Monday, December 6, 2010

Amanuensis Monday: 1892-1893 St. Louis City Directories

Amanuensis: A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.

I continue my project to transcribe family letters, journals, audiotapes, and other historical artifacts. Not only do the documents contain genealogical information, the words breathe life into kin - some I never met - others I see a time in their life before I knew them.

This week I look at the St. Louis City Directories from 1892 and 1893 for my second great grandfather Selig Dudelsack, who changed his surname to Feinstein shortly after arrival in America.

1892 St. Louis City Directory - Page 490
1893 St. Louis City Directory - Page 460

Feinstein Salem (Feinstein and Weiselman), r. 1213 N. 7th
Feinstein & Weiselman (Salem Feinstein and Max Weiselman), shoers, 1106 N. 8th

Feinstein Salem (Feinstein & Weiselman), r. 1211 N. 7th
Feinstein & Weiselman (Salem Feinstein and Max Weiselman), shoers, 1106 N. 8th


1) While it could be clerical error, it appears Selig may have been going by the given name "Salem" during his first few years in America. It was common for European Jews to attempt to "Americanize" their given names by choosing a name using similar consonants.  (The name Hirsch, might become Harry; The name Wulf might become William.)  However, 'Salem' is such an unusual choice, and the German community in St. Louis large enough, that he probably ultimately realized he was better off with his real name.

2) I suspect Selig was living at either 1211 or 1213 N. 7th in both 1892 and 1893 - and one of the two directories is in error. Though there is no way for me to know for sure which one.

3) In some city directories the 'r.' abbreviation means 'rear.'  In the St. Louis city directories it means 'resides.'

4) Max Weiselman was his business partner through 1900, when Selig left the shoer/blacksmith industry.  The two of them shared an 1898 patent for an improvement to a fire hydrant.

5) Selig arrived in 1890. I have searched the 1891 City Directory for his name without success. I knew he wasn't listed under Feinstein or Dudelsack, or in the business section under Blacksmiths, since I was able to check these possibilities using the local library microfilm many months ago. [Neither is his business partner, Max Weiselman.]

Footnote's digital copy gives me a few more options of searching. I have searched for both "1211 N. 7th" and "1213 N. 7th". John Collins and Peter McCann lived at 1213 N. 7th in 1891, and John Walsh and John Terrell lived at 1211 N.7th in 1891. None of these names are familiar to me as friends or family of Selig.

Since Selig may have been going by the given name "Salem" in the early years, I tried searching for that as well, and found three German churches, and a cemetery, but no people with the name.

Due to lack of perfection in Optical Character Recognition, not being able to find him in 1891 still doesn't mean he isn't there.  However, I feel I have performed digitally a better search of the directory than I was able to with the microfilm.

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