The United States Census is a decennial census mandated by the United States Constitution. Originally designed to allocate representation it has been expanded to cover a host of ideas, some good, many bad and most superfluous to the original intent – in other words it almost perfectly mirrors the American polity. Much of the information in this blog starts with facts gleaned from a census entry. Margaret Edythe Young’s father immigrated in 1869 and we trace him from the passenger list to the 1870 census forward for most of the next 70 years and explore his family – including Margaret Edythe – from that starting point.
The census has never been a simple thing. The first census in 1790 wanted the following information:
- County / City / Names of Heads of Families
- Free White males of 16 years and upwards, including heads of families.
- Free White males under 16 years.
- Free White females including heads of families.
- All other free persons.
All of that is fairly straightforward and would certainly fulfill the mandate for apportioning representation.
Since it is the first one that concerns our subject let us jump forward to the 1870 census. By now the government wants to know:
- The name of every person whose place of abode on the first day of June 1870 was in this family
- Age at last birthday – if born within the year state month
- M – male – F – female
- Color – [w] White [b] Black [m] Mulatto [c] Chinese [i] Indian[American]
- Profession, occupation of trade of each male person over 15 years of age
- Value of real estate
- Value of personal estate
- Place of birth naming the state, territory or country
- Father of foreign birth
- Mother of foreign birth
- If married within the year state month
- Attended school within the year
- Cannot read
- Cannot write
- Whether deaf and dumb, blind, insane, idiotic, pauper or convict.
- Male citizens of the U. S. of 21 years of age and upwards.
- Male citizens of the U. S. of 21 years of age and upwards where rights to vote is denied on other grounds than rebellion or other crime.
What a difference 120 years makes. In fairness to the rights of privacy inquiries regarding profession, and whether or not they could read or write were not to be asked of infants and inquiries from “father foreign born” forward are to be answered [if at all] merely by an affirmative mark, as “/”.
Of course the true tragedy is that the citizens of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas were effectively denied the vote and would be until 1876 when presidential politics made it convenient to have their votes counted – and by which time the worst excesses of “reconstruction” had raised the possibility of a second civil war to the level that minor skirmishes were already occurring. Apparently the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments were never meant to apply to “ordinary” citizens.
Just as there was a cultural counter revolution after the War for Independence by 1880 the War between the States had abated. Society had begun to reshape itself, driven by market forces, as it always must if it is to survive. The census again expanded its quest for data and wanted to know:
- Name of the street and number of the house
- The name of every person whose place of abode on the first day of June 1880 was in this family
- Color – [w] White [b] Black [m] Mulatto [c] Chinese [i] Indian
- M – male – F – female
- Age at last birthday – if born within the year state month
- Relationship of each person to the head of this family – whether wife, son, daughter, servant, boarder or other.
- Single, Married, Widowed/Divorced, Married during census year
- Profession, occupation of trade of each person male or female
- Number of months this person has been unemployed during the census year
- Is the person sick, or temporarily disabled, so as to be unable to attend to ordinary business or duties? If so, what is the sickness or disability?
- Blind, Deaf & Dumb, Idiotic, Insane, Maimed, crippled, bedridden, or otherwise disabled?
- Attended school within the census year, Cannot read, Cannot write
- Place of birth of this person naming the state, territory of the United States or the country if of foreign birth
- Place of birth of the father this person naming the state, territory of the United States or the country if of foreign birth
- Place of birth of the mother this person naming the state, territory of the United States or the country if of foreign birth
This is the first census that finds the Young family in Galveston but since none of the children who will figure in our narrative had been born yet we will not include its particulars here.
The original data for the 1890 Census is no longer available. Almost all the population schedules were damaged in a fire in the basement of the Commerce Building in Washington, D.C. in 1921. Some 25% of the materials were destroyed and another 50% damaged by smoke and water. In December 1932, following standard Federal record-keeping procedures, the Chief Clerk of the Bureau of the Census sent the Librarian of Congress a list of papers to be destroyed, including the original 1890 census schedules. The Librarian was asked by the Bureau to identify any records which should be retained for historical purposes, but the Librarian did not accept the census records. Congress authorized destruction of that list of records on February 21, 1933, and the surviving original 1890 census records were destroyed by government order by 1934 or 1935.
What we do have are the questions asked. The race questions were expanded to include the categories of, white, black, mulatto, quadroon, octoroon, Chinese, Japanese, or Indian [American], reflecting an increasing racial awareness and questions that covered the place of birth of person, and their father and mother, if foreign-born, number of years in US, whether naturalized and whether papers have been taken out reflecting an increasing nationalism. Prehaps the most startling change to what it now meant to be an “American” were the questions about whether a soldier, sailor or marine (Union or Confederate) during Civil War, or widow of such person recognizing, if only implicitly, that members of the Confederacy – or at least of the former Confederacy – were in fact citizens and might have rights as such.
The most amazing thing about the 1890 census was not that it proved the disappearance of the American frontier – that is a very amorphous thing that still pokes it head up here in Alaska and there on the moon throughout the 20th century and still lives in the hearts of all real Americans and will endure so long as there is liberty – but its methodology. Data was entered on a punch cards, and tabulated by machine. This technology reduced the time required to tabulate the census from the eight years needed for the 1880 census to one year for the 1890 census. The total population of 62,000,000 was announced after only six weeks. The public reaction was incredulity, as it was widely believed that there were at least 75,000,000 people in the country. No account of hanging chads was given and although the results were off by nearly 20% from the projection no recount was made and no verification of the methodology was sought – a more cynical person than I would wonder why the records were destroyed.
The 1900, 1910 and 1920 censuses are at the heart of this story. All of the people are there, all of the locations are there and by looking at the data presented more than a few things are evident about the world they lived in – both how much alike ours it was and how different – and a few odds and ends that lend humanity to what is otherwise very little more than something like a glorified phone book.
The 1900 census had expanded to 28 questions with some of the new ones trying to establish family data like:
- Number of years of present marriage
- Mother of how many children
- Number of these children living
and the education questions had been expanded to include, “Can speak English”. There were also detailed questions about home ownership including:
- Owned or rented
- Owned free or mortgaged
- Farm or house
- Number of farm schedule
Interestingly the “race” question had dropped the multiple categories and only wanted to know “Color or Race”.
The 1900 census gives us a picture of the Young household weeks before the 1900 Storm struck and it looked like this:
Name: Jno Young
Home in 1900: Galveston Ward 7, Galveston, Texas
[Galveston, Galveston, Texas]
Birth Date: Feb 1852
Immigration Year: 1870
Relationship to head-of-house: Head
Father’s Birthplace: England
Mother’s Birthplace: England
Spouse’s Name: Mary Young
Marriage year: 1876
Marital Status: Married
Years married: 24
Jno Young 48
Mary Young 40
Jno W Young 17
Edith Young 15
Irene Young 7
Julius Mimms 17
Celsus Brown 17
Annie Gibson 21
A few of the interesting things that catch our eye are that 31 years after he came over steerage from Ireland his census record shows that he had been transformed into what Joyce called a “west Briton” who now showed his antecedents as “English”. Edith’s name is – as almost always misspelled – the census taker obviously lacking the artistic temperament required to spell it EDYTHE. Irene is actually Laureene – I have yet to come across a census document that gets it correctly.
The neighborhood they lived in looked like this:
Ella B Thompson Theo K Aug 1846 Texas White Wife
Nora J Thompson Theo K,Ella B Dec 1873 Texas White Daughter
Lucy F Thompson Theo K,Ella B Nov 1875 Texas White Daughter
Jane Pritchard Aug 1840 Ireland White Head
Mary A Pritchard Jane Feb 1870 Texas White Daughter
Claire H Russell Jane Jul 1873 Texas White Daughter
Hugh Pritchard Jane Dec 1895 Texas White Son
Eliza Harni Jul 1843 Texas Black Servant
Joseph Franklyn Th*Sa May 1832 Germany White Head
Th*Sa Franklyn Joseph Apr 1840 Germany White Wife
Cecelia Franklyn Joseph,Th*Sa Mar 1880 Texas White Daughter
Julius Franklyn Joseph,Th*Sa May 1884 Texas White Son
Albert Beckett Hannah Oct 1851 Louisiana Black Head
Hannah Beckett Albert Jan 1859 Louisiana Black Wife
Eugene Du Pree Hannah Nov 1875 Texas Black Step Son
James Harris Jan 1851 Virginia Black Head
Julia Hunt Oct 1852 Mississippi White Head
John H Hunt Julia Feb 1886 Texas White Son
Fannie Johnson Sep 1877 Texas White Niece
Minnie Grey Jun 1830 Virginia White Aunt
Olympia Freybe Aug 1842 Texas White Boarder
Aetna Freybe Nov 1875 Texas White Boarder
Jns C Mcdonald Minnie Nov 1851 North Carolina White Head
Minnie Mcdonald Jns C Sep 1853 Texas White Wife
Clara Mcdonald Jns C,Minnie May 1884 Texas White Daughter
Barella Mcdonald Jns C,Minnie Feb 1886 Texas White Daughter
Lillie Windfrey Aug 1872 Texas Black Servant
Jns R Gross Ida M Jun 1848 Canada Eng White Head
Ida M Gross Jns R Jan 1864 Texas White Wife
Herman M Gross Jns R,Ida M Jan 1890 Texas White Son
Effie Laurie Gross Jns R,Ida M Aug 1895 Texas White Daughter
Bertha M Gross Jns R,Ida M Apr 1898 Texas White Daughter
Laura Robinson Sep 1859 Louisiana Black Servant
Hamilton Riggs May 1860 Texas Black Coachman
Sloan Hartley White Head
August Delsetelsen Nov 1847 Belgium White Gardner
Jno Young Mary Feb 1852 England White Head
Mary Young Jno Oct 1859 Louisiana White Wife
Jno W Young Jno,Mary Jul 1882 Texas White Son
Edith Young Jno,Mary Sep 1884 Texas White Daughter
Irene Young Jno,Mary Sep 1892 Texas White Daughter
Julius Mimms Dec 1882 Texas Black Coachman
Celsus Brown Oct 1882 Texas Black Gardner
Annie Gibson Dec 1878 Texas Black Cook
Mary Handlin May 1826 Ireland White Head
Joseph Sabele Sep 1873 Texas White Grandson
Chas W Bulger Ida Aug 1851 Indiana White Head
Ida Bulger Chas W Jan 1856 Indiana White Wife
Clarence Bulger Chas W,Ida Mar 1881 Kansas White Son
Laura Kent Jul 1873 Texas White Board
This neighborhood was by no means remarkable. There were large houses occupied by families with servants and small cottages. Because there were no apartments for rent – at least not in the way that they litter and blight the urban landscape of today – there were families who took in boarders. The boarders would have been known to the families that they shared a home with – no mere credit check but a thorough knowledge of “their people” and their prospects – they would have taken their meals with the family and, if smart, gone to church with the family. Head of household meant exactly that.
What may seem remarkable to some is that there were at least two black households on the street. The young have been miseducated to believe that all black history before 1954 was either slavery, segregation or abject poverty with the poor blacks being crushed under the uncaring heel of their white oppressors. As usual what they don’t know isn’t nearly as dangerous as what they know for certain that just isn’t so.
Galveston wasn’t exactly a boom town but it was a growing city – the largest in Texas then. At the time of the census Ward 7 covered everything from 29th Street to the western end of the island. The “suburbs”, for want of a better term, ended before 40th Street – the cemeteries are all located from 40th Street west simply because it was not inhabited and with continual epidemics and dubious, if any, embalming they were not viewed as healthy things to live near.
There is a very real possibility that the black families occupied houses that were older than their white neighbors. In any event there were no restrictive covenants, there would have been no effort to buy out or burn out the black families and Galveston was cosmopolitan enough to support a homogeneous society. Galveston had a thriving black community that was in many ways more prosperous and upwardly mobile then than it is today. If you really want to turn a man into the worst kind of slave pay him for not working.
By 1910 the census has expanded with more questions and there were two John Young households in Galveston as follows:
- Name: John Young
- Age in 1910: 58 Estimated Birth Year: 1852
- Birthplace: Ireland Relation to Head of House: Head
- Father’s Birth Place: Ireland
- Mother’s Birth Place: Ireland
- Spouse’s Name: Mary A Young
- Home in 1910: Galveston Ward 7, Galveston, Texas
- Marital Status: Married Race: White
- Gender: Male
- Year of immigration: 1870
- Name Age
- John Young 58
- Mary A Young 51
- Edith M Young 22
- Loanne Young 17
- Agness Vukovich 13
John Young had become an Irishman again, the census taker still could not get either of his daughter’s names spelled correctly [apparently government workers were every bit as competent then as they are today] and the household had gone from having three black servants to one Austrian teenage  au pair who had been brought over in 1907 as a favor to a friend in the shipping business.
- Name: John W Young
- Age in 1910: 28
- Estimated Birth Year: 1882
- Birthplace: Texas
- Relation to Head of House: Head
- Father’s Birth Place: England
- Mother’s Birth Place: Louisiana
- Spouse’s Name: Maud Young
- Home in 1910: Galveston Ward 9, Galveston, Texas
- Marital Status: Married
- Race: White
- Gender: Male
- Household Members:
- Name Age
- John W Young 28
- Maud Young 26
- John W Young 5
- Cora May Young 3
- Ernest Harrison 17
The son had grown up, married, served in the army and started his family. Neither the census taker nor the tabulator seemed to notice that his father, who lived less than 2 miles away, was an Irishman at home and and Englishman at his son’s house. Given his financial acumen and the fact that he had embarked on his immigrant’s journey from Glasgow he may well have been a Scot!
What had changed was the neighborhood. What the 1900 Storm did not ravage the fire that followed it razed and although many of the addresses may have been the same they were occupied by new people – often from the latest wave of immigrants.
- Etta MacInerney abt 1856 New York Head
- Daniel B MacInerney Etta 1880 Texas Son
- Mary A MacInerney Etta 1889 Texas Daughter
- Frank Arpas Appile 1875 Hungary Head
- Appile Arpas Frank abt 1877 Hungary Wife
- Charles J Schutte Ricka C 1851 Germany Head
- Ricka C Schutte Charles J 1862 Germany Wife
- Henry J Schutte Charles J,Ricka C 1888 Texas Son
- Scharlatte Schutte Charles J,Ricka C 1889 Texas Daughter
- Helen F Schutte Charles J,Ricka C 1892 Texas Daughter
- William Schutte Charles J,Ricka C 1896 Texas Son
Gertrude Schutte Charles J,Ricka C 1898 Texas Daughter
- Hellmuth H SchutteCharles J,Ricka C 1901 Texas Son
- William M Paul Annie G 1865 Ohio Head
- Annie G Paul William M abt 1879 Texas Wife
- Ramond Paul William M,Annie G 1891 Illinois Son
- Julius Muller Ida M 1888 Texas Head
- Ida M Muller Julius 1870 Texas Wife
- H Marnutz Gades Julius,Ida M 1891 Texas Son
- Effie L Gades Julius,Ida M 1896 Texas Daughter
- Bercha M Gades Julius,Ida M 1898 Texas Daughter
- Robert L Gades Julius,Ida M 1903 Texas Son
- Martha Wuschinsky 1890 Germany Servant
- John Hagerman Jerusha 1856 Texas Head
- Jerusha Hagerman John 1861 Arkansas Wife
- Jerusha Callins 1891 Texas Niece
- Bernice Callins 1894 Texas Niece
- Francis C Billet 1864 Texas Head
- Nathan Freeman Harriet 1846 North Carolina Head
- Harriet Freeman Nathan abt 1849 Alabama Wife
- Bell P Overland 1867 Texas Head
- Allstin Overland Bell P 1890 Texas Son
- Lamar Overland Bell P 1893 Texas Son
- Connor Overland Bell P 1900 Texas Son
- Margaret L Newman 1842 New York Lodger
- Virginia A Newman 1871 Texas Lodger
- Manuel F Bettencourt Nellie C 1852 Portugal Head
- Nellie C Bettencourt Manuel F 1861 Massachusetts Wife
- Toney L Bettencourt Manuel F,Nellie C 1885 Portugal Son
- Arlindo Bettencourt Manuel F,Nellie C 1886 Portugal Son
- Edward Bettencourt Manuel F,Nellie C 1891 Portugal Son
- Bart C Bettencourt 1855 Portugal Brother
- Edward C Pitkin Virginia R 1862 Michigan Head
- Virginia R Pitkin Edward C 1876 Texas Wife
- Virginia C Pitkin Edward C,Virginia R 1901 Texas Daughter
- Virginia R Allan 1816 Virginia Grandmother
The important people to me on this list of neighbors is the Bettencourt family. It was Toney [anglicized to Anthony] the boy from across the street who would marry Margaret Edythe Young in St. Patricks church and move around the corner to 3402 Avenue O where they would appear together for the first, last and only time in the 1920 census. The house with her artist’s studio behind it still stands in Galveston today.
The census kept expanding used to gather more and more information. By 1930 they wanted to know if there was a radio in this house not to mention the value of the house if it was owned or the monthly rental if it was rented. A poignant entry is that John Young’s son who served as a captain in the coastal artillery during the First World War has he service noted as “WW” there not having been a “II” yet and that one still having been the war to end all wars. The last census form we saw wanted to know everything except the color of hair dye that we use on our dogs – a Touch of Grey on the muzzles only – and has galloped beyond its mandate to provide a count for the apportionment of representation to yet another intrusion of the nanny state. It is sad that our progeny will not have the same sources to find our footprints through time that we enjoy for our ancestors – but they may be safer for the lack of any record.
Photos in this post are all by the author.