Today I was researching part of my LUNSFORD family. I got to the 1870 census and got a bonus. As we know, it should be common practice to look at every name on a census page. It’s also recommended that you look at the page before and after the record you have found. I think that’s a great idea, but I don’t always practice it, although I should. In this case I did look at the page before and after and didn’t find any more families I recognized.
I located 3 ancestor families, with familiar surnames, on one page of an 1870 census for Benton, Polk, Missouri.1 Actually there is a 4th, working as a laborer in one of the families and his surname, BIRD, is also familiar to me.
I've underlined the family names on this page
(Click on the image to enlarge it)
So, who have I found today?
Line 10-18 - My maternal 3rd great grandaunt, Elizabeth LUNSFORD and her husband James GOFF along with their children John, Sarah A., Dow, Elijah, James M, Reuben and Alice B. James is a Farmer and Elizabeth is keeping house. Sarah, Dow, Elijah and James all attend school. The value of James’ real estate is $1,000 ($19,876 in today’s money) and his personal estate is valued at $393 ($7,812 in today’s money). James was doing quite well for himself. Sadly, Elizabeth died just 5 years later in 1875, age 47.
Line 19-25 – My maternal 3rd great granduncle, Reuben LUNSFORD (brother to Elizabeth Lunsford) and his wife Elizabeth B. nee PEYTON and their children Byron, Sarah B, Mary B. and Elizabeth’s mother Mary Lunsford nee HUDSON. Also in this household is James M. BIRD working as a Farm laborer. The Bird family married into my Hudson family. Reuben is listed as a farmer, Betsy is keeping house and Byron is a school teacher. There is no real estate valued for Reuben, but there is a personal estate value of $1150 ($22,862 in today’s money). I notice that Elizabeth’s mother, Mary does have real estate valued beside her name. I wonder if Reuben is working her land? The value is $1000 ($19,876 in today’s money).
Line 26-30 – My maternal 1st cousin 4 times removed, Archibald SOWARDS and his wife Zippora nee MARKEL. Their children are Malissa, Maggie and Zula. The surname is enumerated as Sowers, but the family name is known as Sowards. Archibald doesn’t have a real estate value listed, but does have personal property valued at $100 ($1,988 in today’s money). Archibald is the youngest of the 3 men who are farmers in this group. He is 26 and just starting out, so it makes sense that he doesn’t yet have as much in personal property.
Another item I look at on these census records is the boxes on the right hand side. In this case, let’s look at who is listed as “cannot read” and “cannot write.”
Cannot Read: James M. Bird, age 18, Zipora Sowards, age 23.
Cannot Write: Dow Goff, age 14, Elijah Goff, age 11, James Bird, age 18 and Zipora Sowards, age 23.
I wonder if those individuals learned to read and write later in their lives?
I also wonder what brought these three families to Missouri? They were originally from Ohio and Virginia. Did one family go and the rest follow? Or did they all go at once? These are questions I always ask, knowing I will probably never find out.
If you are connected to anyone mentioned in this blog post, I’d love to hear from you and exchange information.
Source citation: Year: 1870; Census Place: Benton, Polk, Missouri; Roll: M593_800; Page: 13A; Family History Library Film: 552299
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52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks–Week #10–This week’s theme is Large Family–Let’s look back at John & Mary Lunsford’s 16 children
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