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Friday Funny: Did the Springsteens Hire a House & Ship Plumber?

1857 William P. Sweet House & Ship Plumber advertisement, appendix, in Smiths Brooklyn Directory for yr ending May 1 1857, via InternetArchive. (Click to enlarge.)
1857 William P. Sweet House & Ship Plumber advertisement, appendix, in “Smiths Brooklyn Directory for year ending May 1 1857”, via InternetArchive. (Click to enlarge.)

Springsteen Family (Click for Family Tree)

Checking through a run of city directories to confirm where Jefferson Springsteen and his wife Anna Connor Springsteen were living, I didn’t find the family in 1857 in Brooklyn but did find some delightful ads that gave me a chuckle.  Although the Springsteens had moved from Brooklyn, New York to Indianapolis, Indiana about 1853, it is possible that these plumbing companies had been in business when they were still in the city. (I believe they also had relatives still in the city then, but still have a lot more collateral kin research.) In the meantime, I thought I would share these ads as a plumber they may have called- with a young family of seven people in the household and no disposable diapers, they probably needed a plumber at some point!

1857 R. R. Coggin House & Ship Plumber advertisement, page 17, in Smiths Brooklyn Directory for yr ending May 1 1857, via InternetArchive. (Click to enlarge.)
1857 R. R. Coggin House & Ship Plumber advertisement, page 17, in “Smiths Brooklyn Directory for year ending May 1 1857,” via InternetArchive. (Click to enlarge.)

The Springsteens lived only blocks from the East River and the Navy Pier. With shipping being such a huge industry in the port city of New York and environs, it seems logical to find the combination of house and ship plumber. After all, it’s all pipes, right?

R. C. & A. Scrimgeour Plumber advertisement, page 267, in Smiths Brooklyn Directory for yr ending May 1 1857, via InternetArchive.
1857 R. C. & A. Scrimgeour Plumber advertisement, page 267, in “Smiths Brooklyn Directory for year ending May 1 1857,” via InternetArchive. (Click to enlarge.)

Apparently there were some plumbers who only worked on residences and commercial buildings, or maybe it was a given that if  you were a plumber, you didn’t need to be specific as to whether the plumbing was located on land or water. It was just a job.

 

Our ancestors are more than names, dates, and places. Seeing images of the minutiae of their lives helps us to understand them better, and make connections to our lives today.

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. See references with images.

 

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Original content copyright 2013-2015 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

Family history is meant to be shared, but the original content of this site may NOT be used for any commercial purposes unless explicit written permission is received from both the blog owner and author. Blogs or websites with ads and/or any income-generating components are included under “commercial purposes,” as are the large genealogy database websites. Sites that republish original HeritageRamblings.net content as their own are in violation of copyright as well, and use of full content is not permitted.
 
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Friday Funny: A Portable Forge for Blacksmiths, Gunsmiths, and… DENTISTS???

Portable Forge and Bellows Advertisement in Smiths Brooklyn Directory for yr ending May 1 1857, page 18. via InternetArchive.
Portable Forge and Bellows Advertisement in Smiths Brooklyn Directory for yr ending May 1 1857, page 18. via InternetArchive. (Click to enlarge.)

Springsteen Family (Click for Family Tree)

Well, maybe “not funny, hah ha” as my parents and grandparents would have said, but it does seem funny in this day to think that dentists would have needed a forge back in 1857. It makes sense though, when one realizes there are still metal fillings and gold inlays used in dental work. Having that wonderful power source called electricity makes it much easier for dentists in 2015.

Our Springsteen ancestors lived in Brooklyn just before this time- we know Jefferson Springsteen and Anna Connor Springsteen were there, and likely Jeff’s father and maybe siblings or cousins. (Anna’s family possibly too, though she was our immigrant ancestor in that line. She is very hard to trace because of her name and sex.) They may have visited a dentist with a forge out back!

Can you imagine sitting in the dentist’s chair, having him walk out, but instead of going to the next room to check on another patient, he goes out to the forge to create your new tooth or filling?? Think of the heat, smoke, noise, and fine dust of a forge, and the sulfur and other smells- no wonder people were afraid to go to the dentist!

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. Smiths Brooklyn Directory for yr ending May 1 1857, page 18. via InternetArchive.

 

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We would love to read your thoughts and comments about this post (see form below), and thank you for your time! All comments are moderated, however, due to the high intelligence and persistence of spammers/hackers who really should be putting their smarts to use for the public good instead of spamming our little blog.
 

Original content copyright 2013-2015 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

Family history is meant to be shared, but the original content of this site may NOT be used for any commercial purposes unless explicit written permission is received from both the blog owner and author. Blogs or websites with ads and/or any income-generating components are included under “commercial purposes,” as are the large genealogy database websites. Sites that republish original HeritageRamblings.net content as their own are in violation of copyright as well, and use of full content is not permitted.
 
Descendants and researchers MAY download images and posts to share with their families, and use the information on their family trees or in family history books with a small number of reprints. Please make sure to credit and cite the information properly.
 
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Shopping Saturday: Springsteens Keeping the Lights On in 1845

1845 Candles Advertisement, page 20, Doggets New York City Directory via archive.org
1845 Candles Advertisement, page 20, Doggets New York City Directory via archive.org. (Click to enlarge.)

Springsteen Family (Click for Family Tree)

Twenty years ago, keeping the lights on was as simple as flipping a switch, and our shopping Saturday dilemma was whether to get soft white or bright white lightbulbs, and which wattage. Today it is more complicated, with rows of incandescent, halogen, LED, Edison, and other types of lightbulbs lining store shelves, with a myriad variety of bases. (More technology= simpler lifestyle??)

Keeping the lights on was complicated for our ancestors, too. Jefferson and Anna Connor Springsteen, living in Brooklyn, NY in 1845, did not have the luxury of flipping a switch, but had to deal with oil for lamps and candles, as well as wood for stoves/fireplaces which would also provide a little light. No wonder families tended to get up at dawn and go to bed when it got dark- you could save a lot of money by buying less oil and candles! For those on the frontier, where goods and stores were scarce, making their own or doing without was the only way they could survive.

Oil lamps have been used since ancient times, with a variety of oils used as fuel. Candles have been made from a variety of substances throughout the years as well. Beeswax candles are considered to be the very best, however they are also very expensive since bees make such a small amount of wax for each hive- they could never keep up with the booming American economy that was ten times as large in 1860 as it had been in 1800. In 1858, kerosene began to take the place of animal-based oils in lamps, and paraffin began to be used for candles. Paraffin was inexpensive, burned cleanly and without odor, but melted easily. Once stearin was discovered, it was added to candles and raised the melting point, so they would not soften in hot weather or warm buildings.

Whale oil lamp of the 18th/20th century. Photographed at Dithmarscher Landesmuseum Meldorf, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. Iron with cotton wicker.via Wikipedia, CC License.
Whale oil lamp of the 18th/20th century. Photographed at Dithmarscher Landesmuseum Meldorf, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. Iron with cotton wicker.via Wikipedia, CC License.

Sperm Oil and Candles

Living in the northeast in a port city and so close to the ocean, the Springsteens would have had easy access to oil from whales. Whaling provided a lot of products in the early 1800s, including oil, which was used for lamps, making candles, as a lubricant for machinery including the booming railroads’ rolling stock; locomotive headlights used whale oil too. Sperm whale oil was used for light, fast-moving machinery, such as that in the cotton mills. Heavier whale oil, derived from a number of species, would be used in the heavy machinery like locomotive engines.

Whalers would boil the blubber from a whale to create oil, put it in casks and it would be sold around the country for lubricants and illumination, as well as for use in the manufacture of soaps, varnish, and paints. Spermaceti, a waxy oil from the head of the whale (it was used for buoyancy and echolocation by the whale), was the most valuable of the whale oils. Over 500 gallons of spermaceti oil could be harvested from just one sperm whale. Because of its waxy properties, it made what was considered the finest candle, which had a very bright and clear flame, good for reading, and these candles did not emit a lot of smoke. Spermaceti oil also was used as a lubricant in precision machinery- thus some say that whaling is what drove the success of American industry in the 1800s.

Sperm oil would make brown candles if used naturally, but was often bleached to make a pure white candle- more elegant but of course more expensive. Around 1800, sperm candles cost three times the price of tallow candles. Tallow candles were made of the fat of sheep and cattle, and were made at home by many families. They burned unevenly, their light was not as bright as sperm candles, and in hot weather, tallow candles would collapse once they softened. Tallow candles also had a very unpleasant odor when burned. Tallow could be used as a lubricant, as well.

Lard Oil

In the 1800s, the American diet consisted of a very high proportion of meats. This meant that there was an abundant supply of lard from slaughterhouses. Lard, while used in pie crusts and other edible goods, was also made into lamp oil. It was inexpensive because it was an animal byproduct, but the quality was poor. It required a higher temperature for burning and didn’t flow well as the fats tended to congeal in a lamp, especially when ambient temperatures were low.

Early/mid 19th century height adjustable pendant oil lamp. Brass fixtures, painted glass shade. Chain and counterweight allow it to raised and lowered. Now used as paraffin lamp; originally probably intended to be fueled with whale oil.via Wikipedia, CC License.
Early/mid 19th century height adjustable pendant oil lamp. Brass fixtures, painted glass shade. Chain and counterweight allow it to raised and lowered. Now used as paraffin lamp; originally probably intended to be fueled with whale oil. Wikimedia Commons, CC License.

Adamantine Candles

Stearic acid, derived from animal fats, was added to wax to make adamantine candles. The stearic acid hardened the candle, making them less apt to melt in hot weather.

Elephant Oil

Likely ‘sea elephants’ or elephant seal oil. These large animals found on the Pacific coast were also used for lamp oil in the 1800s. A large bull could yield 210 gallons of oil made from their blubber, and these animals were hunted to what was thought was extinction. Eight individuals were found in 1892 when the Smithsonian expedition killed seven of them for their collection; amazingly the population survived and due to legal protection, colonies now thrive.

"Breeding colony of Mirounga angustirostris"[elephant seals] by Brocken Inaglory - Own work. Licensed under GFDL via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Breeding_colony_of_Mirounga_angustirostris.jpg#/media/File:Breeding_colony_of_Mirounga_angustirostris.jpg
“Breeding colony of Mirounga angustirostris”[elephant seals] by Brocken Inaglory – Own work. Licensed under GFDL via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Breeding_colony_of_Mirounga_angustirostris.jpg#/media/File:Breeding_colony_of_Mirounga_angustirostris.jpg
Kid Oil

Possibly from young goats? No information found on this oil.

Oil Soap

A candle-maker was called a “chandler.” Chandlers used raw products such as whale oil and tallow to produce a variety of products, from candles and oils to soaps, sauces, paints, and varnishes.

 

Notes, Sources, and References:

1) A variety of websites were sources of information in this article:

http://history1800s.about.com/od/whaling/f/whaleproducts01.htm

In Pursuit of Leviathan: Technology, Institutions, Productivity, and Profits …

 By Lance E. Davis, Robert E. Gallman, Karin Gleite

https://books.google.com/books?id=xsk0AQAAMAAJ&pg=PA250&lpg=PA250&dq=elephant+oil+lamp+history&source=bl&ots=drfty9OSkJ&sig=iqyy7oZeSZh1QrpHpO5wSP-JUXg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CF0Q6AEwEGoVChMIwcbB6uq6xwIVyVg-Ch1FTg1V#v=onepage&q=elephant%20oil%20lamp%20history&f=false, page 250

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_candle_making

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kerosene_lamp

https://historyweaver.wordpress.com/2009/07/16/lighting-the-way/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spermaceti

 

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We would love to read your thoughts and comments about this post (see form below), and thank you for your time! All comments are moderated, however, due to the high intelligence and persistence of spammers/hackers who really should be putting their smarts to use for the public good instead of spamming our little blog.
 

Original content copyright 2013-2015 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

Family history is meant to be shared, but the original content of this site may NOT be used for any commercial purposes unless explicit written permission is received from both the blog owner and author. Blogs or websites with ads and/or any income-generating components are included under “commercial purposes,” as are the large genealogy database websites. Sites that republish original HeritageRamblings.net content as their own are in violation of copyright as well, and use of full content is not permitted.
 
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Workday Wednesday: City Directories for Social History

King & Kellum, Architects, Ad, Brooklyn, NY. From Hearnes Brooklyn City Directory for 1850-1851 via InternetArchive.
King & Kellum, Architects, Ad, Brooklyn, NY. From Hearnes Brooklyn City Directory for 1850-1851 via InternetArchive.org.

Springsteen Family (Click for Family Tree)

Although the architects Gamaliel King & John Kellum are not related to us, I found this ad when going page by page through the city directory, looking for Jefferson and Anna Springsteen. I knew the Springsteens were in Brooklyn in the 1840s and 1850s, but wanted to pinpoint the years and learn more about that time. I also wanted to verify Jeff’s occupation, as I had found that he had a restaurant at the Brooklyn fish market.

The Springsteens were not listed in the 1850-1851 Brooklyn City Directory, but I loved the above ad- this may have been what the home of their dreams looked like! Similar homes would have been found in the neighborhoods they travelled through, or possibly their own neighborhood- or they may even have lived in a house like this.

Learning a bit about the place and time of your ancestors can often be done while browsing a resource, such as a city directory. Oftentimes, researchers will look for a name, find it or not, and move on to the next resource. Because when I found Jefferson in some of the directories his name was spelled much differently than I have seen previously (spelling creativity ruled back then!), I searched mostly page-by-page through the directories I used on InternetArchive.org. As I paged through, however, I saw delightful advertisements such as this architect’s ad, data on population and transportation, and city government information and office holders. The ads especially give a taste of what a typical workday may have been like for a resident- note the occupations which we no longer have. Some may even require a bit of research because the job is obscure to us in this high-tech century. One can also learn a bit about what a woman’s life was like- the vendors she may have used for food and household goods, what products were available to make her life easier, etc.

So plan time to peruse a city directory or other resource- you may be surprised at what you find. You may find familiar names and learn of neighbors who moved to the next town with them, find siblings, children, or parents nearby, learn what occupation was followed (which can help differentiate those with the same name), and possibly even learn the name of a wife, which may be listed after her husband’s death- and that will also give you a clue as to when the husband died. Do be careful though, and read the actual entry- sometimes persons are listed after they died as an oversight, and I have even seen a directory list that a person had moved to __, so were not actually living in that town.

At the very least, looking through a directory will give you a sense of the times your ancestor lived in, and the surrounding place. It will help you build a social history that contains your ancestor, and will make the stories you tell about an ancestor much more interesting.

I will be posting more charming items from the Brooklyn City Directories of 1848-1851– and some that are downright frightening– in future posts.

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

1) I did not find Jefferson and Anna in the 1850-1 city directory. They had probably moved on to Indiana by then.

2)  The OCR/search engine on InternetArchive.org did not pick up the name in multiple Brooklyn city directories even when spelled exactly like it was found it in the directory. It definitely does not have a fuzzy search. (I am, however, really happy that these directories are available online!)

3) City directories can have multiple sections, with each having its own numbering system. Brooklyn had an ‘east’ and ‘west’ section in the later directories, plus the city information had its own section and numbering sometimes, other times was listed as an appendix. So familiarize yourself with the layout of the directory and its sections- you might find some of them have more information that had not gotten picked up in a search.

4) King & Kellum, Architects, Ad, Brooklyn, NY. From Hearnes Brooklyn City Directory for 1850-1851 via InternetArchive.org.

 

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We would love to read your thoughts and comments about this post (see form below), and thank you for your time! All comments are moderated, however, due to the high intelligence and persistence of spammers/hackers who really should be putting their smarts to use for the public good instead of spamming our little blog.
 

Original content copyright 2013-2015 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

Family history is meant to be shared, but the original content of this site may NOT be used for any commercial purposes unless explicit written permission is received from both the blog owner and author. Blogs or websites with ads and/or any income-generating components are included under “commercial purposes,” as are the large genealogy database websites. Sites that republish original HeritageRamblings.net content as their own are in violation of copyright as well, and use of full content is not permitted.
 
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Wordless Wednesday: Text Talk, 1881 Style

Marion [Ohio] Daily Star 11 May 1881, Vol. IV, No.182, Page 4, Column 4. Reprinted with permission of the Marion Daily Star for non-commercial use only.
Marion [Ohio] Daily Star 11 May 1881, Vol. IV, No.182, Page 4, Column 4. Reprinted with permission of the Marion Daily Star for non-commercial use only.
The more things change, the more they stay the same…

 

 

Notes, Sources, and References: 

1) Marion [Ohio] Daily Star, 11 May 1881, Vol. IV, No. 182, Page 4, Column 4. Reprinted with the kind permission of the newspaper for non-commercial use.

 

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Copyright 2013-2014 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

 
We would love to read your thoughts and comments about this post, and thank you for your time! All comments are moderated, however, due to the high intelligence and persistence of spammers/hackers who really should be putting their smarts to use for the public good instead of spamming our little blog.