Work

Sometimes our work and our loves coincide . . .

You met my grandfather, Edward Mathias Haws, in Invite to Dinner. He was born 12 February 1887 in Kossuth, Manitowoc, Wisconsin—in the house you met in The Old Homestead. His father, Frank, was a farmer, and I’m sure Ed did his share of farm work growing up. But I always knew of him as a carpenter.

He wasn’t a woodworker-type carpenter—tables, chairs, and whatnot. He was what I would call a house framer–building structures. I’m sure carpenters have a more appropriate term, but that’s the simplest term that comes to my mind. He did, however, make a couple of end tables that have stayed in the family. My cousin, Barb, has one she inherited from her dad, and my brother has another, inherited from our dad:

grandpa haws table barb
Barb’s table (photo used with permission)
Grandpa Haws table_cropped
My parents’ table (which apparently had a stain on top, hence the runner! (photo in my possession)
Grandpa Haws table Warren
Top of table on the right, refinished by my brother: “I sanded the top to remove the stain and finished to reveal the three woods that make the top, walnut, maple, and oak.” Photo credit, Warren Haws. Also the refinishing work!

Each table is fairly simple. They don’t match. I’m not sure if they were even made at the same time, or if Victoria said, “Hey, I need a table for next to this chair,” and he pieced together something with the wood he had handy at the time. Next time it was a different wood selection. Nevertheless, both are older than me, so probably have 3/4 of a century of use already.

So how did Edward Haws morph from farmer to carpenter? I don’t have a clear cut answer, but I have found information allowing me to create a timeline of his work life. In the 1900 census¹ he was still in school—probably not for much longer, as he had only an eighth grade education.² I’m sure his father had him working hard on the farm, too.  What has me puzzled, though, is when and how he made the switch from farming (what he grew up with) to carpentry?

The 1905 Wisconsin State Census³ has him off the family farm at age 18—working for Charles Kasten for 7 months as a “hired man”—”day laborer” in nearby Two Rivers. Kasten was a farmer, so the “day laborer” seems a little odd to me. There are other entries in that column for “farm laborer,” so there’s clearly a distinction. The enumerator would have been told the occupation, so someone (Ed? his employer?) saw Ed as something other than a farm worker. Is this when the shift started? Granted, on a farm you are going to end up doing a lot of building repair, and construction, so it’s not a huge stretch of the imagination. There were also two carpenters on the farm adjacent. Did they help him hone his skills? Who knows?

Family lore (AKA probably my dad or Uncle Henry) has Ed moving to Glencoe, Cook, Illinois, when he was 21—about 1908. Unfortunately, Ed is AWOL (so far!) in the 1910 census. Neither he nor his older brother, John, are on the family farm. I even checked out the Kasten family Ed was working for five years earlier—nada. Nor do I find him in Glencoe, near the Schweiger family, which he will marry into in four years.

Realizing the last name has lots of misspelling potential, I paged through 4 of the 8 enumeration districts in New Trier township, with no success. My eyes needed a break before tackling the rest of them! Barb did the same thing in Wisconsin. We found lots of other Haws relatives, but no sign of him. Several options exist:

  • The enumerators missed him entirely (he was young, single, and possibly moving around)
  • His name(s) got horribly mangled, so we can’t find him in the indexes
  • Whoever he was lodging with was careless with providing information—either missed or wrong
  • He was living and working some place we aren’t looking at
  • More than one of of the above!

He and Victoria marry in 1914, and they needed to date prior to that, but it’s possible he wasn’t living in Glencoe in 1910. Without knowing a specific location, that’s a LOT of microfilmed/digitized images to page through between Manitowoc and Chicago . . .

At some point in the 1910s, he built 2 houses on next to each other in Glencoe—one for his in-laws, and one for himself. His 3 older children were born in that house on Woodlawn, and that’s where he was living for the 1917 WWI draft.4 So in June, he was a gardener, day laborer. I do know he liked to do gardening. Maybe he had that as a sideline, so if he wasn’t working on a house construction job at the time, I can see him listing gardener as his occupation, and not carpenter.

Some time in the next 9 months, he moved the family back to Wisconsin, settling in Manitowoc (town), to work in the shipbuilding yards. Their last 2 children—George and my dad—were born there, and the 1920 census5 lists shipbuilding as his occupation. By 1925, the family is back in the Chicago area, renting in Highwood6 while Ed built the family’s new home in Deerfield.

The 19307 and 1940² censuses list his occupation as carpenter. What they don’t tell you, is that he was a member of the carpenter’s union, and wouldn’t work on a non-union construction job. As difficult as times were during the Depression, adding that limitation to where he would or wouldn’t work would have made them more so. Nor do those documents tell you that he helped with the construction of the rectory where my parents got married (Going to the Chapel), or other “side projects.”

For instance, when my parents bought their 1st house in 1952, it had no garage. Grandpa came out and helped my dad build a 2-car garage. And the two of them constructed custom storage in the upstairs hallway, using unfinished dressers for the base, and building a cupboard top above it, all the way to the ceiling. Whether he constructed anything similar in his other children’s houses, I don’t know, but it would seem likely.

He died in 1966, at the age of 79. but I don’t know when he retired from work. How and where my grandfather learned his carpentry trade, I don’t know, but it was a huge part of his life, and seemed to spill down to later generations, including (but not limited to):

  • my dad, who rebuilt the front half of the garage next door to us (which partly burned down)
  • 2 of my brothers, who developed considerable skill in woodworking
  • at least 2 of my children, who also “kick around” in wood a good bit. You know how kids are—we don’t always hear everything!

Is there a “woodworking gene”? I don’t know, but part of me wouldn’t be the least bit surprised!

#52Ancestors


¹1900 U.S. census, population schedule, Wisconsin, Manitowoc, Kossuth Town, e.d. 69; Page 7A; dwelling number 122; family number 131; line 34; Frank HAWS household; accessed 6 September 2018. Edward HAWS, age 13; NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 1797; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).

²1940 U.S. census, population schedule, Illinois, Lake, Deerfield, e.d. 49-107; Page 14B; household number 301; line 48; Edward HAWS household; accessed 10 September 2018. Edward HAWS, age 53; NARA microfilm publication T627, roll 828; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).

³1905 Wisconsin state census, population schedule, Manitowoc, Two Rivers town, p. 928, family no. 188, line 98, entry for Edward HAAS [HAWS], age 18 in Charles KASTEN household; accessed 7 Septermber 2018, index and images; FamilySearch, FHL microfilm 1020454.

4“United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918”, digital image, The National Archives (https://www.familysearch.org), Edward Matt HAWS, serial no. 933, order no. 60, Draft Board 3, Cook County, Illinois, citing World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Washington, D.C.: NARA microfilm publication M1509, 4,582 rolls. Imaged from Family History Library Roll No. 1504112. accessed 6 September 2018. Registered 5 June 1917.

51920 U.S. census, population schedule, Wisconsin, Manitowoc, Manitowoc Ward 6, e.d. 106; Page 9A; dwelling number 1860; family number 169; line 36; Edward M. HOWE [HAWS] household; accessed 7 September 2018. Edward M. HOWE [HAWS], age 32; NARA microfilm publication T625, roll 1994; digital image, Ancestry.com. (https://www.ancestry.com).

6“U. S. City Directories, 1822-1995”, database, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com), citing Polk’s Waukegan Directory, 1925. Entry for Edw. HAWS, p. 685, accessed 7 September 2018.

71930 U.S. census, population schedule, Illinois, Cook, Deerfield, e.d. 49-17; Page 2A; dwelling number 23; family number 23; line 21; Edward HAUSS household; accessed 10 September 2018; NARA microfilm publication T626, roll 528; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).