William Taylor & the 1880 Census

Census Sunday
By Don Taylor


In my Bradley-Hingston Project, I’ve been researching William S. Taylor (1856-1928). For my genealogical “first pass” research for an ancestor, I attempt to find vital records, birth, death, and marriages. I also try to find the individual in all of the available Census records during their life.  In William Taylor’s case, I have not successfully found him in either the 1880 or the 1910 Censuses.

William was born on 29 December 1856 in Taylorsville[i], Bucks County, Pennsylvania, to Jacob H. and Rebecca L. (Pittman) Taylor. He appears in the 1860 and 1870 Censuses living with his parents as expected. During the 1870 Census, the 13-year-old William was attending school, as were all his school-age siblings, which means he could likely read and write.

In 1887, William married Maria Louisa Polk at St. Joseph Church in Jackson County, Missouri. That he was in Missouri is significant because it shows that William traveled across the country sometime between 1870 and 1887. He located back in the Philadelphia area with Maria by 1900, showing considerable mobility.

Review of the 1880 Census

A Search of Family Search for William Taylor, born in Pennsylvania in 1857, yielded 14 results.

  • William H. Taylor lived in Westport, Clinton, PA, with his mother, Sarah A. Taylor. Wrong mother.
  • William C. Taylor lived in Spring City, Chester, PA, with his Father, Samuel A. Taylor. Wrong father
  • William Taylor lived in Indiana, PA, with his mother, Margret Taylor. Wrong mother.
  • William M. Taylor was living in Saltsburg, Indiana County, PA. Race Mulatto. Wrong Race.
  • William Taylor was living in Dauphin County, PA, with his brother-in-law Armstead Lee. Armstead’s wife was named Mary. William did not have a sister named Mary, so this can’t be the correct William.
  • William Taylor lived in Philadelphia, PA, with his wife Elizabeth and son William (under 1). William’s parents were born in Ireland. Wrong birthplace for Parents.
  • William Taylor was living in Wayne County, PA, with his mother, Zilpha. Wrong mother.
  • William Taylor was living in Lewisburg, Union County, PA. Race Black.
  • William Taylor was living in Philadelphia, PA, with his parents William and Elizabeth. Wrong parents.
  • William Taylor was living in Philadelphia, PA, with his mother, Elmire Taylor. Wrong mother.
  • William A. Taylor lived in Philadelphia, PA, with his parents Samuel W. and Mary A. Taylor. Wrong parents.
  • William Taylor was living in Kansas City, Jackson, Missouri. His race is black. Also, his parents were both born in Virginia. The wrong person.
  • There was a (first name blank) Taylor living in Beaufort, South Carolina. A closer look at the census reveals that this person was black.
  • Finally, a William Taylor lived in Philadelphia, PA, as a boarder at 34 Lancaster, Philadelphia. Single, His occupation was “P.R.R Co’s Men.” Over 20 men were boarding there, all of whom were P.R.R. Co’s Men.[ii] (I presume “P.R.R” to be the Pennsylvania Railroad.[iii])
William Taylor in the 1880 Census – Philadelphia, PA – ED 485, Page 4 – via Family Search

This appears to be the only William Taylor that could be the William Taylor I am looking for. This determination conflicts with several other researchers; however, I am quite certain this is the correct William Taylor. Additionally, it provides a simple explanation about how William could have gone west to meet Maria, who was from Arkansas, marry her in Missouri, and remove to Philadelphia by 1900. He worked for the Railroad.

This look at the 1880 Census shed light that there were four other 23-year-old William Taylor’s living in the Philadelphia area.

    1. William A. Taylor, son of Samuel W. and Mary A. Taylor.
    2. William Taylor, son of William and Elizabeth Taylor.
    3. William Taylor, son of Elmire Taylor.
    4. William Taylor, son of Irish immigrants and married to Elizabeth with a son William.

It will be crucial to distinguish my William Taylor from these other William Taylors as I continue my William Taylor research.


In 1880, William Taylor lived in Philadelphia, PA, and boarded at 34 Lancaster. He lived and worked with many other employees of the Pennsylvania Railroad. 


[i] Taylorsville is now Washington Crossing, an unincorporated village in Upper Makefield Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. (About 30 miles north of Philadelphia and 8 miles upstream of Trenton.

[ii] Family Search “United States Census, 1880,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MWJ5-XPR: 13 November 2020), Wm. Taylor in the household of J. L. Worrell, Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, British Colonial America; citing enumeration district ED 485, sheet 33B, NARA microfilm publication T9 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), FHL microfilm 1,255,182.

[iii] The Pennsylvania Railroad operated was established in 1846 and operated until 1968.

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