Friday, June 23, 2006

Did Fred Have a Sex Change?

One would have to wonder if Frederick Ward had a sex change between the 1850 and 1860 census. Now of course we know he did not, but the 1850 census listing for him doesn't help sway that idea. The following image reflects Frederick's entry in the 1850 Lawrence County, Mississippi Census (pg 418a, line 41).

As you can tell by the enumerator's handwriting, figuring out that the name above is Fredrick, may not be obvious to most transcribers who haven't seen the whole Lawrence County census. But this sherriff has a habit of dotting the wrong letter, and his small d's consistently look like a's, making transcribing a headache. So I was left scratching my head as to why he had a sex of "female" listed for a Frederick. Is this simply a mistake in enumeration? I went and searched for Frederick in the 1860 census for Lawrence County (page 6, line13).

Thankfully, I did find him after searching for just "Ward" in 1860 index at Ancestry. The index for the image above shows as "Fed Ward" and it appears that I will have fun transcribing the 1860 census, as the enumerators usage of name shortening is all over that one page. The good thing is Fred has his sex in order, and being a man, I know how important that can be to us. No man wants to go through history being called a woman!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Deciphering Handwriting - Part 1

While struggling to decipher handwriting in the 1850 Lawrence County, MS census I have repeatedly came across the same first name, which I cannot accurately decipher. Ancestry's index lists the given name as Linsey and Lenicy. Here's how they view on the census itself:

The image above clearly shows the i as the second letter. MyFamily's transcribers have interpreted this as Linsey... but the letter before the y has consistently been written as a c through out the census. So "Linsey" is cleary incorrect. The image above is the mother of the name written below, one would think the child is carrying on the mothers name:

Note in this image though that the i is clearly the 4th letter, and there is no dot above the second letter. For "precise" record keeping I have recorded mom as "Linecy" and daughter as "Lenicy" but would personally like to solve this puzzle.
My initial assumption is that BOTH of these names are Lucy. The enumerator is notorious for appearing to add letters where no letter should be... a slight of the hand, shall we say? But I have nothing to buttress my belief. A look into One World Tree and Ancestry's World Tree only reminds me of why you should never use the data there for anything but speculation. The same interpretations for the above images by online users genealogy research shows as "Tracey" "Timsey" and even "Jincy." The image below should put to rest those theories... this is the script for "Lucretia." The L is as clear as can be in all three of these images. So rest assured the name starts with an L.

This brings us back to the two ladies in the Robbins family. By the 1860 census, either mom or the daughter is residing with Jethro and the other children. Mom "Linecy" must have died during this time, while the child "Lenicy" married. A search of marriage records proves fruitless. I do know that the Robbins family moved during the 1850's from Lawrence County, MS to Marion County, MS. They end up on the 1860 census living next door to Pleasant Bryant and his family, who also moved from Lawrence County to Marion County. What's up with that???

Until records come to light that can prove these are Lucy and a slip of the hand by the enumerator, they will remain Linecy and Lenicy in my official transcription.

UPDATE: With help from the MSCHAT mailing list, I believe we were able to correctly identify the name of the ladies as Levicy. There were more then 100 people in the 1850 census with that name.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The Enumerator and Dyslexia

I've done many a census transcription in my times, and am amazed by this enumerators ability to mess things up. In the latest case, I find a hint of dyslexia in Deputy Marshall, John A. Reegan, enumerator of Lawrence County, MS.

In the 1850 Lawrence County, Mississippi census appears the name of Live Speights (Line 24, page 411.)

Now one would consider Live to be an unusual name, if one weren't familiar with John Reegan's dyslexia. When I came across this name, I initially felt it may have been a name given due to a troubled child-birth... perhaps the parents were overjoyed when the child was born live. There was NO doubt that this was how John enumerated it, regardless that Ancestry's index shows the name as Line. But my normal curiosity for the name got the better of me, and I stopped my transcription to look more into this name.

A look of the 1860 census quickly dispelled my initial thoughts. In the census appearing in the house of John and Elisa Speights was a Levi Speights. So, once again, dyslexia got the better of John.

1000 People - 1850 Lawrence County, Mississippi

I have completed my first grand in transcribing people from the 1850 Lawrence County, Mississippi census. This occured on the 24th page, 34th Line of the Lawrence County Census, household #177. Looking at it in numerical perspective that puts the average household size in Lawrence County as 5.67 people. This number may be somewhat off kilter, considering that one of the "households" transcribed was a hotel.

The 1000'th person enumerated in Lawrence County was David Davis. In 1850, the Davis household consisted of 5 people. By the age of the eldest child, 21, it is likely that this is a child of David, making him a widow. I know from early marriage records that David was married 23 Dec 1828, in Lawrence County, MS to a Mary Oglesby. By the 1850 census, it appears that David was widowed and left raising 4 children. The youngest child being 10 in 1850, provides some insight that Mary died 1840-1850.

Of interest to me, considering my fascination with uncommon baby names is the eldest child's name: Cansada. Cansada in Spanish means "tired, weary" and while I can find no further reference to this used as a name, it is plausible that David and Mary called their first child by that name. Both the Ancestry transcription, and my own, have come up with the same interpretation for the handwriting.

The full family of David Davis in 1850 is:

David Davis, age 43, male, white, farmer, $300 in real/property value, b. in Georgia.
Cansada Davis, age 21, female, white, b. in Mississippi.
Nathan Davis, age 11, male, white, b. in Mississippi.
Ann Davis, age 10, female, white, b. in Mississippi.
Adaline Davis, age 16, female, white, b. in Mississippi.

Pleasant Bryant of Lawrence County, Misssissippi

While conducting genealogy research one of the most aggravating problems encountered by genealogists are name changes through records. Whether the name change is deliberate or accidental, it makes the research of the person/family much more difficult. Case in point, Pleasant Bryant of Lawrence County, Mississippi.

Pleasant first appears on the 1840 Lawrence County, Mississippi census as a head of household. He would be about 21/22 years of age. He is listed there with his wife, and two male children less then 5 years of age. This is an accurate portrayal of Pleasant and Jane's family at the time:

Pleasant, Jane, C., and Jasper N. I have not yet identified the full name of the male child C., as he is listed in 1850 as only C., and not residing in the house by 1860. It was common practice in this 1850 census for families to identify given names only with initials.
Pleasant then appears on the 1850 census as Pleasant Blanton. The indices online are correct in the spelling of the name as it appears on the census. Without a doubt, Pleasant's family was identified as Blanton, instead of Bryant, by the enumerator. Was this an accidental mispelling, or a deliberate name change? I believe because he was enumerated properly in 1840, that this was the enumerator's mistake in spelling the name from the pronounciation given at the time. This is not the only surname consistently mispelled by this enumerator.

Further credence to the mistake being made in the spelling is that Pleasant was enumerated in 1860 in Columbia, Marion County, Mississippi, as Pleasant Bryant.

So when you are searching the census records, you may often come across widely mispelled names... while this may portend that your ancestor switched names, more often then not, it is only the case of bad spelling.

Genealogy Research

This blog will be used for posting of items while I perform genealogical research. I am an active webmaster online of various genealogy websites, and extensively conduct research. While doing this, I often need a place for the keeping of genealogy research that can't be placed with the content online.

I am presently transcribing the 1850 Lawrence County, Mississippi Census for placement on Mississippi Genealogy. This census transcription is my effort to continue adding content to the Lawrence County, Mississippi USGenWeb site, which I've now assumed the roll of county coordinator.