My husband has German ancestors that settled in Syracuse, NY. The spelling of the surnames can vary widely and the first names are repeated every generation. One of the surnames I am researching is Grabowski and there seems to have been two separate groups or families by name that settled in Syracuse in the late 1800's, one from Poland and the other from Germany. Both families frequently used the same first names but, with a couple of exceptions, the Polish families settled on the west side and the German families on the north side of the city.
Knowing who lived where and with whom has given me clues to figuring out some of the family relationships. As I've written before, with the various spellings I often have an easier time searching newspapers by address. And searching by address has led me to the married names of several women and the names of some children.
To keep the information straight I have created a simple database.
I have a column labeled "wife" but I also put in information such as the name of a parent. I have a column for the years they resided at an address and a notes column where I record anything that I think might help later. Because I never print this out, it does not matter how many or how wide the columns are.
Since I am from Syracuse I know which addresses are on the north side and which are on the west. If I was not familiar with the city creating a google map would be helpful. The database also helped me figure out street names that changed over time. Lock St was changed to N. State St. I have had a bit of trouble where the numbering of a street changed but at least I have the same grouping.
Be sure not to jump to conclusions using a database like this! My husband's grandfather rented a flat from his uncle at one point.