scan some of Maude’s handwritten notes.

Google maps resolved my curiosity however, I prefer to imagine that 3605 Kettner still has the house with the white picket fences that Maude built.  Now, let me look up another of my ancestor’s addresses!

Further Information:

* Street View Tour – video tour and instructions.
William Kettner article that says “Little is known today of this outstanding citizen save a main thoroughfare, Kettner Boulevard, named in the congressman’s honor in 1921.”

This is my post for Week 7 of the 52 Week Challenge to Better Genealogy
Play with Google Maps. This is a helpful tool for determining the locations of addresses in your family history. Where your ancestral homestead once stood may now be a warehouse, a parking lot or a field. Perhaps the house is still there. When you input addresses in Google Maps, don’t forget to use the Satellite View and Street View options for perspectives that put you were right there where your ancestors once stood. If you’ve used this tool before, take sometime and play with it again. Push all the buttons, click all the links and devise new ways it can help with your personal genealogy research. If you have a genealogy blog, write about your experiences with Google Maps, or suggest similar easy (and free) tools that have helped in your own research.
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