Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Setting the Scene - The Archers in 1906

Market Street, San Francisco, April 14, 1906
I love the idea of capturing a small slice of life from the times in which my ancestors lived. The wonderful Lisa Louise Cooke has remastered an earlier podcast where she suggests using silent films as a way of putting the lives of your ancestors in context; looking at life at the time and appreciating early films your ancestors may also have enjoyed. You can listen to the whole podcast and read the show notes here. The still above is from a movie called "A Trip Down Market Street" and it was filmed just four days before the earthquake and fire. As I listened to Lisa describe the film in the podcast I realized, "I had an ancestor living in San Francisco at this time!"

OK...so I need to set the scene for my cousins. This was not a direct ancestor. I've made a little tree that shows how we are related.
So my three times great grandmother, Margaret Archer, had a younger brother Samuel Milton Archer who became a doctor and moved west to the Salinas Valley around Monterrey. He had two wives and a very large family. His eldest son, Aretas Allen Archer, became a San Francisco policeman.
For obvious reasons I couldn't find a 1906 directory, but he shows up in both 1905 and 1907 living with his sister Agnes Archer and her husband Christian Melin, a master mariner.
The Melins moved to Church Street briefly after the earthquake, but by the 1910 census they were back on Fair Oaks Street. This is between Noe Valley and the Mission District near Mission Delores Park. Did they "camp out" in the park after the earthquake?  Who knows? The area south of Market Street shook pretty hard. 
You'll notice that I've captured a still with a policeman in it. It's a little tip of the hat to Aretas Archer.  Go to YouTube and watch this film all the way through. It's just a little bit of light-hearted fun before a very grim chapter in San Francisco history, but it gives you a glimpse of a time gone by.

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