By Don Taylor
One essential action in researching an ancestor is to find that individual in all of the census records during their lifetime. Ezra Clugston Sanford was a frustration for me. He died on 22 Jun 1813, in Pownal, Bennington County, Vermont, so he should be in the 1810 census. Search as I would, I couldn’t find him. Finally, I used a FAN (Friends, Acquaintances, and Neighbors) search technique and found something quite interesting.
Looking for Ezra in the 1800 Census was a success[i]. I found:
1800 Census – Ezra Sanford – Pownal, Bennington, Vermont
Ezra is the 7th entry down from the top.
Ezra Sanford || 1 – – 2 – || 2 1 – 1 –
1800 Males in Household
- Under 10 = 1 Ezra (Junior) would have been 8.
- Age 26-45 = 2 Ezra (Senior) should be 47.
- Unknown male.
1800 Females in Household
- Under 10 2 Lucy would have been 1
Sally/Sarah should have been 4.
- 10-16 1 Electa would have been 10.
- 26-45 1 Mercy would be 39.
So, the 1800 Census shows all of the children of Ezra and Mercy that I would expect. It does suggest Ezra is two years younger than he probably is, but I’ll accept that. Finally, an unknown male was living with Ezra and Mercy in 1800.
Ezra and Mercy married in 1786. I would expect the Ezra Sanford Household of 1790 to consist of:
1 (or 2) Free white male(s) age 16 and up and two white females.
Ezra was born in Newtown, Fairfield County, Connecticut, but he married Mercy in Sharon, Litchfield County, Connecticut. Finally, the couple lived in Pownal, Bennington County, Vermont in 1800, so I would expect Ezra and Mercy to most likely be in one of those three locations in 1790.
A search for Ezra on Family Search yielded three results for the 1790 Census.
Ezra – Litchfield, Litchfield, Connecticut – 1 – 0 – 3.
Litchfield and Sharon are about 25 miles apart so, and this is possibly them.
Ezra – Redding, Fairfield, Connecticut – 2 – 1 – 3.
Reading and Newtown are about 11 miles apart. Likewise, this is a possible location.
Ezra – Warwick, Orange, New York – 3 – 1 – 7.
Warwick, New York is about 85 miles from Sharon and Newtown and over 150 miles from Pownal. Also, their having a household with seven females would make this a very complex household. Based upon the location and household makeup, I’m sure the Warwick Ezra is not mine.
Which is my Ezra – The one living in Litchfield or the one living in Reading? To clarify, I went to the 1800 Census and looked there for Ezra. (Mine was in Pownal, VT) It shows an Ezra Sanford living in Redding, Fairfield County, Connecticut, in 1800, so my Ezra must be the one living in Litchfield, Connecticut in 1790[ii].
Ezra – Litchfield, Litchfield, Connecticut
Ezra Sanford 1 || 0 3.
- Free white male 16 or older = 1 – Ezra.
- Free white females = 3 Mercy
- Electa (probably born in 1790)
- Unknown daughter (probably born 1787-1789)
I returned to searching for Ezra in the 1810 Census.
A search for “Ezra” in Bennington County yielded 11 results. None of them had a surname beginning with San…. or ending in …ford.
A search for “Sanford” in Bennington County yields six results. Four were in Sandgate, and two were in Dorset township. I found it interesting that NONE of the findings included anyone in Pownal. I then browsed the 1810 Census records on Ancestry.Com. There, various townships were listed, but Pownal was not one of them. I manually reviewed all of the pages of a group under, “Township not listed.” I was not successful finding anyone resembling “Ezra Sanford.”
Finally, I looked at the names in the 1800 census that were near Ezra. They included people like Obadiah Dunham (who we’ll see named in Ezra’s probate actions) and Israel Osborn. I was able to find them enumerated in Peru, Bennington County, Vermont. Peru? Peru is a town at the opposite corner of Bennington County from Pownal could this really be?
<<Insert Peru/Pownal Image>>
Then I noticed that although the search and Ancestry Page designation indicated it was Peru, the top of the actual page indicated it was Pownal. Very near in the 1810 Census record for Obadiah Dunham is an entry for “John Samford.”[iii]
John Samford – 1 – – 1 || – 2 1 – 1
My view of the name indicated that “Sanford” was just as likely, if not more likely, as “Samford.” So, I wondered, could this be Ezra? The household consisted of the following:
- Male 10-16 Ezra (Junior) would be 17 ???
- Male >45 Ezra (Senior) would be 47
- Female 10-16 Lucy would be 11
- Female 10-16 Sally/Sarah would be 14
- Female 16-26 Electa would be 20
- Female >45 Mercy would be 49
So, the location and family unit for Ezra Sanford appears to fit John Samford/Sanford. John does not show up in Bennington County, Vermont, in either the 1800 nor the 1820 Censuses, so I believe that “John Sanford” in the 1810 Census is Ezra Sanford. I don’t know if Ezra’s full name was “John Ezra Sanford” or “Ezra John Sanford” or if the census enumerator just got his name wrong, but I am fairly certain that John is Ezra, and that the location of Pownal is correct. Thanks to looking into Ezra’s neighbors, I was successful finding who I believe to be Ezra.
My goal to find Ezra Sanford in all of the census records during his life is successful. Another good day.
[ii] “United States Census, 1790,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XHK M3Q : accessed 4 September 2019), Ezra Sanford, Litchfield, Litchfield, Connecticut, United States; citing p. 353, NARA microfilm publication M637, (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 1; FHL microfilm 568,141.
[iii] “United States Census, 1810,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XH2 YPV : accessed 5 September 2019), John Samford, Peru, Bennington, Vermont, United States; citing p. 105, NARA microfilm publication M252 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 64; FHL microfilm 218,668.