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Sunday, March 31, 2013

William Sharp family: not there or not counted? 1860 U.S. census, Pope Co., IL - Part 1

William Sharp and his family have left a consistent record in the U.S. and Illinois state censuses, from 1840 to 1880. The only exception is their absence in the 1860 U.S. census. Careful scrutiny of the 1860 U.S. census for Pope County, Illinois [1], line by line, does not reveal a William Sharp household. Also, the 1860 agricultural schedule [2] does not list them. What should we conclude?

Not there?

The straightforward conclusion is that they were somewhere else when the enumeration was made in September 1860. However, several lines of evidence suggest that they remained in Pope County during this interval. First, they appeared in the Illinois state census, in Pope County in 1855 [3] and 1865 [5]. Second, land records reveal that they owned the same farm property in Pope County continuously from 1855 [7] to 1869 [8]. Thirdly, they sold a small portion of their land to a neighbor in 1859 [9], a year before the 1860 census was taken.

Not counted?

Another possibility is that they simply were skipped over by the census taker. On a small scale, this would hardly be detected in the population trends for a 20 year period. But if there was a larger under-count, it might show up in the population numbers. To see if this might be the case, a tabulation was made of the Pope County population from 1850 to 1870 for the years when federal and state censuses were taken. These population numbers are the actual counts of recorded persons on each of the censuses referenced. The population data shown in the table below is plotted in the graph above.
Year Pope Co. Population
1850 3975 [10]
1855 6835 [4]
1860 6742 [1]
1865 11353 [6]
1870 11437 [11]
The population growth tapers off after 1865 with an addition of only 84 persons by 1870. Rapid growth occurs between 1850 and 1865, with an increase of 7378 persons. One would expect the trend to continue at a steady pace and not to see a decline in population between 1855 and 1860 of 93 persons. A linear population increase between 1850 and 1865 (indicated by the dashed line in the graph) would predict an 1860 population of about 9000 (compared to 6742). Thus, the 1860 population count is an anomaly which raises suspicion about its accuracy.
In the next installment (Part 2), additional evidence of an under-count will be presented based on township by township data and a sampling of other expected residents who were not reported in the 1860 U.S. census for Pope County.

Reference Notes:

[1] 1860, U.S. census, Pope County, Illinois, population schedule, pp. 157-334 (penned); digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : viewed 23 March 2013); citing National Archives micro-film publication M653, roll 220.
[2] "Selected U.S. Federal Census Non-Population Schedules, 1850-1880," digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 23 March 2013), 1860, Illinois, Pope County, agriculture schedule, Township 14 South, Range 6 East, pp. 8-9; citing National Archives micro-film publication T1133, roll 9.
[3] "Illinois, State Census Collection, 1825-1865," digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 15 November 2012), 1855, Pope County, pp.24-25, W.C. Sharp; citing Illinois State Census, 1855 Microfilm. Record Series 103.008, Roll Number 2194, Pages 24-25, Line 20. Illinois State Archives, Springfield. [See W.C. Sharp household, 1855 Illinois State Census, Pope Co.]
[4] Ibid., p.74. [Summary page provides grand total.]
[5] 1865 Illinois state census, Pope County, Golconda Precinct, p.58, line 3, W.C. Sharp household; Illinois State Archives, Springfield; Record Series 103.010, Microfilm Roll Number 30-2183. [See W.C. Sharp household, 1865 Illinois State Census, Pope Co.]
[6] Ibid., p.4. [Abstract page provides grand total.]
[7] Pope County, Illinois, Deed Records, Series A, 1816-1883, G:117-118, Benjamin Belford to William C. Sharp, 21 April 1855; recorded 24 April 1855; Pope County Clerk & Recorder, Golconda. [See Sharp Family Land Purchase, Pope Co., IL, 1855]
[8] Pope County, Illinois, Deed Records, Series A, 1816-1883, O:376, William C. and Delilah Sharp to Gabriel Clore, 21 April 1869; recorded, 24 April 1869; Pope County Clerk & Recorder, Golconda. [See Sharp Family Land Sale, Pope Co., IL, 1869]
[9] Pope County, Illinois, Deed Records, Series A, 1816-1883, K:103, William C. and Delilah Sharp to Samuel D. Hemphill, 6 April 1859; recorded 13 August 1859; Pope County Clerk & Recorder, Golconda. [See Sharp Family Land Sale, Pope Co., IL, 1859]
[10] 1850, U.S. census, Pope County, Illinois, population schedule, pp. 250A-297B (stamped); digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : viewed 23 March 2013); citing National Archives micro-film publication M432, roll 125.
[11] 1870, U.S. census, Pope County, Illinois, population schedule, pp. 409A-554B (stamped); digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : viewed 27 March 2013); citing National Archives micro-film publication M593, roll 270.