The Three Missing Children of Anson Bickford.

Census Sunday
By Don Taylor

Sometimes it is an odd little note that can send you off researching an entirely new aspect of a person’s life. While I was researching my sister-in-law’s great-grandfather, Anson Bickford, I ran into an odd entry in the 1910 Census.

1910 Census showing children of Anson Bickford

What made it odd is the Instructions for the 1910 Census told the enumerators that the question about the number of children born “applies to women who are now married, or who are widowed, or divorced.” I wondered, why did the census taker include information about the children of a man, Anson Bickford? Also, it indicated that he had 11 children, eight of whom were living. The 1900 Census had a similar question and his wife reported having had 8 children, 8 of whom were living. The question arose in my mind, who were the other three children?

1900 Census showing children of Jean Bickford

The eight living children were easy. The 1880 Census and the 1900 Census provided the names for all eight children living in 1900. Jennette, Ralph, Edwin, Matilda, Everett, Estella, Maude, and Erna. Jennette and Ralph were born in California, so I looked for Anson in California and found him and Jean living in San Francisco during the 1880 Census. Then I found Anson married before he married Jean. There were newspaper articles and death records that spoke of sadness in 1866. In 1865 he and his wife Henrietta had twins, a girl and a boy—A.W. and Nettie. They were born in October 1865.  Seven months and 28 days later, on 28 May 1866, both Henrietta and their youngest son died. Henrietta died of “Consumption” and I can’t quite read exactly what A.W. died from. Nine days later his daughter Nettie also died. Again, I can’t quite read exactly what from.

Cause of Death – A. W Bickford. Cause of Death – Nettie Bickford

[Can anyone who can help me decipher the cause? If so, please leave comments below.]

I searched at length for other information regarding a third child for Anson and Henrietta in California and was not successful. I returned to looking at Maine records and found where Anson and his second wife, Jean, had a heretofore unknown 9th child.  On 10 November 1880, Anson and Jean had a daughter, Mertie Alice, who died five days later. That accounts for the 11 children suggested in the 1910 Census.


The death records for Henrietta, A. W. [Anson Wayne, Jr.??], and Nettie indicate that all three were buried in Lone Mountain Cemetery. Lone Mountain is no more. It opened in 1858 but changed its name to Laurel Hill Cemetery in 1867. With San Francisco real estate at such a premium,Laurel Hill Cemetery was relocated. People that didn’t pay extra for a private reburial were buried in a common grave in what is called the Laurel Hill Mound in Cypress Lawn Cemetery. Likewise, if the tombstones weren’t paid to be moved, they ended up with Public works and were repurposed for a seawall at Aquatic Park, a breakwater, rain gutters, and erosion control.[i]

There are still a few frayed ends to this story.

Frayed Rope – Photo by Tom Bech (CC BY 2.0)

I wonder why Jane failed to report her dead child, Mertie Alice, during the 1800 Census.

The newspaper article of Henrietta and A. W.’s death mentioned A. W. was their youngest son. Is there another child I can’t find any references to?  I don’t think so, but it still a frayed end.



  • California, County Birth, Marriage, and Death Records, 1849-1980 (California Department of Public Health), com, Death – Henrietta Bickford & A W Bickford – 29 May 1866. California, County Birth, Marriage, and Death Records, 1849-1980 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2017. Original data: California, County Birth, Marriage, and Death Records, 1830-1980. California Department of Public Health, courtesy of Digital Images.
  • California, County Birth, Marriage, and Death Records, 1849-1980 (California Department of Public Health), com, Page 329 – Bickford, A.. W., Page 329 – Bickford, Henrietta. California Department of Public Health, courtesy of Digital Images.
  • Weekly Alta, San Francisco, California, (via 2 June 1866, Page 8 – 5th column, “Died” – 12th paragraph – Henrietta & A W Bickford.


[i]  Internet: Curbed San Francisco – Article “Hidden Histories: Laurel Hill Cemetery by” By Alex Bevk – Posted Jul 2, 2012, 11:00am PDT – Accessed 24 May 2018.