A Job For The Times

Below is part of a listing for Lakeside in a 1901 San Diego County directory:

I chose it because of the occupations listed for each resident. Most of them are jobs you’d readily expect for the time and place, like rancher, well digger, beekeeper and schoolteacher. But please note the occupation at the very bottom: poundmaster.

A pound back then was an enclosure, often by stone fencing, to house stray livestock that had been found wandering about the local area. The poundmaster or poundkeeper was charged with oversight of such animals, trying to find their owners. If no one came to claim the animals, the poundmaster was empowered to sell them at auction.

This had to be a big responsibility in San Diego County in 1901. The economy was predominantly agricultural, and the livestock population–cattle, sheep, horses, pigs, chickens–far outnumberd the humans.

Figures from the census and county surveys in 1887 showed 270,000 head of livestock compared to 30,000 people. Things hadn’t changed that much by 1901. An item in the San Diego Union on March 28 of that year began, “The farmers in the vicinity of El Cajon valley are feeling quite happy nowadays. The crops, trees and vines are all doing well, and there is plenty of pasturage for their livestock.”

This would be the predominant way of life in the county for at least another 40 years.

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4 thoughts on “A Job For The Times

  1. Wonderful! Taking a dog to the pound. Impounded or stray. Who knew. Thanks Vince. Hello to Peggy. ________________________________

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