Wire Drawer: My first trip to an FHC

Having requested a microfilm some weeks ago, I headed off to the LDS Family History Center (FHC) in Lynnfield, Massachusetts, to review the vital records of Waterbury, Connecticut. The initial goal was to confirm the name and origins of Ellen Holland (3rd GGM), husband of John Wallace Stickney and mother to Ellen Augusta Stickney (my 2nd GGM), and to get the birth information for Ellen.


  • Ellen A. Holland was, indeed, the mother of Ellen (though the child was only listed as “Stickney”, no given name). It also stated her birth place as New York, further adding to the confusion over her origins.
  • Ellen Stickney was born 1 September 1873 in Waterbury.
  • “J.W.” was the father, and other sources have shown him to be John Wallace.
  • John’s birthplace was listed as Springfield, Massachusetts.
  • This was the couple’s 3rd child.
  • And John’s occupation was list as WIRE DRAWER.

What the heck is a wire drawer? It took a little time to figure out what the handwriting even said, looking originally like windrawer. But, with some help from the Center’s director, looking at other people’s similar occupations for handwriting clues, and a Google search, I did figure out the wire drawer.

Made wire by drawing the hot metal through dies. (Source)

Wire Drawer; (i) see wire drawer, automatic; (ii) (hand operation) makes wire on a draw bench; sets dies or plates; hammers, files, and rolls end of rod to push through die; engages end with pincers and pulls rods through dies of decreasing diameter until required size is obtained; sometimes specifically designated according to the wire drawn. (A Dictionary of Occupational Terms)

So, there you have it. He created wire! This was in addition to being a volunteer fireman.

The FHC was small, their Internet was out (and had been for two weeks), and there was virtually no cell phone reception, but thankfully for this trip I didn’t need those. The antiquated but dependable microfilm was there and the power was on. The staff was very kind, and I expect this was the first of hundreds of visits.

Before I left, the director pointed out that there were A LOT of microfilms from Germany on-hand at this FHC. Hopefully I won’t need to order the ones pertaining to my ancestors.

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