By Dr Michelle Brandhorst
Researching the history of your house can give you much more information than provide the date for your “CIRCA” sign. There are many sources of information including neighbors, previous owners, the Court House and of course the Pensacola Historical Society. However, even those records could not solve my mystery. Did the Lurton’s live in my house prior to 1900 as photos indicate or were the house built in 1908 as the Court House Records indicate?
Ancestory.com’s census records (available for about thirty dollars a month) provided, not only more information about the house but also about the entire neighborhood. By searching the census records for Lurton and Pensacola, I found that in 1900, the Lurton family did indeed live at 1102 East Gadsden so obviously, the house was there prior to 1900.
The Burton's lived at a different address in the 1910 census, so I seemed lost. Because census takers worked the houses pretty much in sequence by area, there is an every ten-year snapshot of our neighborhood. I looked at the neighbors and traced them (kind of like a virtual historic stalker). I found the neighbors in the 1910 census but no entry for our address. There were, however, entries for 1920 and 1930.
The Newton’s occupied the home in 1920 until sometime before 1930 when the Hartman’s moved in, did some major remodeling of the house and would be known thereafter as the “Big House”. There is, however, so much more. Census records show peoples occupation, sex, race, age, where they were born and even if they had a radio in 1930.
The house and the neighborhood became a living thing as people come and go. Yet it seems that one thing remains the same. As I looked at our neighborhood and those around it, East Hill is still a place where people of all backgrounds live, work and enjoy each other.