©2009-2016 Becky Higgins

Friday, January 15, 2010

Erie Pennsylvania

Once I’d caught up with reading blogs I follow, facebook (otherwise I’d have no idea what my grown family was up to) and twitter, I set out to learn a bit more about Erie, Pennsylvania. I found a great little book, Erie; a guide to the city and county, written and compiled by the Erie County Unit of the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Published by The WILLIAM PENN ASSOCIATION of PHILADELPHIA, Inc., 1938. The book is found digitally at http://www.archive.org/details/erieguidetocitya00federich.

Charles Ruch was listed as a laborer on the ship’s manifest when he immigrated in 1873. Though various sources I know he became a tanner here in America. Through the above book I learned there was only one tannery in operation in Erie during the time he lived there. If I can find a city directory for that time period – I haven’t looked yet – I’ll be able to get the name of the tannery.

Until last year I really knew very little about what a tanner did/does. All I knew was it had to do with turning animal hide into leather. Last season the TV show “Dirty Jobs” did a segment on tanning. Oh, my, how enlightening! and what an arduous line of work! I have much more respect for the labor Charles put forth to support his family.

This book also describes what transportation possibilities would have been available for the couple to reach Erie from New York City. The Erie Canal was still in operation but my money is on the railroad at this point. In town itself, horse drawn street cars provided public transportation.

For now, I’m about to see it any of the Erie PA cities directories are online for the 1860s and/or 70s.

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