As I’ve written about before, both sides of my family have deep roots in Chicago. One personal area of interest is learning more about the South Side neighborhoods my family lived in, and particularly in finding images of my ancestors’ homes.
Although certain Windy City streets resonate throughout my family’s history, one of the most important is Kimbark. According to the Chicago city directories, Sophus and Rose Hansen first appear at 7042 S. Kimbark Avenue at the dawn of the twentieth century, a few years after they married in 1895. Over the years, Sophus and Rose raised their family there on Kimbark, and also sheltered Rose’s parents in their later years. Leona, a daughter, married Fenton Russell in 1918, and they, too, resided at the house while starting their own family. A crowded house, indeed! In all, the family spent approximately 50 years at the S. Kimbark Avenue house.
Finding historic images of the Kimbark house and the neighborhood has been challenging. Although several family photographs show the front step or other features of the home, I have been unable to find an historic image that displays the house in its entirety.
Enter the Cook County Assessor’s Office. With their free online database, users can search by address, neighborhood, PIN, and a number of other options. A quick search for 7042 S. Kimbark returns the property details for the home, including the assessed value, market value, building description, type of construction, square footage for both the home and property, even the number of bathrooms. Most importantly, it identifies the approximate age of the home, as well as a recent photograph of the structure.
According to the Assessor’s Office entry for 7042 S. Kimbark, the house is approximately 109 years old, which dates its construction to c.1903. Although not exactly aligned with the Hansen’s first entry in the city directory, it is close; further research is certainly needed. I’ll need to review the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps for the neighborhood, and land and property records are near the top of my research agenda for my upcoming Chicago research trip later this summer.
The image above was taken in March 2007. When I first discovered the Cook County Assessor’s database, the image then displayed for 7042 S. Kimbark was dated March 2000. I may not currently have an historic image of the Kimbark home, but I at least have two contemporary images, giving two different views of the structure.
Thanks for the tip on the assessor’s website. I’ll be spending some time there looking for my Irish Catholic ancestors in Chicago. Where are you going to see the Sanborn fire maps?
The Library of Michigan has the Illinois Sanborns on microfilm. I’ll take a closer look at the Chicago maps (on my lunch hour!). Thanks for reading my blog.
Hey Kris, Have you ever tried walking through the neighborhood with Google maps? I walked all up and down the neighborhood dead end street where I grew up in Detroit. I even walked my route to my K-8 elementary school. Sure did bring back lots of memories.
I find the concept of “crowded house” interesting. At one time, in the not very distant past, we were sheltering two daughters and two grandsons here with us. Our house is smaller than the one pictured. All six of us did fine with one bath. Well, fine from my prospective!