52 Documents in 52 Weeks #43 – John Kimball’s 1870 Census

Person of Interest: John (or Jonathan) W. Kimball
Relationship: 3rd great-grandfather

Source Citation: 1870 U. S. census, Sussex County, New Jersey, population schedule, Hardyston Township, p. 8 (penned), dwelling 62, family 62, Jno W. Kimble; digital image, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 20 November 2011); citing NARA microfilm publication M593, roll 889.

Document Description: These documents are part of the Ninth Census of the United States which was taken in 1870. It is the ninth census taken since 1790. The U.S. census counts every resident in the United States. It is mandated by Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution and takes place every 10 years. The U.S. Census Bureau is responsible for taking the censuses. After 72 years (and not before owing to privacy reasons), the records are released to the public by the National Archives and Records Administration.  The U.S. Census Bureau provides the interested researcher a great overview of each census. In the 1870 overview, we find that Ulysses S. Grant was president, that the 1870 Census was conducted under the authority of the Census Act of 1850. However, a new law, approved on May 6, 1870, called for two procedural changes:

  1. The marshals were to submit the returns from the population questionnaire to the Census Office by September 10, 1870; all other questionnaires were due by October 1, 1870.
  2. Penalties for refusing to reply to enumerator inquiries were expanded to cover all questions asked on all questionnaires.

After the Civil War, the decennial census questionnaires were reordered and redesigned to account for end of the “slave questionnaire.” The schedules for the 1870 census were: General Population, Mortality, Agriculture, Products of Industry, and Social Statistics.

Another interesting fact about the 1870 had to do with technological advances.

“By 1870, the job of tallying and tabulating questionnaire responses was becoming overly burdensome for the Census Office. This problem was partially alleviated with the use of a rudimentary tallying machine, invented by the chief clerk of the Census Office, and later superintendent, Charles W. Seaton.”

Both Ancestry.com (fee site) and FamilySearch.org (free) offers digitized copies of the census and are searchable by name. The History and Growth of the United States Census: 1790 – 1890 was a document prepared for the Senate Committee on the Census in 1900 and as written by Carroll D. Wright, the Commissioner of Labor, and William C. Hunt, Chief Statistician of the 12th census. If you’re into statistics or reading up on the historical background of the censuses, this is a great document to dig into.

Documents Scan/Transcription: Numbers relate to columns on the population schedule

Notes found at the top of the schedule: Inquiries numbered 7, 16, and 17 are not to be asked in request to infants. Inquiries numbered 11, 12, 15, 16, 17, 19, and 20 are to be answered (if at all) merely by an affirmative mark, as /.

Page No. 8; Schedule 1. – Inhabitants in Hardyston Township, in the County of Sussex, State of NJ, enumerated by me on the 30 day of [indeterminate], 1870.; Post Office: Sparta, N.J.; L. H. Andress, Ass’t Marshal.

lines 19-31, Jno W., Nancy, George, Lucy, Wm, James, David, Garret, Julia F., Sarah M., Henry E., Noah and Lewis [respectively with ; between]

Place of Abode
1. Dwelling number in order of visitation: 62
2. Family number in order of visitation: 62

Household Data
3. Name: Kimball Jon W.; —- Nancy; —- George; —- Lucy; —- Wm; —- James; —- David; —- Garret; —- Julia F.; —- Sarah M.; —- Henry E.; —- Noah; —- Lewis
4. Age at last birthday: 49; 43; 22; 21; 18; 14; 13; 12; 5; 16; 14; 2; 6/12
5. Sex: M; F; M; F; M; M; M; M; F; F; M; M; M
6. Color: W; W; W; W; W; W; W; W; W; W; W; W; W
7. Profession, Occupation or Trade of each person, male or female: Farm Laborer; Housewife; Farm Laborer; Domestic Serv.; Farm Laborer; Farm Laborer; Farm Laborer; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]

Value of Real Estate Owned
8. Real Estate: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
9. Personal Estate: 125; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]

10: Place of birth: New Jersey; New Jersey; New Jersey; New Jersey; New Jersey; New Jersey; New Jersey; New Jersey; New Jersey; New Jersey; New Jersey; New Jersey; New Jersey
11. Father of foreign birth: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
12. Mother of foreign birth: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]

Birth and Marriage
13. If born within year, state month: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
14. If married within year, state month: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]

15. Attended school within the year: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; yes; yes; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
16. Cannot read: [blank]; yes; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; yes; yes; [blank]; yes; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
17. Cannot write: [blank]; yes; [blank]; yes; [blank]; [blank]; yes; yes; [blank]; yes; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]

18. Whether deaf and dumb, blind, insane or idiotic: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]

Constitutional Relations
19. Male Citizens of 21 years or upwards: yes; [blank]; yes; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
20. Male Citizens of 21 years or upwards who cannot vote: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]

Analysis: The above listings/transcriptions are a bit hard to read, I admit it. So why go through the pain of typing it all out? It forced me to look at every single box and tick mark and code and notation. So, let’s put the above in a more user-friendly, narrative format:

The Hardyston Township, Sussex County, New Jersey, household of Jonathan W. Kimball (49) consisted of himself and 12 other individuals. They were, in order of entry: Nancy (43), George (22), Lucy (21), Wm (18), James (14), David (13), Garret (12), Julia F. (5), Sarah M. (16), Henry E. (14), Noah (2) and Lewis (6/12). Jonathan was working as a farm laborer and listed no real estate of value and only $125.oo in personal estate. Other farm laborers in the household were George, William, James, and David. Lucy was working as a domestic servant. All were reported as being born in New Jersey with no foreign born parents. Nancy, the oldest female in the household, could not read or write. Lucy could read but was listed as not being able to write. William and James had both attended school within the year.  David, Garret, and Sarah M. were listed as not being able to read or write. Jonathan and George were the only males over 21 in the household and were able to vote. 

It doesn’t hurt to go look at the enumerator instructions to see how things were to be reported. The IPUMS, which stands for the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series, website has a handy place to look up all enumerator instructions for the 1870 census. Some of the more interesting instructions found there include:

  • Assistant Marshals will, however, make as little show as possible of authority. They will approach every individual in a conciliatory manner; respect the prejudices of all; adapt their inquiries to the comprehension of foreigners and persons of limited education; and strive in every way to relieve the performance of their duties from the appearance of obtrusiveness. Anything like an overbearing disposition should be an absolute disqualification for the position.
  • Families.-By “family (column 2) is meant one or more persons living together and provided for in common.
  • Names of individuals.-In column 3 will be entered the name of every person in each family, of whatever age, including the names of such as were temporarily absent on the 1st day of June, 1870. … The name of the father, mother, or other ostensible head ofthe family (in the case of hotels, jails, etc., the landlord, jailor, etc.) is to be entered first of the family.
  • Property.-Column 8 will contain the value of all real estate owned by the person enumerated, without any deduction on account of mortgage or other incumbrance, whether within or without the census subdivision or the country. The value meant is the full market value, known or estimated.
  • “Personal estate,” column 9, is to be inclusive of all bonds, stocks, mortgages, notes, live stock, plate, jewels, or furniture, but exclusive of wearing apparel. No report will be made when the personal property is under $100.

My goal was to find new-to-me documents for each post this year. This document was already in my collection but it has something interesting about it I felt the need to discuss here. Unfortunately, the 1870 census did not ask for relationships to the head of household. That began in 1880. Other than the fact that the head of household (father or mother or other person) were be listed first, I found nothing useful about how the other members of the household were to be listed. I was hoping to find instructions that told the enumerator to list the children in birth order or boys then girls or some other method. No luck. So any speculation on relationships for this 1870 census is just that. Let’s speculate.

In table format, in listed order we have:

  1. Jno. W. Kimble, 49
  2. Nancy Kimble, 43
  3. George, 22
  4. Lucy, 21
  5. William, 18
  6. James, 14
  7. David, 13
  8. Garret, 12
  9. Julia F., 5
  10. Sarah, 16
  11. Henry, 14
  12. Noah, 2
  13. Lewis, 6/12

The following things make me wonder about the familial relationships within family #62 in this census.

  • James and Henry are the same age. If they were twins, why wouldn’t they be listed together? Parents, most times, refer to twins together as one unit.
  • Why are Sarah (16) and Henry (14) stuck between the 5-year old and the 2-year old?
  • There is a pretty big age gap between Garret (12) and Julia F. (5). Were there some stillbirths?
  • Most large families like this have a more consistent 2 year spacing of children. George and Lucy are only one year apart. James, David and Garret are only one year apart.
  • If the mother is the informant on this census, I would think that the children would be more in birth order. Was Jonathan the informant then, thus, the inconsistent listing of children?
  • Was the enumerator just disorganized and listed the children in somewhat random order?

I can come up with one scenario that might explain what is going on here. Both Jonathan and Nancy may have lost their former spouses. They may have since married each other and combined households. I would then speculate that George, Lucy, William, James, David, Garret and Julia belonged to Jonathan, while Sarah and Henry belonged to Nancy, and that Noah and Lewis were the progeny of their union. But again, this is just speculation. A good researcher would need to combine this document with others to be certain.


Looking at this census alone in a vacuum brings up more questions about the Jno. W. Kimble family than it answers for me. I’m uncomfortable with saying this is one family unit with Jonathan and Nancy as the biological parents to all the children listed. Unless I had other information to corroborate this document, I wouldn’t even want to put it into my family tree program as a source. That to-do list just keeps getting longer and longer…


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