27 October 2010

A Nice Census Find, a "Wonder Why" Moment & the Occupation of Housewifery

I had a nice census find yesterday. One page, four related families. Here's a cropped view of page 41 of the Southern Division, Pickens County, Alabama 1860 US Federal Census:

In order, the families are of Green B. Barrett (286), Milton Moss (287), Sarah Berry (288), and Zackaria Daniel (289). Barrett, Moss, and Daniel are all nephews-in-law to Sarah Berry, and they are my second cousins, six times removed. Sarah was the wife of Gideon Berry, who had died about five years earlier. Since Sarah is the only one with a real estate value of any kind, as well as a large personal estate value, I think they might have all lived on the same property originally owned by Gideon Berry. That's something I would have to prove, of course.

While I was comparing the data I mined from this document with what was in my family tree program, I discovered one of the family's information was already inputted. Did I find this page earlier, but only notice the family of focus? If so, that's pretty bad genealogy form. We should always check the surrounding families on a census page for this very reason. Hmm... I wonder what I was thinking. I sourced the census page, but not how I accessed it. So there's a good reason why that should always be noted!

Another thing about this page that stood out to me was Sarah's occupation -- "Housewifery." All the other wives were simply noted as "Housewife." I guess Sarah was different because she was widowed. The census taker probably figured she was performing the duties of a housewife, but technically not one.

I found this definition of housewifery online - "The business of the mistress of a family; female management of domestic concerns." For a kick, I also looked up husbandry - "The act or practice of cultivating crops and breeding and raising livestock; agriculture."

I wonder how often those words are used anymore. How times have changed!

1 comment:

Life Goes On said...

Great find searching beyond just one name. So often I do the same and just look at the name in question. Other times I have looked at the neighbors close by and have found family. Great reminder to always look who was living close by. Grace

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