Monday, February 15, 2010

Madness Monday: James W. BARBER in the 1900 U.S. Federal Census

Source: 1900 U.S. census, Oakland County, Michigan, population schedule, Orion Township, sheet 12B, dwelling 293, family 298, James and Elizabeth A. Barber; Alexander Barber; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 24 November 2009); citing NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 735.

The image above is the 1900 U.S. Federal Census page on which my ancestors James W. BARBER and Elizabeth A. COLE--and their youngest child Alexander--are enumerated. You can click the image above to view an enlarged copy in my online photo album. From the photo album, you can click on the magnifying class in the upper right corner to zoom in even more, as well as pan around the image. Both Ancestry and Family Tree Magazine have free census forms on their websites which can help you view and understand the column headings. You can also visit this site to view the instructions enumerators were given prior to taking this census.


The official census date was June 1, 1900, although this enumeration took place June 15th. The location is Orion Village, Orion Township, Oakland County, Michigan. Orion Village is now known as the Village of Lake Orion. James's dwelling and household are 293 and 298, respectively. He is listed as the head of the household, white male, born July 1852, age 47 years. This information is incorrect, as I have already determined from several documents that James was born July 1841 and would have been 58, almost 59 years old at this time. James is listed as married for 24 years, again, incorrect; it should be about 39 years at this time.

Elizabeth A., James's wife is listed as a white female, born July 1854, age 45. Again, this is incorrect; she was born July 1846 and would have been nearly 54 years old. She is listed as a mother of 10 children, all of whom were living. However, James and Elizabeth's son Benjamin had died 5 August 1888 at the age of six.

Son Alexander is listed as a white male, born September 1881, age 18, single. To be honest, I'm not certain his date of birth is correct, either. I believe that he and Benjamin were twins, and Benjamin's death record places his date of birth on 20 August 1881 (no birth records were created for either Benjamin or Alexander; not uncommon in the days when Michigan recorded birth and death records in census style, with township supervisors and city clerks going door to door to gather information--many individuals were missed this way and countless births and deaths never recorded).

With all the errors created, I'm beginning to wonder if either Alexander was the one giving out the information (which probably wouldn't explain his incorrect date of birth) or if enumerator Lucien Kelly had to obtain it from the neighbors because the Barbers weren't available when he came by.


Next we see each person's place of birth, as well as the places of birth of their fathers and mothers. James was born in England, as well as his parents. Elizabeth was born in Canada, and her parents are listed as natives of New York. I've already mentioned that I have conflicting information on the birthplace of Elizabeth's father, James COLE; about half of my records state New York, while the other half state Ontario. Alexander's birthplace is Michigan, with his parents' birthplaces listed accurately as England and Canada.

James's year of immigration to the United States is listed as 1870, residing in the U.S. for 30 years, and a naturalized citizen. I believe he immigrated to the U.S. around 1876, as his first six children were born in Canada from 1863 to 1875, and his last four children were born in Michigan from 1877 to 1881. More proof of this will appear when we examine James in the 1880 U.S. Federal Census. So the columns should read 1876 and 24 years. Whether or not he was naturalized at this time, I do not know. We'll examine my search for his naturalization records soon.


Last, we see James is a farmer, with zero months unemployed. He could read, write, and speak English, as all the members of his household could. He was renting his home, and it was on a farm. The farm enumeration number was 96. Since the agricultural census for this year was destroyed by an Act of Congress, I won't be able to learn more about this farm. However, this does show, once again, that James likely was not a property owner. Alexander did not attend school and is listed as a day laborer; someone who was not regularly employed but worked at odd jobs wherever he could be hired for a day or so. He is not listed as a farm laborer, which means he did not work mainly on his father's farm. It's possible he hired himself out for wages to help supplement his parents' farm income.

In addition, I did some cursory searches to see if there were other male BARBERs in Oakland County who were born in either Canada or England. There was one George BARBER, born c. 1859 in Canada, who lived in Commerce Township. It's possible he could be a nephew of James, but with the BARBER surname being so common, it's difficult to tell. This one goes in the pile of items to look into further in case my analysis of what I do have continues to dead end.

I also determined where all the other children of James and Elizabeth were living at this time:
  • Lavinia and her husband Everett STREETER - Bay City, Bay County, Michigan
  • James A. BARBER and his wife Mary HEDGLEN living in her widowed mother's home -  Flint, Genesee County, Michigan
  • Orlando BARBER and his wife Mary Jane FREDENBURG (my ancestors) - Lapeer, Lapeer County, Michigan
  • Caroline and her husband Lewis SMITH, with their two daughters, Mabel and Cora, and a boarder, Thomas SINGLETON, who although was born in New York, had parents born in England - could he be a cousin on the BARBER side? - Lapeer, Lapper County, Michigan
  • Clarissa and her husband Lyman GOODWIN, living not too far from James and Elizabeth - Orion Village, Oakland County, Michigan
  • Anna and her second husband, Thomas HUDSON, with two young boys, James and William, and a boarder, George UPHAM; I believe one son was hers from her first marriage and the other was a step-son - Flint, Genesee County, Michigan
  • John - uncertain; he may be one of the boarders listed in the MATT household in Lapeer, Lapeer County, Michigan, although the information does not match exactly.
  • Rosa Bell with her husband William MORARITY - Blackman Township, Jackson County, Michigan
I think next week I'll report my attempts to find James's naturalization records.

This Madness Monday series featuring my brickwall ancestor, James W. BARBER (1841 - 1912) has been written to highlight and analyze all records of this individual with the hope that I can eventually uncover information that will lead to his specific birthplace and the names of his parents and any siblings he may have had. Other posts on this topic include:

The Obituary of James W. BARBER
Cemetery Records of James W. BARBER
James W. BARBER in the 1910 U.S. Federal Census
The Death Notice of James W. BARBER's son, Orlando
Update to James W. BARBER in the 1910 U.S. Federal Census
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