Let’s Talk About: Census WOW Tidbits

If you but really look, the census records reveal some astounding factoids. Take this example:

The year was 1860 and the place the Western Rural District of North Carolina. I was helping a friend with her CHEEK family research and went WOW when I found her family………. but not for just the discovering of the Cheek family. Yes, F.J. Cheek and his wife Frances L., and children Margarett B., Willis P., Emmett and Sarah J. were her family but look what it says for 15-year-old Margarett: Wayne F. Colledge.

I first took that for a husband? employer? But then bells began ringing! I’d bet pennies that young Miss Margarett was attending the Fort Wayne Women’s College, a division of the Conference of the Methodist Church. (Now Taylor University, located in Upland, Indiana, it’s still a thriving institution.) The college was established in 1855………. the census year was 1860, making Margarett one of the first students. Wow.

Questions kept coming: how did Margarett travel from rural western North Carolina to Fort Wayne, Indiana? Wagon? Railroad? All by her 15-year-old self? How did her farmer/seamstress parents afford her tuition and why was that important to them? How did Margarett’s college education enrich her life??

Sidebar Question: Do you think Frances L., wife of F.J. Cheek, the mother of ALL four of those children? Did you see the gap between Willis, age 14, and Emmett, age 6? Doesn’t this ring a bell to you? Likely Father Cheek had two wives is what it speaks to me.

One comment on “Let’s Talk About: Census WOW Tidbits

  1. Ginny Majewski says:

    Good example of the many tidbits you can find in census records! Thats why I love researching in them!

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