Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Searching For Charles William McKinney: The Value of City Directories

Charles E. McKinney (son of Charles W. McKinney) 1947
It's funny how I can have my mind all set on spending the weekend searching for a certain ancestor and then BOOM!- a thought, a word, a sentence, or even a picture..sends me totally in another direction. This past weekend it was my husbands endless talk about how little he knew about his paternal grandfather, Charles William McKINNEY. I had become frustrated with searching for this side of his family and had decided a few months ago to put that research on hold for awhile. It was obviously time to dig in again..the ancestors called, and I had to respond. However frustrated that I may get. Quitting is NEVER an option for me. So, I pulled out the notebook that my father-in-law left, thinking maybe there was a clue that I missed. Family stories are like puzzles, each piece is a clue to the past. Sometimes going back over notes and stories, It makes me think of things that I had not thought of before. On my father-in-laws birth record it says that his father was from Knoxville, TN. He was born in 1920. I knew that he and his family  had migrated to Cincinnati,Ohio sometime in the 1930's. It was there that he married Mary Louise FLEMING about 1939-40.

Being that I have been unsuccessful in finding his family in the census. I decided to see if I could search the city directories for Cincinnati, Ohio. Starting with 1940, I worked my way back. According to my father-in-law, his father, Charles W.  had a sister named Christine and a brother named J.D.  I was told that his mother was a fair skinned woman known as Mrs. Hunt. As my eyes scanned the page, I found a Christine McKinney. Her address was listed as 539 Carlisle Ave. A few lines down I  noticed a J.D. Mckinney. He had the exact same address. My next step was to search the 1940 census for Cincinnati.

I couldn't believe what I found next. Christine and J.D. Mckinney living with a woman named Lottie HUNT! She was born in 1886. Christine was 16 and J.D. was 17. They were from Tennessee. Everything matched, I feel sure that it is them. It turns out that the Mrs. Hunt that my father-in-law spoke of was the grandmother. I was jumping out of my chair! I had found my first connection to Charles W. McKinney's family. I had looked at this directory months ago, How did I miss this?  I went back to the 1940 city directory to see if I could find Lottie HUNT.  There she was, living at the same address as J.D. and Christine. She was listed as the widow of CHARLES HUNT. Wow! I had another name. I continued to search the city directory back to 1930. I found the family up to 1935. So this gives me a clue to when they may have came to Cincinnati.

I wondered why Christine and J.D. were living with their grandmother. Where were their parents? I still don't have their names. At least I have more to search with now. I am confident that I will find a another connection. I'm off to search for Miss LOTTIE HUNT and her husband CHARLES HUNT. Hopefully they will lead me to Charles William McKINNEY and a whole family. I'm sure that their out there somewhere.


© 2013 Denise Muhammad


  1. Great research skills! I'm always amazed at just looking at a picture or some old notes have those clues. I will be so excited when someone see this and contacts you. Way to Go!

  2. Wow, this is exciting. I like how you plotted your research steps. Your excitement just jumped off the pages. Great job!

  3. I love the detective work, though it also seems that these ancestors of your husband's were finally willing to be found. I am going to have to add more use of City Directories to my own work!

  4. The investigator at work. Great Job..the Ancestors spoke loud and clear. Great job..Good luck with your search..

  5. EUREKA! After attending that workshop on using City Directories in 2012, I use them as much as I use census records. Excellent work and find. Happy New You to you and Happy Hunting this year too!

  6. Great find! #BLOGFEST2014
    Stephani Juleeana Miller