Visiting Dead Relatives on Google Street View

I have to admit I would never have thought of this. However, Jessie Schiewe has published an article about using Google Maps not only to look up addresses, but also to provide a window into the lives of the recently deceased. Let’s emphasize the RECENTLY deceased. It won’t help with finding relatives in earlier centuries.

Here is but one example as described in the article:

“Three years after her grandparents’ deaths, 19-year-old Luisa Hoenle looked up their old house on Google Maps. Feeling nostalgic if not a bit masochistic, the Switzerland-based art school student input their street address and then clicked on the Street View icon, which showed panoramic photos of the property.

“Built decades ago by her grandfather Siegfried, the house had fallen into disrepair since his death from cancer in 2016, its once lush lawn now filled with withered and dying plants. But on Google Street View, Hoenle found older images of the home from before its decline. She scrolled through the photographs, reminiscing, when she noticed something else: her grandfather.

“A Google Street View car had unknowingly snapped photos of the late Siegfried while he was gardening in his front lawn, a year or so before he died.”

There’s more. It seems many people have unearthed similar photos of now-dead relatives on Google Street View.

You can find Jessie Schiewe’s article at:


I was in my front yard when the Google filmed my street. I waved but they blurred my face. I did capture a screenshot of me later. Maybe my descendants will see me 🙂


Very interesting and unusual article a glimpse into a moment of time priceless !!!!!


When my mum passed not long ago her house was put up for sale. Months passed when my husband went on Google Street view to show his colleague who was interested in the house. There was my lovely mum waiting at the bus stop. It was a huge surprise.


When I used Street View, I didn’t find a picture of any ancestor, though there was someone working in the front garden. This was a farm in Norway named “Fatland.” I’d always assumed the name meant something like “good land” for farming. But it was very clear from the picture that the rocky land had, like much of Norway, been scraped clear by glaciers, and wasn’t good farming land at all. That led me to go to a couple of Norwegian websites, asking what the farm name meant in Norwegian. In fact, it meant something like “thin land.” I even found some people named Fatland, who could tell me their family story of why they’d left Norway in the 1880s. Poverty pushed them to go, and to the knowledge of the people I corresponded with, the person in the picture wasn’t related at all. He was probably a fairly prosperous fellow from nearby Bergen, for whom this was a second home. The scenery was beautiful, but the land was really only good for growing potatoes and zinnias, apparently. But the idea of using Street View for people more recently deceased whose addresses are known is an interesting one. Who knows who might turn up? Cousins you haven’t heard from in lo these many years? People who don’t respond to letters or emails?


Yes, Google caught my wife on our back porch, but she was in silhouette, so nobody but me knows who it is.


My whole family is from England where housing from the 19th century…and before….often still exists (unless slum clearance and WWII bombing intervened). I often use Street View to see where my ancestors lived. It’s surprisingly successful — and brings context to their lives — it was just down the road from the church, for instance, or near the market square.
Good research tool to add life to the documented facts of their lives.


I use street view to see churches where ancestors got married or had funeral services. Some of the old churches are there, and some are there but no longer churches.


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