Workday Wednesday – John Dawson (Engine Tenter)

Workday Wednesday is a daily blogging prompt used by many genealogy bloggers to help them post content on their sites.

Here’s a way to document your ancestors’ occupations (they weren’t all farmers), transcripts of SS-5s, photos and stories of ancestors at work, announcements of retirements, etc.

John Dawson is my 1st cousin 4x removed. His parents are John Dawson and Elizabeth Benson. Our common ancestors are John Dawson and Ann Watson, my 4x great grandparents.

John married Sarah Hopkinson sometime in the Summer of 1857. The marriage is registered in Q3 at Skipton, Yorkshire.

John’s main occupation as described in the census returns for 1871, 1881 and 1891 is “engine tenter”. I have mentioned John in an earlier post here.  He followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather (my 4x great grandfather – John Dawson) of looking after the machines and engines at Ickornshaw Mill in Cowling, West Yorkshire.

I must admit I hadn’t given much thought to how difficult and dangerous the job of “engine tenter” might be – that is until I came across the following article from the Burnley Express of 6 March 1886.

Burnley Express - 6 March 1886.png

ACCIDENT – On Friday week, John Dawson, engine-tenter, Barrowford, met with an accident. He and three or four other workmen were fixing a new beam-key in the engine-house at Mr Barrowclough’s mill, when suddenly the jenny chain which had been used for raising the beam broke, and the beam fell with a force of over ten tons on Dawson’s left hand, cutting off two fingers, and holding the man fast with the long finger, which had subsequently to be amputated. The accident happened in the chamber of the engine shed, and Dawson, realising his position, kept from falling below. A new chain was procured, and Dawson was released. The hand has been dressed by Dr Pim.

As it turned out 1886 would continue to be a difficult year for John – he appears in the next two instalments of Black Sheep Sunday together with his wife Sarah.

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