Saturday, March 14, 2015

52 Ancestors No. 11 Hess & Annal : Feather Renovators (1906)

This is the tenth of 52 blog posts for the 2015 edition of the 52 Ancestors challenge. I have been blogging my family history for the #52Ancestors challenge since it began in 2014.

#52Ancestors asks bloggers to "have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor.

This week's blog post is about a wonderful 1906 photograph that was sent to me recently by family historian, genealogist Vicky Hess with whom I share ancestors in our Hess-Annal-Coughlin family tree.

Hess & Annal Feather Renovator
Joe Hess (pictured in the derby hat) with James Hess and other unidentified men
Source: Vicky Hess family archive photos
Vicky also sent me the following news clipping text from the Wallaceburg News (1906):

It was difficult to locate information online about the occupation of Feather Renovators.

On the need for feathers to be renovated, I found this 1872 advice from Alexander E. Youman to housewives on the daily care of their feather beds:

Source: A Dictionary of Wants 1872
(Free eBook)
If feather beds had not been cared for on a daily basis (as suggested above), The Southern Cultivator and Dixie Farmer (1887) advised "lady readers" to "put them on the grass where rain pours heavily, and let them become thoroughly wetted.":
The Southern Cultivator and Dixie Farmer (1887)
(Free eBook)
Thankfully, at the turn of the last century, there were many patents submitted and granted for inventions of new and improved mechanical "feather-renovator" devices to do this work instead of the methods described above.

It is wonderful to know that our Annal-Hess ancestors provided this valuable service to the residents of Kent county Ontario in the early 1900s.

I am grateful to Vicky Hess for passing on this wonderful photograph that I had never seen before and sharing facts about our ancestors that I would have never known.

Wallaceburg Links
Feather Renovator Links


  1. I was so surprised to see this occupation, Cindi! Who knew? What a wonderful photograph to go along with the knowledge that your ancestor was in this business. :)

  2. I was quite surprised as well Lisa. I just love the photo!

  3. I recently obtained a birth certificate record for my grandfather from the 1800's. I noted on the form that his father, my great grandfather was a "Feather Renovator". I of course had never heard of such an occupation and the ladies at the local Historical Society and DAR had not either. How exciting to find your post, mystery solved. Thank you for your informative post.

    1. I am so glad that you enjoyed this post and thanks for leaving a comment.