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I have a "close match" census entry that I would like to find out if others think it is a good match.

Based on some new information learned earlier this summer, I went back to find the family of my wife's great-great grandmother, Christina B ZEH (birth name unknown). Based on "family history," information on tombstones in the family cemetery, and other sources; we had long believed that Christina had three children. We also knew that her husband (Frederick ZEH) had disappeared before 1860 after going west to find a new place for the family to live.

The new information I learned this summer is that she actually had 5 children. This caused me to to back to look at some sources again. In 1860, the family should have looked like this:
Christina ZEH, age 46, female
Fredericka ZEH, age 17, female
Frederick ZEH, age 16, male
Catherine ZEH, age 14, female
Christine ZEH, age 11 or 12, female
Charles ZEH, age 8, male

All members of the family were born in Wuerrtemberg Germany.

Take a look at the attached image from the 1860 Philadelphia census for the 17th ward. (I have other sources placing the family in this part of Philadelphia from the 1850's into the 1880's). This is a very close match -- all of the ages match exactly, but there are 3 discrepancies including the last name. (ZEH is pronounced to rhyme with "say" or "hay.") What do you think? Could this be the right family?

Also, what do you think is the occupation of the head of the household? I can make out the last part, but I am stumped on the beginning of the word.


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Replies to This Discussion

I'm reposting my comment in the discussion thread:

Hi George-
I notice that the head of household is listed as Male, its possible they got that wrong? Was Esther Fredericka's middle name? I would save it as a possible, esp if the family was in that area in other census records.

I'm not sure what the occupation is either, I'm guessing something to do with tailoring? Do you have an occupation on other census records?
If this is the right family, then the census taker did get the gender of the head of household wrong. That is one of the discrepancies that makes this a bit questionable.

The oldest child was always called Fredericka, at least after her marriage. The Philadelphia marriage register lists here as "Christ. F ZACH." That plus a few other sources have lead me to believe that her first names was Christiana or Christine (after her mother) and Fredericka was her middle name (after her father), but I never seen her referred to as Esther any where. But then I do not have a birth nor christening source for her yet.

This is the only census where there is an occupation listed for her. I have not been able to find her in the 1870 census yet.

Thanks for your reply.
George, I would certainly keep the record as a possibility since so many points are accurate. I think the occupation is skin dresser. I looked that up and it was a person who prepared or dressed animal skins prior to sewing into cloaks etc.
I looked at the census BEFORE I had read Jo Arnspiger's post. I too think that the occupation is "skin dresser" but I wasn't smart enough to look it up. Thanks to Jo, we know what it means.


Thanks for looking up the meaning of this occupation. I thought that it might be "skindresser" but it did not make much sense until your message and the one from Eve.

I did finally find Christiana and her youngest son Charles 10 years later in the 1870 census. They are in the same neighborhood (and I think in the same house, but the 1860 census does not have house numbers), but in 1870 she is listed as "keeping house." However, down the street from her are two other "skin dressers." Also, an 1875 map of Philadelphia shows two Morocco factories just a few blocks away from where they lived.

Thanks to all. I better about classifying this census entry as a probable match.

It is a skin dresser - a frequent trade of German immigrants EVE
The discrepancy in the head of households first name probably from a second party giving the information. It is possible that they were not all at home and the census taker got the information from one of the children, perhaps not understanding them well, since they were all born out of country and probably had accents.



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