I have recently attended lectures/webinars on using timelines and "Putting Flesh on the Bones" (thank you Ron Arons and Geoff Rassmussen!) so I decided to see if I could use technology to improve on the details that I knew about my Milwaukee ancestors.
Using city directories, I was able to track occupations and residences. I watched as my immigrant great-grandfather moved from working as a lithographer to becoming a butcher. From being a butcher he joined his brother and opened a butcher shop. I know his family lived in back the of the shop.
Using the 19th century newspapers, I found out that when he died his estate was valued at $7,500.00. Not a small amount in 1896. It was left to his widow until her re-marriage. (I'll need to read the actual probate records to learn more.)
I also learned that he served as a precinct clerk for his ward and appears to be a Republican in 1876.
I learned that his son John drowned in the Milwaukee River at the age of 16. John was confirmed at St Joseph Church on the morning of the day he died. Johnnie's body was found 2 weeks later!
Using various online resources is helping me to develop a better feeling of my ancestors lived in Milwaukee in the late 1800s. My ancestors were in the cattle/meat business in Milwaukee at the same time that Phillip Armour and Patrick Cudahy were establishing their businesses. Wonder if their paths crossed.