Lincoln County Missouri 1850 Census Transcription
General Notes and Comments

The United States Federal Census of 1850, was the first Federal census to list the names of all individuals in the household. Presious decennial Federal censuses from 1790 to 1840 only listed the name of the head of household and a count by gender and age group. The 1850 census also listed the age and birth state (or country) of each individual, the occupations of the adults (application varied) and the wealth of the head of household.

The 1850 census of Lincoln County, Missouri was conducted by William Porter, Assistant Marshall, from 10 August 1850 to 20 November 1850. He was the named census-taker on all pages, all apparently in the same handwriting. Each page is individually dated and sequenced with the enumeration date and the progression of dates indicates completion of roughly 2 pages per day. I do not know if he did this all himself or if he had assistant(s). The free population in 1850 was 7,395.


Generally, the census schedules were clear and readable, the handwriting was very good and readable and the spelling was remarkably good and accurate. In particular, the spelling of given names and surnames was very consistent with contemporary spelling. Keep in mind that back then (we're talking about 1850 here) most people could not read or write. To avoid embarrassment, they were not asked how to spell their names. The census taker wrote the names as he heard them.

Although the handwriting was generally very good and readable, there were certain letters that were very difficult to distinguish. This was a particular problem with middle initials where there was no surrounding context to help, although the first letters of a few surnames are also not absolutely certain. To further complicate the situation, it appears that the style for the same letter changed arbitrarily and dramatically. It is therefore possible that more than one person actually penned the final schedules.

These were the primary problem letter differentiation:

   - Capital I, J, L, S were the major problem, especially
      I versus J and L versus S.
   - Lower case 'e' and 'i' but consistent in dotting the 'i's.
   - Capital T and F when used as first letter of a surname.
   - Occasionally capital P and B, and R and K.
   - Capital M and capital W occasionally.

So, middle initials of the above letters especially may not be correct and other sources should be consulted.

I initially attempted to verify some of the names with questionable letters to the 1860 - both in Lincoln Co. and elsewhere - but had virtually no success. Many families present in Lincoln County 1850 apparently were not present in 1860. I am not sure if they moved, if the spelling was really off or if there was a problem with 1860 census.

Population Characteristics

Identification and Page Numbering

The NARA identification for the 1850 US Census for Lincoln County, Missouri is Series M432, Roll 404.

There is no identification of Townships or Post Offices. It is all "District No. 49." There is no printed "Page No. ____" field on the schedule. There are three different series of page numbers used in the 1850 census for Lincoln County.

  1. Handwritten numbers serially for all pages within the County. These numbers begin with 1 and end with 177 and correspond to online images. On the Lincoln County schedules, these numbers are handwritten in very small numerals in the upper-left or upper-right hand corners serially numbering each page.
  2. Numbers Bates-stamped on the right-hand side of the schedule when opened as a double page; i.e. every other actual page. These begin 391 and end 479.
  3. Handwritten page numbers (another series). These begin 779 and end 955 and parallel the handwritten 1 through 177 series of handwritten numbers.


I most cases, 1850 spelling of surnames was close enough to contemporary spelling that your names can be found by browsing the index. A few exceptions and possible alternatives:

  Giles     - see Jiles
  Phoebus   - see Febus
  Kelling   - Keeling?
  Guinn     - Gwin?
  Brisco    - see Briscoe
  Haslip    - see Haislip
  Capps     - see Cappe
  Seymour   - see Semore
  Meadows   - see Meddows
  Hunteman  - Huntsman?
  Edleman vs. Edelman

Individual Exceptions, Errors, Anomolies

The census transcription format is not currently set-up to show alternate or corrected spellings or reference notes. For now, I will note exceptions here individually.


Periods indicate blank, or null, data.

The enumerator entered race only if non-white. ... I left blank for white, entered the code for non-white: "B" for Black.

Continuation of surnames and birthplaces was indicated on the schedules by ditto marks (").

Population Count by Birthplace
Alabama 1
Arkansas 14
Connecticut 2
Georgia 14
Illinois 35
Indiana 43
Iowa 7
Kentucky 1076
Louisiana 1
Maine 4
Maryland 131
Massachusetts 4
Mississippi 2
Missouri 4080
New_Hampshire 2
New_Jersey 4
New_York 20
North_Carolina 287
Ohio 34
Pennsylvania 47
South_Carolina 44
Tennessee 198
Tennessee (East) 13
Vermont 36
Virginia 1133
Wisconsin 1
Bohemia 42
England 12
France 3
Germany 68
Ireland 33
Canada 4
Grand Total 7395

Prepared July, 2007 by Neal Underwood. All rights reserved. Specifically Authorized to post on the Lincoln County, Missouri USGenWeb/MOGenWeb site at: