52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: In the Census

This week I would like to highlight two people in my family tree who I was surprised to find “in the census” for different reasons. The first is Martha Fulcher (abt. 1775 to aft. 1850), and the second is Elisha Harrison Scoggins (abt. 1824 to 1901).

Two Heads of One Household

Martha Sargent was born about 1775 in Virginia to William and Patsy Sargent. She married Jesse Fulcher on 12 April 1809 who, according to family stories, emigrated from Ireland. She and Jesse had moved to Robertson County, Tennessee by 1830, if not earlier. In 1830, the Fulcher household was tallied in the census. Jesse was not the only person listed as the head of the household, but Martha was as well! In fact, Martha’s name appears first. I have never seen a census record prior to 1850 that names two people, particularly a husband and wife, as both the head of one household. I have not thoroughly researched this branch of the family, so I do not know what circumstances could have resulted in this anomaly. Perhaps it was a mistake by a census taker who gathered the information from Martha, and he put her name down and then had to squeeze in Jesse’s.  Maybe they both insisted that they were the head of the household. Whatever the circumstances, it does show that both Martha and Jesse were living at the time and that they were the oldest male and female in the household.

This census record taught me to always be prepared for the unexpected. It also served as a reminder that women can appear in public records even when I assume they shouldn’t be there.

Enumerated Twice

Elisha Harrison Scoggins was born in Georgia to Gresham and Winnie (Watson) Scoggins and lived most of his life in Chattooga County. In 1845, he married Martha Barron and they had a large family of children. On June 9, 1900, Elisha was enumerated in Trion, Chattooga County living with his daughter Amanda Wimpee and his son-in-law Mark Wimpee and their children. He was 77 years old and had no occupation, and although his wife was already deceased, the enumerator mistakenly recorded that he was married rather than a widower. The census record showing his residence in Trion is shown to the right.

After I found this record, I did not look for another census record, especially as I knew that he died in 1901. What I did not know, however, was that Elisha purchased a farm in Dutton, Jackson County, Alabama in 1896. When I began to research his children other than the daughter (Amanda Wimpee) who was my direct ancestress, and I found several of Amanda’s unmarried siblings living in Dutton with Elisha as the head of the household! The census was taken on June 5, 1900, just four days before he was enumerated in Trion. His personal information varied slightly between the two census records, and it turned out that the information supplied in the Dutton census was correct. I am assuming that most likely Elisha was the informant for the Dutton enumeration, and either Mark or Amanda was the informant in Trion.

Elisha was enumerated in the 1900 census twice within a week in two different states. This taught me a valuable lesson: to always research laterally not just lineally. Without researching great aunts and uncles, I would not have found Elisha in a second census schedule and I would not have known that he ever lived in or purchased land in Alabama.