Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Dear 1890 census enumerators...

Dear 1890 census enumerators,

I must apologize to you. I had started a nasty little note to share with you my displeasure of your work. Or rather, I should say my displeasure with your tracing of veterans, specifically in Ray County, Missouri. But I just learned that my anger over the 1890 veteran's schedule should not be placed with you, but rather the U.S. Census Bureau. You see, I have been tracing an elusive ancestor for coming on five years now: Marcellus F. White. He seems to be nowhere in print...except for listings on the census. Unfortunately, all of your hard work to enumerate the 1890 census was lost in a fire in 1921 (there was 1% that survived, but Missouri was not one of the lucky states). But the Veteran's Schedules you provided did survive. I thought to myself, Eureka! a chance to find my relative in print...several relatives. Imagine my surprise when I look through the 1890 Veteran's Schedule for Ray County, Missouri, and find not a single relative. I know at least five or six that were veterans, how could you have missed every one of them?

Alas, I was frustrated and I wrote a nasty note to you to point out your inability to complete a simple task. I mean, you only worked for, at most, thirty days. I realize that you probably only made $4 a day (about $100 in today's money), possibly a little more for travel expenses, but does that mean you could shirk your Enumerator's Oath? I think not.

But now I must eat humble pie. I did not realize the instructions you were given by the U.S. Census Bureau. You were told to only account for Union veterans of the Civil War, not Confederate veterans from the "Recent Unpleasantness." Therefore, my veteran ancestors were not counted. I am sorry for being angry and calling you hateful things I dare not include in this apology. I will instead turn my anger to the census bureau...those silly gnats. They were more worried about counting quadroons and octoroons (which are stupid, hateful terms) than confederate Soldiers. Don't get me wrong, the census bureau has done great by me in every other decade (except for 2010 which will serve to anger my descendants). I love their work, but the 1890 census and its special enumerations are now a frustrating blip in my research.

With sincere apology,


Anonymous said...


Wendy B. said...

Ah! Thanks for clearing that up for me. Explains so much for this descendant of several confederate soldiers... =p