In the March issue of NGS Monthly, “Occupations” reviewed some resources from NGSQ and the NGS Family History Conference for exploring how best to use your ancestors’ occupations as a research tool. In a posted comment on that article, member Sue Kratsch referred me to her NGSQ article from 2015: “James Wesley Mooney of Will County, Illinois: Business Records Reveal His New York Family.”
An 1878 county history for Will County, Illinois, reported that James W. Mooney was born in 1815 in Ulster County, New York, and married Lydia Ann Burt in 1836 in Wayne County, New York. The couple had six children before moving to Illinois, where they had five more.
But what of James W. Mooney’s earlier years and family of origin? James and Lydia’s children maintained and later reported some family lore: he had three sisters, who married an Armitage, a Hungerford, and a Smith; he was once a bond boy to a farmer; and he started a glass factory in Utica, Oneida County.
In her research, Kratsch took particular notice of that last claim and recognized an opportunity. She could use the occupation of glassmaking both as a differentiating identifier and as a potential source for more records.Only NGS members have access to full articles of NGS Monthly. Please log in or click here to learn more about joining the National Genealogical Society.
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I was fortunate to know my great-grandmother well, but she never talked about family history. Her father was Charles E. Davis of Washington, DC. As many as 8 men of that name were in DC during the period from 1880 to 1920. When I discovered he was a carpenter, I was able to distinguish him from the others and document the addresses of places the family rented housing. The Washington, DC, City Directories available on Ancestry were an excellent resource for this project.