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1850-1880           

How to read them and what you can learn from them

Census records from 1850 and later contain much more information than those prior. Also, if you look closely at the 1870 & 1880 census records, there are invaluable sections that will tell you even more about those you are researching. Below, I will explain what you can learn from each, in consecutive order. To make things a bit simpler, I will follow a single individual, Noble Foreacres, from 1850-1880.

1850
Noble Foreacres - Dover Hundred, Kent County, DE (p.175)
1850censusguide

Notice that Noble Foreacres is not the only Foreacres on this page of the census. There is a Thomas Foreacres living nearby. If you are looking at Noble, it would be a good idea to take note of Thomas because he could very well be related. As a rule I check one page before and one page after for people of the same surname living nearby.

Let's look at the entry for Noble Foreacres' household.
Noble Foreacres          26 M
Susan [Foreacres]        29 F
Mary [Foreacres]         1   F
Thomas Harrington       9   M
Peter Harrington           7   M

The Order
The head of household was always listed first, followed by his immediate family in descending order by age. Usually it begins with the "man of the house" followed by his wife and then their children. After the immediate family was listed they would list the extended family, followed by people who have no relation.

Relationships
Because the 1850 census does not provide relationships, Susan could've been Noble's wife or his sister. The fact that there was a one year old in their household causes me to believe they were husband and wife. Another way to check on relationships is to look at a later census, a deed or a probate/will.

What's with the Different Surnames?
You may notice that some households have people in them with different surnames. There are many reasons why this may occur. In this case, due to the ages of the Harringtons, and that they both attended school within the last year, my first instinct would be that they were apprentices. My second instinct would be that they were somehow related and orphaned.

If the wife was not head of household and there was a male with a different surname who was close to the age of the wife, my first thought would be that he was related to the wife. This is one method of searching for a maiden name. If the wife's brother is living with her and her immediate family, his surname could've been her maiden name.

The Harrington boys are not close in age to Susan or Noble. This doesn't mean they aren't related though. The Harrington boys could be either Noble's or Susan's nephews or even cousins.

Reading and Writing
When you are searching for a particular person, let's say John Smith, and there happen to be about 3 of them in the place you're looking, sometimes checking to see if they can read or write helps. You may find several John Smiths in the census and tax assessment records as well as in the deed index and the probates. If two of the John Smiths have the column checked on their census for not being able to read or write, you will know that the John Smith who actually signed his name on a deed or a will, rathar than leaving a "mark", was more likely the literate one from the census record.



1860
Noble Foreacres, Haslettville, Dover Hundred, Kent County (p.135)
1860censusguide

What's Different about 1860?
The only difference between the 1850 and the 1860 Censuses, in general is the fact that you get a more specific location with the mention of the local Post Office.

Keeping Up With the Foreacres
Let's see how the Foreacres family has changed in the last 10 years and what we can learn from those changes.

1850                                                                        1860
Noble Foreacres          26 M   Farmer                      Noble Foreacres         37  M   Farmer   600 (value of personal estate)
Susan [Foreacres]        29 F                                     Susan [Foreacres]        39  F
Mary [Foreacres]         1   F                                     Lizzie [Foreacres]        12  F  (Attended School within the year)
Thomas Harrington       9   M                                   Clarissa [Foreacres]     10  F 
(Attended School within the year)
Peter Harrington           7   M                                   Mary [Foreacres]           6  F  (Attended School within the year)
                                                                                Sallie [Foreacres]           4  F
                                                                                Samuel [Foreacres]        2  F
                                                                                Thomas Harrington       18 M   Laborer
                                                                                Peter [Harrington]         16 M  [Laborer]

What's Changed? What's Stayed the Same?
1) In 1860, Noble had a value of $600 for his personal estate. There was no value given for his personal estate in 1850. It may be because he had nothing of value or because the enumerator just failed to fill that part of the census in. The tax assessment records could help answer that question for you.

2) Susan and Noble are still together, causing one to assume they were married. Unfortunately, the 1860 census still has no relationships mentioned.

3) Three of their presumed children, had attended school within the last year.

4) Noble Foreacres is still stated as being unable to read or write.

5) Some of those in this household seem to have aged more or less than 10 years. It's not uncommon to see several of the ages be plus or minus 1-2 years of what their age should be after only 10 years.

6) Who the heck is "Lizzie" and why wasn't she in the 1850 census? My guess would be that the 1-yr-old "Mary" from 1850 is the 12-yr-old "Lizzie" in 1860. Although the names Mary and Lizzie or Elizabeth are not synonimous with one another, I would tend to think that given the age of this girl, her name may very well have been Mary Elizabeth and she began to go by her middle name once her sister Mary was born. Otherwise, it might get confusing.

7) Thomas & Peter Harrington are still in Noble's household, but now they are referred to as "laborers" and the column for attending school within the last year is no longer checked. Why weren't they described as being laborers in 1850? Well, if you look closely at the top of that column, it states, "Profession, Occupation or Trade of each person, male and female, over 15 years of age". Thomas & Peter were under 15 on 1850.

8) Notice the ages of the Foreacre children: 12, 10, 6, 4 & 2. They seem to have had a child every 2 years, except between Clarissa (10) and Mary (6) where there is a gap of 4 years. Keep in mind, not all children are listed with their parents. Sometimes, a child was an apprentice living with another family or individual. It's also quite possible that in 1852, Noble and Susan did have a child, but that child did not survive to reach the 1860 census.

9) They are all stated as having been born in Delaware. The "do" in that column is for "ditto" of what is above. In the unedited version, Delaware is above the "do".

1870
Noble Foreaker, Versailles, Moreau Township, Morgan County, Missouri p. 181A & 181B
1870censusguide

What's Different about 1870?
The page numbering system has changed. Don't worry, you still should use the typed page numbers rather than the handwritten page numbers...that hasn't changed. However, the typed numbers are only on every other page. To counteract this, we simply add an "A" and a "B" to the typed page number. For example, page 181 (the one with the actual typed number on it) will be 181A while the next page (with no typed page number on it) will become 181B. If you're doing a search and the page that appears has no typed page number, just check the page before.

The 1870 has 20 columns for information, the 1860 had 14 columns, the 1850 had 12. So, which columns are new?
#11: Father of foreign birth
#12: Mother of foreign birth
#13: If born within the year, state month (Jan, Feb, &c.)
#14: If Married within the year, state month
(Jan, Feb, &c.). Althought 1860 did ask if you were married within the year, they did not ask for the specific month.
#18: Whether deaf and dumb, bling, insane, or idiotic. (They weren't all into being "politically correct" back then)
#20: Male Citizen of U.S. of 21 years of age and upwards, whose right to vote is denied or abridged on other grounds than rebellion or other crime.

Keeping Up With the Foreacres
Let's see how the Foreacres family has changed in the last 10 years and what we can learn from those changes.

1850                                                              1860                                                                                                            1870
Noble Foreacres          26 M   Farmer            Noble Foreacres         37  M   Farmer   600 (value of personal estate)          Noble Foreaker       37 M W Farmer 300 (Val), illiterate, U.S. Citizen, b.DE
Susan [Foreacres]        29 F                           Susan [Foreacres]        39  F                                                                        Susan [Foreaker]     39  F W Keeping House, b.DE
Mary [Foreacres]         1   F                           Lizzie [Foreacres]        12  F  (Attended School within the year)                    Elizabeth [Foreaker] 21 F W At School, b.DE  (attended school w/in year)
Thomas Harrington       9   M                         Clarissa [Foreacres]     10  F 
(Attended School within the year)                    Mary [Foreaker]      16 F W At School, b. Ohio (attended school w/in year)
Peter Harrington           7   M                          Mary [Foreacres]           6  F  (Attended School within the year)                   Sally [Foreaker]       13 F W At School, b. DE (attended school w/in year)
                                                                      Sallie [Foreacres]           4  F                                                                        Samuel [Foreaker]    11 M W Farmlabor, b.DE (attended school w/in year)
                                                                      Samuel [Foreacres]        2  F                                                                        Lyda [Foreaker]         9 F W, b.DE (attended school w/in year)
                                                                      Thomas Harrington       18 M   Laborer                                                        Jacob [Foreaker]        5 M W, b. Ohio
                                                                      Peter [Harrington]         16 M  [Laborer]

What's Changed? What's Stayed the Same?

1) They moved to Missouri.
2) Noble still a Farmer but has $300 rather than $600 for the value of his personal estate.
3) The Harrington boys were no longer living with the Foreacres. Perhaps they remained in Delaware.
4) Where's Clarissa? Clarissa would've been about 20 years old. She could've married and was living with her husband. She also could've died before 1870. I'd look for a marriage record for Clarissa between 1860-1870. Possible locations for this marriage would include Delaware, Ohio & Missouri.
5) Why is Mary listed as being born in Ohio? In 1860, Mary was listed as being born in Delaware, along with the rest of her family. In 1870, her younger brother is listed as being born in Ohio. Because it appears they didn't move to the west before 1860, it would seem this was an error by the enumerator.
6) Noble is still listed as being unable to read and write.
7) There are still no relationships mentioned, but Susan is described as "keeping house".
8) Jacob, the youngest child, is listed as being born in Ohio. This causes me to believe the Foreacre family was in Ohio approximately 5 years ago and then moved to Missouri. If you want to look for a Delaware deed, it would be good to look for one in which they were selling their DE land between 1860 and 1865.

1880
Noble Foreacer, Metz Township, Missouri, Enumeration District 211 (p.437C)
1880censusguide

What's Different about 1880?
1) At last there are relationships listed on the census! Keep in mind, these relationships are always to describe a relationship to the head of household. So, if it says brother-in-law, that would mean this person is the brother-in-law of the head of household.
2) Now, they have the location of birth for the parents of each person listed. This is an example of how looking towards the present can help find out more about a person in the past.
3) Columns for "single", "married", "widowed" & "married during census year"

Keeping Up With the Foreacres
Let's see how the Foreacres family has changed in the last 10 years and what we can learn from those changes.

1870                                                                                                                        1880
Noble Foreaker       37 M W Farmer 300 (Val), illiterate, U.S. Citizen, b.DE            Noble Foreacer      56 HOH, married, Farming, b.DE, parents b.DE
Susan [Foreaker]     39  F W Keeping House, b.DE                                                 Susan [Foreacer]    58 wife, married, Keeping House, b.DE, parents b. Ireland
Elizabeth [Foreaker] 21 F W At School, b.DE  (attended school w/in year)               Samuel [Foreacer]  21 son, single, at Home, b.DE, parents b.DE
Mary [Foreaker]      16 F W At School, b. Ohio (attended school w/in year)            Jacob [Foreacer]     16 son, single, at Home, b.Ohio, parents b.DE
Sally [Foreaker]       13 F W At School, b. DE (attended school w/in year)
Samuel [Foreaker]    11 M W Farmlabor, b.DE (attended school w/in year)
Lyda [Foreaker]         9 F W, b.DE (attended school w/in year)
Jacob [Foreaker]        5 M W, b. Ohio


What's Changed? What's Stayed the Same?

1) The presumed daughters of Noble Foreacres are no longer in his household. They likely married between 1870-1880.
2) We now know both of Noble's parents were born in Delaware and both of Susan's parents were born in Ireland. Of course, that's according to the individual who spoke to the enumerator.
3) It no longer states that Noble cannot read or write. Did he learn to read and write or did the enumerator fail to mark those columns.
4) According to the census, no one in the family attended school within the last year.
5) We now have confirmation that Noble and Susan were married and that the children listed on this census were Noble's children.