Wednesday, September 9, 2015

John Alston, Carpenter - 52 Ancestors #36

For this week's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks writing challenge from blogger Amy Crow Johnson of No Story Too Small, the theme is Working for a Living, in honor of Labor Day in the U.S.

Third great-grandfather John Alston was a carpenter. He was born in Symington, Lanarkshire, Scotland on September 2, 1806, to John Alston and Jean Jamieson. I found Scottish birth and marriage records at and wrote about them here.

John married Lillias Johnston on June 28, 1833.

Church of Scotland (Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Scotland). Old parochial registers for Glasgow, 1612-1854. Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah. Family History Library microfilm. number 1042942.
Record for John Alston and Lillias Johnston. Page 412: Glasgow, 28 June 1833
Alston, John Alston, Wright, in Glasgow, Lillias Johnston, residing in the parish of Douglas. Married 28th June by Mr. John Jamieson, Burgher and Minister in the parish of Douglas.
John's marriage record lists his occupation as "Wright," which is a Scottish term for Carpenter. (A great list of Scottish occupations can be found at

John and Lillias arrived in New York on August 7, 1835, with at least one son, but the passenger list image is so faded, it's hard to tell if they had more children with them. They settled in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania and had a total of nine children with the youngest being twins, Marion Helen Alston, and Christine Agnes Alston, born in 1850. I wrote about what I believe is a photograph of the twins here.

His wife Lillias died in January 1852 and soon after, John married Marion Slimon, who was also born in Scotland. I don't believe they had any children together.

I find John Alston and his family in the U.S. Federal Census several times in the 19th century. His occupation is listed as:

1850: Carpenter.

1850 U.S. Census John Alston, Allegheny City, Pennsylvania

1860: M[aste]r Carpenter.

1860 U.S. Census John Alston, Allegheny City, Pennsylvania

1870: Lumber Merchant with a value of real estate of $10,000 and value of personal estate of $20,000.

1870 U.S. Census for John Alston, Allegheny City, Pennsylvania

1880: Carpenter Contract[or]. The 12 after his occupation is in the column titled: "Number of months this person has been unemployed during the Census year." (Most of the heads of households on this page have "12" after their names, so I wonder if the economy was really bad in Pittsburgh at this time, or if the census taker made a mistake and wrote down the number of months each man was employed.) His household includes his wife and his youngest daughter, Christine, who never married.

1880 U.S. Census for John Alston, Allegheny City, Pennsylvania

I tried to find him in Pittsburgh-area newspapers in the 19th century, but there was more than one John Alston and without names of his family members, I'm not sure if what I find is "my" John Alston.

He died on April 4, 1882. I shared his brief death notice here.

I have previously shared a Surname Saturday post for my Alston line. In summary, I descend from John Alston as follows:
John Alston
Marion Helen Alston
Marguerite Lysle
Helen Lysle Hunter
My mother

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