While researching my great-grandfather Jesse Archer, I found the 1870 Federal Census and got a bit of a giggle at his occupation that was listed as “loafer”. I mean, I’ve read about several silly occupations on the censuses but I’d never come across “loafer” so it brought up a bit of a mystery for me and brought debate between friends and relatives but nobody was quite sure.
My relative Suzanne thought perhaps it was a baker, referring to the loaves of bread. Another, thought perhaps a person working on a farm, rolling bales of hay, which could have made sense because he was a farmer nearly all his life. Personally, I thought it meant more like our modern meaning – a slacker. However, as Suzanne pointed out, how does a slacker have personal property in 1870 in the amount of $1000? That was a lot of value then! (I’ll discuss that below later….)