Seeing ancestors’ homes without traveling

I drove past my German great-grandfather Rudolph Seehawer’s home yesterday. Well, technically I was in a Google Maps car that drove past it in July 2012 and digitally recorded the view so it could go online for me to enjoy. Here it is:

seehawer-home-neuhof-nowy-dwor-2-cropped

It took me some time to find it. Long story short, I had a couple of poor quality photos from cousins so I knew what I was looking for. The problem was finding the town. It was called Neuhof, or New Farm, when it was in Germany. Now it’s in Poland and called Nowy Dwór—and there are many towns in Poland with this name, many that don’t show up on Google Maps searches.

But I finally located the town and found myself moving (clicking) up the road and seeing the house as I approached!

Here’s one I found in England–the graveyard where my great-great-great-grandparents Jacob and Hannah Spencer are buried in Wotton-under-Edge, Gloucestershire:

wuecemeteryandtabernacle-google

Too bad I can’t get out of the car to read the headstones. Zooming in doesn’t help (believe me, I tried!).

Here’s the house in Reading, Berkshire, where my great-great-grandmother Mary Ann White Spencer worked as a servant until she married Joseph Spencer (now a restaurant and bar):

2londonst-google-cropped

And here is the farm where my great-great-great-grandparents John and Elizabeth Lewis worked and raised their family in Bisley, Gloucestershire:

catswoodfarm-google2010-cropped

By the way, I have seen some beautiful scenery in my “travels” along roads in Europe.

Google Maps work in the USA, too. I don’t know when I’ll ever be able to visit Chicago, but I found the house my great-grandfather Joseph Spencer bought or had built in Chicago in the early 1900s:

maysthousefromgooglemaps-cropped

I tried to find my great-great-aunt Lizzie Barrows’ boardinghouses on Wentworth in Chicago (where my grandparents lived at times), but unfortunately they’re not there any more.

I’m not finished and probably never will be. I don’t have exact addresses for most of my ancestors, but I still plan to virtually explore Norway (where my grandmother lived) and the area of the Czech Republic that used to be Austria (where my grandfather-in-law lived). I’m sure I’ll think of more!

All photos in this post courtesy Google Maps.