Willshire Occupations & Businesses in 1880

I am still stuck in Willshire’s 1880 census enumeration. This is a time in history that I really enjoy studying. Plus, I like looking through census records. Add to that, this year is Willshire’s Bicentennial and we have a win-win.

Today, occupations and businesses of Willshire’s 520 residents in 1880.

It comes as no surprise that men made up the vast majority of the work force at that time. There was an occasional working woman, usually a schoolteacher, dressmaker, milliner, or one who worked at a hotel. Sometimes a widow ran a boarding house.

Willshire, Ohio, 1886

The most common occupations were day labor, carpenters, merchants, and railroad workers. The railroad had only been in the village a couple years, which probably explains the number of railroad workers. It is interesting that there were several stone cutters in Willshire, possibly because there were a couple stone quarries nearby. 

Most of the community’s needs could be met in a small village like Willshire. Back then, people didn’t travel far for their basic needs and small towns provided most of the necessary services and supplies.

I noticed that often persons with the same family name had the same occupation, which makes sense. They continued in the family trade.

Some occupations from that time period are nonexistent today and here are few definitions of occupations we may not recognize:

Cooper: person to made wooden casks, barrels, vats, buckets, tubs, etc. from timber staves that were heated or steamed to make them pliable.

Day Labor: worker is hired and paid one day at a time, with no promise that more work will be available.

Drayman: the driver of a dray, which was a low, flat-bed wagon without sides, pulled by horses or mules and used to transport all sorts of goods.

Livery: a livery stable; a place where horses, teams, buggies, and wagons were for hire; or liveries could be attached to a hotel, where horses could be boarded for a short time.

Milliner: one who makes, designs, trims, or sells hats.

Stave: narrow strips of wood or narrow iron plates placed edge to edge to form the sides, covering, or lining of a vessel, such as a barrel.

From the 1880 census of Willshire village, I transcribed names mainly as they were indexed on Ancestry.com, so the spellings may not be as we spell them today. The list below shows the occupation, those who worked at that occupation and their age, and sometimes the person’s specific duty:

Agriculture Store: Jefferson T. Cully, 26; Wm F.R. Davis [clerk]
Barber: William P. Paster, 40; Lafayette Riker, 45
Blacksmith: David Dellinger, 47; Thomas Dellinger, 24; L.J. Patrick, 31; Henry Nichols, 22; Byron Denman, 24
Book/Shoe/Clothing Store: Gabrial H. Keople, 35
Bookkeeper: W. C. Davis, 46
Brick Maker: William J. Coil, 55; Malan Morehead, 28; Mathew Morehead, 32
Butcher: Milton Majar, 50; Jerome D. Carter, 45; Samuel Lotter, 33; August Husse, 19
Carpenter/Cabinetmaker: William A. Ross, 38; William King, 26; J.L. Bienz, 28 [house]; Wm Foreman, 40; William Dellinger, 56; Steve Buchanan 32; Henry H. King, 38; Lauren King, 18; George W. Majors, 37
Constable: William Beam, 34
Cooper: David Savern, 24; Phillip Trautner, 79
Day Labor: Soloman Swank, 33; William H. Stetler, 23; Amos D. Stetler, 20; Franklin Chilcote, 33; Newton Tullis, 24; Paul Branstetter, 25; Amos M. Ainsworth, 16; William B. Hard, 63
Dentist: Christopher C. Scott, 27; John D. Scott, 24
Drayman: Thomas Avery, 28; John Moody, 27
Dressmaker: Margaret Jewel, 36; E.E. Albright, 22; Rachael J. Stutar, 50; Lu Arbogast, 25; Elizabeth Ainsworth, 27
Drug Store: Chas Vance, 30; H.S. Ainsworth, 21 [clerk]; Melvin Davis, 20 [clerk]; Sylvester Brock, 40
Merchant/Dry Goods: David Casto, 40; Henry Banto, 55; James D. Banto, 22 [clerk]; Jen Zimmerman, 26; James Weimer, 23 [clerk]; A.J. Woods, 32; John B. Weber, 20; C.G. Harb, 28; John Seman, 40 [clerk]; Joseph M. Price, 32 [clerk]              
Engineer: A. Henderson, 31; Thomas Laman, 36
Farmer: John Thatcher, 75; Geo Thatcher, 40
Farm Labor: David W. Allspaw, 27
General Trader: Thomas Willie, 27
Grocer/Dry Goods: W.M. Williams, 33; Simison Wicks, 38 [grocer]
Gunsmith: Robert B. Rhodes, 46
Handle Turner: F.G. Marple, 22
Hardware Store: Henry Altheon, 41; William Pontias, 39
Harness Maker: Alexander Beall, 32; Wm H. Beall, 34
Hotel Keeper/Boarding House: Stephen C. Flinn, 31; Caroline Barbar, 49; Ann Crowinger, 44; Adam Straubinger, 37
Hotel Worker: Jos Morningstar, 22; Mary Jones, 33; William Thomas, 26 [clerk]; Louisa J. Cook, 20 [hotel cook]
House Painter/Sign Painter: D.O. Thorp, 48
Life Insurance Agent: A.W. Chilcote, 38
Livery Worker: Alfred Park, 26; Alexander Park, 30; John Ainsworth, 29
Lumber Yard: Sam Fairchild, 27; George Gardner, 28 [lumber man]; W.E. Day, 26 [lumber merchant]
Marble/Stone Cutter: A.H. Mook, 45; Michael McBrian, 39; Agu Keefer, 20; F.G. Marple, 20
Miller: Enoch Cox, 37
Milliner: Volletta Thomas, 20; Lea Manto, 45
Minister: L.W. Linsey, 27
Music Teacher: Ida C. Crowinger, 23;
Plasterer: Henry Weimer, 35; Robert Davis, 33; G.H. Young, 54; Sylvester R. Young, 25
Photographer: W.F. Lourey, 33
Physicians: John W. Pearce, 65; John K. Ross, 35; S.K. Christy, 27; Dr. Timothy Hawkins, 35; J.F. Shaffner, 51
Printing Office: E.L. Slottabeck, 18
Railroad: Isa Magnes, 34 [section hand]; Joseph Lynch, 42 [contractor]; James Hammond, 23 [section hand]; L.S Risly, 25 [freight agent]; Daniel Trautner, 30 [section hand]; David Troutner, 22 [section hand]; Thomas Troutner, 24 [section hand]; Hanen Riker, 20 [section hand]
Saloon: Isaac Emery, 33 [keeper]; J.F. Burdge, 28 [clerk]; Andrew Richter, 43; Amos Foreman, 26; William Shrank, 14 [clerk]
Sawmill: A.M. Davis, 47; Wm Weghter, 23 [worker]
School Teacher: Addie K. Sims, 14; For a E. Price, 29
Shoemaker: Calvin A. Mix, 24; James H. Davis, 51; Israel Kemp, 44; Adam Kuhm, 43
Silversmith: John P. Hoff, 27; W.L. Davies, 25
Stave Factory: John L. Dellinger, 19; John Smith, 17 [cutter]
Tailor: Ludwig Selle, 30; James Campbell, 20
Tanner & Courier: Charles Thomas, 48
Tile Maker: Thomas Johnson, 28
Tin Smith: E.H. Harris, 27
Wagon Maker: Louis Warner, 30; John Detterer, 29

One last item about Willshire businesses in the late 1800s. Going back in time 8 more years, the 1872 Willshire Business Directory, from the Map of Van Wert County Ohio, 1872, Willard Kingman & McConahy:

H. Althon, manufacturer of and dealer in furniture. Undertaking attended to.
Fred Billman, livery stable. Proprietor Willshire, Van Wert and Decatur Stage Line.
David Casto
M. Croninger, physician and surgeon
John Detterer, proprietor sawmill. Manf. And dealer in lumber.
Dettmer & Johnson, dealers in hardware and stoves, and manufacturers of tinware.
Jesse Hartzog, proprietor Willshire Steam Mills. Manf. And dealer in flour and grain. Highest price paid for wheat in cash.
Philip Hill, boot and shoe shop.
Wm. T. Lamb, proprietor “Oregon House.” Dealers in groceries and provisions.
Lyman Patrick, proprietor, blacksmith, and wagon shop.
J.W. Pearce, physician and farmer.
W.C. Putnam, eclectic physician and surgeon.
Wood & Chilcote, dry goods, groceries, hats, caps, boots, and Queensware.
J. Warren


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    • Larry Baxter on April 1, 2022 at 9:59 am
    • Reply

    That was very interesting and informative. And it took a lot of work on your part. Thanks. But if you find time, it would be interesting to see the same information for Schumm. And if that doesn’t fill your time – Mendon, Venedocia and Spencerville. I know — I’m pushing it. Thanks for your articles and dedication.

    1. Not a bad idea since I enjoy doing this sort of thing. Schumm would be easy since it was such a small town. I haven’t looked at the other towns you mention because I don’t have the connection to them. Obviously, the larger the town, the more work it would be to do this sort of thing. And the towns usually got larger as time went on. I think that is why the 1880 census is manageable. It contains a lot of information and it is not all that large. There is a lot more just 20 years later, in the 1900 census. Thanks for writing!

    • Brenda Johnson on April 1, 2022 at 10:08 am
    • Reply

    Thanks so much for sharing!

    1. You are welcome! Glad you enjoyed it!

    • Elease Kreischer on April 1, 2022 at 11:03 am
    • Reply

    I’m surprised to not see the Winkler name. I love reading your articles. Thanks for all the work you do!

    1. It appears the Winklers (I see Martin) lived in Blackcreek Township, close to the county line. They were there by at least 1860. It is interesting to note that Blackcreek Township has no villages. I only did the village of Willshire here (1880). There is also the rest of Willshire Township, a rural area, where most everyone was a farmer. Thanks for reading!

    • Mary Goodwin Haddad on April 1, 2022 at 12:28 pm
    • Reply

    Dear Karen, I always enjoy your posts especially the ones concerning Willshire . I lived there with my family from 5 years old until I graduated from Willshire High School in 1959.
    It was a wonderful time to grow up and my fellow classmates are still in touch and have a reunion every 5 years. Some of us get together more often and still enjoy the friendships we made so long ago!
    I am hoping to attend the coming activities concerning the Bicentennial. Hopefully you will post the dates and locations.
    Thanks again for all your hard work!
    Mary Goodwin Haddad

    1. Thank you so much! I will talk with someone on Willshire’s Bicentennial Committee and will try to mention their upcoming events here.

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