Monday, June 18, 2012

St Croix Census Responses–Creative Occupations

USVirginIslandsCensus18351911DanishPeriod_169716807 (Large)It’s always interesting to read old census forms because they often have amusing entries.  Occupations, in particular, are interesting.  In the St. Croix census, the Occupation field held either a person’s job or other information on what they did or how they were supported.  Sometimes they provided extra information or even commentary that gives a modern reader, who is used to the “just the facts” responses, a chuckle.

Here is a set of responses I collected that struck me as unusual, either in the way the occupation was put (quill driving or bookkeeping), the extra information provided (principal stock keeper, an excellent man), or by the many ways a person can be described as unemployed (sitting down, nothing) and (lives by what he can obtain).  Some of these people are having a hard time finding work (House servant; has given up and will leave this place) or are in some way poor (no support and very destitute). 

It is also interesting that the problems with cheap imports are hardly new.  William Betts is listed in 1841 as a “shoemaker, but at present can scarcely make a living by it in consequence of the great importation of foreign shoes”.  I’m also wondering about Mr. de Silva who is listed as a “Schoolmaster, Lutheran clerk, gravedigger and inviter”.  I don’t think I want to accept one of his invitations.

If anyone has a clue what Carl P Dick did in 1841, let me know.  Kind of looks like candidate philosopher.  Not much call for that still.

These come from the St Croix censuses on the VISHA Database (

Year Name Age Sex Occupation
1835 Peggy 60 F small gang, minding sucking children
1841 Alexander 2 M house servant, infant incapable of working
1841 Carl 50 M keeps the yard & street clean and brings wood
1841 Carl P. Dick 24 M candid. philos., looking for employment in the island
1841 Isabella Hodge 39 F mother of a sick woman and in poor circumstances, lives by needlework
1841 Jacob 35 M Cleans candle sticks, knives & forks etc. etc..
1841 Lucy Ruan 59 F Ensane, and can give no explanation whatever either with regard to herself and her two leprous children, who are supported by the Land Treasury. They all belong to the English Church
1841 Sophia Abraham 62 F employed to take charge of the house, which is unoccupied and out of repair
1841 William Betts 28 M shoemaker, but at present can scarcely make a living by it in consequence of the great importation of foreign shoes
1846 Francis Armstrong 35 M no employment, living upon what he has worked for
1846 Henry Malleville Francis de Silva 29 M Schoolmaster, Lutheran clerk, gravedigger and inviter
1846 I. N. Meinche 20 F not specified; presumably Prison warden, as he signs the form
1846 Isabella Charles 62 F Celebrated fruit seller
1846 J.C. Krause 50 M lives by what he can obtain
1846 Jim Keating 22 M No situation, being an Idiot
1846 John G. Krause 58 M on good cheer, no title, no office
1846 Peter Teal 62 M no support and very destitute
1846 W. von Bretton 60 M quill driving or book keeping
1850 Ann Norager 36 F constantly in the hospital occasioned from an incurable sickness
1850 Betzy Andrew 34 F Said to be doing nothing
1850 Caroline 52 F takes care of her family which is very large
1850 Eliza Mitchell, Miss 56 F living by economy & industry
1850 Elizabeth Hansen 59 F charity, by Gods help
1850 Isabella Gowan 24 F don't know what she does
1850 J L Wittrog 47 M burgher, support his family as he best can
1850 Johannes 64 M fisher on his own hook
1850 John Slate 40 M stopping without permission
1850 Madlane 41 F does nothing since the revolt
1850 Mary Lucas 57 F trafficking fruit, assists her husband in making a living
1850 Rachel Gordon 18 F little or nothing, supported by me
1850 Rosanna 60 F renter of a house but cannot say how she lives
1855 Albert 15 M caring stock and to do what he is told
1855 Andreas 32 M principal stock keeper, an excellent man
1855 Barsheba James 55 F sitting down, nothing
1855 Elisabeth Elskau 58 F minding her husband
1855 Leah Nickson 49 F not employed but minding her mother
1855 Martha Ruan 51 F attending to her husband by permission
1855 Rosina 16 F washer apprentice to Sophia Dyer by order of the judge
1855 Sarah 32 F allowed to live with her husband being delicate and not fit to work
1855 William Alexander 16 M going to America I believe
1857 James J. Grant 10 M employed in various ways when he returns from school
1857 Paulina Edwards 11 F apprentice, attends the Anglican church & school by the request of her mother
1860 Caroline Daniel 60 F does what is in her power
1860 Sue 42 F skulking
1880 Alexander Sanders 30 M former cartman; given up and will leave this place this week
1880 Mary Peterson 27 F House servant; has given up and will leave this place


  1. Dave,
    I live in Brooklyn and we have loads of "skulkers" and people "said to be doing nothing". Not much has changed in 160 years.

  2. This is too funny! I needed this laugh.

    Was it just a general disdain leveled at the enumerator?
    "Can't you see what I'm doing? The Revolt left me tired!"

  3. Yeah, I got a chuckle as I was reading through some of them. Had to share. I like: No situation, being an idiot. Sounds like my job some days.