Mining Baltimore city directories

William Boucher
William Boucher Jr.

I have been reviewing Baltimore city directories with a view to better understanding the movements of the William Boucher Jr. household during the nineteenth century. In 1860, the year of the Federal Census, my great-great-grandfather Wm. Boucher Jr., musical inst[rument] maker,[1] appears in Woods’ Baltimore City Directory with a shop at 38 East Baltimore Street and a residence at 77 Cathedral Street.[2] The Census gives a little more information on the Boucher household in that year: William Bucha [sic], 37, music dealer and native of Baden [one of the German States], was living in the Fourth Ward of Baltimore with his wife Mary A., 29, and their children Sophia, 11, Frank, 6, and Victoria [sic], 8 months.[3] William and Mary Boucher would have nine children in all, and these three were the longest-lived: Elizabeth Sophia Boucher (1849–1876), Francis Xavier Boucher (1853–1927), and Victor Emile Boucher (1860–1878).

E. M. Cross & Co.’s 1863–64 Baltimore business directory lists W. Boucher Jr. as a musical instrument maker at 38 East Baltimore,[4] an address with which he had already long been associated; Woods’ Baltimore City Directory adds his residence at 77 Cathedral.[5] Woods’ 1865–66 edition gives the same information,[6] but some changes had recently taken place in the Boucher household: Mary Agnes (O’Brien) Boucher died in 1864, and within the year William Boucher Jr. and Fannie Giles were married by Fr. Angelus M. Paresce, either in Baltimore or in Frederick County, Maryland.[7]

Victor Boucher marker
Grave marker for Victor Emile Boucher (1860-1878) at New Cathedral Cemetery in Baltimore County. Photo courtesy of Constance Burch McGrain

The 1870 Federal Census lists William Boucher, 47, importer, living in the Eleventh Ward of Baltimore with his wife Fannie, 27, and children Sophia, 21; Francis, 16, working in a music store; Victor, 11; William, 3; Josephine, 1; and Gertrude, 4 months.[8] Woods’ Baltimore City Directory for 1870 continues to show Wm. Boucher Jr., musical instruments, at 38 East Baltimore and 77 Cathedral Streets.[9] The 1871 edition adds Francis X. Boucher, salesman, living in his father’s household.[10]

In 1872, after more than a decade on Cathedral Street, the Bouchers moved to 232 Lanvale Street, where my great-grandmother Pauline Boucher would be born in 1875.[11] The Boucher musical instrument shop remained at 38 East Baltimore Street, with both William Boucher Jr. and Francis X. Boucher shown at the new house on Lanvale Street.[12]

Frank Boucher married Margaret H. Creney (1857–1946) in 1875, and Woods’ Baltimore City Directory for 1876 shows this development: Francis X. Boucher, salesman, is now listed at 417 East Eager Street.[13] In 1880, a new Boucher household appears: Wm. Boucher, cigarmaker, and Chas. Boucher at 44 North Castle Street; perhaps they are related to the John F. Boucher who appears in Woods’ 1870 edition [see Note 9]. Francis X. Boucher, salesman, is at 17 Argyle Avenue, with Wm. Boucher Jr., musical instruments, at 38 East Baltimore and 232 West Lanvale.[14]

The 1880 Federal Census differs from the city directory in interesting ways: William Boucher, 57, “keeps music store,” is living at 232 Argyle Avenue with his wife Frances, 37, and their children William, 13; Josephine, 11; Girtrude [sic], 10; Louis, 9; Frances, 7; Marie, 6; Pauline, 5; Chas., 3; and Flaurence [sic], 10 months.[15] The Census also shows Frank Boucher, 25, working in a music store, in the household of John Creaney at 154 Harford Avenue with his wife Maggie, 23, and their daughter Mary, 3.[16]

Another new Boucher appears in 1881: Mrs. Minnie Boucher at 30 McElderry Street.[17] Francis X. Boucher, salesman, is now at 201 Ensor Street, and the William Boucher Jr. shop address is 84½ West Baltimore Street.[18] By 1883, the Boucher households begin to form patterns: Minnie Boucher, widow of Chas. F., and Wm. Boucher, tobacconist, are listed at 322 East Monument Street; Francis X. Boucher, salesman, is living with Wm. T. Creney, painter, at 157 Harford Avenue; and Wm. Boucher Jr. (apparently unrelated to Minnie, and probably somewhat older than William) remains at 84½ West Baltimore and 232 West Lanvale.[19]

Genealogical charts sorting out the Boucher family at this stage can be found here. Click on the images to expand them. The series continues here.


[1] William Boucher Jr. (1822–1899) was married to Mary Agnes O’Brien 1846–64 and to Mary Frances Giles in 1865.

[2] John W. Woods, Woods’ Baltimore City Directory ending year 1860, p. 49.

[3] 1860 Federal Census, M653_463, p. 457.

[4] Henry R. Hellier, comp., E. M. Cross & Co.’s Baltimore City Business Directory for 1863–64, p. 160.

[5] John W. Woods, Woods’ Baltimore City Directory ending year 1864, p. 51.

[6] John W. Woods, Woods’ Baltimore City Directory 1865–’66, p. 53. The 1867–68 (p. 63) and 1868–69 volumes (p. 63) give identical information.

[7] My great-great-grandmother was the daughter of Mary Josephine Eliza (McNulty) Malloy; I know nothing about Fannie’s father, who is named on her death certificate as James Giles (a likely misreading for Fannie’s stepfather, James A. Malloy). In 1860, a Fannie Giles, 17, is among the students at the Catholic Female Institute in Frederick City, perhaps identical with the Convent and Academy of the Visitation which my great-grandmother and her sisters later attended.

[8] 1870 Federal Census, M593_576, pp. 4-5. The 1870 census also lists Victor Baucher [sic], 12, a native of Maryland, as a student at St. Vincent Abbey in Unity Township, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania (1870 Federal Census, M593_1466, p. 730).

[9] John W. Woods, Woods’ Baltimore City Directory… (1870), p. 72. John F. Boucher, cigarmaker, is shown at 87 Granby Street; Valentine Boucher, tailor, is at 173 North Eden Street.

[10] John W. Woods, Woods’s Baltimore City Directory… (1871), p. 66.

[11] She was baptized, and later married (to Edward Hughes Glidden), at the nearby Corpus Christi Church.

[12] John W. Woods, Woods’s Baltimore City Directory… (1872), p. 71. The same information is given in the 1873 (p. 70), 1874 (p. 70), and 1875 editions (p. 70).

[13] John W. Woods, Woods’s Baltimore City Directory… (1876), p. 74.

[14] John W. Woods, Woods’s Baltimore City Directory (1880), p. 117.

[15] 1880 Federal Census, T9_0505, p. 491B.

[16] 1880 Federal Census, T9_499, p. 452A. Three William Creneys are listed at 157 Harford Avenue in the city directory, but no one named John (Woods’s Baltimore City Directory [1880], p. 194).

[17] John W. Woods, Woods’s Baltimore City Directory (1881), p. 122. In the next edition, she is listed as the widow of Chas. F. Boucher (p. 126).

[18] Woods’s Baltimore City Directory (1881), p. 122. In the 1882 edition (p. 126), the Francis and William Boucher households appear unchanged.

[19] John W. Woods, Woods’s Baltimore City Directory (1883), pp. 136, 240. The same information for Francis and William is given in the 1884 edition (p. 146).

About Scott C. Steward

Scott C. Steward was the founding editor at Vita Brevis; he served as NEHGS Editor-in-Chief 2013-2022. He is the author, co-author, or editor of genealogies of the Ayer, Le Roy, Lowell, Saltonstall, Thorndike, and Winthrop families. His articles have appeared in The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, NEXUS, New England Ancestors, American Ancestors, and The Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine, and he has written book reviews for the Register, The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, and the National Genealogical Society Quarterly.

One thought on “Mining Baltimore city directories

  1. City Directories can provide crucial information. Within the last few days, I’ve been researching Albert B. Willcox (sometimes Wilcox) born 1841 living in Meriden CT. All the Ancestry trees say he died in 1889. Why? Because his gravestone says 1889, and that has been copied into the Hale Collection and recorded as evidence of death for Conn. VR. But family tradition says he died 1899. If you follow him in the Meriden City Directories, you’ll find that he is recorded from the late 1870s every year until 1899, always in the same occupation (selling hats and men’s furnishings) and residing at the same address (478 E Main). In 1899, he is listed as Wilcox, Albert B., estate, and for the first time his wife Ida B. is listed in her own right as widow, Albert B. But for the City Directories, there would be no proof for the family tradition.

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