Family Stories: I Found Great-Great Grandpa Sharp – FINALLY in the 1870 Census; Doing the Happy Dance!
When I began research for story “Searching for Grandpa Sharp”, I was never able to find him in the 1870 Census…. Until Now! He was there in 1860, Dwelling 210, Family No. 207, with wife, Narcissa, and son, James T. age 8 months. Even in this census, his middle initial was given incorrectly – the census enumerator wrote an “L” – it should have been a “T.”
In 1880, I found him as a widower, now in Hancock Co., with children Edwin (15), Emma (13), Rossa (11) and William (7). That really peaked my interest – what happened to my great-great grandmother Narcissa? In thinking about William being Narcissa’s last child, I now know that she was alive up to 1873; could she have died in childbirth? I believe Joseph, as a widower, moved his family – closer to his family in Hancock, possibly to help in child rearing.
I felt compelled to continue searching. It was that elusive year of 1870, that has gnawed at me all these years… until now. I finally found him, and right where he had been all along -under my nose. Isn’t it always the case?
In messaging my cousin, I mentioned how he and his wife were missing in the census year of 1860, and how it had always been on my mind. I then mentioned how it was still on my mind again, and I was going to go and search the 1870 Crawfordville, Taliaferro Co., Ga census – page by page. My first thought was to go back and find him again in 1860, check who his neighbors were, and go look for them in the 1870 census in the same area. I was thinking – to see if he possibly was somehow listed in another family – in that area; maybe his surname had been misspelled, causing him never to be indexed correctly. He had lived at Family No. 207, next to his brother, James L., Family No. 208.
In viewing the 1870 census, I found his brother James L., now Family No. 585; next door was brother, William L., Family No. 588. I then noticed a black family at No. 589, a Scott Butler, age 70, wife Maria, age 35, both listed as farm laborers and showing a large family. My eyes quickly focused on a Joseph right below the wife, but with a Family No. of 590. My eyes scanned down through the rest of the names, and at first look, they seemed to be in the Butler family, but a second look told me No! I quickly noticed they were all in a different family no., but still grouped with the surname of Butler. The census enumerator had never written in the “new” surname for this family, but instead he continued drawing a straight line to signal the surname above of Butler was continuing down to these names. At that moment, I wanted to just slap him silly, but I was too busy doing the happy dance!!!
They were all there – my Joseph T., wife Narcissa, Thomas (12), who really is the James T. from the 1860 census, Anna (9), Edwin (7), Emma (5) and my Rosy, age six months. I finally had found them and learned the reason why they were never found in the 1870 Taliaferro Co., Georgia Census! Makes me wonder, “how many other people can’t find their family because of the enumerator indexing the incorrect family name?” This Scott Butler might possibly have even worked on Joseph’s farm or sharecropped for him. Living right next door, could he have given all the info to the enumerator that day and it was all misunderstood? We will never know now, but all is forgiven!
Finally I had broken through another brick wall!
My next step after I stopped “dancing” was to send Ancestry a note on this mistake and ask for it to be corrected in their index. I also checked Family Search and sent them a note of correction. They even had Narcissa’s name as “Narcispa” – that long English writing often looks like a “p” when they write the double ss’s together.
It’s been a long time coming to find this census record of 1870, but it just takes some thinking out of the box sometimes – to find those records. Too bad, it took me so long to “think”! Sometimes it just takes batting ideas off one another also – so “Thank You” cousin Evelyn Smallwood Smith for listening to me and offering encouragement as well as your many comments and remembrances to my family stories!
More family stories can be found on my 2014 52 Ancestors 52 Stories Blog…
© 2016 Jeanne Bryan Insalaco