Monday, December 13, 2010

Amanuensis Monday: Mysteries from the 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 return to the St. Louis City Directories I have been looking through on Footnote. The 1902 and 1904 directories produced some unfamiliar names.

1902 St. Louis City Directory

Odelsohn Edward, tailor, r. 1204 N. 7th
Odelsohn Julius, tailor, 1108 N. 3rd, r. 1204 N. 7th
Odelsohn Louis, tailor, r. 1204 N. 7th
Odelsohn Samuel, tailor, r. 1221 N. 9th

1904 St. Louis City Directory

Odelsohn Aaron tailor r 1023A Carr
Odelsohn Manuel tailor r 1023A Carr
Odelsohn Samuel clk r 1023A Carr
Odelsohn Samuel tailor r rear 1220A N 8th


1)Julius Odelsohn was the brother of my second great grandfather Selig Feinstein. (Both were born with the surname Dudelsack, which they both changed in America.)  I am familiar with three sons of Julius - Samuel, Louis and Harry.  Harry was born in 1896 so he was but a child during these years.  Samuel, the eldest, was already living separately from his parents in the 1900 census.  However, according to these listings there appears to be an Edward, Manuel and an Aaron Odelsohn as well.  Who are they?

2) According to the 1900 and 1910 census on Ancestry, there is only one Odelsohn family in all of the United States - in St. Louis, MO.  There are a handful of Odelsons (without an 'h') but none of them are living in the Midwest.  The Adelson spelling is more common, but there isn't an Aaron, Manuel or an Edward Adelsons in Missouri in 1900 or 1910.

3) Edward in the 1902 city directory is clearly living at the same address as Julius and Louis.  Is it possible that some non-relative - a fellow tailor - was living with the Odelsohns, and ended up getting the wrong last name in the city directory through error?  Another small possibility I can't dismiss is that another Dudelsack relative immigrated and stayed with Julius for a year, before moving on, and likely changing his surname to something else.

4) There are two Samuels in the 1904 directory indicating that Aaron and Manuel are likely from a second family that appears in this directory only.  It's unclear why neither Julius nor Louis appear in 1904, while they appear in other city directories from 1898-1911.

5) Living at 1023A Carr in 1903 was a James Gillmer, and in 1906 an Adam Sonosky, so whoever was living there in 1904 didn't stay there long.  I enjoy the ability to search for addresses in online City Directories. 


Jennie said...

Its so interesting, isn't it. One thought that comes to mind is that perhaps some of these names are actually middle names. This seems to happen with my ancestors over and over again. Frank Joseph who went by Joseph. Johan August who went by John or August or Gust. It's just a thought. Good luck figuring out the mystery and thank you for sharing your story.

John said...

That's a possibility. I know Louis's middle name was David. I haven't seen a middle name yet for Julius or Samuel on a document.

However, it wouldn't solve the question of the 1902 directory, where there are four Odelsohn men listed, and I am only familiar with three.

Nancy said...

City directories are so helpful for delving into families between censuses. But they often cause questions to arise, too.

Could your extra people be sons/grandsons/nephews? I know in the Steubenville City directories the adult sons were listed individually, along with their professions, even if they still lived with their parents.

I hope you find an answer one of these days.

Thanks for keeping the link list on these amanuensis posts, John. I appreciate it.