Got a Loafer in Your Tree?


1870 US Census

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….)

The Scars of Our Ancestor’s DNA

Digital illustration DNA structure in colour backgroundI read a super interesting article this week called “Grandma’s Experiences Leave a Mark on Your Genes” by Dan Hurley of Discover magazine and in the article, it talks about how our ancestor’s experiences, both positive and negative, have made their mark in our DNA. Scientists have experimented on rats and observed behaviors – such as how if humans handled the pups, the mothers began to groom their babies more and were therefore, more “hands on”.  Those pups would then turn around and be more “hands on” with their own brood later on.  But beyond mothering traits, when males rats who were “bullied” were mated with females, and even though the babies were never exposed to their father, the babies were highly prone to stress as opposed to those babies who were not fathered by bullied rats, indicating that the probability that the stress the father experienced passed on through his DNA to his pups.

A Little Advice, Please

Who-are-youI need some advice from long time genealogists out there with an exceptionally “odd” set of circumstances that I’m investigating and I’ve hit a weird roadblock and have no idea where to proceed from here.  We all have strange tales we come across in our genealogy hunts but this one is particularly twisty and difficult to investigate.  So I’m calling on you all for help, guidance and advice.

There has been a long standing story in my husband’s family that they were actually “Clarks” instead of Moores but he didn’t have any real verification of this.  When I began doing his tree, this was of course, one of the first things I looked into just to see if he was right.  He was, must to my surprise!  

Dark Secrets, Part 2

Dale Walton Stewart's Death Certificate

The elusive Dale Walton Stewart’s long awaited death certificate.

If you read my very first post here talking about Uncovering Dark Secrets in Your Family Tree, I ended it with “to be continued” and I finally received the paperwork I was waiting for to finish my sorrowful tale of my great-great grandmother Esther (Archer) Stewart and her family.

Esther’s son, Dale Walton Stewart, had been a near ghost on my tree for some time.  I couldn’t find hardly anything on him at all.  I only had 2 census records, an Ohio birth index listing and a listing from the Ohio Boy’s Industrial School where he was placed after his parent’s murder/suicide in 1914.  No phone numbers, no addresses, no military listings that I could positively identify as “him”….just a phantom floating through my tree.