This is the first post in a new category here at Laurel Cottage, under the heading of Unusual Occupations. I’ve been meaning to do this for awhile; there are some eye-catching entries out there on old census records, city directories and that type of thing.
This one could be interpreted a couple of different ways, and shows John J.[?] Duryea, age 57, along with (one assumes) a brother or cousin or some other male relative, S. Duryea, age 56. Their occupations were listed as “taking care of what he has.” How funny to see an occupation transcribed as such! This 1880 Federal Census for New York City shows that the two Duryea men were boarding with S. M. Tweed, age 30, occupation printer. Perhaps the Duryeas were caretakers working for Mr. Tweed; on the other hand, perhaps the entries meant they were taking care of their own things, in which case, one might wonder if they were unemployed. The address is given on the census as the Grand Hotel, at 1226 Broadway, and the several census pages for this location show 115 occupants at that time. This building was designated as a city landmark in 1979 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. Below is a 1910 photo from Wikipedia showing the hotel on the left.
Taking a quick look at the next available Federal Census, the 1900, shows a listing for a John J. Duryea, age 70 and wife Julia, age 49, living in Middletown, New York. This may or may not be the same John J., but his occupation is listed as landlord. So, that is the third possibility for what was meant on the 1880. That “taking care of what he has” could have meant landlord.
Sources: Year: 1880; Census Place: New York City, New York, New York; Roll: 880; Family History Film: 1254880; Page: 289C; Enumeration District: 289; Image: 0519. (Ancestry.com)
Grand Hotel (New York City). n.d. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Hotel_%28New_York_City%29. (accessed November 23, 2014).
Year: 1900; Census Place: Middletown, Orange, New York; Roll: 1140; Page: 4A; Enumeration District: 0025; FHL microfilm: 1241140. (Ancestry.com)