Sepia Saturday 410: Third in a series about my Welsh immigrant great grandfather Francis Hugh Owen, who married into the Irish Dempsey family in Baltimore, Maryland.
The 1900 U.S. census of Baltimore City, Baltimore, Md., is the first in which I have found my Welsh immigrant great grandfather Francis Hugh “Frank” Owen and his family — and by then he had been in the country more than 12 years and was married with children.
At the time, Baltimore City had a population of roughly 500,000 and was the sixth largest city in the U.S. — a bustling cauldron of opportunity and challenge for a Welsh working-class immigrant with a relatively young family.
The Owen family’s 1900 federal census enumeration is excerpted in the table below. My great-grandparents likely wed in 1888, since they had been married 12 years. Highlighted is the entry of their first-born child — my grandmother Mary Frances (Owen) Charboneau.
|1900 U.S. Census Enumeration of Frank and Elizabeth (Dempsey) Owen – 428 Govane Ave., Baltimore City, Baltimore, Md. Source: FamilySearch.org|
|27||Frank C. Owen||Head||Dec. 1856||43||M 12 yrs.||Clerk, Straw Hat Factory|
|28||Elizabeth||Wife||Feb. 1875||35||M 12 yrs.||Mother of 6 children|
|29||Mary||Dau.||March 1889||11||S||At school|
|30||Arthur||Son||Feb. 1891||9||S||At school|
|31||Charlotte||Dau||Jan. 1893||7||S||At school|
|34||Evan T.||Son||Jan. 1899||1||S|
The next two decades
By the time of the 1910 U.S. census, Frank and Elizabeth were married 22 years and had relocated their family to 1518 Henry St. Frank was a Shipping Clerk at the straw hat factory.
There were also four more children in the Owen household: Dorothy S. and William L. (both born in 1901, apparently twins), Joseph C. (born in 1904) and John, the baby, (born in 1908). Ten children altogether!
During the 1920 U.S. census the Owen family lived at 424 Stricker St., and my great-grandfather Frank, 65, was working as a railroad watchman — perhaps a less taxing job for an older worker nearing retirement.
Elizabeth C. was 52, and only four children — Arthur T., 28, (a street car conductor), Katherine G., 23, (a men’s hat trimmer), Joseph T., 16, (a grocery clerk) and John W., 12 — were still at home. They also had two boarders, possibly for supplemental income.
In intriguing job
My great grandfather was a clerk for most of his working life — and I have long been intrigued by his job at the “straw hat factory.”
Frank even listed himself as a “hatter” in several Baltimore name-and-address city directories — and the work must have paid enough to support the large Owen household.
Yet his job somehow never sounded like an impressive calling — at least not until I started researching for this blog post.
It turns out that straw hats were a very big deal in Baltimore City for quite a number of years — and my great grandfather Frank Owen was right in there during the hey-day of Baltimore’s straw hat boom.
More on this in the next post. Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants here.
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