Posted by: downtothesea | January 15, 2010

All In the Details.

It’s truly amazing what you can learn from four lines of type.

Take this want ad from the Niagara Falls Gazette, August 30, 1912.  I found it while killing time on the internet this afternoon.

“Mrs. Gavin” was my great-great grandfather Michael Gavin’s second wife.  Michael had been deceased for seven years when his widow, Annie, placed this advert.  The address, 352 Third Street, Niagara Falls, NY, was one door up from Michael’s younger sister, Mary Gavin Callinan.

The item that is of particular interest to me is the directional instruction that refers to Annie Gavin’s living quarters:  “over Hannel’s.”  I am assuming that “Hannel’s” is some manner of fairly well-known business establishment in the area–certainly well-known enough to be used as a point of orientation for the average person.

This opens up the exciting possibility that there might be a photograph of “Hannel’s” somewhere out there, which would provide me a handy peek at the building in which the Gavins made their home.  Exciting!  Time to write another email to the Local History Department at the Niagara Falls Public Library…

And to think:  a brand new lead from four lines of type!



  1. How neat! Thanks for sharing. We’ll certainly be waiting to hear what you find out. Nice teaser!
    What a good reminder to each of us to be on the lookout for such little “goodies!” By the way, it brings to mind the new “1950 alternative census” at… I took a peek earlier, it is based on City Directories… many of those entries look a lot like the ad, above, and have ton of information in a short space, if you can find any of your people. My wife and I found her “long-lost” grandfather, under a different name, through the city directories, a few years ago. Took some other, related work, but it worked. Best of luck!

    Bill 😉
    Author of “13 Ways to Tell Your Ancestor Stories”

  2. I love little gems like that, Amy. I believe my Tierney ancestors in Boston’s North End in the 19th-century had a similar residence for a time, but I haven’t learned the name of the business or tenant who occupied the other part of the building. “Hannel’s” is quite a find for your search for photographs of the family’s home. Hope you can find one.

    100 Years in America
    Small-leaved Shamrock
    A light that shines again
    Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture

  3. That’s a great find, I hope the Library comes up with a photo and more info for you.

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