I had a little bit of genealogy serendipity happen today.
Back story – Recently while doing some collateral research on a line on my maternal grandmother’s side, I found a 1st cousin 5 times removed, a man named Jacob Fussell, Jr. Jacob, a Quaker, was the first ice cream manufacturer in the United States. His business started in Seven Valleys, York County, Pennsylvania in 1851 after an older Quaker asked him to take on a business that he had acquired by way of a defaulted loan. In 1854 Jacob moved his business to Baltimore City, Maryland and eventually expanded to several cities in the U.S.
Two weeks ago I did a presentation at a local genealogy discussion group that I belong to that included some information on Jacob. On my slideshow I included a picture of Jacob Fussell’s ice cream wagon that I had found on Google. During the presentation, some discussion ensued about the ice cream cart and where was it today. After saying that I had gotten the picture from Google and hadn’t actually taken it, a few people speculated on where the cart may be. Someone said that they thought they had seen it at the Baltimore Museum of Industry.
Also, on an unrelated but related note – I belong to the Maryland Historical Society, with a joint membership to the Maryland Genealogical Society. I needed to renew my membership and while in the process of renewing on through the internet the other evening I was interrupted and never completed the process.
Now on to this morning – I work 3 days a week in downtown Baltimore, about a half mile from the Maryland Historical Society. Since this morning was so nice and I usually try to get a lunchtime walk in on nice days AND I hadn’t renewed my membership, I decided to kill 2 birds and walk to the Historical Society and renew in person.
I walked in the door and look what was parked in the lobby:
WOW, I had chills! I also lost my head because in my excitement I failed to read the placard that you see in front of the cart. I found out that the cart had in fact been at the Museum of Industry, on loan from the Historical Society.
Luckily I will have the opportunity to go back (probably tomorrow) to read it and snap a picture or two.
On a side note, in 1951 the Historical Society erected a plaque at the site of his factory at Hillen and Exeter Streets. In looking at Google Street View I couldn’t locate the plaque on any of the buildings that still stand at the intersection. So, I am trying to find out if the building is still standing and if it isn’t, what happened to the plaque?? I talked to a couple people at the society today and the consensus is that it unfortunately probably ended up in a dumpster. I hope not.
Now, if Jacob’s ice cream cart could lead me to his father-in-law’s burial location I would be eternally grateful!