The Reality of Apprenticeships in the 19th Century

So imagine yourself – 10 or 12 years of age and one day your mother, father or stepfather delivers you to the home of another, where you will serve time learning the art and mystery of a trade. Provisions are set for your maintenance, which may or may not include attending schooling. Upon serving your time you will receive two suits of clothes, one set to be new, and if you are lucky perhaps a couple of dollars. Maybe both your parents are dead or destitute and the Guardians for the Relief or Employment of the Poor or the Managers of the Almshouse sign your next seven years away. This was a fact of life in the 18th and 19th century and the indentures I looked at today are poignant.

From 1824 to 1851 nine children whose indentures made their way into the Copper Wash Tub were apprenticed to John and Hannah Young to learn farming, gardening, housewifery and plain sewing. Many of the indentures indicate the property to be in the “City of Philadelphia, District of Southwark, Passyunk Township.” According to a lease agreement that is part of this collection John was leasing the Girard Farm from Stephen Girard and it’s possible that John’s land may have abutted the Girard Farm.

Of particular interest are the three Jones sisters. Their mother, Elizabeth Wiltoner, who it would appear has remarried, apprentices Elizabeth Jones to John and Hannah Young in August of 1836 for a period of two years ten months and twenty-three days. Then in May of


Elizabeth Jones Indenture

1838 James Wiltoner (stepfather) apprentices Hester Ann Jones to the Youngs for a period of four years and eight months. In December of 1838 James Wiltoner (stepfather) apprentices Margaret Jane Jones to the Youngs for a period of two years and fifteen days. The first question to come to my mind is did their mother die and was their stepfather just passing them off to someone else till they reached their majority? Or perhaps Hannah Young was a friend of their mother and she was doing what she could to provide for the girls? Provisions are provided for limited attendance at school for each of the girls. Elizabeth and Hester Ann are both to receive a sum of money upon the completion of their terms but not Margaret Jane. However, only Margaret Jane is to learn “Plain Sewing” so perhaps this gives her a life skill to earn a living after her term?

In 1826 at the age of 14 the Managers of the Almshouse apprenticed Walker West to the Youngs for a term of seven years. However, the contract is canceled just four months after it is signed because of “the Boy having absconded.”

The Guardians for the Relief and Employment of the Poor apprentice John Clemens at the age of eight, to the Youngs in March of 1851 for a term of twelve years five months and twenty-seven days.  As part of the Guardians contract the “master” is to show proof that the apprentice has attended school, as per the contract at the completion of the term. Contained in this collections are various small slips of paper three of which


John Clemens Indenture

certify that John as been attending Point Breeze Public School, John Brunt, Principal.


Receipt fo schooling for John Clemens

Apprenticeships were a way to provide for your children without actually providing for them yourself. In some cases these apprentices learned trades and became active in their local communities. But I suspect more often than not these faceless children just vanish from the records. I’m really wishing I could find out what happened to the Jones sisters. . . . . maybe the Copper Wash Tub will reveal their secrets as I continue to work my way through the documents contained within it.


1774 Joshua Hoopes Indenture – Side Two

On the reverse side of the 1774 Deed I discussed in my previous post, I think it is fair to say, and you can judge for yourself in the photo below, that no space went unused

The first bit of information contained on the second side is a release dated August 22, 1796. Transcribing this I learned that Hannah Hoopes the widow of Joshua Hoopes is now deceased. “Amos Hoopes, John Wooley, Phebe Wooley, Jane Starr and Ezra Hoopes for himself and also as Executor to the last Will and Testament of his brother Joseph Hoopes, deceased, for and in consideration of the sum of two hundred forty-six pounds two shillings and eleven pence” (forty-nine pounds four shillings and seven pence each) have settled up with the Executor of James Black (who is now also deceased) for the balance due for this property transfer. To this part all of the above-mentioned sign their names and place their seals.

Next Amos Hoopes, John Wooley, and Phebe (Hoopes) Wooley appear before W. Worthington a Justice of the Peace for Chester County and acknowledge this release and their “desire it might be recorded as such” on August 22, 1796.

On one of the flaps I discovered that Mary Hoopes Stephenson, “one of the Legatees mentioned in the within Indenture” has also passed away. Her Brother Ezra Hoopes who has power of attorney for her estate accepts her share of the final payment, and releases the estate of James Black for same. Then in 1803 Charles Kenney another Justice of the Peace of Chester County witnesses and records Ezra’s release and recording of the final settlement on behalf of his deceased sister Mary.

Then on October 3, 1805 Jane Starr appears before John Graves, Esq. a Chester County Justice of the Peace and acknowledges this release and her “desire that same might be recorded.”

With all the signatures and seals finally affixed to the document it is recorded in the recorders office for Chester County Book Y 2d Vol 47 page 919 on October 3, 1805.


Side Two – Releases for Final Payments Received

1774 Vellum Deed – History Nerd Heaven!

One of the most interesting documents in the washtub, and let’s face it’s a real history nerd’s dream, is a vellum indenture dated 1774 between Amos Hoopes and James Black. The property in question is part of the estate of Joshua Hoopes (1704-1769). The house, Brooznoll, still stands on Rt. 926 just east of Rt. 352 and was built by Daniel Hoopes in 1723 and enlarged by Joshua in 1740. Date stones are located on the east end of the house.

A trip to Chester County archives resulted in Joshua’s estate inventory and various petitions to divide the property “without prejudice” between the children. When that could not be done the property was appraised and sold to James Black.

The property was 208 acres in Westtown and Goshen Townships. As part of this sale, James Black was to pay to Hannah (Joshua Hoopes’ widow), “Seventeen Pounds, Fourteen Shillings, Five Pence, Lawful Money . . . yearly and every year annually, during the term of her Natural Life.” And after her death, “Two hundred Ninety-five Pounds, Seven Shillings and Six Pence” to  her 6 children (Amos, Joseph, Jane Starr, Mary Chamberlain, Phoebe, and Ezra).

In addition to the above sum James Black paid to Amos Hoopes and his wife Margaret, Nine Hundred and Seventy-Two Pounds, Ten Shillings and six pence.   And that’s a lot of money in 1774!!

Several years ago I transcribed one side of this indenture. Just this one side is like reading a who’s who of Chester County – Ashbridge, Smedley, James, Garrett, Webb, Hickman, Gibbons, Evans, Starr, Chamberlain, and Worthington.

So how did this end up in the Young family copper wash tub? The land in question is located in Westtown, Goshen and Thornbury Townships. Which puts it in the same vicinity as the property owned by the Youngs as mentioned in my first post. Did a Young at some point live in the Hoopes house, find the indenture and say this looks important let’s put it with our important papers? Whose to say.

Coincidentally, my mother’s maternal grandmother was Ruth Hoopes. So while this, as far as I know has no connection to my father, it does have a connection thru my mother. This interconnectedness of history has always intrigued me.

Next up, transcribing the second side of this document.

I can’t wait to see what other connections can be made as I continue this journey.

Who Were The Youngs?

And where did they come from?

Other then the family Bible the best source I’ve found so far is a short biography of my Great-Grandfather Charles Young from a history of Chester and Delaware Counties.

“CHARLES YOUNG, one of the enterprising young farmers of Willistown Inn, Pennsylvania, was born on January 3, 1865, on his present homestead, Westtown Township and is the son of John and Catherine G. (Maag) Young. John Young was born on May 12, 1825 on the Girard homestead, Second Street, Philadelphia, died April 10, 1807, and he was the son of John and Hannah (Adams) Young, of German descent.” (Stay tuned for more on John in a subsequent post.)

It goes on to say that Charles was one of 10 children, which the family Bible supports – see my previous post.  Charles married Maude Battin, “a most charming and accomplished lady.” They had one child, my grandfather, Cloud Earl Young. Earl Young (my father said that he hated the name Cloud and never used it) married Marie Titter. The Titters had a farm somewhere in Delaware County – I haven’t yet been able to locate where.

My grandparents met when Grandpa would offer my grandmother a lift to school on his way to work. My grandfather in addition to helping on the family farm was also a carpenter. He designed and built their home along West Chester Pike, “Wee Brick House” just east of Rt. 352. They built the house during the depression and lived in the attic while they finished the rest of the house.  The house still stands and has been converted into an office. He also designed and built a house for his brother Emmett and his wife LaVera (Stafford) Young and for my parents David Earl Young and Ruth Passmore Young.

In one of those strange happenstances, when I began working at Brandywine Battlefield in 2002 I discovered that one of the other employees, George Findle, was related to George Young, brother to my Great-Grandfather Charles. George Findle knew where some of the Youngs were buried and we took a field trip to Cumberland Cemetery in Delaware County . Here I also discovered the graves of my Grandmother’s two brothers, John Gordon and William Vincent Titter.

In another strange twist of fate, one day,several years ago, on a visit to Waynesborough, the home of Anthony Wayne near Paoli, I happened to glance down at a guest book displayed in a sitting room.  And on that page two names jumped out at me – Charles Young and C. Earl Young.  Talk about goosebumps! Why they were there I have no idea at this time – as my grandfather would still have been a child it was either to deliver veggies from the truck farm or maybe sightseeing – still – goosebumps.

Even before reading this and learning the Young’s were of German descent I had suspected as much. When I began working at the Ephrata Cloister in the summer of 1993 for the first time I was well and truly exposed to German life and culture and suddenly little things my grandparents did made sense.   Life is funny that way – things really do tend to go in circles.

The Young Family Bible

The Family Bible is embossed with the names of John and Catherine Young. The Bible itself was printed by John B. Perry in Philadelphia in 1849, which coincidentally happens to be the year that John and Catherine were wed.

The Bible contains birth and death registers, which seem to have been faithfully kept. The first Youngs listed in the Bible are the names of John’s parents. John and Hannah Young. John, not surprisingly, is John Jr. and his birthdate along with Catherine’s is listed on the second page of the register.

According to a short biography I discovered for their son Charles: John Young was born on May 12, 1825 on the Girard homestead, Second Street, Philadelphia, died April 10, 1899, and he was the son of John and Hannah (Adams) Young, of German descent.”

Ten children were born to John Jr. and Catherine.

John (1849-1922)          [married Mary J. Scott (1858-1940)]

Rebecca (1852-1860)

Phillip (1855-1946)       [married Jennie Folmer (1856-1940)]

George (1856-1899)      [married Ida Vaughan Zell]

William (1859-1935)     [married Laura Trainer (1865-1935)]

Henry (1860-1862)

Edward (1863-1930)       [married Elizabeth Steele (1867-1937

Charles (1865-1942)       [married Maude Battin (1880 – ?)]

Hannah (1866-1874)

Catherine (1868-1932)

As happened quite frequently during this time period several of their children did not survive childhood. Among the papers collected within the Bible are invitations to Rebecca and Henry’s funerals.

So where do I fit into this mix. Charles and Maude are my great grandparents, their oldest child Cloud Earl Young was my grandfather, although as I mentioned in my first post he hated his name and always went by C. Earl. C. Earl married Marie Titter.

More about Charles and Maude in the next post. And I’m not done with John, Jr either.




Intro to The Copper Wash Tub Project

So just what is the Copper Washtub Project? It is a collection of assorted documents members of the Young family sought to preserve beginning in the early 19th century. The Young family owned property in corners of the townships of Westtown, East Goshen and Willistown, Chester County, Pennsylvania.


My grandparents, Cloud Earl Young (1901-1982) and Marie Louise Titter Young (1907-1996).

We were not aware of the contents of this wash tub until my Grandmother passed away in 1996. At that time my father, David Earl Young, Sr. opened the washtub his mother had insisted on keeping with her in the move to my house before her move to a nursing home. Opening it up left my father speechless!  As the history geek in the family I immediately received a phone call – you’ve got to come up and see this!  There was a family Bible, my grandparents social security cards, food and gas ration stamps from WWII, cookbooks, deeds and indentures, pew receipts, my father’s report cards and a few childhood pictures, business records – really what wasn’t in this small seemingly innocuous washtub. In essence, it was a treasure trove of family history!

When my father died the washtub passed into my keeping and sadly it continued to sit in a closet until last year when I made up my mind to begin to catalog all that it contained. Unfortunately, making up one’s mind to do something and finding the time for something extra is often two different things – so my discoveries ran in bursts. By creating this Blog I hope to share this journey of discovery – doing the wash maybe even airing some dirty laundry – through these papers kept by my father’s family – The Youngs.