skip navigation

Archaeology
of a
San Francisco Neighborhood

This Web site was funded by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans).

It was created by Anthropological Studies Center (ASC).

Noonan Family

 

Double-click to view larger imageDuring the 1870s and 1880s, industries moved into the South of Market area and workers followed them, often living in crowded tenements.

Those who were doing a little better in this neighborhood were often those who had more than one source of income. Take the Noonan family at 518 Eighth Street, for example. William Noonan and his wife Catherine were born in Ireland. Neither of them could read or write. They and their three children lived in the South of Market with another Irish family, the Gormans.

Noonan was a house painter by trade, although when the Census caughtDouble-click to view larger image up with him in 1880 he had been out of work for eight months. His wife may have kept the family afloat since she ran a dairy of 10 cows, possibly in a fenced lot next door. This would not have been that unusual since South of Market - though becoming industrialized - was still on the rural edge of town.

The Noonans also had another way of raising money. They rented out rooms. The 1880 Census showed that between them, the Noonans and the Gormans rented to five lodgers including a 64-year old widow, a Swiss carpenter, an Irish housepainter, and hackman and his wife. All but one were Irish immigrants.

Double-click to view larger imageBehind the Noonan family house, archaeologists found an abandoned privy. It had been filled with artifacts in the early 1880s, probably by the Noonan family and their lodgers. The plain plates and other tablewares recovered suggest a very modest household. Their diet also appears simple, with an eye towards economizing. Bones from the deposit show that they mainly ate cheaper cuts of pork, probably in the form of soups or stews.

 


Copyright ©2004 California Department of Transportation. All Rights Reserved.