Sunday, October 25, 2015

1850 Census

In trying to sort out my Merrell and Long lines of New Jersey, this helpful census entry popped up from 1850.  (At this point I don't know what connection, if any, this family has to do with my lines.)

(Springfield is now in Union County, but was in Essex County in 1850, so we use the place name description accurate for that period of time.  Union County was not created until 1857.  Parts of Springfield Township remained in Essex County and became Millburn, which is where this family is found in the 1860 census.)

Beginning in 1850, the federal census listed all members of a household- not just the head of the household.  This is great, except that the relationship of each member to the head is omitted.  This feature was not added until 1880.

This census taker went above and beyond, recording little tidbits of information along with the names.  In the above entry, the older ladies of the household, Catherine Meeker and Elizabeth Long, are listed as "wid" or widowed.  (As a word of caution:  a woman enumerated without a husband was not always a widow, even if indicated in her social condition from 1880 forward.)

Harriet Meeker (born Long), age 22, is listed as "his W," indicating that she is the spouse of John Meeker, and not a daughter of Catherine Meeker.  When viewing a census from 1850, 1860, or 1870, it is very easy to mistake the wife of a son as a daughter of the head of household, as the daughter-in-law may be intermingled with the other children of the same age.

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