Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Census Puzzles

Here's a great example of how puzzling the census records can sometimes be.

This is a clip from the 1870 census pertaining to a Detroit resident who moved to Ypsi two years later. What on earth is his occupation, pictured here? Underneath is his wife, "Keeping House," and one of his sons, "Clerk in Store," but I can't for the life of me puzzle out his job.

lnocir wk?
lwour wk?
Cnocir wk?


Sandy D. said...

I think the last two letters must be wh - which is is maybe short for wholesale?

Sandy D. said...

Duh, I now realize it's wk, for "something work". What's he doing 10 years earlier or later? That's the only way I was able to figure out the writing on a census sheet I was researching.

Dusty D said...

Sandy D., I agree with your sharp eye--I think the second element is "wk," or, "work."

4 years later he had invented an egg-carrier and was trying, and tragically soon failing, to mass-produce it in Ypsi.

I'll have to keep staring at this one. Sometimes when you come back to it after staring at it it SUDDENLY makes sense...

Lisele said...

I think it starts with "Cr..." and the penultimate letter may not be an "i" -- the dot could just be a blot from an ink pen. It may be an expired occupation -- in the 1870 census, my ancestor's job was "Puddler," which had to do with smelting iron.

Dusty D said...

Lisele: Now, there's a good point. Think of all the occupations that have vanished...drayman, cooper, cobbler...great point.

I have a book around here somewhere on just that subject, something like "Early American Occupations" or the like. Fascinating stuff.

In the book's pictures, you can really distinguish who, in real life, used PARKER'S HAIR BALSAM. Just look for the rugged, handsome men, men of cast iron and unassailable virtue. Or just try some PARKER'S for yourself and see the difference.