Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Workday Wednesday ~ Grandfather Copeland's occupation

Until recently I was never clear as to the occupation of my maternal great-grandfather, Lowell Copeland (born 1862 in Maine). Census records are not very helpful in this case. See Grandfather Copeland's Family, where I trace the family in census records from 1900-1920.

Lowell Copeland's 1900 occupation
In 1900 (New Trier, Cook Co., Illinois), his occupation is difficult to read (<Illegible> machinery).

In 1910 (New Trier, Cook Co., Illinois), his occupation (as well as just about everything else) was left blank on the census sheet.

Lowell Copeland's 1920 occupation
In 1920 (New Trier, Cook Co., Illinois), his occupation is listed as "Manufacturer Machinery."

In 1930, where I cannot find my grandfather, I find my great-grandfather in Michigan City, La Porte Co., Indiana with his occupation listed as "None."

His three children's birth certificates, recorded in Cook County, Illinois, on June 6, 1930, all list the father's occupation as "Machinery business." (The children were born in 1900, 1903, and 1907.)

Lowell Copeland's wife, Ethel May (Greeley) Copeland died at the age of 55 in Princeton, New Jersey. I found a brief obituary for her in the October 6, 1931, Chicago Daily Tribune, at's Historical Newspapers, Birth, Marriage, & Death Announcements, 1851-2003. Although she died in New Jersey, it's not surprising that her death notice was printed in a Chicago newspaper, as she was born and lived most of her life in Winnetka, Cook Co., Illinois.

Among other interesting tidbits, note that the obituary indicates that she is survived by her husband, Lowell, former assistant secretary of the Sullivan Machinery company (as well as her two daughters, Betty MacClintock, and Ruth Copeland, and son, Townsend Copeland, my grandfather).

In an Internet search of the Sullivan Machinery Company, I find that it is now a division of the Canadian Purcell Machinery Company called Sullivan-Palatek. The website indicates that it started in 1868 as the Sullivan Machinery Company in Claremont, Sullivan County, New Hampshire.

A search in Google Books resulted in several mentions of this company. It looks like it produced various lines of mining and mill machinery. At a reorganization in 1891, the president was Frederick K. Copeland of Chicago.

A search at the Library of Congress' Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers (I love this free newspaper site!) produced this advertisement for the company on page 9 of the June 19, 1901 issue of the Sumpter Miner of Sumpter, Oregon.

What I noticed in browsing other newspaper articles is that the company had offices in cities across the U.S. by the beginning of the 20th century.

A search at GenealogyBank (another favorite, fee-based newspaper site) found a 1917 stock offering advertisement for the company on page 14 of the June 23, 1907 Springfield Republican (Springfield, Mass.).

From these two newspaper ads, I get a good idea of what the company did: manufacturing a variety of mining machinery. I'm still not sure what my great-grandfather did within the company, but at least I now know what company he worked for and that he was an "assistant secretary".

Note in the stock offering that the president of the company is one F. K. Copeland, of Chicago.

Frederick K. Copeland is a first cousin of Lowell Copeland's father, Henry Clay Copeland. (I figured this out using The Copeland Family: A Copeland Genealogy by Warren Turner Copeland, 1937, which I know has errors, but the birth date for Frederick Kent Copeland matches the birth date found for him on a 1924 passport application.)

Workday Wednesday is a new daily blogging prompt from GeneaBloggers, the genealogy community’s resource for blogging. It is used by many genealogy bloggers to help them tell stories of their ancestors.


  1. I tried to read to read the 1900 census on FamilySearch, and inverted the film to all black w/white print. Looks like --- mechanic.
    You found some wonderful information about your great-grandfather's occupation.

  2. Barbara - Thanks for reading. I was pleasantly surprised at all I found!