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.

Conclusion

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.

Henry Brown search uncovers 8 additional ancestors

The next task I had on my Brown/Montran list was to confirm data on Henry Brown and try to find the marriage date for him and Marion Sanford.  As I did some poking around I found that somehow the birth and death dates I had for Henry Brown were ascribed to him in error and belonged to another Henry Brown. I found several different sources with a Henry Brown with the same birth and death dates and a different spouse and parents than I had for my Henry Brown. 
I believe it is important to revisit what you know every once and a while and confirm that what you know is really true.  In my case, there were inconsistencies in what I had and what my sources were telling me.  I did a lot of searching but couldn’t find anything that would give a birth, death, or marriage date for Henry.  
I decided to take a closer look at the 1870 and 1880 census for Henry and who his neighbors were.
In 1870 they were Watson and Boellger on one side and Sanford and Trim on the other side.
In 1880 they were Sitchard and Bluminann on one side and Brillevale and Sanford on the other side. Could the Sanfords in both censuses be related to Marion?  I then looked for any plat maps of the area to see what the land relationships might be like. I found one for Saline, Washtanaw County from 1874.  Sure enough, there was a Boettger, two Sanford properties, and a Trim property along a road. I then began looking in earnest for information about a Wm Sanford of Saline, Washtenaw County Michigan. 
One of my favorite search places is Google Books.  I searched for William Sanford Washtenaw.  An hit included a 1881 book, History of Washtenaw County, Michigan and a paragraph regarding William Sanford.  In the text was a line about his children, including “Marion A., wife of Henry Brown.” Yea, a book that confirms that my Marion was related to William Sanford. 
Lots of new information.  Including Marion’s mother’s name, Mary E. Parsons (a new name for me).  Elsewhere in the book it spoke of Mary’s parents, Chester Parsons and Deborah B. Maben (two more names), their parents John & Mary Wolcot Parsons along with Robert and Electa Maben (four more new names).  In the many pages there were names, dates, stories, about the Parsons, Mabens, and Sanfords.  I was able to add eight new direct ancestors and dozens of aunts, uncles, and cousins.  An amazing find.  Probably most amazing was a drawing of Chester Parsons, (my 4th great-granfather) probably from when he was about 60 or so, his beard is white but his hair is still dark. (A description elsewhere in the book indicates that in 1881, his hair is white.) 
Sadly, I still haven’t determined Henry Brown’s birth, death, or marriage dates, but that’s okay. The other finds make up for missing facts.
Don’t forget Google Books in your research.  It can be an amazing resource.