Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Mrs. Nimrod Thacker Part II ***** Genealogy by the Numbers - Census Records

Before we look at the census records, we should look at some limitations the family historian can encounter when using census records as a source of information.

1. The census is only a snapshot of the individual as of one particular date. From 1850 through 1900, that date was June 1 of the year the census was taken. If the individual married, gave birth, or died a month, a week or a day later that information would not (or perhaps it’s more accurate to say should not) be reflected in the census.

2. The federal census was only taken once every ten years. Family moves, the birth and death of a child, the switching of occupations along with a whole myriad of other changes would have been missed by the census.

3. The knowledge of the person answering the census taker’s questions. Sometimes there were language barriers that created inaccurate information. Sometimes an individual’s memory wasn’t particularly good. Sometimes people lied.

They lied to protect family secrets. They lied because they didn’t know the truth. They lied, because well, sometimes people just lie.

Occasionally (and it’s difficult to say how often this happened), after repeated attempts on the part of the census taker to interview the family, he would ask their neighbors for the information. Imagine your own neighbor answering questions about where your mother and father were born!

4. The information is only as good as the person recording it. The census taker’s job was an important one, and some were more diligent than others. They came to the job with their own prejudices, their own spelling flaws, even their own ability to write legibly! Add to that the fact that they had to be able to read and recopy their own notes accurately, and you can see there was a potential for problems.

(I’ve often wondered if you could compare the local copy with the one kept for the state and the one given to the federal government, how many would be completely identical.)


Okay, now that I’ve made you wonder if there is any value at all to looking at census records; let’s take a look at Mrs. Nimrod Thacker’s listings in the census.

Our subject (because I’m tired of writing Mrs. Nimrod Thacker and we haven’t decided as of yet how to refer to her) is listed in five census returns – the 1850, the 1860, the 1870, the 1880 and the 1900. Only a few fragments of the 1890 census survived the 1921 fire in the basement of Commerce Building in Washington DC and none of those fragments were for Vinton County.

Below is a jpeg copy of an excel spreadsheet I used to record the information of the five censuses.

A couple of extraneous items to note before we take a closer look at the information we are seeking.

Even though we know from military, pension, estate and marriage records that his legal name was Nimrod Thacker, you will note that in each census he is listed as Nicholas Thacker.

Though race wasn’t one of the issues that we are currently looking at, notice that Mrs. Thacker is listed as “mulatto” in the 1850, 1860, 1870 and 1880 census, while in 1900 she is listed as “white.”


The Spelling of Francis/Frances

With the exception of the 1850 census, where there was one column that read, “Person over 20 years of age who cannot read or write” and it was not checked, the rest of the census years seem to indicate that our subject was illiterate (as was her spouse.)

If she could not read or write, how could she know the correct spelling of her name? Therefore, on the question of how to spell the name Frances/Francis correctly, there is no correct spelling. However, since it is common in the United States for the “is” in Francis to refer to a male and the “es” in Frances to refer to a female, I’m changing my records to reflect the “es” spelling.


Name

Next, you will notice that that she is listed as either Frances (Francis) or Frances J. in all five census records. Not once is she referred to as “Mary” or “Frances Mary” or “Mary Frances.” However, I’ve already noted that Nimrod isn’t referred to as Nimrod even once in the census records, so this is not conclusive one way or another. It is something to keep in mind as we look at the other records. One thing is obvious, however, and that is in every day life she was referred to as Frances.

State of Birth

Where was Frances born? Well, if you look at the census, you would conclude that it has to be Virginia, not West Virginia. However, to be fair there was no West Virginia in 1850 and 1860, and it is certainly possible that if Frances was born in what was to become West Virginia, in her own mind she still felt she was a Virginian by birth.

According to a search of the 1870 census, only 7 individuals in the 1870 census of Vinton County said they were born in West Virginia; none of those were in the township of Wilkesville.

In 1880, only 77 individuals claimed West Virginia as their state of birth. Three of those lived in Wilkesville – Joseph J. Cline, Jacson Hayes, and Harriet Wetherholt.

125 people said they were born in West Virginia in the 1900 census of Vinton County. Of those, 43 lived in Wilkesville Township – none had the last name of Thacker.

Beginning in 1880, the census asked for the birthplace of the individual’s mother and father. It seemed prudent to take a look at where each of the children claimed their mother was born. All told, Frances’s children were found in an additional 31 census entries from 1880 until 1930.

Interestingly enough, in each of the 31 entries, whatever state was listed as the birthplace of Nimrod Thacker was also listed as the birthplace of Frances. Twice the state of birth was listed as unknown. In 1900, Clarinda Thacker Marcum’s listing gave her mother’s birthplace as unknown and this was also the case of the1930 listing for Louisa Thacker Garrett.

Four times, Frances’s birth state was listed as Ohio. Three of these belonged to Louise Thacker Garrett’s census listings for the years 1900, 1910 and 1920. Hiram N. Thacker listed his mother’s birthplace as Ohio in the 1930 census.

As for West Virginia, it was listed as the birthplace of Frances twice. Both times were in the 1910 census, once for son David Thacker and once for son Nicholas Thacker. The remaining 23 times the state of birth for Frances was given as Virginia.

It should be noted that in the 1910 census, sons Nicholas and David also listed their father’s place of birth as West Virginia. According to Nimrod’s own statement given on March 6, 1865 at the time of his military enlistment, his place of birth was Louisa County, Virginia.


Birth Month and Year

The only census to ask the question in which month of the year were you born was the 1900 census. The census taker listed the month of January as the month of Frances’s birth, making us lean toward the month of January as the correct month.

In the matter of year, that date is implied in the 1850, 1860, 1870 and 1880 censuses. Since all five censuses were as of June 1st, that helps us pinpoint the year a little easier. According to the 1850, 1860 and 1880 census (when her age given was 27, 37 and 57 respectively) she would have been born in 1823. In the 1870 census her age was given as 48, making her born in 1822. In the 1900 census, when a month and year were asked for, she gave her age as 78 and the year of her birth as 1822.

When I say she gave her age and year of birth in the 1900 census that may not have been strictly true. In 1893, when she was applying for the Civil War widow’s pension, it was mentioned several times that she had been confined to her bed for about five years, so perhaps someone else answered the questions for her.

Her son Hiram Thacker and his family are listed next to Frances in the 1900 census, as well as William H. Thacker, son of Holeman Thacker and Roxanne Napper Thacker who is listed after Frances in the census. Perhaps it was actually one of these individuals who answered the census taker’s questions.


So what, if anything can we conclude from our look at the census records?

One, we can conclude that she went by the name Frances (and that according to custom the name should probably be spelled with an “es”). Two, she was probably born in Virginia or possibly West Virginia. Three, it looks like a “J” initial is part of her name and finally, she most likely was born in either 1822 or 1823.

In Part III, we’ll look at several obituaries to see if they can add anything to our research.

References:

1. Wikipedia contributors, "Francis," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis (accessed September 22, 2010.)

2. Wikipedia contributors, “1890 United States Census,” Wikipedia, The Free Enyclopedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1890_United_States_Census (accessed September 22, 2010.)

3. 1850 US Federal Census, State of Ohio, Vinton County, Wilkesville Township, visit 1024, Head of Household, Nicholas Thacker, online digital image, Ancestry.com.

4. 1860 US Federal Census, State of Ohio, Vinton County, Wilkesville Township, visit 728, Head of Household, Nicholas Thacker, online digital image, Ancestry.com

5. 1870 US Federal Census, State of Ohio, Vinton County, Wilkesville Township, visit 172, Head of Household, Nicholas Thacker, online digital image, Ancestry.com.

6. 1880 US Federal Census, State of Ohio, Vinton County, Wilkesville Township, visit 215, Head of Household, Nicholas Thacker, online digital image, Ancestry.com.

7. 1880 US Federal Census, State of Ohio, Vinton County, Wilkesville Township, visit 212, Head of Household, Enos Markum (sic), online digital image, Ancestry.com

8. 1880 US Federal Census, State of Ohio, Vinton County, Wilkesville Township, visit 143, Head of Household, David Thacker, online digital image, Ancestry.com.

9. 1880 US Federal Census, State of Ohio, Vinton County, Wilkesville Township, visit 213, Head of Household, Nicholas Thacker, online digital image, Ancestry.com.

10. 1880 US Federal Census, State of Ohio, Jackson County, Washington Township, visit 78, Head of Household, Zebulon Thacker, online digital image, Ancestry.com.

11. 1880 US Federal Census, State of Ohio, Vinton County, Harrison Township, visit 113, Head of Household Henry Thacker, online digital image, Ancestry.com.

12. 1880 US Federal Census, State of Ohio, Vinton County, Wilkesville Township, visit 218, Head of Household, Hiram Thacker, online digital image, Ancestry.com.

13. 1880 US Federal Census, State of Ohio, Vinton County, Wilkesville Township, visit 216, Head of Household, Charles Garret (sic), online digital image, Ancestry.com.

14. 1900 US Federal Census, State of Ohio, Vinton County, Wilkesville Township, visit 245, Head of Household, Frances J. Thacker, online digital image, Ancestry.com.

15. 1900 US Federal Census, State of Ohio, Vinton County, Wilkesville Township, visit 231, Head of Household, Clarinda Marcum, online digital image, Ancestry.com.

16. 1900 US Federal Census, State of Ohio, Vinton County, Wilkesville Township, visit 213, Head of Household, Zeb M. Thacker, online digital image, Ancestry.com.

17. 1900 US Federal Census, State of Ohio, Vinton County, Vinton Township, visit 256, Head of Household, David Thacker, online digital image, Ancestry.com.

18. 1900 US Federal Census, State of Ohio, Ross County, Chillicothe Ward 4, visit 283, Head of Household, Andrew H. DeCamp, online digital image, Ancestry.com.

19. 1900 US Federal Census, State of Ohio, Vinton County, Wilkesville Township, visit 229, Head of Household, Nicholas Thacker, online digital image, Ancestry.com.

20. 1900 US Federal Census, State of Ohio, Ross County, Chillicothe Ward 6, visit 454, Head of Household, Henry Thacker, online digital image, Ancestry.com.

21. 1900 US Federal Census, State of Ohio, Vinton County, Wilkesville Township, visit 244, Head of Household, Hiram N. Thacker, online digital image, Ancestry.com.

22. 1900 US Federal Census, State of Ohio, Jackson County, Wellston Ward 4, visit 356, Head of Household, Charles Garrett, online digital image, Ancestry.com.

23. 1910 US Federal Census, State of Ohio, Vinton County, Wilkesville Township, visit 136, Head of Household, Waid (sic) Marcum, online digital image, Ancestry.com.

24. 1910 US Federal Census, State of Ohio, Vinton County, Vinton Township, visit 201, Head of Household, David Thacker, online digital image, Ancestry.com.

25. 1910 US Federal Census, State of Ohio, Ross County, Chillicothe Ward 3, visit 335, Head of Household, William M. Hindman, online digital image, Ancestry.com.

26. 1910 US Federal Census, State of Ohio, Vinton County, Wilkesville Township, visit 151, Head of Household, Nicholas Thacker, online digital image, Ancestry.com

27. 1910 US Federal Census, State of Ohio, Ross County, Chillicothe Ward 4, visit 51, Head of Household, Henery (sic) Thacker, online digital image, Ancestry.com.

28. 1910 US Federal Census, State of Indiana, Jay County, Portland Ward 4, visit 164, Head of Household, Hiram H. (sic) Thacker, online digital image, Ancestry.com.

29. 1910 US Federal Census, State of Ohio, Scioto County, Porter Township, visit 186, Head of Household, Charles M. Garrett, online digital image, Ancestry.com.

30. 1920 US Federal Census, State of Ohio, Vinton County, Wilkesville Township, visit 135, Head of Household, Joseph Thacker, online digital image, Ancestry.com.

31. 1920 US Federal Census, State of Ohio, Vinton County, Wilkesville Township, visit 180, Head of Household, Nicholas Thacker, online digital image, Ancestry.com.

32. 1920 US Federal Census, State of Ohio, Ross County, Chillicothe Ward 4, visit 117, Head of Household, Henry Thacker, online digital image, Ancestry.com.

33. 1920 US Federal Census, State of Ohio, Vinton County, Wilkesville Township, visit 51, Head of Household, H.N. Thacker, online digital image, Ancestry.com.

34. 1920 US Federal Census, State of Ohio, Scioto County, Portsmouth Ward 4, visit 15, Head of Household, Enos Hampton, online digital image, Ancestry.com.

35. 1930 US Federal Census, State of Ohio, Jackson County, Wellston Ward 4, visit 202, Head of Household, Nichols (sic) Thacker, online digital image, Ancestry.com.

36. 1930 US Federal Census, State of Ohio, Vinton County, Wilkesville Township, visit 140, Head of Household, Hiram N. Thacker, online digital image, Ancestry.com.

37. 1930 US Federal Census, State of Ohio, Scioto County, Portsmouth Ward 6, visit 464, Head of Household, Charles Garrett, online digital image, Ancestry.com.

38. Compiled service record, Nimrod N. Thacker, Pvt. Co. D, 194 Ohio Inf.; Carded Records, Volunteer Organization, Civil War; Records of the Adjutant General’s Office, 1780-1917, Record Group 94; National Archives, Washington, D.C.

39. Frances J. Thacker, widow’s pension no. 582204, certificate no. 404166, service of Nimrod N. Thacker (Pvt., Co. D, 194th Ohio Inf., Civil War), Case Files of Approved Pension Applications, 1863-1934, Civil War and Later pension files, Dept of Veteran Affairs National Archives, Washington, D.C.


2 comments:

Karl Thacker said...

Hello

Karl Thacker from Des Moines, Iowa. Just installed Family Tree Maker and getting things updated, so I can't tell you exactly which generation Nimrod and Frances/Mary are my grand parents. I am the
son of James M Thacker, Sr
Grandson of Wilmer C Thacker

Thank you very much for having this information available for others to discover and review.

TERRY SNYDER said...

Thanks, Karl! I appreciate the comment. It's always nice to meet a fellow Vinton County, Ohio descendant. Autosomal Testing indicates that the original members of the group were probably all related but we still haven't figured the exact nature of the relationships. My email is located in the right hand column of the page if you ever want to compare notes.

Terry

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