By Don Taylor
Researching families in pre-Civil War North Carolina is often difficult. Many records were “lost” and many families used the same first names in families often. I have found one way to make sense of the family lines is to do a surname study in a particular location. Often, many of the people with the same surname in the same area are related. By doing a surname study, I can sometimes determine the relationships between individuals with the same surname. I like to begin with the 1880 census as it provides relationships to begin with. Census records before that don’t provide the relationship so you must guess about the relationships.
Using Ancestry.Com, I started with a search of the 1880 Census, all people with the surname Vinson, in Halifax, County, North Carolina. I downloaded the images for all the findings, but for the purposes of this study, I’m only interested in Name, Age, and Relationships. After I am able to connect any of these individuals to my Howell/Vinson line, I’ll integrate the documents I found into my sources.
I found three families and three individuals with the Vinson surname during the 1880 Census in Halifax County[i]. They were:
- L. Vinson, Age 22, with his wife J.D. Vinson, Age 21. They had an unnamed child in 1879 that died at age 9 months (April 1880). (See the 1880 mortality schedule for details.)
- Robert Vinson, Age 32 and his wife L. N. Vinson, Age 26 and their four children
- R. Vinson, Age 8
- Fannie Vinson, Age 7
- H. Vinson, Age 6
- Emmett Vinson, Age 3
- Martha Vinson, Age 51, a widow and her two children,
- Albert Vinson, Age 24
- Lizzie Vinson, Age 14
- Elizabeth Vinson, Age 63
- G. Vinson, Age 20
- Geo Vinson, Age 64
I would expect to find all individuals over the age of 10 in the 1870 Census. A search of the 1870 Census found four white family groups.
The indexed version of the census indicates a very unusual household consisting of a black woman, Elizabeth Vinson, age 34, with two white children living with her. The two children are Littleburg Vinson, age 12 and William G Vinson, age11. The two children are clearly #1, L. Vinson and number 5, W. G. Vinson from the 1880 Census. Upon a much closer look at the image, it appears to me, that the indexer mistook the age and the race for Elizabeth. I read the image as race white (same as Littleberg and William, and an age of 54. That would fit the 1880 Census record for Elizabeth Vinson.
Next is J. Robert Vinson, aged 22. This is clearly number 2, J. Robert Vinson, in the 1880 Census.
Robert Vinson, Age 45, wife Martha, Age 41. With apparently four children.
- John H. age 19
- Thomas L, Age 16
- Albert L. Age 14
- Laura E, Age 4.
This is clearly the Martha Vinson family of 1880 before she became widowed.
Littlebury Vinson, Age 54 is obviously L. Geo Vinson in the 1880 Census.
Looking at the 1870 and 1880 Censuses together I see the following family Units.
Widow Elizabeth Vinson (b. 1815-1817) & Children:
- Littleburg Vinson (b. 1857-1858) Married J. D. _____ (b. 1858-1859)
- Unnamed Vinson (b. 1879 – d. April 1880)
- William G. Vinson (b. 1858-1959)
J Robert Vinson (b. 1847-1848) – Wife, L. N. Vinson (b. 1853-1854) & Children:
- R. Vinson, (b. 1871-1872)
- Fannie Vinson, (b. 1872-1873)
- H. Vinson, (b. 1873-1874)
- Emmett Vinson, (b. 1876-1877)
Robert Vinson (b. 1824-1825) – Wife, Martha, (b. 1828-1829) & Children:
- John H. Vinson (b. 1850-1851)
- Thomas L, (b. 1853-1854)
- Albert L. Age 14 (b. 1855-1856)
- Laura E “Lizzie” Vinson (b. 1865-1866)
Littlebury Geo Vinson (b. 1815-1816)
[i] Note: I only considered white families.