Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Viewing Earle Larimer Freeland's Cigar Store

A century ago, my husband's 1c2r Earle Larimer Freeland (1877-1943) operated a store at 1247 1/2 St. Nicholas Avenue in upper Manhattan, New York City.

Earle was born in Goshen, Indiana, on December 22d, 143 years ago today, the older son of Emma O. Larimer Freeland (1848-1923) and James Freeland (1838-1920). After his parents moved the family to New York City early in the 20th century, Earle had a varied work career. I learned about his life by following him in the US and NY Census records and in city directories.

From Electrician to Merchant

After working as an electrician for a few years (according to Census data), Earle was listed as a variety store owner in the New York city directories of 1917 and 1918, operating at the St. Nicholas Avenue address.

 In the 1920 Census, he was listed as a retail merchant in a stationery store. In the 1922 New York City directory, he and his brother James were listed as Freeland Brothers, cigars, at 1247 St. Nicholas Avenue. Same in the 1925 NY Census (and in 1925 NY directory). In the 1928 New York directory, the store was listed as selling cigars and cigarettes. In the 1930 Census, he was shown as the owner of a stationery store. 

When Earle died in 1943, the informant--his brother--said Earle was the proprietor of a cigar store (as shown at left). 

Note: The birth date on this death record conflicts with what Earle said on his WWI and WWII draft registration cards, and his own Social Security application. Earle said he was born on December 22, 1877, and I believe his first-hand account instead of his brother's memory!

Looking at Earle's Store

To see what hubby's cousin's store looked like, I used the 1940 tax photos freely searchable on the NY Department of Records and Information Services site. 

It was an easy process to find the block and lot number for 1247 St. Nicholas Avenue in Manhattan. This building was at the corner of Broadway, a thriving area with lots of foot traffic and of course residents who might buy from the ground-floor stores.

Once I plugged in those details, I came to a page with two views of the building built in 1906 and still standing today. At top, a good look at the 38-unit apartment building with a row of stores on the street level. Earle's store was likely not the main store at the corner. My guess is he had one of the smaller stores to the right of the corner. Remembering Earle and his store on the anniversary of his birth.

1 comment:

  1. Great post! It's so wonderful to be able to see a building where an ancestor worked -- or lived -- and I am always thrilled to find one that is still around and not torn down. The 1940 tax photos are an excellent source.