Check Out Our Genealogy Blog »

No More -- Occupations of 19th Century Ancestors

job-stagecoachIt can be fascinating to research especially using census records, obituaries, and city directories, the occupations of our ancestors. As you do the one ancestors working during the 1800s (19th century) it can actually be a challenge figuring out what type of job they were doing. There were regular necessary occupations that are no longer done by any sizable number of people anymore.

The following are some such occupations and what they entailed that are not done any longer.

Stagecoach driver – one who handled the transportation of people and cargo over a long distance using a coach or wagon and a team of horses.

Iron Puddler – Puddling was an improved process to convert pig iron into wrought iron done by an individual.

Sharecropper – An individual or family who were tenants on land from which to grow their crops and then give a percentage of the crop to the owner of the land.

Soap Chandler – the person who made soap and / or candles for sale.

job-rag pickerRag Picker – an early recycling person, they would go through trash and see what could still be used and they sold that item.

Telegraph Operator – telegraph operators were very important for communication (long before telephones) long distances. Their commercial use began in the 1830s. Such an operator was skilled and paid well.

Whitewasher – a person who uses a cheap paint, a type of dusty lime to make white the inside or outside of a building. Saying– “Too proud to whitewash and too poor to paint”.

jobs-telegraph-1890sBleacher – One whose occupation it is to whiten fabric by using bleach or other whitening agents.

Warper – One who forms yarn or thread into warps or webs for the loom.

Beaver – a person who made felt from beaver skins that were used in hat making.

Block Maker – the individual who engraved the blocks used in the hand printing press.

Elliman – who sold oil used for home and business oil lamps.

Photos: Stagecoach driver-1880s; Rag pickers in NYC in 1896;  and Telegraph operator in 1890s.

Related genealogy blogs:

Granddad’s Old Job

Finding Working Ancestors

Common Occupational Abbreviations

< Return To Blog