Friday, July 3, 2009

15th Edition of Smile for the Camera—George Henry Hughes

The word prompt for the 15th Edition of Smile For The Camera is "They WORKED hard for the family." The professions of our ancestors are almost as interesting as the people themselves. Some of our ancestors worked very hard; they took in laundry, worked the land, raised many children, or went to school and became professionals. Photographs of them working are called occupational photographs and are rather hard to find. If you do have a photograph in your collection or family photographs, bring them to the Carnival. This edition is hosted by footnoteMaven over at Shades of the Departed.

My paternal grandfather, George Henry Hughes, was employed as a draftsman with The American Bridge Company, a Division of U.S. Steel, Ambridge, Pennsylvania, located on the Ohio River west of Pittsburgh. I don’t know what type of position he had when he was first employed with American Bridge, however I do know that he began in 1913 at the age of fifteen.

Over the years American Bridge has been responsible for designing and building hundreds of bridges and buildings in the United States and abroad. Some of the more notable are: the cable for The San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge, The Verrazano Narrows Bridge in New York, the San Francisco Bay Bridge, the Empire State Building, the Sears Tower and the Mackinac Straits Bridge. These were all designed and constructed during his years with the company.

A local Pittsburgh project that my grandfather worked on was the Civic Arena which had a motorized, retractable roof of fabric-coated plastic. During the early 1950’s, my aunt can remember her father working on the design of the Civic Arena every night at home. He had some form of blocks that were made to copy the drawings on paper and spent hours working with the blocks trying to figure out how to keep the roof of the circular building up.
My Grandfather Hughes was employed by American Bridge his entire working life. He retired in 1961 after 48 years of service. He worked hard for two families during his lifetime. As a teen he added to the family earnings and once married he supported a wife and three children. My grandparents enjoyed a relaxing life after all the work years in warm and sunny St. Petersburg, Florida paid by a retirement plan provided by the company.


  1. Great post...I think it's so cool you've been able to dig up so much family history. I took the liberty of creating a banner for your page. It's up to you whether you'd like to use it or not and my feelings won't be hurt if you don't. Basically I'm just saying thanks for reading my blog and giving the occasional comment. Anyway here's what I came up with and feel free to request changes if you like. It may need to be resized to properly fit...

  2. Linda, how interesting. In the "old" days people often worked with one company their whole lives but today the young ones bounce around like they are at a carnival going from ride to ride.

  3. See there's the problem. I'm not sure if you could do both. I think you'd have to put the banner as your main header. Then add an "About this blog" for the blog explanation about your brother. To add the banner go to "Layout" at the top you should see "flipside header" with an edit link. Click that and choose add image. Then choose instead of title and description...let me know if you need more help. if you have Yahoo IM...or you can send email there too...

  4. Thanks for the info, Linda! I just realized that my 1st cousin 3 times removed, Hazen Jesse Harriman, also worked for the American Bridge Company in 1920 in Toledo. In 1923, on his marriage record, he says he was a draftsman, though I'm not sure exactly where he worked at that time. He gave his residence as Los Angeles, though the marriage took place in Michigan.

  5. Very interesting reading all the project his company handled. And what a treasure to have the watch. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Having produced more than just a few plans in my two decades of working as a geologist, I love those old wooden plan cabinets behind your Dad in the first photograph. It brings back great memories - the steel plan cabinet that I have now is not a patch on them. Thanks for sharing the photographs of your grandfather at work, Linda. Sadly the skill of draftsmanship is a dying one, being rapidly replaced by the very different skills of computer drafting. I'm currently studying/retraining in GIS (Geographic Information Systems), which more or less spells then end of paper plans, I'm afraid!

    Regards and best wishes, Brett