Bless the Census. Curse the Census Taker.

When the Census Taker Gets It Wrong

We rely a great deal on Federal Census reports when piecing together family histories in the United States.  Sometimes the census taker lets us down.  This interesting example highlights the household of Benjamin B. Stone of Cambridge Ohio. Since I searched for Sarah Bassett, her name is highlighted in yellow.

1880 Census

66 1880 census of Cambridge, Guernsey County, Ohio, showing household of Benjamin Stone.

The information as given on the census (W.M. and W.F. means White Male or White Female) with errors highlighted:

  • Stone, B. B., W, M, 68                   Boot and Shoe Merchant
  • Laura B.,W,F, 17 , grand-daughter
  • Hatty L., W.F., 16, grand-daughter
  • Frank M, W.M.,   14, son
  • Bassett, Sarah, W.F., 68, Boarder, Unreadable occupation. Looks crossed out.

CORRECTED:

  • Stone, B.B., W.M. 68                     Boot and Shoe Merchant
  • Lura B., W.F. , 66, WIFE
  • Additional line: Mary A., W.F., 17, grand-daughter
  • Hatty L. W.F., 16, grand-daughter
  • Frank M., W.M., 14, grand-son
  • Bassett Sarah, W. F., 68, Sister-in-law.

Census Tells Story

Despite the errors, once I had it figured out, putting this 1880 census together with the 1870 census told a sad story.

Ten years earlier, in 1870, Sarah lived with her sister and brother-in-law, but Lura and Benjamin Stone’s only child, Maro Farwell Stone and his wife and children also lived with them. Maro and his father both taught music.

However, Maro’s wife died in 1874 and he died in 1877, so the children, then 11, 13 and 14 were left orphans. Hence, in the 1880 census, we see that their grandfather and grandmother are now their guardians.

A 14-Year-Old At Her Father’s Funeral

A family member has Mary Augusta’s journal. She shares it on line, and it includes poignant pages of the 14-year-old’s reactions to her father’s death and funeral.  Reading between the lines, I imagine that the body was in an open coffin in the living room of grandfather Benjamin Stone’s home in Cambridge, giving the family opportunity to visit and say goodbye as friends came to call.

Mary A. Stone Journal

Mary August Stone journal, May 1877. She was 14.

May  Tuesday 1, 1877. It is a sad, sad day.  It is cloudy and cool and it rained a little.  We looked at Papa again this morning and many times through the day.  A great many people called and were very kind.  Ella and six more of the girls came in the evening.  Mr. McMahon. Mr. Farrah. Mr. Patterson and others called.  Grandma Mix came from Wheeling. Papa looks very natural.  The funeral takes place tomorrow at two oclock.  We miss him so and always will. We expect Cousin Hattie from Columbus in the morning.  I want to see her so much.

May Wednesday 2, 1877. It is cold and cloudy Cousin Hattie could not come.  The funeral took place today.  Mr. Fisher officiated. The Oddfellows and Knights of Pythias had the Odd fellows ceremony. I need not enter into the particulars for I will always remember  A great many of our schoolmates came.  It was very very sad. A great many were there. Aunt Olive from Cleveland came too late for the funeral. I like her so much.  I will always remember the last look at Papa. He looked so pleasant and calm.  He had a boquet in his hands one on his heart one in the coffin and three limbs on it.

 

How I Am Related

  • Vera Marie Kaser (Badertscher) is the daughter of
  • Harriette Anderson (Kaser),  the daughter of
  • Vera Stout (Anderson), the daughter of
  • Harriet Morgan (Stout), the daughter of
  • Mary Bassett (Morgan),  the sister of
  • Lura Bassett (Stone),  the mother of
  • Maro Farwell Stone, the father of
  • Mary Augusta Stone. (2nd cousin 2 times removed)

Notes on Sources

U. S. Federal Census Reports, 1870 and 1880, Cambridge, Guernsey, Ohio

Personal Journal of Mary Augusta Stone, in possession of a descendant of Miss Stone.

Genealogical Notes of Mary Augusta Stone, in possession of a descendant of Miss Stone.

(The Mary Augusta Stone records are posted on Ancestry.com on public member trees.)

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