Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Everyday People

As I sort through the census data in Port Tobacco, I occasionally come across terms that I haven't heard before. Usually they are just abbreviations used by the government to shorten the census forms. This time, I am looking for information on the different jobs held by Port Tobacco residents for a paper April and I are writing for the upcoming Council for Northeast Historical Archaeology conference in October (http://www.smcm.edu/soan/cneha/cneha08.htm).

One of the jobs I came across was that of a milliner. Since I had no idea what a milliner did, I looked it up. Way back in October of 2007, millinery was mentioned in one of our blogs. It shows that Port Tobacco had two milliners in 1878 according to the Maryland Directory (Mrs. Adelaide Quenzel and Mrs. J.V. Smoot). In the 1870 census there is an entry for a milliner not mentioned in the 1878 Maryland Directory or the 1880 census...Mary H. Scott (correction: Mary was 36 years old in 1870, not 25).

A milliner is a businesswoman (almost always a woman in the 18th and 19th centuries) who makes and sells clothes and hats for women. In addition to being a tradeswoman who made fashion accessories, the milliner was also a businesswoman who sold a wide range of fashionable imported goods. It was not uncommon for a milliner in the colonies to advertise that she had just imported from London the very latest in mercery, haberdashery, jewelry, hosiery, shoes "and other items too tedious to mention."

It is not uncommon for people to be in one census and then gone in the next in Port Tobacco, as the population changed often. It is curious though to know what happened to these people. What happened to Mary Scott? While we have blogged about the famous (and infamous) people of Port Tobacco, it's the unknown people who make the town a town.

- Peter

1 comment:

Dancing Willow said...

hum... I sense a black hole or Port Tobacco Triangle...