Monday, May 13, 2013

Mystery Monday - Enumerated Twice in the 1850 Census?

Over the weekend, I went back to working on my dad's side of the family.  Since I've been working heavily on the main line, Lusby, I decided to take a little side trip, and work on the Thompson line.  It turns out that I actually have two Thompson lines on my dad's side of the tree, but that is a whole different post.

I decided to narrow in on my 3rd great grandfather, John Wesley Thompson (1827-1906).  He lived his entire live in Washington, DC.  As I was going through the census, I noticed that he was enumerated twice on the 1850 census, along with his brother, William H.  How this happened, I can only guess.  But I'm pretty sure they are the same people on both enumerations.  The information gathered was on different days and by different Marshalls.

After studying both census pages, I went to Google in search of a map of Washington, DC in 1850.  I found a nice one in the public domain.  After downloading it, I opened up in my graphics software to make the two wards they are enumerated in clearer.  I also wanted to see where they were in relation to The Capitol and The Navy Yard, as John worked in The Navy Yard for 50 years, and his brother William also worked there for a time.

Samuel Augustus Mitchell [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

1850 U.S. Federal Census for the 4th Ward, Washington City, District of Columbia was enumerated on 17 July 1850 by C.F. Wallachs.

Dwelling 692, Family 513 was enumerated as follows:

  • George Thompson, age 50, male, occupation was illegible, birthplace is England.
  • Elizabeth Thompson, age 53, female, birthplace is Washington, DC.
  • William H. Thompson, age 27, male, pyrotechnist, birthplace is Washington, DC.
  • John W. Thompson, age 23, male, plasterer, birthplace is Washington, DC.
  • George M. Thompson, age 21, male, plasterer, birthplace is Washington, DC.
  • Sarah A. Thompson, age 17, female, birthplace is Washington, DC.
  • Eliza Mullikin, age 24, female, birthplace is Washington, DC.
  • Ruth A. Mullikin, age 20, female, birthplace is Washington, DC.

1850 U.S. Federal Census for the 6th Ward, Washington City, District of Columbia was enumerated on 23 July 1850 by R. N_____ (signature hard to read).

Dwelling 465, Family 475 was enumerated as follows:
  • William H. Thompson, age 27, male, laborer, birthplace is Washington, DC.
  • Elizabeth Thompson, age 24, female, birthplace is Washington, DC
  • George, age 4, male, birthplace is Washington, DC.
  • Sarah, age 2, female, birthplace is Washington, DC.
  • John, age 23, male, plasterer, birthplace is Washington, DC.
  • Mary E. Bailey, age 12, birthplace is Washington, DC.

Here is some additional information on each of them that I think makes my case that they are the same people.

William H. Thompson

William married his wife, Mary Elizabeth Delano, in 1843.

On the 1860 census, they are still living in the 4th Ward.  He's 39, and working at The Navy Yard.  He's enumerated with Mary E (34), George E (14), Sarah A (12), Mary E (4), and Ellen H (2).

On the 1870 census, they are living in the 5th Ward, which is the pink area on the above map where The Capitol is situated.  .  William is 46 and working as a pyrotechnist.  He's enumerated with Mary (44), George (25), Sarah (20), Mary (14), Ella (12), Julia (5), and Ida (1).

On the 1880 census, they are living in 6th Ward.  William is 56 and working as a pyrotechnist.  He's enumerated with Elizabeth (54), Mary (24), and Julia (14).

Unfortunately, William died in November 1898 at the age of 75, two years before the 1900 census.  I haven't looked at the city directories yet to see where he and his family were living between 1880 and 1900.

John W. Thompson

John didn't get married until December 1850; his wife was Eliza A. Kemp.

On the 1860 census, he and his family are living in the 6th Ward.  John is 36 and working as a plasterer.  He's enumbered with Eliza A (29), William E (9), Alice (6), Geneva (4), Marion C (1), and a William H. Kemp (23).

On the 1870 census, he's still living in the 6th Ward.  John is 43 and the occupation was illegible.  He's enumbered with Analiza (41), William E (18), Alice (17), Geneva (14), Marion C (11), May F. (9), William H. Kemp (35), Mary E. Kemp (33), and Ida Kemp (4).

On the 1880 census, the Ward isn't given.  The address is 710 Virginia Avenue SE, which is about 4 or 5 block from The Navy Yard, so it would probably still be in the 4th Ward.  John is 53 and working as a pyrotechnist.  He's enumerated with Eliza (5), William (28), Alice (26), Geneva (24), Marion C (21), Francis M (18), Sarrah S (21), Bernard (1), and Jesse Penman (27).

On the 1900 census, he's living at 606 G Street SE, which according to Google Maps, is about 5 or 6 blocks north of where he was living in 1880.  So he's still in the 4th Ward, or could possible be the 5th Ward, since the map shows it's not all that far from The Capitol.  John is 73 and working as a government clerk.  He's listed as a widow and he's enumerated with Alice (47), Geneva (43), Francis M Raitz (39), Frank Raitz (43), Etta V. Raitz (13), and Edith Raitz (7).

So after studying the 1850 Census where John and William are enumerated twice, and following them for the next 30 to 40 years, I feel fairly comfortable saying that they are one in the same.  As to how this happened, I think that maybe  on 17 July 1850, William was visiting his parents when the census taker came around.  Then on 23 July 1850, maybe John was visiting his brother, William.  Or maybe John was living with his brother and they were both visiting their parents on July 17th.

What do you guys think?  Do you think the John and William on the July 17th enumeration are the same John and William on the July 23rd enumeration?


  1. It always intrigues me to find family enumerated twice in the same census. I have found it a few time for my family. Your explanation seems plausible. I'm not familiar with D.C. research. Are there city directories for the time in question - 1840's through 1860's? That might help confirm your theory.

    1. This is the first time I've found a family member enumerated twice in a census for a particular year.

      I just checked, and the City Directories for Washington, DC on start 1862, so it won't help me find William in 1850. But I can confirm the other addresses both both of these brothers.

      I guess for now, I'll assume that my explanation is correct unless I find information/records that say otherwise.

  2. Several of mine were, too, but more often a child "working out" on a farm or as a housekeeper. It's kind of neat to establish the geography of a person's life.

    1. I think it's need also. I just wish that physical addresses were on the earlier census. In DC, they just gave the wards, so I just have the general area in the city they lived.

  3. I have an instance in my family tree where one of the sons was listed as a sanitarium with TB and then he is listed at his home with his family in the 1900 census. The census records were take two weeks apart, plenty of time for him to recover and be back home. If it wasn't for the census I would never have discovered he had TB. Double listings are quite informative!

    1. I agree. I found on a census that one of my 2nd Great Granfathers was also in an asylum in DC for a census. In that same year, his wife listed her self as a widow, which is because of the stigma that would have been associated with it at that time. It was the early 1900's. I also saw a piece in a DC newspaper that talked about his pension being cut because his previous employer, the DC fire department was paying for his stay and treatment in the asylum, and that was a few years before that census. So it looks like he may have been in and out of an asylum, but for what I haven't found out yet.

      But can you imagine it being printed in a city newspaper that you or your husband or father was in an asylum.

      I'd love to find out more about his stay there and the reason.


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