Posts Tagged ‘Census Taker’

The Quiet Town of Rockville Centre

May 5, 2010

The wreck of the bargue Mexico in 1837, 115 dead. The Bristol was also shipwrecked a week earlier. The unclaimed dead from both shipwrecks are buried here. The monument was erected in memory of the loss of life from both ships. Raynor Rock Smith was a hero in saving 8 persons from the wreck of the Mexico. This poem was engraved of one panel on the stone. "In this grave from the wide ocean doth sleep The bodies of those that crossed the deep And instead of being landed safe on the shore In a cold frosty night they are no more" Added by: Mary Jane Denton 10/03/2008

Image from Find-A-Grave

Census-Taker Gets Easy Job

ROCKVILLE CENTRE, N.Y. (AP) — Mrs. Marian Attfield, the first census taker to complete her rounds in Nassau county, returned to headquarters here yesterday and told officials:

“No one would talk.”

She explained that she found the Long Island area assigned to her contained nothing but a cemetery and an abandoned house.

Carroll Daily Times Herald (Carroll, Iowa) Apr 4, 1950

Taking the Census: “Answer a Fool According to His Folly”

March 26, 2010

We always take pleasure in copying the witty effusions of the Editor of the N.Y. Constellation — there is so much real Yankee in his writings. Ed.

From the New York Constellation.


SCENE — A House in the Country.

Inquisitor. Good mornings Madam. Is the head of the family at home?

Mrs. Touchwood. Yes, sir, I’m at home.

Inq. Hav’nt you a husband?

Mrs. T. Yes, sir, but he ant at the head of the family, I’d have you to know.

Inq. How many persons have you in your family?

Mrs. T. Why, bless me, sir, what’s that to you? You’re mighty inquisitive, I think.

Inq. I’m the man that takes the census.

Mrs. T. If you was a man in your senses, you would’nt ax such impertinent questions.

Inq. Don’t be affronted, old lady, but answer my questions as I ask them.

Mrs. T. “Answer a fool according to his folly” — you know what the scripture says. Old lady, indeed!

Inq. I beg pardon, Madam; but I don’t care about hearing Scripture just at this moment, I’m bound to go according to law and not according to gospel.

Mrs. T. I should think you wert neither according to law, nor gospel. What is it to you to inquire folkes affairs Mr. Thingambob?

Inq. The law makes it my business good woman, and if you don’t want to expose yourself to its penalties, you must answer my questions.

Mrs. T. Oh it’s the law is it? — That alters the case. But I should like to know what business the law has with people’s household matters.

Inq. Why Congress made the law, and if it dos’nt please you, you must talk to them.

Mrs. T. Talk to a fiddle stick! — Why, Congress is a fool, and you’re another.

Inq. Now, good lady, you’re a find looking woman, and if you’ll give me a few civil answers I’ll thank you. What I wish to know first is, how many persons there are in your family.

Mrs. T. Let me see, [Counting on her fingers] there’s I and my husband is one —

Inq. Are you always one?

Mrs. T. What’s that to you I should like to know. But I tell you if you don’t leave off interrupting me I wont say another word.

Inq. Well, take your own way, and be hanged to you.

Mrs. T. I will take my own way and no thanks to you. [Again counting on her fingers.] There’s I and my husband is one; there’s John, he’s two; Peter is three, Sue and Moll are four, and Thomas is five. And then there’s Mr. Jenkins and his wife and the two children is six; and there’s Jowler he’s seven.

Inq. Jowler! Who’s he?

Mrs. T. Who’s Jowler! Why who should he be but the old house dog?

Inq. It’s the number of persons I want to know.

Mrs. T. Very well, Mr. Flippergin, ant Jowler a person? Come here Jowler, and speak for yourself. I’m sure he’s as personal a dog as there is in the whole state.

Inq. He’s a very clever dog, no doubt. But it’s the number of human beings I want to know.

Mrs. T. Human! There ant a more human dog that ever breathed.

Inq. Well, but I mean the two-legged kind of beings.

Mrs. T. O, the two-legged is it? Well then, there’s the old rooster, he’s seven; the fighting cock is eight, and the bantam is nine —

Inq. Stop, stop, good woman, I beg of you. I don’t want to know the number of your fowls.

Mrs. T. I’m very sorry indeed I can’t please you, such a weet gentleman as you are. But didn’t you tell me ’twas the two-legged beings?

Inq. True, but I didn’t mean the hens.

Mrs. T. O, now I understand you. The old gobbler, he’s seven, the hen turkey is eight — and if you’ll wait a week there’ll be a parcel of young ones, for the old hen turkey is setting on a whole snarl of eggs.

Inq. D___n your turkies!

Mrs. T. O don’t now, good Mr. Hippersticher — I pray you don’t. — They’re as honest turkies as any in the country.

Inq. Don’t vex me any more. — I’m getting to be angry.

Mrs. T. Ha, ha, ha!

Inq. [Striding about the room in a rage.] Have a care, madam, or I shall fly out of my skin.

Mrs. T. If you do I don’t know who’ll fly in.

Inq. You do all you can to anger me. It’s the two-legged creatures who talk, that I have reference to.

Mrs. T. O, now I understand you. Well then, our Poll Parrot makes seven and the black girl eight.

Inq. I see you will have your own way.

Mrs. T. You have just found it out, have you? You’re a smart little man!

Inq. Have you mentioned the whole of your family?

Mrs. T Yes, sir that’s the whole — except the wooden-headed man in the other room.

Inq. Wooden-headed!

Mrs. T. Yes; the school-master, that’s boarding here.

Inq. I suppose if he has a wooden head, he lives without eating, and therefore must be a profitable boarder.

Mrs. T. O no, sir, you’re mistaken there. He eats like a leather judgment.

Inq. How many slaves are there belonging to the family?

Mrs. T. Slaves? Why there are no slaves but I and my husband.

Inq. What makes you and your husband slaves?

Mrs. T. I’m a slave to hard work and he’s a slave to rum. He does nothing all day but guzzle, guzzle, guzzle; while I’m working, tewing and sweating from morning till night, and from night till morning.

Inq. How many free colored persons have you?

Mrs. T. There’s nobody but Diana the black girl, Poll Parrot and my daughter Sue.

Inq. Is your daughter a colored girl?

Mrs. T. I guess you’d think so if you was to see her. She’s always out in the sun — and she’s tanned up as black as an Indian.

Inq. How many white males are there in your family under ten years of age?

Mrs. T. Why there ant none now — my husband don’t carry the mail since he’s taken to drink so bad. He used to carry two but they wasn’t white.

Inq. You mistake, good woman; I meant folks not leather mails.

Mrs. T.]Why, Let me see; there’s none except little Thomas, and Mr. Jenkins’ two little girls.

Inq. Males, I said, madam, not females.

Mrs. T. Well, If you don’t like the fe, you may leave it off.

Inq. How many white males are there between ten and twenty?

Mrs. T. Why there’s nobody but John and Peter; and John run away last week.

Inq. How many white males are there between twenty and thirty?

Mrs. T. Let me see — There’s the wooden-headed man is one, Mr. Jenkins and his wife is two, and the black girl is three.

Inq. No more of your nonsense, old lady; I’m heartily tired of it.

Mrs. T. Hoity toity! hav’nt I a right to talk as I please in my own house?

Inq. You must answer the questions as I put them.

Mrs. T. “Answer a fool according to his folly” — you’re right, Mister Hippogriti.

Inq. How many white males are there between thirty and forty?

Mrs. T. Why, there’s nobody but I and my husband — and he was forty last March.

Inq. As you count yourself among the males, I dare say you wear the breeches.

Mrs. T. Well, what if I do, Mr. Impertinence? is that any thing to you? mind your own business, if you please.

Inq. Certainly — I did but speak — How many white males are there between forty and fifty?

Mrs. T. None.

Inq. How many between fifty and sixty?

Mrs. T. None.

Inq. Are there any between this and a hundred!

Mrs. T. None except the old Gentleman.

Inq. What old gentleman? You hav’nt mentioned any before.

Mrs. T. Why, gramther Grayling — I thought every body knew gramther Grayling — he’s a hundred and two years old, come August, if he lives so long — and I dare say he will, for he’s got the dry wilt, and they say such folks never die.

The census man having inquired the number of females of the different ages, and received the like satisfactory answers, next proceeded to inquire the number of deaf and dumb persons.

Mrs. T. Why, there’s no deaf persons, excepting husband, and he ant so so deaf as he pretends to be. When any body asks him to take a drink of rum, it it’s only in a whisper he can hear quick enough. But if I tell him to fetch an armful of wood, or feed the pigs, or tent the griddle, he’s as deaf as a blockhorse.

Inq. How many dumb persons?

Mrs. T. Dumb! Why, there’s no dumb body in the house, except the wooden-headed man, and he never spoke unless he’s spoken to. — To be sure my husband wishes I was dumb, but he cant make it out.

Inq. Are there any manufactures carried on here?

Mrs. T. None to speak on; except turnip-sausages and tow cloth.

Inq. Turnip-sausages?

Mrs. T. Why yes, turnip sausages. Is there any thing so wonderful in that?

Inq. I never heard of them before. What kind of machinery is used in making them?

Mrs. T. Now you’re terribly inquisitive. What would you give to know?

Inq. Why I’ll give you the name of being the most communicative and pleasant woman I’ve met with the the last half hour.

Mrs. T. Well now you’re so sweet a gentleman, and I must gratify you. You must know we mix with the turnips a little red cloth, so that they needn’t look as if they was made of clear fat meat; then we chop them up well together, put in a little sage, summer savory, and black pepper; and then fill them into sheep’s inwards; and they make as pretty little delicate links as ever was set on a gentleman’s table, they fetch the highest price in the market.

Inq. Indeed!

Mrs. T. Yes, sir. Have you any thing more to ax?

Inq. Nothing more. Good morning madam.

Mrs. T. Stop a moment — can’t you think of something else? Do now, that’s a good man. Wouldn’t you like to know what we’re a going to have for dinner; or how many chickens our old hen hatched at the last brood; or how many —

Inq. Nothing more — nothing more.

Mrs. T. Here, just look in the cup-board, and see how many read ants there are in the sugar-bowl, I hav’nt time to count them myself.

Inq. Curse on your ants and all your relations! [Exit in a huff.]

Huron Reflector (Norwalk, Ohio) Jul 13, 1830

Other Census posts:

Look Out for the Census Man

Census Poetry

Curious Names

Census Poetry

October 24, 2009

(Baltimore American)

We’re a-kickin’ on the census count down here in Bowersville,
The ?aggeus? that they give us is a might bitter pill.
They show that Pierce’s Station has a ten per cent increase,
An’ Jimtown — well they must a numerated Jimtown’s geese!
But Bowersville! The census shows she hasn’t grown at all,
An’ there’s rage an’ wrath from Henry’s store clear to the City Hall.

We can’t see how they jiggor it, for it has been our pride
That in the last ten years there’s only been two men died.
One of them was a peddler, who just gaped for breath an’ went,
When Deacon Skinner didn’t ask him to throw off a cent.
The other was a fellow who fooled with some dynamite —
Jest a button an’ a freckle was the only things to light.

But, gee-mun-nee! There’s Higgins’ twins, an’ Kesler’s girl an’ boy
Besides the triplets that has come to Hezeki McCoy,
An’ other babies! Man alive! You can’t walk anywhere’s
Thought bumpin into kerriges with youthful sons and heirs.
It’s jest a kid procession from the school-house to the mill —
But it isn’t in the census that they took o’ Bowersville.

The census man — he needn’t say he didin’t see ’em all,
He might be blind, but surely he could easy hear ’em bawl!
An’ that’s why we’re a kickin’ on the census man’s report —
We got a blame good notion for to take the case to court.
We think the census taker is in danger o’ the law,
Fer classin’ Bowersville along with shrinkin’ Omaha.

San Antonio Light (San Antonio, Texas) Sep 30, 1900

Census Taker

Census Taker


“Got any boys?” the Taker said
To a lady from over the Rhine,
And the lady shook her flaxen head,
And civilly answered, “Nine!”

“Got any girls?” the Taker said
To the lady from over the Rhine,
And again the lady shook her head
And civilly answered “Nine!”

“Husband, of Course?” the Taker said
To the lady from over the Rhine,
And again she shook her flaxen head
And civilly answered “Nine!”

“The deuce you have!” the Taker said
To the lady from over the Rhine,
And again she shook her flaxen head
And civilly answered “Nine!”

“Now what do you mean by shaking your head
And always answering Nine!”
Ich kunn nicht English!” civilly said
The lady from over the Rhine.

Daily Southern Cross, Volume XXXI, Issue 5669,  Nov 13, 1875, Pg 1

Look Out For The Census Man

October 23, 2009


JAMES HITCHCOCK and WALTER C. HOOD are the Census Marshals for Scioto county. Mr. HITCHCOCK has the townships of Clay, Jefferson, Madison, Nile, Washington, Union, Morgan and Brushcreek. Mr. HOOD takes the city of Portsmouth and the townships of Wayne, Porter, Green, Bloom, Vernon and Harrison. This week we republish the leading questions — and it is hoped that all will try to have the exact answers ready in time for the Marshal when he comes.


Count up Your Cattle, Children, Corn, Acres, &c., for the Census Man.

IN arranging the heading of this item, we have had respect to the relative degree of interest usually taken in the subjects. This year will occur the decennial census of the United States, the first object of which is the apportionment of representatives in Congress. Persons will be appointed for every locality in the States and Territories, to gather statistics of the inhabitants, and of all the agricultural productions, manufacturers, &c. Every cultivator will be asked for a concise, accurate statement of land occupied by him, the number of acres and the amount of each crop raised during the year ending June, 1859. As these reports will be called for in June, it will be necessary to give in the crops gathered last year, and the suggestion we would now make is, that cultivators write down, while fresh in their mind, the number of acres under cultivation, including the wheat, &c., gathered. The number of acres of each kind, the amount per acre, and the gross amount, will be required. The milk products also, and the amount of pork, beef, &c. will be asked for; also, the number of persons, male and female, and their ages, in every house. — Advanced spinsters, and middle-aged bachelors, widows and widowers, will undoubtedly cordially do their best to enlighten the census-takers as to their ages.


THE editor is busy, — taking the Census. Can’t do much in the line of writing this week.


WE have a number of items, touching our experience and observations while taking the census of the First Ward in this city, but must defer their publication to a “more convenient season.” All in time, however.

The Portsmouth Times (Portsmouth, Ohio) Jun 9, 1860

From The Evening Independent (St. Petersburg, Florida) apr 5, 1930

From The Evening Independent (St. Petersburg, Florida) apr 5, 1930

The Census-Takers and the Public.

IT would seem that a good many people have not yet got over their fright of 1840. Twenty years have not obliterated from the tablets of their memory the impressions put there by the Opposition papers and stumpers of that day. They were then told that the census-takers were mere spies of the General Government to find out the substance of the people for the purpose of taxing it.

The babies were to be taxed, the ducks were to be taxed, the corn was to be taxed, the pigs were to be taxed, every thing was to be taxed, and if the taxes were not paid, that their property would be seized and sold to pay them.

It seems that the belief they were then scared into sticks to them, and the census-takers now find considerable opposition from ignorant people. They will not give the information required by the law. It is surprising that at this day any persons can be found who would refuse to comply with the requirements of the law by answering the questions put by the census-takers. The object of the law is a good one, and all good citizens will give the census-takers a helping hand.


The Decennial Census.

THE United States Marshals and their assistants began, on the 1st of June, the task of taking the seventh decennial census of our people. The different censuses aggregate as follows:

Unusual care has been taken in the preparation of the schedules of questions, and it is to be hoped that the aggregate statements will be ready for publication at an earlier day  than those of 1850. A circular containing a list of the queries in Schedule 1 has been prepared for circulation among manufacturers, and will be placed in their hands in time to prepare complete replies, as it is very desirable that as correct a return as possible may be made of every description of articles manufactured with the value of each. In case the information is withheld, or false returns made designedly, the following penalty is affixed by the fifteenth section of the Act of Congress:

“Each and every free person more than twenty years of age, belonging to any family residing in any sub-division, and in case of the absence of the heads and other member of any such family, then any agent of such family, shall be, and each of them is hereby required; if thereto requested by the Marshal or his assistant, to render a true account to the best of his or her knowledge, of every person belonging to such family, in the various particulars required in and by this act, and the tables thereto subjoined, on pain of forfeiting thirty dollars, to be sued for and recovered in an action of debt by the assistant, to the use of the United States.”

The first schedule will require answers as follows:

The name of every person whose usual place of abode on the first day of June was in the family.

The profession, occupation, or trade of each person, male or female over fifteen years of age.

Value of all real estate, wherever located, and all personal estate.

Place of birth.

Married within the year.

Attended school within the year.

Persons over twenty years of age who cannot read or write.

The manufacturers’ schedule requires the name of business; amount of capital invested; raw material used, either in manufacture directly or as fuel; the kind and value of raw material; kind of motive power, or resources, as furnaces, bloomeries, etc., number of hands employed; wages paid them; and the quantity, number and value, at the manufactory, of the articles manufactured.

This is the most important schedule, and it is of the utmost importance that all the required information should be fully and accurately given. By this table the entire labor product of the country — its real wealth — is to be determined.

The Portsmouth Times (Portsmouth, Ohio) Jun 16, 1860

THE census takers will soon be around with all sorts of questions, and the ladies are advised to “get their ages ready.”

The Portsmouth Times (Portsmouth, Ohio) May 28, 1870


The census-taker in Davis county, Iowa, asked a woman at a farm house the age of her oldest child, and the reply was: “You have come around a month too soon.”

Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) Jun 30, 1870


TWENTY-SIX is the maximum age attained by any unmarried ladies, say the census takers.

The Portsmouth Times (Portsmouth, Ohio) Jul 23, 1870

A Southern census taker says:

As for the ages of the negroes, that is almost entirely a matter of conjecture. So far as my experience goes, nineteen out of twenty cannot tell within then years how old they are, nor are their parents more accurate even with regard to their very young children, “John was born in cotton pickin’ time, de year before freedom struck de earth;” “Jenny was two monts old when Massa Charley got wounded in de war;” “Sal was born ’bout de time massa built him new gin house;” “Jime was born in de Christmas week of de year when frost killed de taturs;” such are the data from which to collect the ages of children, while the years of older persons are a matter of more uncertain conjecture.

Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) Sep 21, 1870


The Census.

The census taker complains of difficulty in ascertaining the number of persons in many families, because of the impression that the information is to be used for political purposes…

Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) Nov 23, 1873


The work of taking the national census will be commenced in June, and when completed will furnish a great deal of valuable and instructive information, as a comprehensive review of almost everything relating to the material prosperity of the country.

The number of acres under cultivation and the acreage of each particular crop will be given.

The people will also be able to post themselves with regard to the quantity and quality of the weather they have used up in the past, so to speak, and form conjectures as to what they may expect in the future.

All this information can not fail to be useful, and will create a demand throughout the country for more censuses, at shorter intervals than has been customary heretofore.

The field of inquiry might be advantageously extended into other departments of knowledge, and thus the sphere of usefulness of the census-taker widened out very perceptibly.

For instance, a good many believe in the truth of phrenology, and popular parlance sustains this belief. How often we read of a wise man being “a man of brains.” Daniel Webster, Napoleon the First, and almost all other men of remarkable ability had, or are supposed to have had, very large heads. Perhaps, if the census-taker were to present a tabular statement of the exact dimensions of the heads of the members of congress and of our sixteenth legislature, some data might be obtained that would be useful to the state and country, and more than repay the additional expense incurred in obtaining the desired measurements. The people would have some clew by which to go in selecting the next batch of representatives.

Or, let up suppose that the census-taker were to turn his attention to another class of offenders. How instructive, and even amusing, it would be to peruse a tabular statement showing at a glance how many murderers have been tried in Texas during the past few years; how much, in dollars and cents, each murderer was worth; what the action of the courts was in each case; how many lawyers each murderer had to assist him; how long he was in jail before he got his final trial, etc. In that case the relations between big fees, frequent continuances, and foul acquittals could be ascertained. There would be no difficulty in finding out how many wealthy and influential murderers have been executed during the last ten years, and how many indigent and friendless ones honorably acquitted.

Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) Feb 12, 1880

Census Taker — Married or single, ma’am?

Woman — Married.

Census Taker — Any children?

Woman — No.

Census Taker — Husband living?

Woman — Yes.

Census Taker — Has he any children?


Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) Dec 17, 1889


The Brunet of the Species is More Deadly Than the Blond.

A woman in Lowell, Mass. replied to the census taker’s question, “To what race do you belong?” by writing down brunet. — Indianapolis News.

Appleton Post Crescent (Appleton, Wisconsin) Feb 20, 1920