The Saga of Thomas Chaney, Part III: The Wife!
This week our Thomas Chaney pre-1850 census study continues…
In 1810 this person was born between 1765 and 1784.
In summary, if these entries are referring to the same person they indicate a female born between 1765 and 1770. Fortunately (or unfortunately) there's no indication thus far that Thomas had multiple wives. Of course, if Thomas had more than one wife, they easily could have been approximately the same age. If this is the case, the change in a wife would have been "hidden" by the use of age categories in pre-1850 census records.
According to the 1820 census, the last four children in Thomas' family
were born between 1810 and 1820. This conclusion is based upon the fact that
the 1830 census for Thomas indicates no children under the age of ten. Given
traditional family planning during that era, it would be reasonable to begin
our analysis of these four children, with years of birth roughly in 1810,
1812, 1814 and 1816. These years are only approximate and are starting
point. If Thomas' wife was born as late as 1770 (which would be consistent
with all the ages listed for her in the census), she would be 46 at the
birth of her last child. Giving birth to a ninth or tenth child at the age
of 46 would not be unheard of.
1) She was the mother of all his children.
According to the 1810 census, children in Thomas' household were born as
early as 1794. A mother born between 1765 and 1770 (as we think Thomas' wife
was) could easily have had a child born in 1794. Actually, if the woman
listed in all the censuses with Thomas is the same one and is in fact the
mother of all his children, one could reasonably think she was born closer
to 1770 than to 1765. A wife born in 1770 would have had her first child at
the age of 24. A wife born in 1765 would have had the first child at the age
of 29. Given the era, a first child at 24 is more likely than a first child
at 29. But of course, anything is possible. Keep in mind that we are still
assuming all the ages as given in the census are entirely correct.
I have not located Thomas with absolute certainty in any pre-1810 census.
Assuming one believes in such things, it is possible Thomas was dropped by
aliens from a spaceship into the Pennsylvania mountains. What is more
reasonable is that Thomas is listed somewhere I have not looked, "hiding"
under an unusual surname variant, living with his parents, or missing from
the census altogether. While the UFO story may be cute it likely is not the
solution to my problem.
I am assuming Thomas is the oldest male in each of the household he heads. The following years of birth are inferred from the ages of the oldest male in the four census entries for Thomas Chaney.
1810 Census—born between 1765 and 1784
Conclusion: Thomas was born between 1770 and 1775.
Of course, census ages for an individual are not always consistent even when we are certain it is the same person listed in two consecutive census enumerations.
When all the information from the 1810 through 1840 census for Thomas is analyzed, it seems fairly reasonable these entries are for the same man. Everything ties together fairly nicely, except for girl 8. We should consider ourselves lucky if there is only one unaccounted for inconsistency. If there were many children appearing and disappearing from the records, or if the head of household's year of birth changed significantly from one census to the next, then we might have to re-consider if the entries were all for the same person.
What Else Should I Do?
Michael John Neill, is the Course I Coordinator at the Genealogical Institute of Mid America (GIMA) held annually in Springfield, Illinois, and is also on the faculty of Carl Sandburg College in Galesburg, Illinois. Michael is the Web columnist for the FGS FORUM and is on the editorial board of the Illinois State Genealogical Society Quarterly. He conducts seminars and lectures on a wide variety of genealogical and computer topics and contributes to several genealogical publications, including Ancestry and Genealogical Computing. You can e-mail him at: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website at: www.rootdig.com/, but he regrets that he is unable to assist with personal research.
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