The Three Missing Children of Anson Bickford.

Census Sunday
By Don Taylor

Sometimes it is an odd little note that can send you off researching an entirely new aspect of a person’s life. While I was researching my sister-in-law’s great-grandfather, Anson Bickford, I ran into an odd entry in the 1910 Census.

1910 Census showing children of Anson Bickford

What made it odd is the Instructions for the 1910 Census told the enumerators that the question about the number of children born “applies to women who are now married, or who are widowed, or divorced.” I wondered, why did the census taker include information about the children of a man, Anson Bickford? Also, it indicated that he had 11 children, eight of whom were living. The 1900 Census had a similar question and his wife reported having had 8 children, 8 of whom were living. The question arose in my mind, who were the other three children?

1900 Census showing children of Jean Bickford

The eight living children were easy. The 1880 Census and the 1900 Census provided the names for all eight children living in 1900. Jennette, Ralph, Edwin, Matilda, Everett, Estella, Maude, and Erna. Jennette and Ralph were born in California, so I looked for Anson in California and found him and Jean living in San Francisco during the 1880 Census. Then I found Anson married before he married Jean. There were newspaper articles and death records that spoke of sadness in 1866. In 1865 he and his wife Henrietta had twins, a girl and a boy—A.W. and Nettie. They were born in October 1865.  Seven months and 28 days later, on 28 May 1866, both Henrietta and their youngest son died. Henrietta died of “Consumption” and I can’t quite read exactly what A.W. died from. Nine days later his daughter Nettie also died. Again, I can’t quite read exactly what from.

Cause of Death – A. W Bickford. Cause of Death – Nettie Bickford

[Can anyone who can help me decipher the cause? If so, please leave comments below.]

I searched at length for other information regarding a third child for Anson and Henrietta in California and was not successful. I returned to looking at Maine records and found where Anson and his second wife, Jean, had a heretofore unknown 9th child.  On 10 November 1880, Anson and Jean had a daughter, Mertie Alice, who died five days later. That accounts for the 11 children suggested in the 1910 Census.


The death records for Henrietta, A. W. [Anson Wayne, Jr.??], and Nettie indicate that all three were buried in Lone Mountain Cemetery. Lone Mountain is no more. It opened in 1858 but changed its name to Laurel Hill Cemetery in 1867. With San Francisco real estate at such a premium,Laurel Hill Cemetery was relocated. People that didn’t pay extra for a private reburial were buried in a common grave in what is called the Laurel Hill Mound in Cypress Lawn Cemetery. Likewise, if the tombstones weren’t paid to be moved, they ended up with Public works and were repurposed for a seawall at Aquatic Park, a breakwater, rain gutters, and erosion control.[i]

There are still a few frayed ends to this story.

Frayed Rope – Photo by Tom Bech (CC BY 2.0)

I wonder why Jane failed to report her dead child, Mertie Alice, during the 1800 Census.

The newspaper article of Henrietta and A. W.’s death mentioned A. W. was their youngest son. Is there another child I can’t find any references to?  I don’t think so, but it still a frayed end.



  • California, County Birth, Marriage, and Death Records, 1849-1980 (California Department of Public Health), com, Death – Henrietta Bickford & A W Bickford – 29 May 1866. California, County Birth, Marriage, and Death Records, 1849-1980 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2017. Original data: California, County Birth, Marriage, and Death Records, 1830-1980. California Department of Public Health, courtesy of Digital Images.
  • California, County Birth, Marriage, and Death Records, 1849-1980 (California Department of Public Health), com, Page 329 – Bickford, A.. W., Page 329 – Bickford, Henrietta. California Department of Public Health, courtesy of Digital Images.
  • Weekly Alta, San Francisco, California, (via 2 June 1866, Page 8 – 5th column, “Died” – 12th paragraph – Henrietta & A W Bickford.


[i]  Internet: Curbed San Francisco – Article “Hidden Histories: Laurel Hill Cemetery by” By Alex Bevk – Posted Jul 2, 2012, 11:00am PDT – Accessed 24 May 2018.


Chester Parsons and the 1820 Census

Census Sunday
Brown/Sanford/Parsons Line
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.Following ancestors through all the census records is often difficult, particularly in census records before 1850, when only the head of household was named. Tracing my 4th great-grandfather, Chester Parsons was straight-forward from the 1880 census back to the 1850 census, even on to the 1830 Census, while Chester was in Saline, Michigan. Before that, he was a young man in someone else’s household not in Michigan. The path to understanding is to take what you know, hypothesize what should be, then see if research fits.

What I think I know.

  • Chester was born on 1 December 1799 in Sandisfield, Berkshire, Massachusetts.
  • Chester married his first wife in Greene County, New York in 1824.
  • In May 1826, Chester and his young family moved from New York to Saline, Washtenaw County, Michigan Territory.
  • He and his family appear in 1830, 1840, 1850, 1860, 1870, and 1880 censuses. The family seems to have been very stable living in Saline, Michigan, for over 60 years.
  • Chester’s father, John Parsons, died in 1813 in Greene County, New York.
  • In 1820 Chester would have been 20 years old.

My Speculation.

Because Chester probably lived with his father when his father died in 1813 and Chester probably resided in Greene County when he married in 1824, I presume the 20-year-old Chester also was living in Greene County during the 1820 Census. If so, who was he living with?

Search & Results

A quick search on Family Search of all families with the Parsons surname living in Greene County, New York in 1820 yielded four candidates, Samuel, Orrin, Albert, and Stephen. I’m looking for any of those people that might have Chester living with him.

Samuel Parsons – This Windham household consists of 1 Male (Age 26-45) and no other males. Chester’s oldest brother was named Samuel and would have been 33-years-old. This Samual is possibly, even likely, Chester’s brother.

Orrin and Samuel were enumerated next to each other in the 1820 Census.

Orrin Parsons – This Windham household consists of two males (one 16 to 26 and one under 10. There is also a female 16 to 26 in the household. Chester’s 2nd oldest brother was named Orrin and was 25 at the time. It is likely this was him with his wife, and first, previously unknown, son.

Albert Parsons – This Windham household consisted of five individuals, apparently Albert age 16-26, male 10-16, and male under 10 and two females, one, an apparent wife 16 to 26 and another age 10 to 16. There is no known Albert Parsons in my research before this. I will probably need to do more research to determine this Albert’s place in the family or determine he isn’t related. In any event, Chester is not in that household either.


Chester’s father John died in 1814. It appears that Samuel and Orrin each married and established households of their own. Chester, his brother John, and their mother were probably either missed in the 1820 Census or were living in the household of someone without the surname Parsons in Greene County, New York.

Further Research

  • It is possible that Chester and family lived with sister Mary/Polly in 1820. Research Mary/Polly Parsons’ life.
  • It is possible that Chester and family lived with a female sibling of John Parsons, Jr. Research the lives of the other Parsons of Sandisfield, Massachusetts that located to Windham, Greene County, New York between 1800 and 1820.

Ezra Sanford and the 1840 Census

Census Sunday
Don Taylor

One of my goals is to follow an ancestor through all of the Census. Because only the head of the household is identified in the 1840 and earlier censuses it can sometimes be difficult to assure the correct family is identified. I love when a census record confirms what I think I know about a family.

Starting with what I think I knew, that Ezra Sanford came to Saline, Washtenaw County Michigan about 1837 and lived there until about 1845.  Sure enough, I found him in the 1840 Census.[i]

Then, I associated what I think were family members to individuals in the census record. That can help assure that the family is the correct family. In the case of Ezra Sanford I found the following in the 1840 Census:

Ezra Sanford in 1840 Census

The following table shows the age groups of people in the Ezra Sanford household and the number in each group.  Comments include the name of the children believed to be Ezra’s children and how they would fit into his 1840 household with their expected ages.

Age Group                     No.       Comments

MALE < 5                       2          George (4), Charles (2)

MALE 5-10                     2          John (9), Orio (5)

MALE 10-15                   1          Amos (13)

MALE 15-20                   2          William (17), Henry (16)

MALE 20-30                   –

MALE 30-40                   –

MALE 40-50                   1          Ezra (47)


Female 5-10                   1          Ann Maria (10)

Female 30-40                  1          Almira (36)

Ezra’s son Ezra was living in a separate household in Woodstock Township, Lenawee County, Michigan during the 1840 Census apparently with his wife and three children.[ii]

I enter the wife and children into my database with a residence the same as the head of the household and a comment. For example, I would enter Amos into my database with a Residence:

Date: 1 Jun 1840

Location: Saline Township, Washtenaw, Michigan

Description (or Comment): Believed to be the male 10-15 in household of Ezra Sanford.

Source (abbreviated): 1840 Census – Ezra Sanford – Saline Township, Washtenaw, Michigan.


When I believe I know the makeup of a family and find the head of household in the 1840 (or earlier) census, I try to identify all the individuals who may be in the household and ascribe them to specific individuals.


[i] “United States Census, 1840,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 15 August 2017), Ezra Sandford, Saline Township, Washtenaw, Michigan, United States; citing p. 140, NARA microfilm publication M704, (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 211; FHL microfilm 14,797.

[ii] “United States Census, 1840,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 15 August 2017), Ezra Sanford, Woodstock Township, Lenawee, Michigan, United States; citing p. 124, NARA microfilm publication M704, (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 207; FHL microfilm 14,796.

The 1900 Census and Samuel Vaden Scott

Census Sunday

Roberts-Brown Research
Scott/Roberts Line

The 1900 US Federal Census Record is often a Treasure Trove of information.  It provides a unique set of information including month and year of birth as well as the number of children a woman has had and how many of her children are still living.  It can also provide clues to other items of interest.  The 1900 Census record showing Samuel Scott and family is such a record, confusing and confounding.

1900 Census showing Samuel Scott and family
1900 Census showing Samuel Scott and family

Per the 1900 Census, Samuel and Luvina had been married for 6 years, suggesting they were married in 1893 or 1894. However, the Illinois County Marriages index indicates that Samuel and Lavinia married on 25 Dec 1892 indicating they had been married 7 years and not 6. I can live with that difference.

More interesting is that the Census indicates that Luvina had had three children, two of whom were still living. Then I noticed the interesting bit.  Per the census, Samuel’s son William was born four months before his son Elmer (Dec 1893 then Apr 1894). Yikes!

Another researcher that I trust indicated that Samuel and Lavinia had a daughter, Amanda, who was born and died in 1897, that fit the child that the census indicated was dead.

Either Elmer or William must be one of Lavinia’s living children, but which one?  I can’t believe she gave birth to two children, four months apart. I have ascribed Lavinia as Elmer’s mother, so I’m leaving that in place for now.  But the question is, who is William H Scott, son of Samuel Vaden Scott; who is his mother? (Amanda Jane Haley died in 1889 so can’t be William H.’s mother. Very confusing. Was there another wife?  Is the Census record wrong?

Continuing, if Elmer or William is Luvenia’s child, then it would appear that Gertrude was Lavinia’s other living child.  But, Gertrude was born in March of 1892, before Samuel and Luvenia were married. If that is the case, Gertrude must be from her previous marriage.

Samuel Vaden Scott c. 1902 - From the Chris H. Bailey family photo collection.
Samuel Vaden Scott c. 1902

What I gleaned from the 1900 Census.

  • Samuel was born Nov 1860
  • Luvenia was born Jan 1862
  • Gertrude was born Mar 1892, probably the daughter of Luvina and William Shockley.
  • Elmer W was born Apr 1894, probably the son of Samuel and Luvina.
  • William H was born Dec 1893, probably the son of Samuel and Unknown.

There are other bits and pieces that the 1900 Census provides.  For example, Samuel’s mother may have been born in Kentucky, different from some other records. None of the three children were attending school (although Gertrude was 8), and Samuel was a farm laborer renting a house (not a farm).

I never look at one Census as absolutely correct, however, the census can provide areas for further inquiry and suggest possibilities which may not otherwise be evident.

I’m still looking.  Maybe other census or other records I find will provide clarity into the parentage of these three children.

List of Grands

  • Grandfather Bert Allen Roberts
  • Great-Grandmother:  Clora Dell Scott
  • 2nd Great-Grandfather: Samuel Vaden Scott
  • 3rd Great-Grandfather: William Hunter Scott.

Further actions:

  • Track and Trace Samuel Vaden Scott through the other Census records.

————- Disclaimer ————-


Family Search:  1900 Census – Samuel Scott – Missouri, Saint Francois County,  Saint Francois Township, ED98 – Sheet 19A, Line 35-39.

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:


  • 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).


  • 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.






Source: Family Search; 1840 Census; Chester Parsons – Saline Township, Washtenaw County, Michigan, Page 141;