As I mentioned in a previous post, one of my goals on this trip was to visit some of the places my ancestors lived. For some, this would require a trans-Atlantic flight. For me, the trip involves driving in New England. My first goal was to visit Bolton Landing, New York where my ancestor John Tanner lived before he joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. After consulting with my daughter, the historian, we determined that the house where he lived on the Main Street of Bolton Landing, now a resort for New York City vacationers, was torn down about three years ago and replaced by a row of condos. There was supposed to be a historic location marker, but there was no evidence of such a sign anywhere. I did locate the property with the help of a person in a local office along the street.
I guess I was not too surprised. The property values in Bolton Landing put the value of the house and lot before the house was destroyed at more than a million dollars.
This brings up an interesting issue that bears on genealogical research. You can't rely on 21st Century sensibilities in determining 19th Century values. From our family's perspective, John Tanner was a great man. However, when he left Bolton Landing, he dropped off the map, so to speak, and any legacy he left in Bolton Landing is now almost two hundred years old. It would take a really dedicated historian to stop economic development in a resort town in the name of history alone. Perhaps if John Tanner had become famous for more than his original contributions to the town, there might have been a greater incentive for preservation.
This brings up an important point. As genealogists or family historians, we may be our ancestors' only link to the present. We are not just pursuing an interesting hobby, we are involved in the vital work of connecting the present to the past. We are turning the hearts of the children to their fathers and those children will never forget those fathers even if a condo development gets in the way.