I’m going to admit something right off the bat. I’m a non-population census geek. (I hope you were sitting down for that one.) As genealogists, we use the census to build the foundation of our research (at least in the U.S. for the period 1790-1940). But the part that we most often use — the pages that list the people who were living in the household — is just one part of many censuses. It’s called the “population schedule.”
Some census years had other schedules. Some of them focused on agriculture, while others focused on industry. In 1880, there was even a schedule for the “Defective, Dependent, and Delinquent” classes. (Give me some time with the DDD schedule and I’m a happy, happy girl.) These “other” census schedules can give us more context around our ancestors. Or, in the case of John Kelley, not so much…
John Kelley, my great-great-grandfather, was born in Ohio (probably Perry County) in 1820. In 1860, he was living alone in Hopewell Township. (He wouldn’t marry Susan Tucker, my great-great-grandmother, until 1863.) The 1860 census lists his occupation like it lists most of my ancestors: “farmer.”
$3000 worth of real estate and $150 worth of personal property. Not bad. But what did John grow on that farm? I turned to the 1860 agricultural schedule to find out.
So he had 55 acres of improved land, 23 acres of unimproved land, and a horse. No livestock — not even a cow. Hmmm… He must have raised some crops…
No wheat, rye, corn, oats, rice, tobacco, ginned cotton, or wool. Let’s scroll to the next page where more crops are listed…
No peas, potatoes, barley, or buckwheat. No butter, cheese, hay, or clover.
No hemp (yes, it was a real crop), flax or flax seed. No silk cocoons (I keep hoping to find an ancestor who had some), maple sugar, cane sugar, or molasses. No honey and no beeswax.
What did John raise on that farm?! For 1860, I still don’t know. The possibilities are:
- He raised something completely different, something that isn’t listed on the schedule.
- He didn’t tell the enumerator what he raised.
- The enumerator didn’t write it down or didn’t copy it over from his notes to this final copy.
There is a fourth possibility. I’ve joked for years that I come from a long line of dirt farmers. Maybe John Kelley really was one.
John Kelley died 7 July 1891 and is buried in Hopewell Methodist Church Cemetery in Perry County, Ohio.
EDIT: I’ve formed another possibility about John’s listing in the 1860 agricultural schedule.