Mary Parsons & the 1820 Census

Census Sunday
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.


[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.