Monday, October 31, 2016

The Diary of Joshua Hempstead

On occasion, while conducting genealogical research, you come across a gem of a resource. Such was the case several years ago when I was taking the Salt Lake Institute's Problem Solving course. My goal was three-fold. First, I wanted to prove or disprove a rumored Mayflower connection to my Hazen family. Second, I wanted to pinpoint Mary Hazen's date of birth [I had two possible dates.] Third, I wanted to find a record of Mary's marriage. The first two would be accomplished; and there was a Mayflower connection. The third still remains approximate.

The gem that came to the surface was the Diary of Joshua Hempstead of New London, CT. Joshua Hempstead Jr. was a native of New London, CT and began chronicling the every day events of his life in September of 1711. He wrote of business dealings, travel, local marriages, births and deaths that took place until his death November 1758.

The diary is available on-line. It was published as a book by the New London Co. Historical Society in 1901. It is also available from the LDS Family History Library. []

My encounter with the Hempstead Diary involved the Turner, Dart, Douglas and Keeney families. The Hazen Family in America had John Hazen marrying Elizabeth Dart, daughter of Daniel Dart and Elizabeth Douglas. In reality, the Elizabeth Dart who married John Hazen was the widow of Thomas Dart. Elizabeth was the daughter of Ezekiel Turner and Susanna Keeney.

Hempstead noted the marriage of John and Elizabeth in his diary. May 1726: "Sund 22nd fair...Jno Hazen & Wid Eliz Darte publish." [The couple had published their intent to marry. Said marriage took place in Norwich on the 31st.]

If you have New London ancestry, check out the Hempstead Diary. You may find out details key to your research. 

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Obituary Report

Obituaries can be a wonderful source for information on a deceased family member. One huge downside is that detailed obits are becoming extremely expensive to have published in a local newspaper. Many people will opt for a "death notice" instead.

The death notice includes very basic information: name, date of death, address, etc. The notice will generally run 2-3 lines in the obituary section.

The standard obituary can be from a paragraph to a full column in the newspaper. A small town paper is more likely to have the longer, more detailed notice.

What you might find in the obituary notice:
1] headline
2] name of deceased
3] age
4] residence
5] occupation / where employed
6] survivors [perhaps where they lived]
7] funeral details
8] place of birth
9] organizations belonged to
10] time of residence in city
11] other information [hobbies, inventions, military service, etc.]
12] names of parents
13] cause of death
14] a lot of flowery language about the character of the deceased

As mentioned, the small town papers will probably offer more details and #14 above. After reading the obituaries of a few family members, I expected them to be on the list for sainthood!

As in the case of death certificates, the obituary can be dependent upon the person providing the details. My paternal great-great-grandfather's obit was in error concerning the number of siblings and how many survived him. A couple of notices have listed the wrong age. Whether they were typos or misinformation, I don't know.

The obit of gggf John T. Simmons of Sharpsville, Tipton, IN helped debunk a family story. John's son, John W., was supposed to have been a veteran Rough Rider residing in Cuba with his family at the time of his father's death in 1909. J.W. was listed as a resident of P.I. in the obit. The eventually led me to relatives and the accurate story. He had served in the US Army during the Philippine War and was living in the Philippine Islands with his family.

Locating ancestors' obituary notices can be time consuming, but worth it. You do need as much information as possible. Having the full date of death [month/day/year] allows you to start with the next day's paper. Search the next week's worth of obituaries. Generally, the notice will appear within a couple of days. With a weekly newspaper, you need to search the first issue after the death. The notice should appear within a week or two after the death. You may find an obituary page with notices in regular sized type. The notice may appear under a smaller type "Deaths" column.

There is a chance that the family opted not to put an obit in the paper. The more prominent your ancestor, the better the chances that he/she has a detailed obit. That may also apply to an ancestor who was admired within a smaller community.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Hometown DC Miscues

Here are my Marion Co., IN death certificate misfires:

1) Martin Cawby Jr.: 6/14/1898 - age given as 19 [he was 79].
2) Lucinda Cawby: 9/28/1920 - mother's name and parents' birthplaces unknown
3) William M. Prall: "Marshall" is written above the M. [correction]; "better known as Morris" written after name; father's birthplace unknown
4) Catherine Crail: 7/29/1934: name written as Katherine Creal, with corrected name written above; birthdate [12/15/1833] and age at death [99 yrs. 7 mos. 14 days] do not match. [Family remembers celebrating 100th birthday, which would make birthdate correct and age at death one year off.]
5) James Crail: 10/25/1920 - father's birthplace given as Ireland [it was OH]; family would contend that cause of death was in error and "beaten to death" should have been added.
6) Bess Katherine McHugh: 9/20/1952 - K should be C; mother's first name shown as "Mamie," should be "Mima."
7) Mary A. Crail: 8/11/1887 - no spouse's name; married checked [she was widowed]; no date of birth; mother's name not given; father's name T. Jones [no first name given].

When using death certificates, don't expect 100% reliability. The doctor's info should be accurate; the rest is at the mercy of the informant.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Death Certificate miscues

I have a "nice" collection of death certificates, mostly from Marion Co., IN. The others are from other Indiana counties, Illinois and Ohio.

Standard information gleaned from death certificates includes
1) date and place of death
2) date and place of birth
3) name of spouse
4) marital status
5) name and birthplace of parents
6) cause[s] of death; length of treatment; attending physician
7) burial site, funeral home
8) address at time of death
9) informant

Note: A good deal of the information given for the death certificate comes from the informant. The informant is generally the spouse, child or sibling of the decedent. In some cases the person is a neighbor, in-law or even the doctor. The reliability of the details provided is based on the knowledge of the informant.

My non-Marion Co. death certificate omissions/errors:
1) Hugh Prall - 5/6/1907 - Grant Co., IN: father's birthplace given as Scotland [it was PA]; mother's last name not given. Relationship: great-grandfather.
2) Margaret Jane Wolary [Prall] - 1/27/1910 - Grant Co., IN: birthplace given as Virginia [it was OH]; mother's given name unknown. Rel.: great-grandmother
3) Louise McHugh - 9/13/1906 - Chicago, Cook, IL: birthplace of parents unknown; no place on certificate for names of parents; maiden name not given. Rel.: great-grandmother.
4) J.M. Simmons - 5/25/1883 - Carroll Co., IN: initials only; mother's given name only; no birthplace given for parents; no informant given. Rel.: ggggf
5) Thomas Crail - 6/13/1937 - Hamilton Co., OH: father's birthplace given as Ireland [it was OH]; birthplace given as US [it was IN]. Rel.: ggf's brother

Thursday, October 27, 2016

About those death date sources.....

I mentioned sources for death records in my post yesterday. As good as most of the sources are, they are not fallible!

I am still mystified by the conflicting sources involving the death of Rufus Jennison Sr., one of my collateral ancestors. His obituary from 6 August 1864 in the Indianapolis Sentinel gave his death as the 5th of August of that year at age 89.

The Crown Hill Cemetery Day Book and the family monument recorded his death as 6 August 1862!

Rufus was born in 1777, so the age in the obit was off by two years. If the cemetery records were correct, he died at age 85.

Either way, something is off! Did he die in 1862 or 1864? Did his death take place on August 5th or 6th?

Death certificates were not kept in Indiana at the time, so other sources are relatively scarce.

To demonstrate other errors that might occur in death sources, I will rely on family resources over the next few posts.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Death records, obituaries and similar sources

My last few posts have dealt with life expectancy. As I mentioned, there are numerous causes for the termination of life.  When a family consistently reaches into the 70s or 80s, but one family member suddenly passes in his/her 50s, look for the cause.

Death certificates are the ideal source for cause of death. The catch here is that many states or other jurisdictions were not required to keep death records until the 1880s into the early 1900s,

Obituaries are another excellent source. Small town papers generally offer more details in their obits than do larger metropolitan "rags." Unfortunately, many papers only print death notices. Name, date of death and funeral info may be all you get.

Cemetery records might provide cause of death with the burial permit or record. Some cemeteries keep "day books," or other detailed records. Request them, if available!

Diaries and journals are also a possible source. A family member may have kept a personal record. Neighbors or local citizens may have kept journals as well. Some of these chronicled the day to day life of the neighborhood, town, village or city. This would include birth, marriage and death references of people known to the diarist. Many libraries have journals on microfilm or in the manuscript division.

Military records and pension files can be a source for servicemen and women. They may also include deaths of other family members.

Last, but not least, family members may be able to provide the details you need.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Longevity VIII


1. Wilhelm Rittenhouse [1644-1708=64] & Gertruid Pieters: 3 kids. Claus 67, Elizabeth 50, Garrett 69. Avg. 62

2. Garrett [1674-1742] & Mary Schumaker?: 2 kids. William 72, Peter 52. Avg. 62

3. William [1695-1767] & Catherine Howell: 9 kids. Priscilla 48, William 79, Moses 52, Peter 67, Isaac 82, Susanna, Anne, Hannah 64, Lott 76. Avg. 66

4. Isaac [1726-1809] & Susannah Baker: 11 kids. Elijah 37, Rachel 45, Mary 39, Samuel 85, John 50, William 65, Elizabeth 55, Theodosia 37, Sarah 66, Amy 80, Susannah 70. Avg. 57.2

Family avg. 61.8 , direct avg. 68.4

For 12 families the average longevity is about 62 years. For my direct line ancestors it is 68. Of course, I have neglected a few dozen families and direct ancestors. Some families topped their generational averages, others undercut it.

Disease, natural causes, death from childbirth, one hanging and accidents all have factored into the equation. So for what it's worth, my average ancestor lives to be about 68 1/2. That would mean that I should last until about October of 2019; provided, of course, that I'm average. That's the question!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Longevity VII

Staying with the topic for a day or two...


1. Nicholas [1731-1813=82] & Elisabetha: 10 kids. Margaret 62, Nicholas 90, Elizabeth 80+, Catherine 56, Magdaline 37, Mary 61, John 77+, Susanna 76, Christian 88, Jacob 61. Avg. 68.8

2. John [1773-185?] & unknown: 7 kids. Elizabeth 52, Jacob 73, Catherine, Madeline, John C. 72, Polly 80, Stephen 81. Avg. 71.6

3. Jacob [1804-1877/8] & Ama Jemima Smith: 11 kids. John, Julia 40, Sarah, Edith 47, Nancy, William 74, Polly, Jacob, David, Amy, Abigail. Avg. 53.7 [This generation's average is an aberration of sorts. John & Sarah died in their 30s, Nancy & Amy in their 20s and Polly, Jacob and Abigail in their teens. That brings the average way down.]

Family avg. 64.7; direct avg. 69.5


1. Robert & Elizabeth Favour: 2 kids. William 67, Robert 84. Avg. 75.5

2. Robert [1606-15 - 1690] & Grace: 3 kids. Michal 72, Samuel 55, Daughter 1. Avg. 42.7

3. Samuel [1645-1701] & Judith Newcomb: 10 kids. Judith, Mercy 2, Rachel, Samuel 57, William 67, Elizabeth 24, Grace 78, Peter 41, Robert 95, Lydia. Avg. 52

4. Robert [1684-1779] & Dorothy Thomas: 5 kids. Joseph 97, Molly, Elias 35, Samuel 95, Lydia. Avg. 75.7

5. Joseph [1720-1818] & Martha Twiss: 4 kids. Sarah, Anne 65, Peter 66, Daniel 82. Avg. 71

6. Peter [1749/50-1816] & Mehitable Singletary: 12 kids. Lucy 80, Peter 78, Mehitable 89, Orange Twiss 61, Rufus 87, Luther 45, Anna 78, Sylvia 54, Dolly 74, Purley 79, Chloe 76, John. Avg. 73.1

Family avg. 65, Direct avg. 78.5

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Longevity VI and Post #800!!

Wow! 800 posts! I didn't know I had it in me! Hopefully, I can hit 1000 before I run out of ideas.


My longevity topic has run for five posts and nine families. There are many families yet to address. I may add a few more or wrap it up here. We'll see.

Prall:         62  73
McHugh:  65   69
Crail:        53   50
Faucett:    63   72
Simmons: 62   70
Gulley:     78   80
Cawby:     62   71
Wolary:    56   63
Rhodes:    46   56

Avg.        61   67

Boy, I hope my life expectancy is closer to the Gulleys than the McHughs!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Longevity V


1. Henry [1788-1849=61] & Elizabeth Rogers: 9 kids. John 65, Michael 62, Henry 81, Casper 42, William 75, Elizabeth 29, Louisa 58, Rachel 70, Amanda. Avg. 66.5

2. William [1818-1894] & Sarah Hubbard: 5 kids. Elizabeth, Louisa 33, Henry 48, Sarah, Margaret Jane 33. Avg. 44.5

Family avg. 56; direct avg. 63


1. Zachariah [1603-1666=63] & Joanna Arnold: 8 kids. Jeremiah, Malachi 32, Zachariah, Elizabeth, Mary 37, Rebecca 70, John 58, Peleg 64 Avg. 52

2. John [1658-1716] & Waite Waterman: 8 kids. Zachariah 52, Mary/Mercy, John 84, Joseph 44, William 77, Phebe 63, Resolved 36, Waite. Avg. 59.3

3. John [1691-1776] & Catherine Holden: 9 kids. Waite, John 58, Catherine, Charles 57, Mercy 2, Anthony 30, Joseph, Zachariah 26, Holden 43. Avg. 36

4. Holden [1731-1774] & Mary Remington: 1 kid. Holden 58. Avg. 58

5. Holden [1750-1809] & Susannah Wall: 9 kids. Mary 76, Holden 40, Anne 59, Isaac 24, Daniel R. 53, Zachariah 31, Wanton 14, Samuel R. 34, Perry 23. Avg. 37.1

6. Zachariah [1784-1815] & Harriet Cunningham: 1 kid. Ann Bathia 53. Avg. 53

Family avg. 45.9; direct avg. 55.7

Friday, October 21, 2016

Longevity IV


1. Thomas [1715-1783=68] & Mary _______: 4 kids. Thomas [79], John W., Enoch [78], Richard. Avg. 78.5

2. Enoch [1750-1829] & Franky Franklin: 8 kids. Thomas W. [78], sally, betty, George [90], Frances, Willis [85], Elias [50], Nancy. Avg. 75.75

3. Willis [1794-1879] & Betsy Land: 12 kids. Frances Ann, William [74], Lucretia [53], Eliza [84], Nancy [85], Thomas J. [92], Millie, Lucinda [89], Polly [83], Amanda [92], John S. [90], James W. [64]. Avg. 80.6

Family avg. 78.28; Direct line avg. 80


1. John [1732-1819=87] & ????: 7 kids. John, Joseph, David [38], Eleanor [96], Martin Sr. [47], Jacob, Christina [45]. Avg. 55.25

2. Martin Sr. [1777-1824] & Susanna Trisler: 7 kids. John T. [77], Elizabeth, Sarah, David, Susan [42], Martin Jr. [79], Moses. Avg. 66

3. Martin Jr. & Lucinda Gulley: 4 kids. James W. [54], Mary Alice [83], Helen [58], Elizabeth June [69]. Avg. 66

Family avg. 62.42; Direct avg. 70.5 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Longevity III


1. John [1751-1838] 86

2. John [1751-1838] & Eve Fry: 6 kids. Thomas ?, Joseph [74], Cynthia [52], David [82], Sibelina [46], Lydia [96]. Avg. 70

3. Joseph [1797-1871] & Rebecca Hurin: 11 kids. Ann [82], Eliza [86], John F. [79], Benjamin F. [57], Phoebe [64], Bethia [30], Joseph W. [42], Lydia [73], Rebecca [80], Sarah [76], Synthia [6]. Avg. 61.1

4. Benjamin F. [1827-1885] & Nancy Clark: 5 kids. Alpheus [57], James E. [75], Charles E. [72], Mary [70], Leroy [29]. Avg. 60.6

5. Charles E. [1862-1934] & Elizabeth June Cawby: 4 kids. Mayme [74], Edwin [1 mo.], Lester [74], Freda [77]. Avg. 56.25

Avg. lifespan: 62.99; Direct line: 71.9


1. John [54]

2. John [51]

3. John Sr. [1730-1795 =65] & Catherine Dally: 7 kids. William [66], John Jr. [81], James [46], Sarah [29], David [88], Samuel Gifford [50], Catherine [36]. Avg. 56.7

4. John Jr. [1761-1843] & Mary Nelson: 5 kids. John William [76], Samuel [36], Catherine [1], Catherine [8], Elizabeth [36]. Avg. 31.4

5. John William [1781-1857] & Dolly Jennison: 12 kids. James Morris [78], Caroline [78], Samuel, Harriett, Mariah B. [97], John J. [78], Adaline, Amelia [61], David P. [76], Daniel G. [79], Sylvanus [77], Andrew J.  Avg.  78.5

6. James Morris [1804-1883] & Hester Jane Moore: 4 kids. John T. [81], Maria [74], Samuel M. [86], Jacob N. [86]. Avg. 81.75

7. John T. [1828-1909] & Edith Crousore: 11 kids. Calvin, Robert, Roswell [45], Hester Jane [83], Ama Jemima [72],  Child, Child, Emma [67], Samuel M. [56], Charles [75], John W. [36]. Avg. 62

Avg. lifespan: 62.07; Direct line Avg.: 69.75

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Longevity II

1. Daniel [90], John [80]

2. John [1807-1887] & Sarah Hickey: 6 kids. Daniel [70], William [62], James [52], Mary Ann [55], John [54], Charles [32+] Avg. 54.2 (Charles left home at 32 to find gold; declared legally dead in 1914.)

3. James [1846-1898] & Louisa Wagner: 7 kids. Jack [68], William [36], George [66], Mary [1], Frank [57], Charles [66], Josephine [58]. Avg. 50.3

4. Charles [1887-1954] & Bess Crail: 4 kids. George [46], Jack [61], Charles [93], Ruthjane [78]. Avg. 69.5

family avg. 64.75; direct avg. 69


1. James & Mary A. Jones: 3 kids. Sylvester [62], John [70], Aaron [28]. Avg. 53.3

2. Aaron & Catherine O'Neil: 6 kids. James [62], Martha [81], Catherine [41], David [8+]*, John [16+]*, Thomas [70]. Avg. 46.5 - 63.5 (David & John died between censuses, ages given for last record.)

3. James & Mima Simmons: 4 kids. Willie [12], Harry [52], Pansy [92], Bess [61]. Avg.54.25

family avg. 51.35 -54.35; direct avg. 50.3 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016


As we study our family histories, one factor that comes into play is age. The longer our ancestors lived, the better the chance we are able to locate records that help us discover their story.

Life expectancy can be a bit confusing. It is an average age for a generation that takes in infant mortality, mothers dying in child birth, soldiers killed in battle, folks surviving to a ripe old age. The life expectancy during earlier times was shorter than more recent times, or was it?

I'll use my records to show the average life expectancy for my ancestors. There may be some gaps, so this won't be an exact science - by a long shot! The time period will be marked by my direct line ancestor's birth and death. Some were elder kids, some were the baby of the family.

1. Jan & Baetje: parents of 9 children. At least six survived to adulthood. The fate of the other 3 is unknown. Arent [1645-1725] lived to be  79.

2. Arent Jansen [1645-1725] & Marie Billiou: 8 children. Pieter [76], Maria [41+], Fransyna [33+], Barentje [less than 1 yr.], Barentje [32+], Sarah [50], Arent [81], Martha 31]: avg. 43+

3. Pieter [1672-1748] & Maria Christopher: 9 or 10 children. Johannes [83], Mary [52+], Aaron [59], Peter [61], Catherine [46+], Cornelius [29], Abraham [69], Antje [69], Isaac [64], Irene [1?]. Mary & Catherine could be one person; Irene may not belong to the family. Avg.: 53.3 [w/Irene]; 59.2 [no Irene]

4. Aaron [1698-1657] & Mary Whittaker: 6 children. James [48], Cornelius [81], Edward [69], Elizabeth [58], Benjamin [59], Jemima [40]. Avg.: 59.2

5. Cornelius [1732-1813] & Rebecca Garrison: 9 children. Garrison [34], Elizabeth [68], John [56], Cornelius [66], Rebecca [63], James [77], Anna [60], Mary [??], Jemima [28]. Avg.: 56.5 (Mary lived long enough to marry.)

6. Cornelius [1768-1834] & Elizabeth Ritttenhouse: Susannah [26], Garrison [1 mo.], Rebekah [23], Elizabeth [c55], Isaac R. [80], Squire [80], Lucretia [c60], John [74], Asher [81]. Avg.: 53.2 (Elizabeth & Lucretia died between census years, so age is an estimate.)

7. Isaac R. [1800-1880] & Ann Bathia Rhodes: 10 children. James [86], Charles W. [69], Cornelius [72], Isaac [88], Anne [63], Harriet C. [86], Bathia [83], George R. [86], Franklin G. [82], Hugh M. [54]. Avg.: 76.9

8. Hugh M. [1852-1907] & Margaret Jane Wolary: 2 children. Cora Edith [84], William Marshall [60]. Avg. 72

9. William M. [1878-1939] & Mayme Faucett: 2 children. Dorothy [72], Hugh [89]. Avg. 80.5

Overall, the average lifespan for generations 2-9 is 61.8 years. For my direct line, 72.7. Guess I'm working on borrowed time! I'm past the family average and 7 years shy of my direct line average!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Prall Family Association update

The Prall Family Association holds a reunion every 4 years. 2016 is the year for the next reunion. If anyone is interested in helping to put a reunion together let me know. Scheduling, age of the current membership, travel costs and other factors are making the reunions difficult to stage.

Past reunions have been held at the Prallsville Mills in Hinterdon Co., NJ [1988,1992, 2008, 2012] Kingston/New Paltz, NY[2000] and Salt lake City, UT [1996]. 2004? We may have missed that one!

If any Pralls out there want to get together this fall, let me know an I'll get word to our newsletter editor.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Occupational shift from country to city

As a follow-up to the job posts, I thought I'd use my ancestors as an example of how occupations shifted as folks drifted from a rural to an urban setting. Most of my 17th, 18th and early 19th century ancestors were farmers and millers. A few worked as tanners, masons, blacksmiths, wheelwrights and merchants. That changed as the late 19th and early 20th centuries rolled around, that changed.

Among my own people, jobs as night watchmen in factories, salesmen, hack and wagon drivers and day laborers were common. Others turned skills into careers [carpenters, sawyers, etc.] Still others opted for new careers altogether. My great-grandfather, James Crail turned in his blacksmithing tools for a career as a veterinary surgeon.

Some careers carried over into the new century: riverboat and railroad workers and engineers easily made the transition [provided they could keep up with the technology.]

Others had to learn new skills or adapt their skills to new opportunities. Many blacksmiths and wagon makers transitioned to the automobile industry.

Still others chose new professions altogether!

Oh yeah, the ladies! Housewives, salesclerks, seamstresses, dressmakers, teachers and a few opened their own businesses. It would take World War II to bring about the really revolutionary changes.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Assorted jobs

Bellman: town crier
Cartographer: map maker
Day laborer: hired out on a daily basis
Peddler, Hawker, Huckster: person who traveled around selling goods
Packman: itinerant peddler who sold goods carried in a pack
Schoolmaster/marm: teacher
Stapler: dealer in goods
Tinker: itinerant repairman of pots and pans
Tradesman: shopkeeper, skilled craftsman
Wakeman: night watchman

This puts the wraps on the jobs blog posts. If I missed on you have on your list check out "Colonial Occupations" [Rootsweb/] or "Index of Old Occupations." There are some more obscure professions that I didn't include.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Bricks and Stone

Waller: built stone or brick walls
Stoner: cut stone
Stone Cutter: cut and dressed stone
Quarrier: works in a quarry
Mason: stone cutter; works with stone or brick
Hodman: mason's helper
Brickman: brick layer
Brick burner or maker: used kilns to make bricks

Here's two jobs that apply here and in most careers:

Journeyman: has ended apprenticeship and is free to work on his/her own
Master: skilled workman or owner of own business

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Great-grandpa's occupational path

Before I get back to listing early job descriptions, I wanted to offer an example of a confusing career path, that of my great-grandfather, Hugh McDonald Prall.

Hugh was trained as a carpenter, probably by his older brother, based on the 1880 census.

In the Marion, Indiana city directories he was listed as a clerk, solicitor, canvasser and collector. The only job with a clear definition among the four is clerk. So what did the other jobs entail?

Definitions weren't a big help - too generic. I finally consulted the intro to the city directory. Although not 100% certain, I believe that all three terms (collector, solicitor and canvasser) applied to a person hired to gather the details for the directory.  The directory made mention of the position.

On the marriage application of his son, Hugh's occupation was given as "cornice maker." That involved making the molded projections that crowned a wall.

Nothing like having a relative with unclearly defined jobs!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Political shenanigans our ancestors faced

A brief break from the job market....

With all of the nonsense surrounding the upcoming electIons, I thought a look back in history might be in order.

Thomas Jefferson used to be one of my favorite historical figures. The more I read, the less impressed I am. TJ made life miserable for George Washington during his 2nd term. He also used the press to wreck John Adams' chances for reelection.

Alexander Hamilton was his own party's worst enemy and worked against Adams as well.

Andrew Jackson did his best to rid his party of those who opposed.him.

John Quincy Adams.became president after.some behind the scenes dealing.

The press has had a role in making or breaking more than one politician for better or worse. Maybe not as much as the current alleged journalists, but they've tried.

2016?? Maybe we should go back to the days of everybody who wants throws his/her name in the hat and we vote. Most votes = president, number VP.
Think about that one!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Household work

Biddy: female servant of Irish stock
Chambermaid: attended to bedrooms in house or inn
Charwoman: cleaning woman hired by day
Dresser: person who dressed another
Foot-man or maiden: attendant
Hind: domestic servant
Porter: doorman
Scullery maid, Scullion: servant who performed menial tasks
Butler, Valet: male servant

Monday, October 10, 2016

N to Z occupations:

Nedeller: made needles
Pawnbroker: loaned money with interest against items left for security
Potter: made and sold pottery
Poulter: dealt in poultry
Salter: made and sold salt
Sawyer: cut boards
Scribe, scrivener: clerk
Shingler: roof tiler
Slater: slated roofs
Soapboiler: made soap
Thatcher: covered roofs with straw or reeds
Timekeeper: responsible for making sure things stayed on schedules [stagecoaches, trains, etc.]
Victualler: grocer

Sunday, October 9, 2016

E to M occupations

Engraver, Graver: cut or carved headstones
Essence peddler: sold medicines, flavorings, elixirs, etc.
Enumerator: census taker
Feller: woodcutter
Graffer: notary, scrivener
Green grocer: retailer in greens
Horner: made spoons, combs and such from horn
House joiner: built house frames
Ivory worker: made objects from ivory
Joiner, joyner: did interior finishing work by joining pieces of wood
Leech, sawbones: doctor
Mint master: in charge of a mint

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Regular Jobs A-D

Here are a few regular careers:

Apothecary: druggist
Archivist: kept historical records
Barber-Chirurgeon: barber and surgeon; an 18th century law delegated the barber to cutting hair, shaving, dentistry and blood-letting
Blemmere: plumber
Buryeman: grave digger
Chandler: made and sold candles; retailer dealer in provisions, groceries and the like
Corn cutter: podiatrist [foot doctor]
Crocker: made and sold pottery
Crowner: coroner
Cutler: made, sold, sharpened knives, scissors and other cutting instruments
Dairyman: rented, owned, managed a dairy; sold dairy products
Disher: made bowls and dishes

Friday, October 7, 2016


Leather industry:

Basil worker: worked with sheep and goat skins
Tuwer: made white leather
Tanner: converted hides into leather
Pelterer: worked with animal skins
Flesher: worked in a tannery
Bender: cut leather
Beamster: worked at a beam in a tannery
Cordwainer: worked with leather [also shoemaker]
Saddletree maker: made saddle frames
Saddler: made saddles, harnesses, bridles, horse collars, etc.
Knacker: harness maker

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Rub-a-dub-dub, three men in a tub

Wooden-container-makers and related jobs:

Tubber: made tubs, barrels, casks, etc.
Trugger: made long, shallow baskets
Tranquetter: made hoops
Hooper: put hoops on barrels, casks, etc.
Cowper: made wooden items
Cooper: made and repaired barrels, tubs, casks, etc.
Bodger: made wooden chair legs and spars
Auger maker: made carpenter's augers, used for boring holes in wood
Arkwright: made arks [wooden chests and coffers]

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Head and Toe

Folks who made or sold head and footware:

Beaver: made felt for hats
Blacking maker: made shoe polish
Block cutter: made wooden blocks used in making hats
Boot binder: operated a machine that bound footware
Boot closer: stitched together shoe upper
Chamber master: made shoes at home
Chapeler: made and sold hats
Clogger: made wooden shoes for sale
Cobbler, Souter: shoemaker
Haberdasher: sold men's furnishings [hats, gloves, shirts, neckties, etc.]
Milliner: sold ladies' hats and bonnets
Laster: shaped shoes on a last [wooden mold in the shape of a human foot]
Plaiter: made straw plaits used in making hats

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Precious metals and coal

Mining became a major industry in California, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, West Virginia and elsewhere. Some jobs were....

Stamper: worked with an ore crushing stamp mill
Smelter: worked the smelter, which melted down ores
Pitman: coal miner
Miner: worked in a mine or
Prospector: searched for precious metals in streams, rocks, etc.
Jagger: hauled ore from mines to smelters by pack trains [mules, horses, etc.]
Hewer: miner who cut coal
Cracker boy: cleaned and sorted slate and other impurities from coal crushed by crackers [machines that crushed anthracite coal]
Balancer: operated the balance [machine with a pulley at the top where empty tubs pulled tubs filled with coal up a slope]
Collier: coal miner or merchant

Monday, October 3, 2016

Mr. Miller

During colonial times up to the early 20th century, the majority of our ancestors were farmers. You may also find a large number of millers or grist millers among the ranks. Frequently, a farmer with land bordering a good water source would erect a grist mill. His neighbors would bring their corn, wheat, or other grains to the mill where it would be ground into flour. The miller would often get a portion of the flour as payment.

The following careers relate to mills:

Pikeman: miller's assistant
Miller: owned or operated a mill [could be any mill - textile, grain, paper, wind, saw, etc.]
Milleress: miller's wife
Bolter: sifted meal
Gristmiller: ground corn and other grains into flour
Melder: corn miller
Meal man: dealt in corn and flour
Boothman: corn merchant

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Dealing in spirits

Here are a handful of professions that deal with alcohol:

Ale draper: ale house keeper
Ale tunner: filled casks in a brewery
Alewife: female tavern keeper
Brewer [m]; Brewster [f]: maker of beer
Distiller: makes or manufactures liquor
Skinner: tapster. drew ale in a saloon
Tippler: keeper of ale house
Vatman: works with vats in brewery or winery
Vintager: grape farmer, wine maker
Vintner: wine merchant
Barman, -keep, -keeper, -tender: person who tends bar in a tavern or saloon
Tapper: taps beer kegs
Tavern or Saloon keeper: owns or operates a public house

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Mostly inland waterway jobs

These focus on lakes, rivers and canals:

Wheeryman: in charge of small, light rowing boats
Ferryman: owned, operated or worked for a ferry [small barge] that carried passengers and cargo across rivers
Waterman: worked on river boats
Navigator: canal digger
Lock keeper: overseer of canal locks
Lighterman: operated a large flat-bottomed barge used to load or unload ships unable to dock due to shallow water
Hoyman: carried goods and passengers by water
Boatman: worked on or repaired river and canal boats
Rigger: worked with rigging on sailing vessels