I have often felt like I have reassembled my great grandparents lives from corners of libraries. If you aren’t familiar with some of my background stories you can read the Confession of the Garbage Bin and Your Heritage Will Be Wet. While there has been no turnkey comprehensive family history handed to me, there has been a fabulous trail of bread crumbs that have led to snapshots of lives in unexpected places all over the world. Sheet music was found in a university library in Texas. A piece of correspondence was found in the Yale archives. Family names were found in a religious index in Vienna, Austria. Most items that have been found represent a morsel size view of the lives lived. The large bites have been rare.
One such example of a small morsel would be the Rutland City Directory. I stumbled into a copy from 1919 and bought it for the cover design that represented Howe Scale Company, the workplace of Edward Vail Ross for over half his life. I thumbed through it and marveled at his entry name and address along with his place of employment and job title. I thought it interesting that it skipped the naming his wife and I noticed that the only entries for women seemed to be those ladies that took in washing, sewing and the like.
It had never occurred to me that cities had directories before the telephone was invented, but indeed they did. The Rutland Historical Society has copies going all the way back to the 1880’s and they are all online (applause). Using the directories on the Society’s website I was able to trace the more quiet journey of career promotions for Edward Vail Ross and the corresponding change in family household address.
When the Ross family first moved to Rutland from Poultney it was so Edward could take the position of a Shipping Clerk at Howe Scale. The exact date of their move isn’t known, but the Directory of 1886 finds them living on 10 Madison Street and lists his job as the shipping clerk. By 1887 he had moved to the position of Accountant and still resided on Madison Street. In 1888 the family remained on Madison Street but picked up a “student boarder” of Willis Ross, a cousin (the exact relation hasn’t been sorted out yet.) The address and the boarder remain in 1889 and 1890, but by 1891 the family resides on 56 Church Street and Edward is now a Treasurer at Howe Scale Company and Willis Ross is no longer listed as a student, but a lawyer. The situation remains the same through 1894 and by 1895 the Ross family has moved to 88 Church Street and Willis Ross, still a lawyer, has moved out to a Rutland home of his own.
The Ross family would live on 88 Church Street for over another forty years. One of Edith’s friends wrote to her at a departure in 1908, “God speed the time until we meet again at the little house on the corner”.