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How I caught the genealogy bug

Updated: Jan 23, 2021

The genealogy bug bit me in 2000 when my mother showed me this old family photo that reminded me of Little House on the Prairie. I asked who the people were, and she told me all she knew was the baby on the lawn was her grandfather. I had to find out who they were. Never before had I had any serious interest in family history, but this photo really sparked my curiosity.

Who was his father? Where did they live? Where did they come from? Who are the other two adults in the photo? Who are the other children?

I began to search online and found the family relatively easily. The first find was the 1900 census. This family lived at 310 Gross Street in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, shown here:

It turns out, this photo was taken right around the same time as the 1900 census. The census revealed to us that the other two adults in the photo were Anna's brother and sister, David and Emily Robinson, which told us her maiden name - Robinson! I also noticed they were born in England and came to America less than twenty years prior. Now I definitely had to know more - and I have found so much, but the hunger for more information is still not satisfied, and still the search continues.

The Dickinson's home has been torn down and the space is now part of West Penn Hospital's yard. It was on the corner of Gross Street and Mend Way, shown here:

Later, my great-uncle sent me a copy of the same photo, in much better condition. With the wider view this version provides, we can see Mend Way on the right side of the picture. It was an alley, which couldn't be seen in my mother's copy, above.

It is true that knowing this information doesn't change anything about our lives today, but it brings them back into our minds to reflect upon the struggles and challenges they endured, enabling us to be here today - and for that we honor their memory by never forgetting.

For more information, see the Dickinson page.

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