Last time we were introduced to Daniel Dill’s household, his occupation and his property. In this installment, we are introduced to his friends and neighbors.
Daniel needed friends during the last years of his life. Beginning sometime in the 1840’s, Daniel began suffering from the increasingly painful effects of either gout or rheumatism. By 1850 at the age of 50, he had to close his confectionary business. He rented out the storefront portion of his house but continued to live in the back part where there was a kitchen and some sort of living quarters. He hired out his slaves in a series of short-term arrangements, maintaining a cash flow for his living expenses.
He was widowed, and his slaves were were usually gone. They returned home on Sundays, but were typically indifferent to Daniel’s suffering. So he had to rely on friends and neighbors to help him with his business affairs and increasingly, he became dependent on them for delivering food and medicine. As we get into the details of his probate case, we will see that his friends became burdened and questions arose as to whether or not they should have been compensated for their trouble. During the probate process, the court called for testimony and depositions from many of Daniel’s friends and business associates.
I have pulled out the names of everyone identified in the probate file to find what I could about their occupations and their connection to Daniel. Some of these people gave testimony, others gave depositions, and some of them either did not respond to the summons or the record of their testimony is lost. What’s fun is that I can find these people in other record sources:
- The “Southern Business Directory and General Commercial Advertiser”, a business directory covering all of Alabama, published in 1854
- The “Mobile City Directory” published in 1861
- The U.S. Federal Census for Mobile for 1850 and 1860
Edwin B. Gould and two of his sons, Louis and Horatio. Edwin Gould was a druggist working at a drugstore on Dauphin Street in Mobile, probably just two blocks west of Daniel’s candy store. Daniel visited Gould often on a daily basis and they were good friends. Sometimes Gould’s sons Louis and Horatio brought medicine or food over to Daniel’s house if Edwin was busy.
Lewis Ayers was one of Daniel’s clerks in the candy store, but Daniel had to let him go after he closed the store.
George Rode Mr. Rode was a German-speaking immigrant from the Duchy of Hesse-Damstadt (today a region of Germany in the area near Frankfurt). He was in Mobile between about 1851 and 1855 and worked in Mr. Gould’s drugstore and often brought food and medicines to Daniel’s home.
George Werborn was a cabinet maker who sometimes hired out Daniel’s slaves.
Frederick Hartel rented out the front portion of Daniel’s house and ran a music store specializing in pianos. Notice the familiar address – 40 Dauphin Street as we saw in the last post. Hartel had frequent interactions with Daniel.
George A. Oelrich was a piano tuner who spent a great deal of time at the Werlein & Hartel music store and often saw Daniel there.
James Shotwell worked at the “Curry & Co.” grocery store and hired Daniel’s slave “John” for a period 10 months.
Charles Gazzam was a clerk at the savings bank where Daniel conducted business.
Frederick Bromberg was Daniel’s next-door neighbor (at 46 Dauphin) and probably knew Daniel longer than anyone else on this list. Mr. Bromberg was a German immigrant who dabbled in a variety of merchant businesses including such items as toys and musical instruments.
Stephen Spuller was also a confectionary business owner who hired Daniel’s slave “Sam” for a period of six months in 1852. Sam was apparently skilled in the confectionary business and was often hired out to Daniel’s former competitors.
John C. Morton was a baker who also hired out Daniel’s slaves from time to time.
Sylvester Festorazzi was another confectioner and likely another one of Daniel’s former competitors. He too hired out Daniel’s slave from time to time, especially “Sam”. Sylvester Festorazzi organized the Italian and Spanish residents of the City into a Confederate company during the Civil War, but later received a pardon from President Andrew Johnson.
Edward Dorgan conducted unknown business with Daniel – or perhaps he was just a friend – but Edward had the most fascinating profession of anyone on the list. Edward was a “Lower Bar Pilot” in Mobile Bay. This is a highly specialized job – to this day, ships can only come into Mobile Bay if a professional pilot is allowed to board the ship and help guide it past all the tricky sand bars into its berth. You can watch the video below to learn about this fascinating profession. A little bit of googling shows that there has been a Dorgan family member among the bar pilots every year from 1865 to the present day*. I sure wish I knew how Daniel was connected to Edward! Edward simply appears among the list of names of people who were summoned to testify at a hearing.
Bolin Smith is someone I need to learn more about. He was the first person appointed as administrator of Daniel’s estate because he was Daniel’s “only kin” in Alabama. Wait, what — kin? A little bit of digging shows that Bolin Smith was from Screven County, Georgia. This is the same area where the Salzburg Germans came to Georgia in 1740. Screven County borders the Savannah River, as does Columbia County (where Daniel’s mother’s Quaker family originally settled), Richmond County (where Daniel got married), and Lincoln County (where Daniel’s wife was from – yes, I found her and will have more news about that in a future post). I don’t yet know if Bolin is related to Daniel by blood or by marriage but hope to figure this out soon. I don’t believe Bolin was living in Mobile at the time of Daniel’s death – again, more about him later.
B.B. Smith was, I think, a different person than Bolin Smith. Daniel hired out his slave “John” to B. B. Smith shortly before he died. B.B. Smith lived near Meridian, Mississippi. Meridian is about 150 miles northwest of Mobile. I’m not yet sure why Daniel would have hired out his slave to such a distant location. I’m led to believe that B.B. Smith must have had a connection to Daniel other than just hiring Daniel’s slave. Perhaps he too was kin to Daniel.
Now that we have our cast of characters, next time we’ll learn about the bizarre circumstances of Daniel’s untimely death.
*You can learn even more about the Mobile Bar Pilots in this academic paper. Edward’s career is described in more detail, including surviving a wreck.