Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Workday Wednesday: What the Men Were Doing

Home built by James Edgar Wood   
My husband's male ancestors (Wood, McClure, Steiner) were often carpenters or did other skilled work with their hands.
  • Thomas Haskell Wood and seven of his sons (William H., Alfred O., Francis E., Charles A., Marion E., James E., and Robert O.) were carpenters, machinists, or painters in the early 20th century. Hubby's father (Edgar J. Wood, an insurance adjuster) tells of his father James building a home and moving the family into it while finishing the interior and starting to build a new house...then moving the family into the next new house after selling the previous house...and on and on.
  • Thomas H. Wood's father Elihu Wood (late 1800s) was the captain of a merchant ship, and his father William was a glazier. Further back in the Wood line were more captains.
  • Edward George Steiner was a carpenter. I'm still tracing his brothers.
  • Brice Larimer McClure (early 20th century) and his father, William Madison McClure, were both machinists. Further back in the McClure line were several generations of farmers.
Other male ancestors had other occupations: Brice S. Larimer was a railroad station agent but his parents/grandparents were farmers. Joseph W. Rinehart was a farmer. In the Slatter family were cooks, laborers, and wallpaper cleaners (and, later, bandmasters in Canada). Shehen ancestors (1800s-1900s) were laborers and bricklayers in Ireland and England.

The male ancestors in my family (Burk, Mahler, Farkas, Schwartz) came from Eastern Europe and chose occupations with "low barriers to entry" in the United States--meaning you needed a skill and maybe a few tools.
  • Isaac Burk was a cabinetmaker, highly skilled it seems because he worked continuously in Canada and the United States from the early 1900s onward.
  • Meyer E. Mahler was a tailor in the late 1800s/early 1900s. My cousin Lois has his cutting shears!
  • Moritz Farkas was a farmer in his native Hungary but in New York City he became a sometime peddler and a sometime presser, ironing clothing in the Lower East Side's factories at the turn of the century and later.
  • Teddy Schwartz was an interpreter at Ellis Island after he arrived from Hungary, and then worked as a runner for the steamship lines. He briefly sold insurance before opening a grocery store in the Bronx.

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