Sepia Saturday 473: Second in a series on the odd 1860 separation of my great-great-great grandparents Zebulon and Hannah (Hance) Blakeslee — a summertime census mystery.
When I first discovered that my great-great-great grandmother Hannah (Hance) Blakeslee was enumerated separately from husband Zebulon in the 1860 U.S. Census, I thought it might be a coincidence.
Maybe Hannah was making a summer visit to her daughters at census time — as a vacation or to help out with their children — and her entry just looked like she lived separately from Zebulon.
But a review of the instructions to the 1860 census takers made clear that there was likely more going on with the Blakeslees’ separation than mere chance.
Instructions to census takers
U.S. census takers in 1860 were either Marshals or Assistants who were carefully instructed on how to meticulously enter data on the forms. They had to be familiar with a long list of protocols for the federal population and non-population schedules — including the following guidance on collecting individual names:
8. Individual names. Under heading 3, entitled. “The name of every person whose usual place of abode is with this family,” insert the name of every free person in each family, of every age, including the names of those temporarily absent on a journey, visit, or for the purposes of education, as well as those that were at home on that day. [Our highlights.]
According to these instructions, if Hannah was spending temporary time with her daughters’ families, she should have been enumerated in her “usual place of abode” with her husband Zebulon — not separately as shown below.
|1860 U.S. Census – Households where Zebulon and Hannah (Hance) Blakeslee were enumerated. Source: FamilySearch|
|Walton, Town of Hancock, Delaware Co., New York||Arthur T. Bull||27||Tannery Foreman||N.Y.||Head|
|“||Mary E. Bull||22||House-keeper||N.Y.||Children: Emonia, 2, and Carrie, 7 Mos.|
|“||William Whitney||47||Hired Man||N.Y.|
|“||Rhoda A. Whitney||29||House-keeper||N.Y.||Children: Earl D., 10, and Albert J., 8.|
|“||Hannah (Hance) Blakeslee||48||N.Y.||[Mother of Rhoda and Mary]|
|Brookdale, Liberty Twp. Susquehanna Co., Penna.||Zebulon Blakeslee||48||Merchant||Conn.||Household of James Adams & family|
Other 1860 census clues
Both Mary and Rhoda did have young children at the time and may have benefited from their mother Hannah’s help — particularly since both the Whitneys and the Bulls were transplants to Walton, N.Y., from the cross-border communities of Brookdale, Penna. and Conklin, N.Y. where they lived in 1856.
But what would necessitate a stay long enough to make this Hannah’s “usual place of abode” in 1860?
Also puzzling is why my great-great-great grandfather Zebulon was boarding with another family rather than living in the house he owned as late as 1858 — which is shown, along with his store, on a map of Bookdale, Penna.
Might the couple have fallen on hard economic times — requiring sale of their home and Zebulon staying behind to run the store while Hannah went to live with their daughters’ families?
Maybe the same difficult circumstances and a search for work were what prompted the the Bulls and Whitneys to move to Delaware County in the first place.
Time to look into what was going on around 1860 that might explain some of these unusual developments.
More on this Blakeslee mystery in the next post. Meanwhile, please visit the blogs of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants here.
© 2019 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.