Are we what we do for a living? We can debate that but it certainly is part of us. Thank heavens, though for occupations when we're finding our ancestors. Take my ancestry, for instance. There were several William and Sarah couples sitting on the tree, even William and Sarahs naming a son William
who grew up to marry a Sarah, and a William Sampson having a daughter Sarah Sampson who married a William Sampson. Trouble is--which are which? Wendy, of Jollett etc. has done a great job of describing the agony of trying to separate these people. She refers to the two hardest to separate as William the miller and William the wheelwright. Occupations listed in the census help identify, help tag who we're talking about. Since it was the main way to tell them apart, I set about finding out just what it was these two Williams did for a living.
How did William the miller spend his day? He performed an important service, for he saved people the hard work of grinding grain by hand. He ground it with a gristmill. Gears turned a mill grinding the corn into meal. He spent the daily grind grinding grain and keeping his millstones sharp.
William the wheelwright spent his day making wheels for wagons and carriages. The roads were rough and the wheels had to be strong. He had to be sure they were perfectly round. He would get iron from a blacksmith, heat it and form it around the wooden wheel. Then he would pour water on it to shrink it onto the wheel.
Are we what we do? Yes, right along with our name, it is part of our identity.