Hitting Pay Dirt?

04/29/2012

 
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Tarr Farm
Taking a "short break" from my genealogical research due to a spring flu and well...life, I felt the urge to refocus and jump back in. Staring at my family tree, I played around with various surnames; running new searches on ancestors I am still curious about.

Thumbing through many of my downloaded documents, I took notice of the large acreage my German ancestor in Pennsylvania owned. George Tarr, a son of German immigrants, pioneered a large tract of land in Northwestern Pennsylvania; about 1000 acres.

Contemplating the size of George's estate, my interest was peaked and I sped off on a Googling trail; placing the Pennsylvania Tarr surname in several search engines.

"That's a significant amount of land," I thought as I quickly clicked on various Rootsweb websites popping up with information on the Tarr surname. But nothing significant unfolded and new ancestral names were not discovered, except for the mention of the "famous Tarr Farm."

"Famous?" I sat up and paused, looking at a description of what might be my ancestor George Tarr's large estate. My fingers raced across my keyboard, furiously searching for details on the "famous Tarr Farm of Pennsylvania." New websites were discovered full of stories and articles about the Tarr Farm and as I scanned through the information, I found a picture of the old farm with a landscape of gushing oil wells.

Racing to read the story, I discovered that the Tarr Farm was at the center of "Oil Creek," the original land that the very first oil well was discovered. James Tarr, a grandson of my ancestor George, was the owner of the Tarr Farm. The land proved to be rich in oil, producing up to 4,000 barrels of oil a day.

"Fascinating," I remarked, and I continued to flip through various articles that mentioned the "famous Tarr Farm." But my rising thermometer suddenly dropped when I landed on Oil150.com: a well-done site by the Oil Region Alliance of Northwestern Pennsylvania.

The Tarr Farm did produce a significant amount of oil in the first years of Pennsylvania's big oil boom. But to my dismay, the farm had been sold from the Tarr family and the new landowner quickly hit pay dirt, turning a "farm" into gold.

As with many estates, the property continued it name with the previous owner, remaining "Tarr Farm" long after it was sold from my ancestors. And so I am, once again, deflated; accepting that my Tarr ancestors never enjoyed the wealth of the Pennsylvania oil boom.

Reflecting on my discovery of the history of my ancestor's property, I am reminded that learning the stories provides a richness to our genealogical history and a property's' history, such as the Tarr Farm, can add an interesting touch.

Explore the history of your ancestor's property. The story could provide a fun and interesting twist to your genealogical journey.

Even if the property's history was more famous than your ancestors who first owned it.

Keep searching for ancestors,

Cheryl