Forgotten Trails: Census records give cause to rejoice

Published 6:47 pm Wednesday, June 4, 2008

By Staff
This week I want to continue to talk about census records. Before I get to the 1900 census, I thought I would tell you just how much I got involved with the 1910 census.
I was looking at the microfilm and, as usual, I got to looking, not only for my family lines but also everybody else's. This is a problem with census records. You recognize a name of someone you know, you start to read about everybody and soon you have spent hours without getting anywhere. I remember being at the library in Mobile with a friend who was researching her family in Mississippi. Everything was quiet and suddenly I heard her giggling. I went over to see what was so funny. She had found a family by the name of Deere who had named their daughter, Darling. That is sort of like my great-grandmother's sister who was named Olive Branch. People were just as weird with their names a hundred years ago as they are now.
Anyway, back to the 1910 census. I was told a long time ago that my great-greatgrandfather, James Hughes, had three sons and one daughter. The family tradition is that James Hughes came to Alabama from South Carolina following the girl he was in love with, Dorcas Judah. The Judah family moved in the early 1820s and sure enough, James and Dorcas were married in 1828. My brother had told me that they had a daughter named Dorcas who married a Judah cousin. I looked for her for a long time but could not find a Judah with a Dorcas wife. Dorcas Judah Hughes' brother, William, had a daughter named Dorcas. I had all but given up on James and Dorcas Hughes' daughter. While I was looking at the 1910 census, I ran across an Ard family and started to read. It wasn't exactly wasting time because the William Judah listed above was married to an Ard and I had a lot of information on the family.
I told you last week what all was listed on the 1910 census record. The head of the household was listed first with the rest of the family listed next according to age. I read the children's names and even recognized some elder people that I knew were still living. But the thing that caught my attention was the last person listed in the house, Dorcas Hughes. She was listed as the grandmother of the head of the household, James Josiah Ard. Now she was only 16 years older than James J. Ard and could not possibly be his grandmother. I could not figure it out. I thought about it almost constantly and one day while I was in the shower, it hit me. She was his step-grandmother. I hollered, “I've got it.” Thank goodness no one was there to hear me or I might have been put away. Anyway, I started checking with the Ard family and sure enough I was right.
In case I have really confused you, let me try to get it straight. James Hughes married not one, but two, Dorcas Judahs. His second wife was the niece of his first wife. The lost Hughes daughter was Rebecca who married William Harper Ard and their son was James Josiah Ard. Mystery solved.
Now, back to the 1900 census. There were seven census schedules recorded but only two are available to the public. These are the population schedules for Native Americans and the schedule of the rest of the residents.
The 1900 census records the following: name, address, relationship to the head of the household, color or race, sex, month and year of birth, age at last birthday, marital status, if a wife is listed within the household, then the number of years married, number of children born to that marriage, and number of children living, places of birth of each individual and of the parents of each born, then the year of immigration and number of years in the United States, the citizenship status of foreign born individuals over age 21, occupation, whether the person can read, write, or speak English, whether home is owned or rented, whether home is farm, and whether home is mortgaged.
I'll give some more information in next week's column that may help you in your search.
Until then, happy hunting.