52 Documents in 52 Weeks #23 – Andrew Mery’s 1930 Census

Person of Interest: Andrew Leo Mery
Relationship: Husband of my great grand aunt Jennie (Repsher) Mery


Source Citation: 1930 U. S. census, Monroe County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, East Stroudsburg, ED 45-6, page 3A (penned), dwelling 51, family 56, Andrew Mary; digital image, Ancestry.com (http:www.ancestry.com : accessed 26 May 2017); citing NARA microfilm publication T626, roll 2080.


Photo Source: http://www.census.gov

Document Description: These documents are part of the Fifteenth Census of the United States which was taken in 1930, shortly after the stock market crash which occurred on 29 October 1929. Herbert Hoover was the president on the day of the census. It is the fifteenth 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. In accordance with the 72-Year Rule, the National Archives released the 1930 records to the public in 2002.  The U.S. Census Bureau provides the interested researcher a great overview of each census. In the 1930 overview, we find that Congress legislated The Fifteenth Census Act, which was approved on June 18, 1929, and that it authorized “a census of population, agriculture, irrigation, drainage, distribution, unemployment, and mines [to be] taken by the Director of the Census.” The unemployment piece of the census became vitally important after the stock market crash.

According to the 1930 overview site, some crisis and controversies arose from the data collected during the census:

“In the time between the passage of the act and census day, the stock market crashed and the nation plunged into the Great Depression. The public and academics wanted quick access to the unemployment information collected in the 1930 census. The Census Bureau had not planned to process the unemployment information it had collected – which some statisticians considered unreliable – until quite a bit later and was unequipped to meet these demands. When it did rush its data on unemployment out, the numbers it reported were attacked as being too low. Congress required a special unemployment census for January 1931; the data it produced confirmed the severity of the situation.

Both Ancestry.com (fee site) and FamilySearch.org (free) offers digitized copies of the census and are searchable by name.


Document Scan/Transcription: Numbers relate to columns on the population schedule
Abbreviations to be used (found at the bottom of the schedule)
[Use no abbreviations for State or country of birth or for mother tongue (Columns 18, 19, 20 and 21)]
Col. 6 – Indicate the home-maker in each family by the letter “H,” following the word which shows relationship, as “Wife – H”
Col. 7 – Owned – O, Rented – R
Col. 9 – Radio set – R, make no entry for families having no radio set
Col. 11 – Male – M, Female – F
Col. 12 – White – W, Negro – Neg, Mexican – Mex, Indian – In, Chinese – Ch, Japanese – Jp, Filipino – Fil, Hindu – Hin, Korean – Kor, Other races – Spell out in full
Col. 14 – Single – S, Married – M, Widowed – Wd, Divorced – D
Col. 23 – Naturalized – Na, First Papers – Pa, Alien – Al
Col. 27 – Employer – E, Wage or salary worker – W, Working on own account – O, Unpaid worker, member of the family – NP
Col. 31 – World War – WW, Spanish-American – Sp, Civil War – Civ, Philippine Insurrection – Phil, Boxer Rebellion – Box, Mexican Expedition – Mex

Entries are Required in the Several Columns as Follows (found at the bottom of the schedule):
Cols. 6, 11, 12, 13, 14, 16, 18, 19, 20, and 25 – For all persons.
Cols. 7, 8, 9, and 10 – For all heads of families only. (Col. 8 requires no entry for farm family.)
Col. 15 – For married persons only.
Col. 17 – For all persons 10 years of age and over.
Cols. 21, 22, and 23 – For all foreign-born persons.
Col. 24 – For all person 10 years of age and over.
Cols. 26, 27, and 28 – For all persons for whom an occupation is reported in Col. 25.
Col. 30 – For all males 21 years of age and over.

Page 3 Header
State: Pennsylvania; County: Monroe; Name of Incorporated Place: East Stroudsburg Borough; S.D. No.: 11; E.D. No.: 45-6; Enumerated by me on April 3, 1930; Enumerator: Olive S. Kistler; Sheet No.: 3A; stamped page number: 68.

Page 3A Detail
lines 40-47, Andrew L., Jennie F., Blanche C., John A., Jane E., Leona M., Raymond L., and Kenneth A. Sharbaugh [respectively with ; between]

Place of Abode
1. Street, Avenue, Road, etc: Elizabeth St.
2. House number: 87
3. Number of dwelling: 51
4. Number of family in order of visitation: 56

Name and Relation
5. Name: Mery, Andrew; —- Jennie F.; —- Blanche C.; —- John A.; —- Jane E.; —- Leona M.; —- Raymond L.; Sharbaugh, Kenneth A.
6. Relation: Head; Wife – H; Daughter; Son; Daughter; Son; Daughter; Daughter; Son; Nephew

House Data
7. House Owned or Rented: O; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
8. Value of home, if owned, or monthly rental, if rented: 6,000; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
9. Radio Set: R; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
10. Does this family live on a farm: No, [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]

Personal Description
11. Sex: M; F; F; M; F; F; M; M
12. Color or race: W; W; W; W; W; W; W; W; W
13. Age at last birthday: 34; 28; 9; 7; 5; 3-10/12; 1-10/12; 19
14. Marital condition: M; M; S; S; S; S; S; S
15. Age at first marriage: 24; 18; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]

Education
16.  Attended school or college anytime since Sept. 1, 1929: no; no; yes; yes; no; no; no; no
17. Whether able to read and write: yes; yes; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; yes

Place of Birth
18. Person: Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania
19. Father: France; Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania
20. Mother: France; Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania

Mother Tongue (or Foreign language) of Native Born
21. Language spoken in home before coming to the U.S.: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
A. State or M.T.: 58; 58; 58; 58; 58; 58; 58; 58
B. Country: 12; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
C. Nativity: O; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]

Citizenship, etc.
22. Year of immigration to the U.S: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
23. Naturalization: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
24. Whether able to speak English: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]

Occupation and Industry
25. Occupation: Tire dealer, none, none, none, none, none, none, Sales man
26. Industry: Auto tire shop, [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; Auto tire shop
D. Code: 8289, [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; 4589
27. Class of Worker: E, [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; W

Employment
28. Whether actually at work yesterday (or last regular work day), yes or no: yes; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
29. If no, number on employment schedule: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]

Veterans
30. Whether a veteran of U.S. military or naval forces, yes or no: yes; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
31. What war or expedition: W.W.; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]

Farm
32. Number of farm schedule: yes; [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:

On 01 April 1930, Andrew L. Mery (34), head of household, was living in the borough of East Stroudsburg, Monroe County, Pennsylvania, with wife Jennie F. (28) and daughters Blanche C. (9), Jane E. (5), and Leona M. (3-10/12), sons John A. (7) and Raymond L. (1-10/12) and nephew Kenneth Sharbaugh (19). Andrew owned the house, valued at $6,000, on 87 Elizabeth St. when enumerator Olive S. Kistler visited the household on 03 April 1930 to record the family’s information. Ms. Kistler was working in her Supervisor’s District of 11 which oversaw Enumeration District 45-6. In order of visitation, the family was labeled as living in dwelling #51 and as family #56. The family owns a radio set.

Andrew was married when he was 24 years old and Jennie was 18. Everyone else in the household is single. Blanche and John were the only ones in school. Andrew was born in Pennsylvania but his parents were born in France. Everyone else was born in Pennsylvania as were their parents.

Andrew was a tire dealer within the auto tire shop industry. He was an employer and, since nephew Kenneth is working as a salesman in the auto tire shop industry, he most likely employs Kenneth in the shop. Andrew worked yesterday (or the last regular working day),  although Kenneth’s answer was blank.

Andrew was also a veteran of the World War. There is no designation for I or II since World War II had yet to occur. 

A family photo corroborates that fact that Andrew was a tire shop owner. I have a wonderful photo of his shop located in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. The people aren’t identified, but I’m pretty sure Andrew was the gentlemen wearing the tie and white shirt and highly suspect that his nephew was the young man on left. Looking at the detail in the photo shows that they sold the General Tire brand of tires and Sinclair gas. I also suspect that the family may have lived over the shop given the architecture of the building.

It is unclear why Kenneth Sharbaugh was living with the Mery family. Was it because Andrew employed him? How long had he been living with them? How was he nephew, through Andrew’s sister or Jennie’s sister? All interesting questions that this census, taken by itself, does not answer.

Instructions to the enumerators are a good way to make sure you understand what each item on the census means. The instructions for the 1920 are found on a handy website called IPUMS which stands for the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series. Perusing the instructions for the 1930 census at IPUMS shows that:

  • How names are to be written.-Enter first the last name or surname, then the given name in full, and the initial of the middle name, if any, except that where a person usually writes his first initial and his middle names, as “J. Henry Brown,” you should write “Brown, J. Henry,” rather than “Brown, John H.”
  • Occupants of an institution or school, living under a common roof, should be designated as officer, inmate, pupil, patient, prisoner, etc.; and in the case of the chief officer his title should be used, as warden, principal, superintendent, etc., instead of the word “head.” Pupils who live at the school only during the school term are not usually to be enumerated at the school.
  • Owned homes.-A home is to be classed as owned if it is owned wholly or in part by the head of the family living in the home or by the wife of the head, or by a son, or a daughter, or other relativeliving in the same house with the head of the family. It is not necessary that full payment for the property should have been made or that the family should be the sole owner.
  • Negroes.-A person of mixed white and Negro blood should be returned as a Negro, no matter how small the percentage of Negro blood. Both black and mulatto persons are to be returned as Negroes, without distinction. A person of mixed Indian and Negro blood should be returned a Negro, unless the Indian blood predominates and the status as an Indian is generally accepted in the community.
  • Indians.-A person of mixed white and Indian blood should be returned as Indian, except where the percentage of Indian blood is very small, or where he is regarded as a white person by those in the community where he lives.
  • Persons retired or incapacitated.- Care should be taken in making the return for persons who on account of old age, permanent invalidism, or other reasons are no longer following any occupation. Such persons may desire to return the occupations formerly followed, which would be incorrect. If living on their own income, or if they are supported by other persons or institutions, or if they work only occasionally or only a short time each day, the return should be none.
  • Unusual occupations for women.-There are many occupations, such as carpenter and blacksmith, which women usually do not follow. Therefore, if you are told that a woman follows an occupation which is very peculiar or unusual for a woman, verify the statement.
  • Those men are to be counted as “veterans” who were in the Army, Navy, or Marine Corps of the United States during the period of any United States war, even though they may not have gotten beyond the training camp. A World War veteran would have been in the service between 1917 and 1921; a Spanish-American War veteran, between 1898 and 1902; a Civil War veteran, between 1861 and 1866.

When recording country of birth, some special attention was given to countries affected by World War I:

  • Since it is essential that each foreign-born person be credited to the country in which his birthplace is now located, special attention must be given to the six countries which lost a part of their territory in the readjustments following the World War. These six countries are as follows:

    Austria, which lost territory to Czechoslovakia, Italy, Yugoslavia, Poland, and Rumania.
    Hungary, which lost territory to Austria, Czechoslovakia, Italy, Poland, Rumania, and Yugoslavia.
    Bulgaria, which lost territory to Greece and Yugoslavia.
    Germany, which lost territory to Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Danzig, Denmark, France, Lithuania, and Poland.
    Russia, which lost territory to Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Turkey.
    Turkey, which lost territory to Greece and Italy and from which the following areas became independent:
    Iraq (Mesopotamia); Palestine (including Transjordan); Syria (including Lebanon); and various States
    and Kingdoms in Arabia (Asir, Hejaz, and Yemen).

  • If the person reports one of these six countries as his place of birth or that of his parents, ask specifically whether the birthplace is located within the present area of the country; and if not, find out to what country it has been transferred. If a person was born in the Province of Bohemia, for example, which was formerly in Austria but is now a part of Czechoslovakia, the proper return for country of birth is Czechoslovakia. If you can not ascertain with certainty the present location of the birthplace, where this group of countries is involved, enter in addition to the name of the country, the name of the Province or State in which the person was born, as Alsace-Lorraine, Bohemia, Croatia, Galicia, Moravia, Slovakia, etc., or the city, as Warsaw, Prague, Strasbourg, etc.

One instruction in particular popped out at me as a lesson in looking at censuses: “Enumerators must make a special effort to obtain returns for all infants and young children. Children under 1 year of age, in particular, have frequently been omitted from the enumeration in past censuses.” This could explain the lack of finding someone (negative evidence) who should have been listed as a person in a household in a prior census, especially if they were less than 1 year of age.

This census also has some notations in the column labeled D for the family members that are employed. Andrew had “8289” and his nephew Kenneth had “4589.”  IPUMS also is handy for looking up industry codes. Andrew’s code translates to “Retail dealers, automobiles and accessories” but Kenneth’s is not listed in this table. So, I checked on Steve Morse’s One-Step pages, and found that Kenneth was classified as a salesman at an “Automobile agency or accessories store; Automobile filling station; Automobile service station (filling station).” Both make sense and match what the 1930 has listed for them as occupations.

CONCLUSION

Andrew and Jennie Mery’s family seems like the typical family found in 1930. They have five children together and have taken in Kenneth Sharbaugh. What is unclear is how the stock market crash affected them. It may have been too early for the effects to trickle down to his tire shop. Some research into city directories between 1931 and the next census in 1940 might help to figure out if his tire shop survived the extreme downturn in the economy.

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52 Documents in 52 Weeks #13 – Caroline (Bonser) Respher’s 1920 Census

Caroline (Bonser) Repsher and husband John J. Repsher

Person of Interest: Caroline (Bonser) Respher
Relationship: 2nd Great grandmother


Source Citation: 1920 U. S. census, Monroe County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, East Stroudsburg, ED 48, p. 3B (penned), dwelling 52, family 56, Caroline Repsher; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 23 April 2017); citing NARA microfilm publication T625, roll 1603.


Document Description: These documents are part of the Fourteenth Census of the United States which was taken in 1920, shortly after the end of World War I. It is the fourteenth 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. In accordance with the 72-Year Rule, the National Archives released the 1920 records to the public in 1992.  The U.S. Census Bureau provides the interested researcher a great overview of each census. In the 1920 overview, we find that the census date was changed to 01 January (it was April 15th in 1910) based on a request from the Department of Agriculture. They argued that more people would be home in January compared to April and that farmers would have a better recollection in January of the crops harvested in the prior fall.

According to the 1920 overview site, the details of the enumeration were this:

“For the 1920 census, “usual place of abode” became the basis for enumeration. Individuals were enumerated as residents of the place in which they regularly slept, not where they worked or might be visiting. People with no regular residence, including “floaters” and members of transient railroad or construction camps, were enumerated as residents of the place where they were when the count was taken. Enumerators were also instructed to ask if any family members were temporarily absent; if so, these people were to be listed either with the household or on the last schedule for the census subdivision.

“The format and information in the 1920 census schedules closely resembled that of the 1910 census. The 1920 census, however, did not ask about unemployment on the day of the census, nor did it ask about service in the Union or Confederate army or navy. Questions about the number of children born and how long a couple had been married were also omitted. The bureau modified the enumeration of inmates of institutions and dependent, defective, and delinquent classes. The 1920 census included four new questions: one asking the year of naturalization and three about mother tongue. There was no separate schedule for Indians in 1920.

“Because of the changes in some international boundaries following World War I, enumerators were instructed to report the province (state or region) or city of persons declaring they or their parents had been born in Austria-Hungary, Germany, Russia, or Turkey. If a person had been born in any other foreign country, only the name of the country was to be entered.

“The instructions to enumerators did not require that individuals spell out their names. Enumerators wrote down the information given to them; they were not authorized to request proof of age, date of arrival, or other information. The determination of race was based on the enumerator’s impressions.”

Both Ancestry.com (fee site) and FamilySearch.org (free) offers digitized copies of the census and are searchable by name.


Documents Scan/Transcription: Numbers relate to columns on the population schedule.
Page 3B Header
State: Pennsylvania; County: Monroe; Name of Incorporated Place: East Stroudsburg Borough; Ward of City: District #1; S.D. No.: 7; E.D. No.: 48; Enumerated by me on the 5th day of January 1920; Enumerator: Carolyn B. Smith; Sheet No.: 3B; stamped page number does not exist.

Page 3B Detail
lines 52-58, Caroline, Robert and William Repsher, Lilian, Jennie and Elizabeth Cobb, and Harry Sharbaugh Jr. [respectively with ; between]

Place of Abode
1. Street, Avenue, Road, etc: North Courtland St.
2. House number: 286
3. Number of dwelling: 52
4. Number of family in order of visitation: 56

Household Data
5. Name: Repsher Caroline; —- Robert; —- William F.; Cobb Lillian; Cobb Jennie; Cobb Elizabeth; Sharbaugh Harry Jr.
6. Relation: Head; Son; Son; Daughter; Daughter, Granddaughter, Grandson
7. Tenure, home owned or rented: R; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
8. Tenure, if owned, free, or mortgaged: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]

Personal Description
9. Sex: F; M; M; F; F; F; M
10. Color of race: W; W; W; W; W; W; W
11. Age at last birthday: 61; 22; 20; 20; 19; 1 10/12; 10/12
12. Single, married, widowed, or divorced: W; S; S; W; W; S; S

Citizenship
13. Year of immigration: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
14. Naturalized or alien: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
15. If naturalized, year of naturalization: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]

Education
16. Attend school since Sep. 1, 1919: [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
17. Whether able to read: Yes; Yes; Yes; Yes; Yes; [blank]; [blank]
18. Whether able to write: Yes; Yes; Yes; Yes; Yes; [blank]; [blank]

Nativity and Mother Tongue
19. Person, place of birth: Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania,Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania
20. Person, mother tongue: German; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
21. Father, place of birth: Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania,Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania
22. Father, mother tongue: German; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]; [blank]
23. Mother, place of birth: Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania,Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania
24. Mother, mother tongue: GermanGerman; German; German; German; [blank]; [blank]
25. Whether able to speak English: Yes; Yes; Yes; Yes; Yes; [blank]; [blank]

Occupation
26. Trade, profession, or particular kind of work done: none; Weaver; Weaver; none; Warper; none; none
27. Industry, business, or establishment in which at work: [blank]; Silk Mill; Silk Mill; [blank]; Silk Mill, [blank];[blank]
28. Employer, salary or wage worker, or working on own account:  [blank]; W; W; [blank]; W, [blank];[blank]
29. Number of farm schedule: [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:

On 01 January 1920, Caroline Repsher (61), head of household, was living in the borough of East Stroudsburg, Monroe County, Pennsylvania, with sons Robert Repsher (22) and William F. Repsher (20), daughters Lillian Cobb (20) and Jennie Cobb (19), granddaughter Elizabeth Cobb (1 10/12) and grandson Harry Sharbaugh Jr. (10/12). Caroline was renting the house at 286 North Courtland St. when enumerator Carolyn B. Smith visited the household on 05 January 1920 to record the family’s information. Ms. Smith was working in her Supervisor’s District of 7 which oversaw Enumeration District 48. In order of visitation, the family was labeled as living in dwelling #52 and as family #56.

There were three widowed women living in the household, Caroline, Lillian, and Jennie. Both Robert and William were listed as being single as were the two young grandchildren. No one in the household had attended school since 01 September 1919 and all but the grandchildren were able to read, write and speak English. All were listed as being born in Pennsylvania including the individuals parents. No one had any citizenship other than American. Caroline was listed as having a native tongue of German but Ms. Smith crossed out this information.  Robert, William, and Jennie were all employed by the silk mill working for wages. Robert and William were weavers and Jennie was a warper.

The basic questions asked in this 1920 census give us a brief glimpse of Caroline and some of her children. There seems to be some tragedy surrounding the family in that Caroline and two of her daughters, Lillian and Jennie, are widowed at the time of the census. Perhaps the great influenza epidemic and/or World War I, which both happened around the time of the census, had something to do with this.

The enumeration of this particular family unit brings up some interesting questions and highlight the dangers of making assumptions:

  • Why did Lillian and Jennie both have the same last name of Cobb?
    • Could the enumerator have made a mistake?
    • Could the two girls have both married men with the same last name?
    • Perhaps the sisters married brothers or cousins named Cobb?
  • And which daughter, Lillian or Jennie, did the granddaughter Elizabeth Cobb belong to, if either?
  • And why was grandson, Harry Sharbaugh Jr. living with Caroline?
    • Where was Harry Sharbaugh Sr. and how was he related to the family?
    • Was he the son of another of Caroline’s daughters and, if so, where is she?
  • Were William and Lillian truly the same age at 20 years old?
    • Was this an enumerator mistake?
    • Or perhaps they were twins?

The census itself does not answer any of these questions. That makes this census evidence (relevance of information) relating to the above questions indirect in nature and this census evidence must be combined with other sources of information. For example, a hand-written family group sheet prepared by my great grandmother, Anna K. Repsher, corroborates that Lillian was married to a man named Frank Cobb and that he died on 06 October 1918.[1] A daughter named Elizabeth was listed as a child of this union and again corroborates that she was a granddaughter of Caroline as found in the census. Another family group sheet has some remarks about Jennie and her first marriage to a man named Frederick Cobb who died 03 October 1918 in the flu epidemic.[2] But even with this information, one should not assume that Frank and Frederick were brothers.

Some of the languages defined for the 1920 census

Instructions to the enumerators are a good way to make sure you understand what each item on the census means. The instructions for the 1920 are found on a handy website called IPUMS which stands for the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series. Perusing the instructions for the 1920 census at IPUMS shows that:

  • The list of principal foreign languages for column 20 (mother tongue) consisted of a list of 63 languages ranging from Albanian to Magyar to Yiddish.
  • Regarding occupations the enumerator were told that “Care should be taken in making the return for persons who on account of old age, permanent invalidism, or otherwise are no longer following an occupation. Such persons may desire to return the occupations formerly followed, which would be incorrect.”
  • For person with more than one occupation, the enumerators were told that “If a person has two occupations, return only the more important one-that is, the one from which he gets the more money. If you can not learn that, return the one at which he spends the more time. For example: Return a man as farmer if he gets more of his income from farming, although he may also follow the occupation of a clergyman or preacher; but return him as a clergyman if he gets more of his income from that occupation.”
  • Working at housework was given no credit if there were no wages involved. Instructions were “In the case of a woman doing housework in her own home and having no other employment, the entry in column 26 should be none. But a woman working at housework for wages should be returned in column 26 as housekeeper, servant, or cook, or chambermaid, as the case may be; and the entry in column 27 should state the kind of place where she works, as private family, hotel, or boarding house.
  • A birth place (within the United States) of the individual had some specific instructions in that “If the person was born in the United States, give the State or Territory in which born. The words “United States” are not sufficiently definite. A person born in what is now West Virginia, North Dakota, South Dakota, or Oklahoma should be so reported, although at the time of his birth the particular region may have had a different name. Do not abbreviate the names of States and Territories.” This tells you that the name at the time of the census was used, not the name of the place at the time of the person’s birth. A subtle but important piece of information.

This census also has some notations on the far right for the family members that are employed. Robert, William and Jennie all have “528” handwritten in the far right hand column. IPUMS also is handy for looking up industry codes. This one is fairly straightforward in that 528 stands for silk mills within the semi-skilled operatives in the textile industries. Since the codes were added after the census was taken, they’re not really not much aide except to help decipher some enumerator’s poor handwriting. If you can’t make out the scribbling in the industry column, the additional codes may help with that.

CONCLUSION

The fact that Caroline, Jennie, and Lillian were all widowed by 01 January 1920 suggests some obvious further research into their husbands’ deaths and makes me want to ferret out information on their marriages. Harry Sharbaugh living in the household suggests that yet another of Caroline’s daughters was married but has passed away by the time the census was taken. It is somewhat sad to think of all the people who didn’t make it to be enumerated in this particular census within Caroline’s family.


[1] Anna (Karthaeuser) Repsher, compiler, “Family Record of J. J. Repsher Jr. and Caroline Repsher nee Bonser”; (Handwritten family group sheets, Netcong, New Jersey, 1911-1970), p. 114. Privately held by Jodi Lynn Strait, Tucson, AZ.
[2] Anna (Karthaeuser) Repsher, compiler, “Family Record of J. J. Repsher Jr. and Caroline Repsher nee Bonser”; (Handwritten family group sheets, Netcong, New Jersey, 1911-1970), p. 126. Privately held by Jodi Lynn Strait, Tucson, AZ.