Friday, December 15, 2006

"Different" Occupations in the 1880 Census

The 1880 US census search function is unique - you can search on "occupation" on Others have found strange and funny occupations in the 1880 US census, and the 1881 UK census, including this article on Juliana Smith's 7/24 Family Circle blog.

I can't help myself I spent a few hours yesterday, in between dodging popcorn coming off the ceiling and picking through the garage stuff, throwing words into the Occupation box in the 1880 US census and seeing what comes out. Among the usual farmers, servants, bankers, mill workers, engineers, baseball players, there were also:

* H.F. Koenig of Manhattan NY who "works in a space mill" What is that?

* Jos M. Wilkins of Titusville PA was "engineer in a slave mill." Probably an error - a stave mill?

* Elwin Willard of Silver Creek NY "works in smut shop." He's probably Hugh Hefner's grandfather (just kidding).

* John Sowers of Newark NJ was a "brass cock maker." Just what I always needed...

* Stephene H. Martine of Tanner Creek VA was a "proprietor of monkey house."

* Jos. Seymour of Manhattan NY was a "shit manufacturer." Shirt?

* W.T. Scott of Buena Vista CO was a "bull whacker." I'll bet the bull was mad!

* Horace Greeley (age 25, born NY) of Wichita KS was an "Oklahoma Boomer." Is this the Horace Greeley who went west?

* Mary Toomey of Boston MA was a "cash girl (fancy bust)" I'll bet!

* William Haller of Cincinnati OH was a "peddler & philosopher." He probably wanted a penny for his thoughts.

* Wellington Beatty of Monroe LA was a "farmer & thinker."

* Adolph Schuarymann of Brooklyn NY was "publisher of Puck." Was that a magazine?

* Tarrant Putnam of Wilton MN works at "anything that's honest." Diogenes reincarnated, eh?

* Oliver Ewing of Fort Scott KS "steals for a living."

* Benjamin Trulon of Bordentown NJ was "too lazy to do anything."

* Sally Vaughn of Louisa VA was a "trick woman." Hmmm...

* Both Anna Bren and Agnes Bren of Brutus NY were "ladies of pleasure" (residing in a hotel).

* Laura Johnson of LaCrosse WI was a "pleasure girl" (residing in a "house of ill fame" with others with the same occupation.)

* A.E. Lindhofer (and 23 others) of Hammond IN "work in stink factory." I thought there was enough back in 1880 that they didn't have to make it.

* Briget Malone of Bradford PA was a "pot wrestler." Probably a kitchen worker with a sense of humor.

* Austin Robbins of District 8 TN was a "perfect idiot."

* Edwin Marsh of Roundhead OH was an "idol." Probably the first "American idol."

* James Oxford of Gardner MA job was "laziness to perfection." His father must have been mad at him that day.

* J. William Miller of Rye NY was a "speculator" and his wife Ellen's occupation was "hoarding." Teamwork!

* Tom Johnson of Navasota TX job was "beating tin can from morning to night." Poor tin can, but I'm sure his wife was happy, unless the noise got to her.

* Bernard H. McCabe of Rosendale NY was a "hotel moper." Probably sat around all day...

* John MacGaal of Brooklyn NY was a "mad weaver." His wife was probably looming...

* Amanda Williams of Nile OH "boards in grim house."

* Matilda Adar of Springfield OH was a "mad wife." Her poor hubby...I hope it wasn't John MacGaal.

* Charles Young of Virginia City NV was a "lover" residing in a whore house with lots of prostitutes. I guess it kept him young...

* Peter Hogg of St. Louis MO was a "cat. drover." Is this the same as a cat herder? Isn't that impossible?

Well, that's enough for today - I love this stuff!


Anonymous said...

To define your Puck Publisher occupation.

Puck (American Guilded Age Politics, Business and Culture): Puck holds an important place in the history of American satire. An Austrian, Joseph Keppler (1838-1894), moved to the United States in 1868 and within four years had become a leading artist for Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper. In 1876 he became the founder, editor and a leading artist for his own creation, Puck. The periodical was initially meant to be America’s answer to England’s Punch, but under Keppler’s astute editorship it introduced both art and articles of a much more biting nature.

I knew it had something to do with characature and politics.

Anonymous said...

the "cat. drover" occupation refers to 'cattle drover" as in "cattle driver", a person who gets the cattle from the farms into the cities to sell or be slaughtered. basically, I always envisioned someone walking behind the cows bored to death making sure they got to where they were supposed to be and didn't run off. Of course, cows can't read maps so they would need someone to keep them on the straight and narrow.

Unknown said...

To clarify on Horace Greeley, of Wichita, it is not the same one who went west. The famed Horace Greeley actually died in 1872.

His distant descendant