Mementos of Our Ancestors’ Employment

Have you been lucky enough to inherit any items owned by ancestors that are representative of their occupations and employment?

I have but a very few items. Recently, I spoke to a Stufflebean cousin who is the proud caretaker of the sign that hung on the front of John Henry Stufflebean’s (Dave’s great grandfather) store in Noble, Oklahoma:

No, the Stufflebean store didn’t burn, the drug store next door did, but all the items in John Henry’s store were carried out into the street.

I’ve only been to Oklahoma once, but, if I ever visit there again, I’ll be knocking on Dave’s cousin’s door to get a picture of that sign.

As for my own ancestral employment artifacts, I own just a handful of items.

It would seem to me that having mementos of our parents’ jobs would be more likely since they lived more recently, but I have nothing that belonged to either of my parents relating to their occupations except for a couple of photos from the era. Looking to my grandparents and earlier generations, in my possession are:

  1. Great grandfather Stephen Kucharik‘s watch, which he used when he worked for the railroad when the family lived in Mahanoy City, Schuylkill, Pennsylvania in the 1890s before they moved to Passaic, Passaic, New Jersey

The watch is fairly heavy and the original string that Stephen tied to it to attach the keys is still on it. The watch isn’t in working order now, but I’ve been told by jewelers that it can be fixed. I haven’t done it because no one would use it!

2. Paternal grandparents George Kucharik (aka Sabo) and wife Julia were co-owners of the Central Market Company, which was a butcher’s meat shop in Passaic, New Jersey from the early 1920s to 1951. I have but one original memento from its history, a trade newsletter that features a photo of the workers outside in front of the store and a second picture of my grandfather, my grand uncle and a couple of other men in the market.

3. My maternal grandfather, Vernon Tarbox Adams, worked for the Western Union for many years, retiring from the Boston office. I ha

The last article mentioned congratulatory telegrams from Sen. (Edward) Kennedy and House Speaker John W. McCormack, along with Governor Endicott Peabody of Massachusetts. However, I have never seen any of those and I think my grandmother might have tossed them out.

My grandfather also received a small sack of Kennedy half dollars, which were newly minted, from Senator Kennedy. My brother, cousins and I each received one. I still have mine:

Lastly, I have the teeny, tiny Western Union service pin (seen next to the dime) given to my grandfather:

4. The last of my ancestral occupation mementos relate to my maternal great grandmother, Annie Maude Stewart Adams. She owned a ladies’ accessory store in Calais, Maine in the early part of the 20th century.

I own one photo taken of Annie in her shop:

Annie is the lady behind the counter wearing the dark dress.

On the Stufflebean side of the family, I don’t have much more.

  1. Dave’s great grandfather, Joseph Henry Brasher, was the postmaster in Noble, Oklahoma during the first part of the 20th century. We’ve inherited a couple of photos of the post office:

Joe Brasher is the spiffy looking young gentleman on the left in the photo.

2. Next, Dave’s grandfather, Earl Marcus Stufflebean, worked in the Stufflebean General Store, which I mentioned at the beginning of this post. We have a couple of original photos from the store:

Earl is the very young man on the right in the top photo and second from left behind the counter in the bottom picture.

3. Dave’s parents were keepers of all kinds of stuff. Because of that, we have several items pertaining to his dad, Edward Earl Stufflebean, and the jobs he worked during his lifetime.

About the time he and Ruby married, Ed had a job working for the Mistletoe Delivery Company in Anadarko, Oklahoma.

Ed’s boss posed for the photo with the delivery car that Ed drove. I have no idea what the Mistletoe Company actually delivered. I think is was a delivery service, not a company with its own products.

Ed made his way from Oklahoma to California in the weeks after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Ruby and baby Patsey followed after Ed found his first job at a Safeway supermarket in Southern California.

 This badge would date to 1942, as Ed only worked there for a short time.

He said fellows would come in to shop after cashing their paychecks and mentioned that the pay was good and Shell Oil Refinery was hiring people, especially with the outbreak of the war.

Ed applied for a job and was hired as an instrument repairman.

He remained with Shell until he retired in 1979.

That is most of my collection. I have heard stories of people who have been lucky enough to inherit tools or items made by their ancestors. Not so in my family.

What mementos do you have of your own ancestors’ job experiences? Leave a comment, please.

One thought on “Mementos of Our Ancestors’ Employment”

  1. It’s wonderful that you and your family have so many artifacts from your ancestors’ careers and business lives…what treasures for today and tomorrow. Plus photos! I have nowhere near as many things, but I do have letterhead from my travel agent father’s business and a photo of him at his desk, at work.

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