1840 Census and Chester Parsons

Census Sunday

The 1840 census often exasperates genealogists.  I find the information presented to be challenging and able to provide new questions as well as details.

I was getting to know my 3rd great-grandmother, Mary Electa Parsons. In 1840 Mary Electa was 13 years old and living with her family in Saline, Michigan.  Of course, the 1840 Census only lists heads of households, so seeing Mary in the census is impossible. What I like to do is that the census record and determine who all of the individuals are that are listed suggested in the census.

Screen shot of 1840 Census
Crop of 1840 Census, Saline Township, PG 141

In the case of Mary Electa’s father, Chester Parsons the details, transcribed are:
Chester Parsons | – 1 –  1 – – 1 1 – – – – – // – 2 2 – 1 1

Then using my other records and sources I try to explain each of the individuals listed.  In this  case they are:

Males: 

  • 1 – 5 to under 10           Presumed to be Alfred (age 10)
  • 1 – 15 to under 20         Unknown
  • 1 – 40 to 50                    Presumed to be Chester Parsons (Age 41)
  • 1 – 50 to 60                    Unknown – Possibly brother of Chester or Deborah but most likely Deborah’s father Robert Maben (Age 59).

Females:

  • 2 – 5 & under 10            Presumed to be Harriet (age 8) and unknown.
  • 2 – 10 & under 15          Presumed to be Lucinda (age 15) and Mary Electa (age 12)
  • 1 – 20 to 30                    Probably Sarah Jane – Inconsistent Age.
  • 1 – 30 to 40                    Presumed to be Deborah Buel Maben Parsons

I am quite sure that Chester and his wife Deborah Buel Maben have one child that died in 1881. That individual could be the unknown male 15 to 20 or could be the female age 5 to under 10. That means there is another child living in the family that is completely unknown. All of the other children known to Chester and Deborah are accounted for.

Chester and Deborah were married in 1824, if they had a child in 1825 that child would have been 15 in 1840 and is a likely candidate to be the first unknown male. Likewise, the second unknown girls between 5 and 10 is a likely child. As such, I’m adding two tentative children of Chester and Deborah:

Unknown Parsons – Male – born 1819-1825. Living 1840 – Saline, Washtenaw County, Michigan.

Unknown Parsons – Female – Born 1829-1835. Living 1840 – Saline, Washtenaw County, Michigan.
I will also update my Unknown Parsons, who died 1881, to suggest it could be one of the above two or an entirely different child.

Finally, there is an unidentified male listed, age 50 to 60. Chester’s father was dead before 1840, however, Deborah’s father, Robert Maben, was still living. Her father would have been 59 in 1840. Additionally, Robert died in 1843 in Saline.  He does not show as the head of a household in Saline during the 1840 Census.  As such, I postulate that Robert Maben was living with his daughter, her husband, and her children.  Do I know this to be true?  No, but I think it is a strong likelihood. As such I’ll add it as a tentative fact until I see facts suggesting otherwise.

Robert Maben – Residence: 1840 – Saline, Washtenaw County, Michigan (Probable) – Probably Living with daughter Deborah and son-in-law Chester Parsons.

Taking an 1840 census, applying all know relationships to the census and then attempting to reconcile any unknowns can lead to new insight into the family and family relationships.

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Source: Family Search; 1840 Census; Chester Parsons – Saline Township, Washtenaw County, Michigan, Page 141; https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XHYX-65H

 

Ancestor Biography – Daniel Whitten (1859-1950)

Whitten-Bickford-2016 Project
#8 – Whitten Line
By Don Taylor

It is often best and usually easiest to look at a person’s life backwards.  That is to begin with their death records then follow them through all of the census records and finish with their birth record. Each record can build upon the next to provide a view of the life of the individual.

Marker of Daniel Whitten
Marker – Daniel Whitten
Photo by “Airborne Steve”
via Find a Grave #172317650

Daniel Whitten was buried with his wife, Martha Angelina Libby at Highland Grove Cemetery at North Shapleigh, York County, Maine in 1950.[1]

In 1942, Daniel was living in Kennebunk, Maine when he filed a delayed birth certificate for his son, Herbert Winfield Whitten. The certificate showed Herbert was too old (58) to be drafted.[2]

Then we find Daniel in the census records.

  • 1940 – Age 80, widower, Kennebunk, ME.[3]
  • 1935 – Kennebunk, ME – Same House as 1940.[4]
  • 1930 – Age 70, with wife (Martha), Kennebunk, Maine.[5]
  • 1920 – Age 60, with wife (Martha), Kennebunk, Maine.[6]
  • 1910 – Age 50, with wife (Martha), Kennebunkport, Maine.[7]
  • 1900 – Age 41, with wife (Angie M), Shapleigh, Maine.[8] [Martha Angelina][9]
  • 1890 – (The 1890 Census was lost.)
  • 1883 – Age 24, Living in Limerick, Maine when his son Herbert was born.[10]
  • 1882 – 1900 Census says they were married for 18 years; the 1910 Census indicates they had been married for 28 years.

Here is where things get sketchy.  I can’t find Daniel in the 1880 census. Try as I might, I’m just not finding him.

I think I’ve found him in the 1870 Census.[11] If so, he is a 10 year old, attending school, and living with an extended group of Whittens. Unfortunately, the 1870 Census doesn’t indicate relationships between people in the household.

Household            Gender        Age   Birthplace

Jane Whitten                 F       83      Maine, – Keeping House
Hiram L Whitten          M      39      Maine, – Laborer
Sarah Whittn                 F       28      Maine, – Without Occupation
Lizzie A Whitten            F       17      Maine, – Works in Woolen Mill
Hiram A Whitten          M      14      Maine, – Works in Woolen Mill
Charles F Whitten         M      12      Maine, – Works in Woolen Mill
Daniel Whitten          M     10    Maine, – Attending School
Susan E Whitten            F       9       Maine, – Attending School
George M Whitten         M      6       Maine, – Attending School

Clearly, Daniel cannot be the son of the 83-year-old Jane.  Also, although the 28-year-old Sarah could be his mother, the 17-year-old Lizzie could not be the daughter of Sarah. The bottom line is that the 1870 census, by itself, begs more questions than provides answers.

The 1860 Census appears to clear up some of the questions.[12]

Household            Gender        Age   Birthplace

Hiram Whitten              M      29      Me – Day Laborer, Personal Property worth $50.00
Julia A Whitten              F       24      Me
Elizabeth A Whitten      F       7       Me – Attended School
Hiram A Whitten           M      5       Me – Attended School
Charles F Whitten          M      3       Me
Daniel Whitten               M      1       Me

It appears that Hiram is the head of the household and has a wife, Julia, and four children including Daniel. It appears to be a pretty typical family unit.

The problem with this assessment is that the Daniel Whitten post marriage is a clear family being followed for fifty plus years. The Daniel Whitten family of 1870 and before is likewise clear.  However, the linkage of two Daniel Whittens is dubious at best. The only thing that links the two families is the name Daniel Whitten, the birth date/year and place of Daniel (Maine), and the birth location of Daniel’s parents (Maine). Not quite enough to make me comfortable that I have followed Daniel throughout his life and haven’t possibly crossed Daniels somehow. I definitely need to do more research to shore up my assertation that the Daniel Whitten of Dover, NH in the 1860s and 1870s is the same Daniel Whitten of Limerick, Shapleigh, Kennebunkport, and Kennebunk in later years.

List of Grandparents

  • Grand Parent: Herbert Winfield Whitten
  • 1st Great: Daniel Winfield Whitten
  • 2nd Great: Hiram L Whitten?

Further Actions / Follow-up

  • Find Daniel Whitten in 1880 Census.
  • Find Daniel in a birth, marriage, or military record (Fold 3 might be a help with that) which would show relationships.
  • Follow Hiram Whitten, his wife, and children after 1870.

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Endnotes

[1] Family Search: Maine, Faylene Hutton Cemetery Collection, ca. 1780-1990; Daniel W Whitten; https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QKM1-WJ33

[2] Family Search: Maine Vital Records, 1670-1921 –  Herbert Winfield Whitten, 1883 https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2HKQ-Y3Y

[3] Family Search: 1940 Census; Daniel W Whitten – Kennebunk Town, York County, Maine; https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KM99-VRD

[4] Ibid.

[5] Family Search: 1930 Census; Daniel W. Whitten – Kennebunk, York, Maine; ED 16-22 – Sheet 14B; https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XMDX-2H5

[6] Family Search: 1920 Census; Daniel W Whitten – Kennebunk, York, Maine; https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MF8W-K7Y

[7] Family Search: 1910 Census; Daniel W Whitney [Whitten] Kennebunkport, York County, Maine; ED 245, Sheet 10A; https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MR3G-MK8

[8] Family Search: 1900 Census; Danel [Daniel] W. Whitten – Shapleigh Town, York County, Maine; https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MMG4-D6W.

[9] Family Search: 1900 Census; Danel [Daniel] W. Whitten – Shapleigh Town, York County, Maine; https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MMG4-D6W

[10] Family Search: Maine Vital Records, 1670-1921 –  Herbert Winfield Whitten, 1883; https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2HKQ-Y3Y

[11] Family Search: 1870 Census; Jane Whitten – Dover (Ward 4), Strafford, New Hampshire; https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MH5G-SHN

[12] Family Search: 1860 Census; Hiram Whitten – Newfield, York, Maine – Page: 71 – Household ID: 559; https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MDH1-38P

Arthur Durwood Brown – Born 1869

Photo Crop of Arthur Durwood Brown
Arthur Durwood Brown

I saw that my Great-Grandfather’s, Arthur Durwood Brown, birthday was coming up. Then I realized that I have a quite a range of birth years for him. I know that markers are often wrong about birth years, but they seem so right, they are cast in stone after all. When I encounter inconsistencies, I often find the best course of action is to do a table and look closely at all of the sources I have which relate and analyze how they fit in.

From various documents, I have birth years for him of 1863, 1866, 1868, 1869, and 1870. Below is a table of documents with the year implied and various notes.

Year Document Notes
1869 1870 Census [i]  – indicates he is 7/12 and born in December. Closest record to the event and proof birth year cannot be 1870.
1869 1880 Census [ii]– Indicates he is 10 years old 2nd closest record to the event.
1870 1900 Census [iii] – Birthdate Age 29, Born Dec 1870 Can’t be due to 1870 census.
1866 1910 Census [iv]– Age 43 Aged 14 years between Censuses.
1863 1920 Census [v]– Age 56 Aged 13 years.
1868 1928 Grave marker [vi]
1868 2001 Letter from family minister Les Crider [vii] Church Records.
1866 Info about the family from Victoria Brown Quelland.[viii]
1869 1928 – Death Certificate [ix] Wife Mary was the informant.

As far as census records are concerned, I typically accept the 1900 Census as the most likely correct.  It is the only census which routinely identifies the month and year of a person’s birth as well as the individual’s age.  In this case, the 1900 Census is in direct conflict with the 1870 Census.  If Arthur were born in December of 1870, he couldn’t have been enumerated on the 2nd day of August 1870.

The 1910 and 1920 censuses appear just to be wrong.  No clear reason for the error. I have no conjecture as to why Arthur aged 27 years during the 20 years between 1900 and 1920.

I might have thought that Arthur’s daughter, Victoria Brown Quelland, would have gotten his age correct, however, she was incorrect about her mother’s birthdate as well. (See: Mary Elizabeth Manning [Brown] (1878-1983)). In both cases, she indicated her parents as being older than they actually were.

Marker - Arthur Durwood Brown
Marker – Arthur Durwood Brown

The 1868 birthdate on the grave marker would seem likely, except that his death certificate, done at the same time, indicates 1869 and the informant of his death certificate was his wife Mary, who should know the date that Arthur thought his birth was.

All the records that indicate a month or day are consistent with his being born on December 5th. I believe his birth year to be 1869 as indicated by the 1870 and 1880 Censuses and his death certificate and not 1868 as indicated by his grave marker and the family minister or any other year as identified by other sources.

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Birth, Marriage & Death Records


Endnotes

[i] Ancestry.com: 1870 Census; Henry Brown – Saline, Washtenaw, Michigan, Page 17, Line 18, Family 115

[ii] Ancestry.com: 1880 Census; Henry Brown – Saline, Washtenaw, Michigan, ED 237, Page 21, Line 50.

[iii] Ancestry.com: 1900 Census: Arthur Brown – Township 136, Range 29, Crow Wing County, Minnesota; ED 69, Sheet 2A.

[iv] Ancestry.com: 1910 Census; Arthur D Brown – Merkel Township, Kidder County, North Dakota – ED 225, Sheet 4A.

[v] Ancestry.com: 1920 Census; Arthur Brown – Sylvan Township 133, Range 30, Cass County, Minnesota

[vi] Find a Grave: Arthur Durwood Brown – Memorial 87334615

[vii] Don Taylor Personal File Archive: E-Mail Les Crider to Don Taylor – 2001-01-13

[viii] Don Taylor Personal File Archive: Genealogical Notes by Victoria Brown Quelland – aka Genealogy Information Card written by Victoria Brown Quelland.

[ix] Minnesota Historical Society: Minnesota, Division of Vital Statistics, Certificate of Death; #2215 – Arthur D. Brown.

Last Hopfe on Earth?

I was recently asked, “Are there any people left on Earth with the surname Hopfe?” As far as the asker knew, her Hopfe line had daughtered out with her.

Certainly, surnames go extinct. I’ve read how Hugh Bonneville’s (famous for playing Robert Crawley in Downton Abbey) surname is on the “near extinction” list, while surnames like Bread and Chips are supposedly extinct.[i]

Map shoint distribution of Hopfe surname.
Distribution of Hopfe surname per Forebears

My go-to site for looking at surnames is forebears.io. It provides lots of really interesting information about any surname and, in particular, the approximate number of people who have that particular surname. Worldwide, there are approximately 1,118 people with the surname Hopfe, which makes it the 275,936th most common surname. According to the site, there are approximately 841 people with the surname in Germany and 179 in the United States. (in 2014).

Forbears also allows you to drill down into the US and see the distribution by state. There are no Hopfes in Maine and only seven people with the surname in Massachusetts. Interestingly, the largest number of people with the Hopfe surname are in Hawaii. They have twice the number – 46 – of Hopfe surnamed people than the 2nd most common Hopfe state, Texas, with only 23. I know if it were me, I’d like to figure out how those Hawaiian Hopfe’s were related so that I could visit them. (Ha ha – just kidding.)

There are a couple surnames similar to Hopfe that may be variations of the name, including Hopf, which has more than 10,000 individuals worldwide, and Hoepf.

Hopfe Distribution 1920 CensusAnother site I like regarding surnames is Ancestry.Com; they have a name origin page. It is really cool because it shows the distribution of a surname during three different US Censuses. In the case of Hopfe, the 1920 Census shows there were 7 Hopfe families in New York (including some of her ancestors).

The bottom line is that there are many more Hopfes in the United States and the world but, none left in Maine.

Takeaway: Use Forebears.io and Ancestry.com/name-origin for learning more about surnames.

ENDNOTES:

[i] Internet: Family Tree; “Extinct Family Names”; http://www.familytree.com/blog/extinct-family-names/; however, Forbears.io indicates there is one person surnamed Bread, and two people with the Chips surname.

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