Sunday, September 11, 2016

Census Sunday: Sorting out Children


Calvin Smith, 1812 – 1881; son of Jeremiah Smith & Joanne Dillon; 
my 3rd great grand uncle
&
Sarah Brumfield, b 1824; daughter of Willis Brumfield & Nancy Virginia Holmes; 
my 1st cousin 4x removed


I have been looking at census reports for this couple and it has been difficult to sort out their children. I believe they had 14 children.

In 1850 the oldest girls listed were too old to be the daughters of Sarah. Perhaps Calvin had a previous marriage and they are his daughters. Perhaps they are Smith relatives who were visiting.

Looking across the columns below you can see that names are not consistent. The census takers might not have clearly heard the names of these children or might not have been able to spell the names. Nicknames may have confused the names. For example Caroline is also called Carra.

Wyatt R. Smith is the only child in all four census reports with the same name & appropriate age. It was helpful to look at the children who were older and those who were younger than Wyatt when trying to sort them all out.

I cannot say for sure that I have sorted them out correctly. Are Jeremiah W., James W. and Jerry W. the same person? The ages work out. What about Jackson C. & Jesse C.? Could Cecelia & Courtney be the same girl? I think these are the same people but cannot guarantee it.

To add to the confusion the 1880 Census shows the 6 oldest children are married. Where are the spouses? No one is listed as an in-law. What about children, grandchildren of Calvin & Sarah?

I used a spreadsheet to help sort out these children. Reading across the chart you will see, I believe, the same person in various reports. Take a look & see what you think. I welcome your opinions.




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8 comments:

  1. It seems likely that Jeremaih W. is the correct name since 30 years later there's a Jerry W. (the James is likely a census taker mistake). That 1860 census taker was a mess, it looks like.

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    1. I agree about the mess. I wonder if the census taker or the person giving the information or both were responsible for the inconsistencies.

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  2. I think the 14 you have identified are definitely from the union between Calvin and Sarah.

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    1. Thanks, Charlie. The spreadsheet helped me get them straight in my thoughts.

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  3. It is always amazing to me the number of children in families in the 1800s and the difference in ages between the youngest and oldest. In the case of this family, there is a 34 year spread and the oldest daughter could have been mother to the the younger ones.

    This is a great way to sort a family to help determine whether individuals are the same and to see the changes in names over time.

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    1. Nancy, I wonder how close siblings were with those big age spans between them. The older siblings were probably more like parents rather than siblings.

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  4. The inconsistency in the names is surprising, especially the 1860 return. I thought a neighbor might have provided the information that year, except the ages seem nearly too accurate for that. It’s such a pity the census records did not survive in Ireland – I’d love to have these problems ;-)

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    1. Dara, you are completely right! Irish census problems would be wonderful! ha!

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