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!

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