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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Mapping Thomas Michael McLaughlin's Life Locations

Sometimes I feel like a detective searching for clues to find my ancestors.  At other times, I feel like Dora the Explorer (yes, I have young children) with her map and buddies along for the adventure in search of various locations, people and things.  The map even sings to them.

I have yet to find a map that sings to me but I think I am slowly converging on where the McLaughlin's property was in Napa, California.  My research has taken me from Newport, New York, to Austin/Grass Valley, Nevada, and to at least two locations in Napa.  My Mom did not know where her great-grandparents lived in Napa.  They had departed this world by the time she was born.

My research to find Thomas Michael McLaughlin's Napa Farm is as follows:

1.  1840 - born in Newport, New York

2.  1850 - living in Newport, New York - U.S. Census

3.  1860 - living in New York but can't find him on a census specifically

4.  1870 - can't locate him but he may have been on his way to Nevada

5.  1875 - Nevada State Census, 1875, Rancher

6.  1870's-1885 - I have the specific map coordinates in the Lander County, Nevada of the land that Thomas owned.

7.  1880 - Grass Valley, Lander County, Nevada - U.S. Census

8.  1900 – Salvador, Napa, California - U.S. Census - Seeking this exact location!!!

9.  1904 - Kate Flanagan, Minnie’s mother-in-law, writes to Ireland about her new daughter-in-law and her father having had an “accident”. The letter talks about the diary location near Union Station.

10. 1910 – U.S. Census – Thomas (who is now 70 years old), Ellen, and Katie, are all living at 118 Jackson Street.

11. 1920 – U.S. Census – Thomas, Ellen and Catherine, are all living at 118 Jackson Street still.

12. 1926 -  Thomas’ death Certificate indicates 934 Jackson Street. I’m not sure if that is their home or the doctor’s location.

My clues for where Thomas and Ellen were living in 1900 are - Salvador, Napa; Union Station; Diary farm

I've asked a few McLaughlin researchers if they knew where Thomas' property in Napa was but no one seems to know.  My next steps have been to jump out of my box a little bit.  I panned around a map online searching for any old train station and to see where the train tracks run.  I am assuming Union Station was, in fact, a train station.  My familiarity with Napa is improving with every review of a map. 

A Google search found a map of 1895 for Napa landowners.  Of course, it is for sale at a cost of $34.99.  I am not sure that it would be very easy to read.  I popped on over to  They have Maps and Atlases.   They have the 1895 map on their site.  I can read the areas and school districts very well.  I can even find all of the land owned by J. A. Stanly down in the Carneros area.  Because he owned some fairly large chunks of land in Rancho Rincon Carneros, you can actually read his name on the map.  The other names are so tiny.  I can't make out the Flanagan's name on the map but I can pinpoint their location adjacent to the Stanly Ranch. 

Back up to the north area of Napa in the Salvador Area or rather Rancho Napa according to the map.  Everyone's name is so small and illegible.  I head back to my drawing board.  I must be close to finding their farm.

I emailed my Aunt who still lives in Napa.  She was born and raised there.  I asked her if she knew where Union Station was.  Well, of course she knew where it was.  Union Station was at the intersection of Trancas and HWY 29.  The Bel Aire Shopping Center is the specific location nowadays.  The shopping center currently has Target, Whole Foods and TJ's.  I've heard that parking lot is a mad house any day of the week!  Years ago it was all farmland with lots of orchards.

The map on is so hard to view.  I can't even magnify it to see the names at this location.  I am confident that I'm getting closer to discovering the location.  A road trip will be order soon.

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