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Census Confusion

Have you ever encountered a census record where the family had an extra child that you were unaware of? Professional researchers will caution us to not make assumptions from those listed in a household when the relationship is not stated. However, it is very easy to look at that census record and think the household is one family.

My first encounter with a household on the 1850 census record not being a family unit was with the record for Jane Barnes Currey and her children. Jane’s husband, Thomas M. Currey, died in 1848. In 1850, Jane is shown still living in Carroll County, Indiana with the following in her household:

  • James Currey age 26 and born in Indiana
  • Elizabeth Currey age 21 and born in Indiana
  • Amanda Currey age 19 and born in Indiana
  • Helen Currey age 17 and born in Indiana
  • Caroline Currey age 8 and born in Indiana
  • Hiram Currey age 15 and born in Indiana
  • Catharin Barnes age 15 and born in Indiana

Both James and Hiram have ‘Farm’ listed as their occupation. Based on this one record, it would be easy to assume that Hiram is a member of this family. However, a search of Carroll County Indiana Probate Records uncovers documents that identify the heirs of Thomas M. Currey.

Probate Order Book
Carroll County, Indiana
Book 2 page 520

May Term 1848 — 3rd Day May 10

Austin C Sheets Administrator
of the estate of Thomas M. Curry deceased
Sarah C Sheets
James B Curry
Mary I Curry
Elizabeth J Curry
Easter A Curry
Helen M Curry
Caroline T Curry

Application to sell land

And now at this time comes
the said Administrator by M
Allen his atty and files his
petition in the words & figures
following (insert) praying for a sale of certain real estate
therein named and there upon he files in open court an
inventory and appraisement of the real estate in the words
& figures following (insert) and thereupon the said petitioner
files in open court the written consent of the said defendants
Sarah C Sheets James B Curry Mary I Currey who are of
lawful age
[manning] the service of process herein arise
consenting that a decree shall be [entered]at the present
term of this for the sale of the lands described in said
petition and thereupon comes into open court James B
Curry who is the guardian of the persons and property of
said defendents Elizabeth J Currey Easter A Curry
Helen M Curry & Caroline T Curry
who are minors under
the age of twenty one years and [bears the using] and service
of process herein and enters his appearance for the said
defendants & minors and consents that proceedings in this
cause may be had and the case heard at the present
term of this court and thereupon said Administrator
now files in open court his additional bond with John
Barr his security which is in the words & figures following
(insert) which is by the court approved and the court
after being fully advised in the [promises use after]
having heard the proof, and allegations of the parties
It is therefore ordered adjudged by the court now here
that the said Thomas M Curry deceased at the time of his
was seized in fee simple of the following lands situate in
said county of Carroll, State of Indiana to wit The west
half of the south west quarter of Section No (26) twenty six
Township No (24) twenty four Range No (1) one east Also
the East half of the south east quarter of section no (27)
twenty seven same township and range and that said
decedent at the time of his death held a title bond from
Martin Shinn for the south west quarter as the South
East quarter of section No (27) twenty seven same
Township and Range on which said last mentioned
land full payment had been mad by said decendant

page 521
in his lifetime that it is further ordered adjudged and decreed
by the court that said Administrator proceed to sell said
land at public sale at the court house door in Delphi on the
first Monday in June 1848 after having [adm?t?d] the time
and place of sale in Carroll express a newspaper of general
circulation printed and published in said county and by putting up
written notices in the Township where the land is situate
according to law that it is further ordered adjudged &
Decreed by the court that said Administrator sell the said
land on the following terms to wit eight hundred dollars
cash in hand and the balance in two equal payments
twelve and eighteen months from the day of sale the purchaser
giving good free hold security for the payment of said purchase
money and it is further ordered that said real estate shall
not be sold for less than two thirds of its appraised value after
subtracting all loyal incumbrances on the same and it is
further ordered ajudged decreed by the court that if said
Administrator shall fail to sell said land at public sale
as above directed that then he shall proceed to sell the
same at private sale to the highest bidder so that the amount
shall not be less than two thirds the appraised value
thereof after directing incumbrances as aforesaid [and
said Administrator as part his proceedings to the next
term of this court & this cause is continued.

Indiana, Carroll County. Probate Records, 1829-1913; indexes, 1844-1891. Film #2200813 DGS 7708858. Petition to sell Thomas Currey’s land, 10 May 1848 Vol. 2: page 520-521; digitized images, FamilySearch http://www.familysearch.org : viewed before 2016.

Hiram Currey is missing from the probate document. That combined with the fact that he is listed after the other Currey children would suggest that he is NOT a child in this family. Without the probate record, I would likely have assumed that 15 year old Hiram was a child of Jane Currey.

Thus, I’m thankful that other researchers taught me to look beyond a single record and to collect as much information as I can on each member of a family.

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