1820 Cranberry, New Jersey Census Substitute

There are no extant United States Federal census population schedules for the state of New Jersey prior to 1830.1 Therefore, any surviving list of inhabitants before that time will be a welcome addition to the scholarship for genealogists and historians researching in the Garden State who are trying to pinpoint residents of a particular community. I recently discovered one such list for Middlesex County.

While reviewing early newspapers for any mention of my New Jersey Carson family, I ran across an entry for one General Charles Carson of Cranberry, New Jersey, nominated as a Representative to the 17th U.S. Congress.2 Despite the fact that my ancestor shares a name with this man, I am unaware of any relationship to him at this time. It is possible my ancestor was simply named for this officer in the War of 1812.3 The mention piqued my curiosity nonetheless because of the sheer number of names included in the article. It appears to be a comprehensive listing of adult male residents of the town of Cranberry, Middlesex County, New Jersey and can stand in as a census substitute.

Responding to an article dated 19 Sep 1820 in which Carson’s character had been allegedly impugned, sixty male petitioners of the town affixed their name to a letter sent to Messrs. Tuttle & Co., presumably the editors or printers of the newspaper. I have transcribed the complete article below.

From The Centinel of Freedom, published in Newark, New Jersey, dated 25 Sep 1820, p. 1, col. 4. Courtesy New Jersey State Archives.

Messrs. Tuttle &. Co.

   A publication has appeared in your paper of the 19th inst., wrote no doubt with an intent to injure me in public estimation. In justice to the feeling of my friends, my family and myself [illegible] following a place in your paper.


  We the undersigned, inhabitants of the village of Cranberry, in the county of Middlesex, state of New Jersey, understanding that a publication has appeared in the Newark Centinel derogatory to the character of Gen. Charles Carson of this place, wherein the writer makes the following remark — “I trust his standing at home will be inquired into by the gentlemen who compose the Convention.” In justice to the individual whose character is thus publicly assailed, we have no hesitation in saying that we believe him to be a man of the strictest veracity, in whose honesty and integrity we have the fullest confidence.

Cranberry, 25th Sept. 1820.

  Nathaniel Hunt, Samuel Disbrow, George Barclay, Amos Shaw, Cajah Voorhies, John W. Perrine, William Jordan, Aaron Disbrow, John N. Lewis, Aaron D. Shaw, James Clarke, Elias Bayles, Joshua Edwards, Rescarrick Ayres, William H. Mershon, Cornelius Voorhies, Timothy Horner, Reuben Vanderbeak, Clement Hooper, Peter Sutphin, John Voorhies, Joseph M’Chesney, Charles R. Brindly, Andrew G. Vankirk, Henry Silcox, Daniel Ervin, Joseph Conover, Aaron Dewitt, jr., William Newton, jr., Lewis Carman, John Jordon, Ralph P. Lott, John Van Dyke, Matthew Gilland, William Logan, James Debow, William Newton, Aaron Lane, John Clark, Jacob Brown, Ezekiel Ervin, Joseph M’Chesney, jr., James Vanhart, Randolph Hunt, John Vankirk, Horatia Sansbury, Syrennes C. Henry, Aaron Dewitt, David Conover, Peter Conover, Joseph Mount, John Voorhies, jr., Amos Coriell, Geo. Naphey, Okey H. Vankirk, Anthony Appleget, George Shaw, Henry Perrine, James Stephenson, George Davis.

   We do hereby certify, that Gen. Charles Carson, was born in the village of Cranberry, and has resided therein ever since, and that his recommendation is signed by all the free white male inhabitants of said place above the age of twenty one, with the exception of one young man who is from home at the time.  [Emphasis mine.]



1 Alice Eicholz, ed., Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources, 3rd. ed. (Salt Lake City: Ancestry, Inc., 1992): 448.

2 “A List,” Centinel of Freedom (Newark, New Jersey), 19 Sep 1820, p. [2?], col. 4.

3 Although called a General in this article, he was a Captain of the 15th U.S. Infantry in the War of 1812, a rank he held from March 1812-April 1813. It is unclear when or whether he may have attained the rank of General. See Francis B. Heitman, Historical Record and Dictionary of the United States Army, 1789-1903 (Washington, D.C. : Government Printing Office, 1903), 1: 286; digital image, HathiTrust Digital Library (http://www.hathitrust.org/ : accessed 25 Nov 2017).

Totality, Then and Now

We are less than 24 hours away from a total solar eclipse in the United States. If sales of protective eyewear are any indication, interest in witnessing this rather unique event is very high. I have my eclipse glasses, and plan to drive in to work early just so I can be out of the car and ready to witness the event, which will only be a near total eclipse (98%) here in Seattle.

The last total solar eclipse to traverse the continental United States was on June 8th, 1918. My grandmother was a teenager then living in Kansas, so I got to thinking about whether she would have been able to have seen the eclipse and how it was reported in the newspaper in her time. When she learned the next event of this magnitude was nearly one hundred years in the future, I wonder if she mused about whether she would have children or grandchildren who would witness the event? I will never know the answer to that question, but can research how the event was covered in 1918. Using Chronicling America, my favorite historical newspaper site, I was able to locate an article in The Topeka State Journal. Amid the many columns devoted to updates from the front about the war effort overseas was this article, quoted below:

Kansas in Path of Event Rarely Seen in America.
Next Total Eclipse Here Will Be in 2017.

  Ninety percent of the normal sunlight in Kansas will be shut off this afternoon between hours of 5:22 and 6:22 o’clock, when the moon will pass between the sun and the earth. In some parts of the country the eclipse will be total.

  The total eclipse of the sun takes place when the lunar shadow actually reaches the earth. While the moon passes eastward, approaching gradually the point where it is exactly between us and the sun, steadily the darkness deepens as more and more sunlight is withdrawn. Then quite suddenly the darkness of late twilight comes on, when the moon reaches just the point where the moon first shuts off completely the light of the sun. At that instant, the solar corona flashes out and the total eclipse begins.

Shadow Passes Rapidly.

  The observer is then within the umbra and totality only lasts so long as he remains within it. As an average, the umbra will require less than three minutes to pass by any one place, but the extreme length of a total solar eclipse is nearly eight minutes.

  Those who will be lucky enough to make the journey to any of the towns over which the shadow of the eclipse will appear will do well to get as near the center of the favored zone as possible. It will not be necessary to take a telescope, but a smoked or dark glass can be used to advantage to watch the progress of the moon in its preliminary phase, the glass should be discarded as soon as the totality arrives.

100 Years Until Next Eclipse in U.S.

  Not until 2017 will another total solar eclipse be visible over so large an area of this country, and it is rare that an eclipse track anywhere in the world offers so great a choice of accessible sites for observing the eclipse.1

[Article continues.]
Total Solar Eclipse, 1918
This image of the path of the total solar eclipse of June 8, 1918 was published in the El Paso Herald (El Paso, Texas).

Image: “Sun to be in total eclipse in this section June 8th in afternoon,” El Paso (Texas) Herald, 4 May 1918, p. 21, cols. 2-8; digital image, Library of Congress, Chronicling America Historic American Newspapers (http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov, accessed 20 Aug 2017).

1 “In Eclipse Today,” Topeka State Journal (Topeka, Kans.), 8 June 1918, p. 1, col. 2; digital image, Library of Congress, Chronicling America Historic American Newspapers  (http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov, accessed 20 Aug 2017).

Proof, in the Form of a Letter


A cousin shares a Civil War letter that confirms the death of my ancestor, Charles Carson, in 1863

Many of the men in our extended Carson family enlisted when called to defend the Union in the Civil War. My ancestor, Charles Carson of Trenton, New Jersey was not among them. He would have been 37 years of age when the war broke out, but for some unknown reason he did not enlist. Whether he suffered from a physical infirmity, or whether it was due to family obligations – he had a wife, and by varying accounts either six or eight children at home – we may never know. Perhaps his skills as a sawyer were needed on the home front. What is known is that many of his kinsmen did serve, and it is through the records they left as a result of their service that has allowed this researcher to paint a much fuller picture of the extended family.

Charles Carson married into another Carson family when he took Caroline Carson as a bride in Monmouth County, New Jersey 29 Jun 1845.1 Caroline’s younger sister Amy Carson married a man of Germanic descent, William Hausman, who later went off to war, serving in Co. E. of the 21st New Jersey regiment.2

In 2008, William McGovern, a Carson descendant through the Hausman’s daughter Bertha, reached out to me via the GenForum message board, and informed me of the existence of a letter written by William Hausman and his reference to Charley Carson within it. McGovern thought I might possibly be able to identify Charley. In 2016, he gave me permission to publish the contents of the letter. I am still not clear whether McGovern owns the original letter, or whether he has only a copy.

William Hausman was convalescing in the Tilton Army hospital in Delaware when he learned of the death of Charles Carson and penned a response to his wife on the back of a song sheet3, probably distributed that night at the event he describes in his letter. Oh, how I wish that her letter to him had also been preserved to know her thoughts and feelings on the death of her brother-in-law.

I offer a complete transcription of the letter below. Emphasis mine. Note that the letter had only about seven words per line; I have not maintained the exact formatting due to the nature of its presentation on this blog. The spelling and punctuation is as it appears in the original, however.


               Tilton Hospital     June 10th, 1863

Dear Wife

          I now take this opportunity to send you a few lines to inform you that I am well, and hope these few lines may find you and the Children the same. I Received your letter From the 3d day of June on the 5th, and I was Glad to hear that you was all well, but I was sorry to hear that Charley Carson was Killed, and I think it is very bad for his family. A man is apt to Get Killed at home, as well as the Soldiers in the Field of Battle, we have heard that General Hooker, has crossed the River Again, I think its likely that our Regiment is over Again with him, but if they have Another fight, I will not be in it this time, All the soldiers in this Hospital had a Good Ride free off Expence, yesterday to a Union Meeting at a place called Dover, About 50 miles From here, we had a very nice time

[p. 2]

and came back to the Hospital last night About 9 Oclock, All the soldiers had a Good Dinner From the Cizens of that place I Expect to be home next week. If you get this letter you need not to answer It. I have got a pretty Good Job in the Kitchen, and my time passed away very fast and I Get plenty to eat, they had not men Enough, and the Doctor asked me if i would not help them, and I sayed yes, and I have been in there ever since
send my love to you and the Children
no More at present

From Your Affectionate
William Hausman

Thank you to my cousin William McGovern, who provided a copy of the letter to this researcher and allowed publishing of the content of same.

Happy Independence Day today. We owe a debt of gratitude to all who have served and are serving to preserve our freedom, and to their families who sacrifice so much in their absence.


1 Monmouth County, New Jersey, Marriage Returns, Book D-1, Folder M, Carson-Carson, 1845, County Clerks Office, Monmouth County Archives, Freehold; copy provided by John Konvalinka, CG, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], ca. Dec 2004.

2  For the 1857 Hausman-Carson marriage and his unit number see William Hausman (Pvt., Co., E, 21st NJ Inf., Civil War), pension no. 143,808 (Invalid), Case Files of Approved Pension Applications…,1861-1934; Civil War and Later Pension Files; Record Group 15 : Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs; National Archives, Washington, D.C.

3  A very similar example is here: “Mother, is the Battle Over?” song sheet, (publisher Charles Magness, 12 Frankfort St., N.Y., [n.d.]), digital image, Library of Congress (https://www.loc.gov/resource/amss.hc00018b.0 : accessed 4 Jul 2017).