Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Who Was Your Ancestor's Employer?

When you look at a census page, think about all of the information it's showing you. In the 1900 census, I can see that my great-grandmother, Alice Laubersheimer, was single and living at 955 Western Avenue in Allegheny City, PA. But this record also gives me a small window into her life. It tells me that she was a servant for a doctor, and learning more about him can give me a sense of who she came in contact with while doing her job.

Alice worked for Dr. Lewis H. Willard, a surgeon in Allegheny City, who had a wife and two children. There were three other servants who worked with Alice.
"L.H. Willard, M.D., a native of Pennsylvania, was graduated at the Homeopathic Medical College of Pennsylvania, and in 1866 located in Pittsburgh as resident physician in the Pittsburgh Homeopathic Hospital and Dispensary. In 1867 he resigned this position and removed to Allegheny City... He has quite an extensive reputation as a surgeon." (Source: History of Allegheny Co., Pennsylvania, 1876)
Christina Schoeppner, the second wife of my great-grandfather, also worked for a physician. Her residence in 1900 was the home of Walter F. Edmundson at 3509 Fifth Avenue in the Oakland area of Pittsburgh. She was one of two servants who assisted the family, which included three sons and the parents and grandmother of Dr. Edmundson's wife.
"Dr. Walter F. Edmundson, who has practiced medicine in Pittsburg for over thirty-six years, is the son of Eli and Catherine A. (Batman) Edmundson, and was born at the corner of Smithfield street and Third avenue, Pittsburg. He is a descendant of one of seven brothers who emigrated from England with William Penn." (Source: A Century and a Half of Pittsburg and Her People: Genealogical Memoirs of the Leading Families of Pittsburg and Vicinity, 1908)
Although employers are not part of your family tree, researching them can be a way to learn a little about the lifestyle to which your ancestors may have been exposed while working for them.

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