Mary Parsons – The 1855 New York Census opened a Brick Wall

Census Sunday
Brown-Sanford-Parsons-Wolcott
By Don Taylor

Introduction

Following families in the early census records is always tricky, and following widows can be particularly difficult. I had been unable to find her in several early census records after her husband died. So, I thought I’d try approaching finding her using a different approach.

What I think I know

Mary (Wolcott) Parsons migrated to Windham, Greene County, New York in the spring 0f 1802.[i] Her husband John Parsons, Jr., died on 7 April 1813.[ii] Mary died in 1857[iii]. I was not successful in finding Mary Parsons in the 1820 Census, so I thought I’d try finding her in the last census before her death.

Census Reviews

1855 New York Census

Samuel Parsons in the 1855 New York State Census, for Windham, Greene county

Luckily, New York had an 1855 State Census. The 88-year-old Mary is recorded living with her son Samuel[iv]. Samuel was reported as being 65 years old, born in Mass. He was a farmer who had lived in Windham for 50 years. He voted and owned land.

In the same house, but making a different household, is Mary’s youngest daughter, Prudence, and her husband, Benjamin Miller. The census shows “Brudence” as 44-years-old and a resident of Windham for 44 years. Her husband Benjamin was 54-years-old and a resident of Windham for the previous 20 years. Benjamin was a voter but did not own land.

1850 Census

Samuel and “Polly” Parsons in the 1850 Census.

Having been unsuccessful in finding Mary Parsons in the 1850 Census previously, I decided to look for her son Samuel Parsons. There he was, Samuel “Persons.”[v] Living with him was 83-year-old “Polly Persons.” Polly is an alternate/nickname for Mary[vi].

The 1850 Census doesn’t show relationships, but the household appears to include 66-year-old Samuel and 83-year-old Polly Persons.

1840 Census

1840 Census showing Albert and Mary Parsons households

The 1840 Census finds Mary Parsons enumerated as a female 60 thru 69. In her household is a male 50 to 59. Samuel does not appear to have been enumerated elsewhere, so I am confident the male in the household is Samuel. Interestingly, the next person enumerated on the page appears to me to be Benjamin Miller. That household seems to have Benjamin (age 30-39), a female (age 20 to 29), and a boy (age 10 to 14). If the 1855 Census were correct, Benjamin would be 39 in 1840, and Prudence would be 29, fitting this entry.

1830 Census

Mary does not appear to be listed in the 1830 Census with Samuel. Samuel is listed as being 40 to 49 (as expected). With him is a female 10 to 14. This is an unknown female in his household. However, there is an Albert Persons (age 20 to 30) living in Windham. His household includes a female 50 to 59, which fits the age for Mary. Could this be a here-to-fore unknown child of Mary?  More research is needed to determine who Albert is. Because they are next to each other in the 1840 Census, I’m confident Mary is the 50 to 59 year old female in his household.

1820

The 1820 Census reports three Parson’s households in Windham, Greene County, New York.

    • Albert Parson’s profile is:     1 1 0 1 0 0 | 0 1 1 0 0
    • Samuel Parson’s profile is: 0 0 0 0 1 0 | 0 2 0 0 0
    • Orrin Parson’s profile is:      1 0 0 1 0 0 | 0 0 1 0 0

None of the families enumerated appear to have a woman over 29, let alone the 53-year-old Mary. That Albert’s household did not include an older woman in 1820 but did in 1830, shows that the older woman moved into his household sometime between 1820 and 1830.

Mary’s Age Shifts

    • In 1830, 63-year-old Mary appears to have been enumerated as 50-59, four years younger.
    • In 1840, 73-year-old Mary was enumerated as 60-69, four years younger.
    • In 1850, 83-year-old Mary was enumerated as 83.
    • In 1855, 88-year-old Mary was enumerated as 88.

I find the four-year shift in Mary’s age is relatively common for women during their middle years to report be a few years younger than they are. Likewise, older people often seem to add a few years and say they are slightly older.

Conclusion

Based on the 1830 Census, it appears that Mary may have had a son, Albert, that I didn’t know of before. If so, Albert would have been born between 1800 and 1810 and could have been born in either Massachusetts or New York. The Parsons moved to New York about 1802; I haven’t found a birth record for Albert. Further research is needed to confirm this potential relationship.

Finding Mary/Polly in the 1840, 1850, and 1855 censuses vastly improves my understanding of her life. Again, I feel I’ve located Mary in the 1830 Census with Albert, but that feeling is tentative at best.

Follow-up

Research Land records for the Parsons owning land in Greene County, New York, during the early 1800s, particularly Samuel Parsons.

Did Mary have a son, Albert, who was probably born between 1802 and 1810 in New York?


Endnotes:

[i] History of Washtenaw County, Michigan (Chicago, Chas. C. Chapman & Co., 1881), Google, Pg 1405. Chas. C. Chapman & Co. (2012). History of Washtenaw County, Michigan: Together with sketches of its cities, villages and townships, educational, religious, civil, military, and political history ; portraits of prominent persons, and biographies of representative citizens : history of Michigan : embracing accounts of the pre-historic races, aborigines, French, English and American conquests, and a general review of its civil, political and military history. Salem, MA: Higginson Book Company.

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] Find a Grave, database and images (www.findagrave.com/memorial/118318771/mary-parsons : accessed 23 April 2021), memorial page for Mary “Polly” Wolcott Parsons (20 May 1767–26 Mar 1857), Find a Grave Memorial ID 118318771, citing Pleasant Valley Cemetery, Ashland, Greene County, New York, USA ; Maintained by Mookie (contributor 47515129) .

[iv] New York, US., State Census, 1855, Ancestry, Greene County, Windham, Image 8 of 34, starting at Line 7 – Samuel Parsons.

[v] In early records, the surname “Parsons” and “Persons” seem to be interchangeable.

[vi] BuzzFeed has a nice little article about “12 Weird Short Forms of Popular Names That Make You Go ‘Huh?’” which mentions why Polly is short for Mary.

Ancestor Sketch – Mary “Polly” Wolcott Parsons

Brown-Sandford-Parsons-Wolcott
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.Mary Wolcott was born in 1767. She married John Parsons in 1788. After she was widowed in 1813,  Mary lived another 43 years living in several households. She died in 1857 at the age of 89.

Roberts/Brown – Ancestor #205

List of Grandparents

Mary “Polly” Wolcott Parsons (1767-1857)

Birth

Different researchers seem to disagree about where Mary Wolcott was born, but all seem to agree she was born 20 May 1767 to Samuel and Prudence (Robbins) Wolcott. I’ll know more when I research Mary’s parents. Chandler Wolcott, in Wolcott Genealogy, indicates that Samuel Wolcott located to Sandisfield, MA, in 1764, three years before Mary was born, so it is my current opinion that Mary was born in Sandisfield, Berkshire County, Massachusetts.

Childhood

Mary was the third of seven children. Her siblings included

    1. Prudence Born 1763      Married John Baxter
    2. Samuel Born 1765      (the 4th generation named Samuel Wolcott)
    3. Mary Born 1767      Married John Parsons, Jr.
    4. Thomas Born 1769
    5. Abiathar Born 1772
    6. William Born 1774
    7. Abigail Born 1781      Married John Chapel.

Her father was a patriot, serving in the revolutionary war when Mary was only 9-years-old. It hat to have been an exciting time for a kid to grow up.

Marriage

Mary married John Parsons, Jr., in 1788 in Sandisfield, and the couple had their first child, Samuel, the following year. Their first five children were born in Sandisfield.

    1. Samuel Born 1789
    2. Polly Born 1792      Later married Jeremiah Miller.
    3. Orrin Born 1794
    4. John Born 1796
    5. Chester Born 1799      My 4th Great-grandfather.

The Columbia Turnpike opened up in 1799 from Berkshire County to Catskill, in Greene County, New York.[1]  In the spring of 1802, the Parsons located to Windham, Greene County, New York, probably using the Columbia Turnpike. Consequently, their next two children were born in New York.

    1. Permelia (?) Born 1805      Married (FNU) Clark.
    2. Prudence Born 1811      Possibly married Benjamin Miller.

Adulthood

I have not successfully found John and Mary Parsons in the 1810 Census (See: John Parsons, Jr., & the 1810 Census.)

Mary’s husband John died on 7 April 1813 in Windham, Greene County, New York.

I have not been successful in finding Mary in the 1820 Census. (See: Mary Parsons & the 1820 Census.) However, I am pretty sure that Mary was living with Albert Parsons during the 1830 Census. I am still hoping to determine precisely who Albert is.

In 1840, Mary was the head of the household comprising of her and a male 50 to 60 years old. I believe this male to be her son, Samuel.

In 1850, Mary was living in the household of Samuel Parsons (her eldest son).

In 1855, Mary is still living with Samuel in Greene County, New York.

Death

Mary (Wilcott) Parsons died on 26 Marth 1857 at the age of 89 years, ten months, and six days old. She is buried with John at the Pleasant Valley Cemetery, Ashland, Greene, New York.

Events by Location

  • Massachusetts, Berkshire County, Sandisfield – Birth, 1790, 1800
  • New York, Greene County, Windham – 1802, 1830, 1840, 1855, Death

Further Actions / Follow-up

  • Determine who Albert Parsons is
  • Find John & Mary Parsons in the 1810 Census.
  • Find Mary Parsons in the 1820 Census.

Sources

  • 1790 Census, 1790 Census – Page 34 – John Parsons, Jr. & John Parsons (Sr.) – Sandisfield Town, Berkshire County, Massachusetts. “Heads of Families – 1790 Census – Massachusetts – Page 34, Column 1, Persons 3 & 4. – Accessed 2 August 2020. https://www.census.gov/library/publications/1907/dec/heads-of-families.html.
  • 1800 Census (FS), Family Search, 1800 – John Parsons Jr. – Sandisfield, Berkshire, Massachusetts (3rd from bottom). “United States Census, 1800,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XHRZ-J6J : accessed 31 March 2018), John Parsons Jr, Sandisfield, Berkshire, Massachusetts, United States; citing p. 175, NARA microfilm publication M32, (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 13; FHL microfilm 205,611. https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XHRZ-J6J.
  • 1830 Census (FS), Family Search, 1830 – Albert Persons – Windham, Greene, New York. “United States Census, 1830,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 20 February 2021), Albert Persons, Windham, Greene, New York, United States; citing 99, NARA microfilm publication M19, (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 110; FHL microfilm 17,170. https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XHP7-SGK.
  • 1840 Census (NARA), 1840 Census – Mary Parsons, Southern, Greene, New York. “United States Census, 1840,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XHRP-CWF : 8 December 2020), Mary Parsons, Greene, New York, United States; citing p. 149, NARA microfilm publication , (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll ; FHL microfilm. https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XHRP-CWF.
  • 1850 Census (NARA), 1850 – Samuel Persons – Windham, Greene, New York. “United States Census, 1850,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MCYF-ZJR : 23 December 2020), Samuel Persons, Windham, Greene, New York, United States; citing family , NARA microfilm publication (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.). https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MCYF-ZJR.
  • 1855 New York Census, Family Search, Samuel Parsons – New York, Greene, Windham. “New York State Census, 1855,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K6S5-GCD : 3 March 2021), Samuel Persons, Windham, Greene, New York, United States; citing p. , line #7, family #130, county clerk offices, New York; FHL microfilm 480,076. https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K6S5-GCD.
  • Daughters of the American Revolution, “Ancestor Search”, DAR, Parsons, John – Ancestor # A088240. Accessed 31 July 2020. . https://services.dar.org/public/dar_research/search_adb/default.cfm?p_id=A088240.
  • Daughters of the American Revolution, “Descendants Search”, DAR, Ruth Evelyn Hill Carr – Nat’l #: 445593 – Ancestor #: A016639.
  • Daughters of the American Revolution, “Descendants Search”, DAR, Ruth Evelyn Hill Carr – Nat’l #: 445593 – Ancestor #: A088240. Accessed 31 July 2020.
  • Find a Grave, Internet, Mary “Polly” Wolcott Parsons – Memorial 118318771. Find a Grave, database and images (www.findagrave.com/memorial/118318771/mary-parsons : accessed 28 April 2021), memorial page for Mary “Polly” Wolcott Parsons (20 May 1767–26 March 1857), Find a Grave Memorial ID 118318771, citing Pleasant Valley Cemetery, Ashland, Greene County, New York, USA ; Maintained by Mookie (contributor 47515129). https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/118318771/mary-parsons.
  • History of Washtenaw County, Michigan (Chicago, Chas. C. Chapman & Co., 1881), Google, Pg 1371. Chas. C. Chapman & Co. (2012). History of Washtenaw County, Michigan: Together with sketches of its cities, villages and townships, educational, religious, civil, military, and political history ; portraits of prominent persons, and biographies of representative citizens : history of Michigan : embracing accounts of the pre-historic races, aborigines, French, English and American conquests, and a general review of its civil, political and military history. Salem, MA: Higginson Book Company.
  • History of Washtenaw County, Michigan (Chicago, Chas. C. Chapman & Co., 1881), Google, Pg 1405. Chas. C. Chapman & Co. (2012). History of Washtenaw County, Michigan: Together with sketches of its cities, villages and townships, educational, religious, civil, military, and political history ; portraits of prominent persons, and biographies of representative citizens : history of Michigan : embracing accounts of the pre-historic races, aborigines, French, English and American conquests, and a general review of its civil, political and military history. Salem, MA: Higginson Book Company.
  • Massachusetts, Town Clerk, Vital and Town Records, 1626-2001, Family Search, PAGE 335 – 4TH SECTION (After Manley, Crane, & Spelman) – PARSONS (John Parsons, Jr. and Mary, his wife.
  • New York, US., State Census, 1855, Ancestry, Greene County, Windham, Image 8 of 34, Lines 7 – Samuel Parsons.
  • Chandler Wolcott, Wolcott Genealogy – The Family of Henry Wolcott (, 1912), Internet Archive, Page 119 – LXXIII – Samuel Wolcott.

Endnotes

[1] Family Search Wiki – Sandisfield, Berkshire County, Massachusetts Genealogy.

Mary Parsons & the 1820 Census

Census Sunday
Brown-Sanford-Parsons-Wolcott
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.I try to find my ancestors in each of the Census records. Women are tough to find in Censuses before 1850 because they are often not named. As is always the case, try to figure out what I think I know so I’ll know what I might expect before I start searching.

Mary Wolcott

Mary Wolcott was born on 20 May 1787 in Windsor, Hartford County, Connecticut. She married John Parsons, Jr., in 1788 and was enumerated in Sandisfield, Berkshire County, Massachusetts, during the 1790 and 1800 Censuses. In the Spring of 1802, John Parsons, Jr., and Mary moved to Windham, Greene County, New York.

I have not been successful in finding them in the 1810 Census. John died in 1813. Mary died in 1857, so she should appear somewhere in 1820, 1830, 1840, and 1850 Censuses.

John and Mary had at least seven children. In 1820 they should appear as:

      • Samuel Parsons Age 31
      • Orrin Parsons Age 26
      • John Parsons Age 24
      • Chester Parsons Age 20
      • Polly, who married Jeremiah Miller Age 28
      • Permelia probably married FNU Clark after 1820 because she would have been only 15 years old in 1920.
      • Prudence would have been about 12-years-old in 1820.

Do any of the children appear in the 1820 Census, and do any of them seem to have a 53-year-old woman living with them?

1820 Census

As search for Parsons in Windham, Green County yielded.

      • Albert Parsons 1 1 0 1 0 0  | 0 1 1 0 0 [i]
      • Orrin Parsons 1 0 0 1 0 0 | 0 0 1 0 0
      • Samuel Parsons 0 0 0 0 1 0 | 0  2 0 0 0

Neither 20-year-old Chester nor his mother, 53-year-old Mary, appear to be living with any of them in Windham. It is not clear who Albert Parsons is. His household seems to include him, 16 to 26 years old, his apparent wife, also 16 to 26 years old. And three apparent children, one boy, under 10, and a boy and a girl ages 10 to 16.

There were two Miller families in Windham. Abraham and Eleazer. Abraham’s household did not include a woman over 45. Eleazer’s household did have a woman over 45, but it appears that Eleazer was over 45, and thus his wife is likely to be over 45. Additionally, there is no male 16 to 26 in the household so that that household couldn’t include Chester.

Expanding my search to all of Green County, there was no Jeremiah Miller enumerated during the 1820 Census.

It seems weird that I’m unable to find Mary (Wolcott) Parsons in any of the Census records. I’ll try another approach.


Endnotes:

[i] The 1820 Census is unique in that it has an extra, overlapping, age group. The third column is for males 16 to 18 and the fourth column is for males 16 to 26. There is no similar column for females.

Ancestor Sketch – John Parsons, Jr.

Brown/Sanford/Parsons Line
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.One of my processes is to tentatively accept conflicting data regarding an individual. As I continue my research, I look for info to help corroborate either fact. When I finally do my ancestor sketch, I analyze the conflicting facts and make a decision as to what I think is correct and provide my analysis bout what I think is incorrect and why.  In the case of John Parsons, Junior, I have conflicting facts regarding both John’s birth and his death.  But, more about that in a bit.

Roberts/Brown – Ancestor #204

List of Grandparents

  • 6 – Grandfather: Clifford Brown| aka Richard Earl Durand | aka Richard Earl Brown (1903-1990)
  • 12 – 1st Great-grandfather: Arthur Durwood Brown(1869-1928)
  • 25 – 2nd Great-grandmother: Marion Sanford(1846- c. 1895)
  • 51 – 3rd Great-grandmother: Mary E Parsons(1828-1888)
  • 102 – 4th Great-grandfather: Chester Parsons (1799-1887)
  • 204 – 5th Great-grandfather: John Parsons, Jr. (1764-1813)
  • 408 – 6th Great-grandfather: John Parsons, Sr.
  • 816 – 7th Great-grandfather: Timothy Parsons*[i]
  • 1632 – 8th Great-grandfather: Samuel Parsons*
  • 3264 – 9th Great-grandfather: Joseph Parsons*
  • 6528 – 10th Great-grandfather: William Parsons*

John Parsons (1764-1813)

Birth

John Parsons, Jr., was born on 18 November 1764, the third child of John and Hannah (Wadsworth) Parsons. Some researchers have suggested he was born in Windham, Greene County, New York[ii]; however, I’m sure he was born in Sandisfield, Berkshire County, Massachusetts. Five of John’s siblings were all born in Sandisfield, including siblings both older and younger.  John moved to Windham in 1802, so it is easy to understand how someone could have make a mistake and entered the wrong place.

It must have been exciting times that John grew up in. His father was a lieutenant in the Massachusetts Militia during the Revolution. Samuel Wolcott’s. Living in far western Massachusetts, I suspect that young John was eager for the latest in news of the Revolution.

Sadness did strike in 1777, when John was 12 years old, and his mother died.

There is probably a romantic story to find about John’s courting of Mary Wolcott, the daughter of his father’s Captain during the Revolution. In any event, although it is not clear when John and Mary married. The birth of their first child, Samuel, in April 1789 suggests John and Mary likely married in 1788. John and Mary had seven children:

Children of John & Mary (Wolcott) Parsons, Jr.

Child Born
Samuel 1789 – Sandisfield, MA
Polly 1792 – Sandisfield, MA
Orrin 1794 – Sandisfield, MA
John 1796 – Sandisfield, MA
Chester 1799 – Sandisfield, MA
Parmelia 1805 – Windham, NY
Prudence 1808  – Windham, NY

1790 Census

John and his father were both enumerated as heads of households next to each other in the 1790 Census.

Parsons, John, Jr. 1 1 1

The John Parsons, Jr. household consisted of:

  • One male 16 & older, who has to be the head of the household, John Jr.
  • One male under age 16, who apears to be Samuel who was born in born 1789.
  • One female who appears to be John’s wife, Mary.

1800 Census

By 1800, the John Parsons, Jr. household had grown.

John Parsons, Jr.  3 1 – 1 – | 1 – – 1 –

Three males under 10:   Likely Orrin (Age 5), John (Age 4), & Chester (Age 0)

One male, age 10-16:     Likely Samuel (Age 13)

One male, age 26-45:     Obviously, John Jr. (Age 36) who is the head of the household.

One female under 10:     Likely Mary/Polly (Age 8)

One female 26-45:       Clearly Mary (age 33) his wife.

In 1802 John and his family moved from Sandisfield to Windham, Greene County, New York.

1810 Census

I have searched at length for John in the 1810 Census. I have not been successful in discovering John Parsons (Jr.) in the 1810 Census. I believe he is probably living with one of his children in Greene County, New York. As such, if I research each of his wife and all of his children, I may well find John living in someone else’s household.

Death

John Parsons died on 7 April 1813 in Windham, Greene County, New York. He was buried in section 1 at the Pleasant Valley Cemetery (also known as the Ashland Cemetery), about 2 and a half miles west of Windham. He was survived by hie wife, Mary, all seven of his children, and his father.

Events by Location


Massachusetts, Berkshire County, Sandisfield Town – 1764 thru 1801 – Birth, childhood, marriage, and birth of his first five children.

New York, Greene County, Windham – 1802-1813 – births of his two youngest children and his death.

New York, Green County, Ashland – 1813 – Burial at Pleasant Valley (aka Ashland) Cemetery.

Further Actions / Follow-up

  • Research each of John’s children and both his and his wife’s siblings for their location during the 1810 Census. Were John and Mary with them.

Continue reading “Ancestor Sketch – John Parsons, Jr.”

Ancestor Sketch – Deborah Buel Maben

Brown/Sanford/Parsons/Maben Line
52 Ancestors – Week 2018-29
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.Like many of my ancestors, Deborah Buel Maben, was a pioneer wife. She was born, raised, and married in eastern New York (Greene County). After she married she headed west with her husband to Michigan Territory. She was there when Michigan become a state. She passed away and was buried in Benton, Washtenaw County, Michigan, in the land she and her family settled.

Continue reading “Ancestor Sketch – Deborah Buel Maben”