Carson Family Group Sheet (Pt. 3): Charles and Caroline

This third installment in a chronology discusses how I identified the parents of Andrew, Charles and Furman of White City, Morris County, Kansas, and their brother, Wes, and summarizes what I knew of the family as of 2002.

In part two of this series, I first presented my research question, a relationship question seeking the identity of the parents of four Carson brothers, all of whom were thought to have been from New Jersey originally, and three of whom lived in the vicinity of White City, Kansas in the early to mid-1900s. Following additional research, I refined the question slightly:

Who were the parents of Andrew, Charles and Furman Carson, residents of Morris County, Kansas from 1900-1920, and their brother Wes, location unknown?

All research questions will govern both the sources consulted and steps undertaken to determine the answer to a focused question, and such is the case with my research. The first step described in my prior post was to consult the 1870 New Jersey census. I located a household in Mercer County, New Jersey that matched up with what I knew of the Carson family up to that time.1 The extracted information from that census entry appears below:

1870 census household for Caroline Carson

The fine print from the 1870 census form tells us that Census Day that year was June 1st, so this should represent the household composition and ages as of that date.

We do not have explicit statements of relationship in any Federal census before 1880, but we can hypothesize that Caroline was the mother of all the children listed with the Carson surname. The identity of Lewis Rainear and his relationship to the Carsons was a mystery then and remains so to this day.

When I filtered the information to include only those individuals named Carson, and re-arranged the list in chronological order, it became easier to see the regular spacing of the children’s birth years. To arrive at the estimated birth years, I simply subtracted the age from 1870. Although this basic method does not take into account all the many nuances (and correct estimates will encompass a broader range) this gave me a quick idea of what time frame I was dealing with. For a comprehensive discussion of age calculation, see the recent article by Dr. Barbara Levergood entitled “Calculating and Using Dates and Date Ranges” in the March 2014 issue of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly.

2-1870-carson-entries-filtered-sorted-table

To gather more information about the Carson family, I looked for their 1860 census enumeration in New Jersey, since that is the stated birthplace of Caroline and all of her presumed children. One census household in 1860 looked very promising when compared with the 1870 census entry for Caroline Carson and children.

3-1860-nj-census-charles-carson-family-composite

Composite image of the 1860 census household of Charles and Caroline Carson, West Windsor Twp., Mercer Co., New Jersey.2 Highlighted individuals were included in the 1870 enumeration. The “do” notation in column 10 means “ditto” and represents “New Jersey” as a place of birth, carried down from higher up on the page.

Note the points of commonality when the data are correlated between the two census years.

4-carson-family-comparison-1860-1870

The 1860 census revealed two other possible family members: a male head of household named Charles Carson, and an older boy, 13-year-old John W. Carson. These two additions may be Caroline’s husband and the elusive Wes Carson, identified by my grandmother as a brother of Charles [Jr.], Andrew and Furman Carson. Note that a presumed daughter (Amanda) is missing. If she was 11 years of age in 1870, she likely would have been a part of the household in 1860 as a girl about one year of age.

I next turned to the 1850 New Jersey census and located this entry for Charles and Caroline Carson in adjacent Monmouth County.

5-1850-nj-census-carson-composite

Composite image of the 1850 census household of Charles and Caroline Carson, Upper Freehold Twp., Monmouth Co., New Jersey.3

Extracted household information:

Dwelling 219, Family 219
Charles Carson, age 26, male, labourer, born New Jersey, cannot read and write
Caroline Carson, age 21, female, born New Jersey, cannot read and write
Wesley Carson, age 4, male, born New Jersey

I updated my table with this new information.

6-carson-family-census-table-1850-1870

Census research on Charles and Caroline Carson as a couple ended at this point since both would have been too young to have appeared as heads of household in their own right in 1840.

Beyond census research, in 2002 I had located one additional record that mentioned Caroline Carson and a presumed daughter by name, living at the same address in Chambersburg: an extracted entry from the 1881 Trenton City Directory.

Carson, Amanda, 112 Madison, Chamb’g
Carson Caroline, widow, 112 Madison, Chamb’g4

Other names of interest from this city directory, which probably represent the entries for the other children of Caroline Carson, are as follows:

Carson Andrew, laborer, h Fillmore n Clinton, Millham
Carson Furman, farmer, h 1212 Broad, Chamb’g
Carson John W., wool worker, h 826 Hamilton, Chamb’g5

It should be noted this same directory also contains two entries for Charles Carson. One of them is probably the listing for the son of Charles and Caroline, but the other entry is likely for yet another man named Charles Carson living in the vicinity. Our Charles Carson was supposedly dead by 1881.

Carson Charles, laborer, bds 622 Second
Carson Charles, wool worker, h 170 Lamberton6

Having analyzed the information contained in each of these sources, and after careful comparison of that information, I was able to make these statements which can be crafted into research questions and be proved or disproved by further research.

  • Caroline and Charles Carson likely married about 1845, possibly in Monmouth County, New Jersey where the couple resided in 1850.
  • Charles Carson pre-deceased his wife. Caroline Carson was called a widow in 1881, but Charles was not present in the census household in 1870. Given the fact that no children appear to have been born to the couple after about 1861, it is possible that Charles died closer to that date. Caroline was still a young woman of child-bearing years, and it is unlikely she would have abruptly stopped having children if her husband was still present in the household. Examine the possibility of Civil War service for Charles Carson.

In the period represented by the 1850 – 1870 censuses, the Carson family was found in three townships in two counties. The townships of Upper Freehold, West Windsor and Hamilton are contiguous although they span county borders.

1872-nj-mercer-co-nj-beers-annotated

Research on this family is on-going, and much additional information has been gleaned in the past twelve years. In my next post I will discuss how I found others researching this family, and how we determined the date and circumstances surrounding the death of Charles Carson. If you have information on this family you would like to share, please use the associated comment form found by clicking on the title of this post.

Sources and credits:

Image credit: Topographical Map of Mercer Co., New Jersey by F. W. Beers (1872), courtesy David Rumsey Map Collection online at http://www.davidrumsey.com via a Creative Commons 3.0 license. Annotated by the author to mark townships of interest.

1 1870 U.S. census, Mercer County, New Jersey, population schedule, Hamilton Township, p. 82 [stamped], dwelling 270, family 268, Caroline Carson in Lewis Rainear household; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 21 Dec 2013), citing National Archives microfilm publication M593, roll 871.

2 1860 U.S. census, Mercer County, New Jersey, population schedule, West Windsor Township, p. 89 [penned], dwelling 676, family 696, Charles Carson; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 22 Jun 2014), citing National Archives microfilm publication M653, roll 697.

3 1850 U.S. census, Monmouth County, New Jersey, population schedule, Upper Freehold Township, p. 351 [stamped], dwelling 219, family 219, Charles Carson; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 22 Jun 2014), citing National Archives microfilm publication M432, roll 457.

4Fitzgerald’s Trenton and Mercer County Directory (Trenton, N. J. : Thomas F. Fitzgerald, 1881), 135; Trenton Historical Society (http://www.trentonhistory.org : accessed 22 Jun 2014).

5 ibid. 135, 136.

6 ibid. 136.

Carson Family Group Sheet (Pt. 2): Early Research

Research on the Carson family of New Jersey and Kansas in the early days before Internet-based genealogy records became commonplace

We left off last time having learned the names of four Carson siblings from New Jersey: my 2nd great-grandfather Andrew F. Carson and his brothers: Charley, Furman and Wes. From informal oral interviews with my grandmother mostly in the 1980s and a cemetery trip to her hometown, I learned that three of the brothers had migrated from New Jersey to Kansas at some point in their lives, lived in the vicinity of White City, Morris Co., Kansas, and were buried in White City Cemetery.


Location of White City within Morris County, and of Morris County within the state of Kansas1

The information presented below is from my compilied family group sheet and 1992 cemetery field notes.

Typically when doing genealogical research you start with the known, and then move backwards in time, searching for clues that link people and generations. One of the building blocks of an American family tree is the United States Federal census, taken decennially (i.e. every 10 years) beginning in 1790. To access the census microfilm, I made a trek to the local branch of the National Archives in Seattle, where I searched for each of the Carson males in the 1920, 1910, and 1900 census enumerations for Morris County, Kansas. Because of a 72-year black out period before the census is released to the public at large, later federal census listings were not available when this research was first conducted in the 1990s. Here I have extracted the information from the census listings into a table in my word processing software for comparison purposes.

Census comparison for Carson brothers
1900-1920 U.S. census entries for brothers Charles, Andrew and Furman Carson. Wes Carson was not indexed or otherwise located in Morris Co., Kansas.

Doing the census research provided important background information. Not only did it establish the presence of the three Carson brothers over three decades in a small community, it also consistently placed their origins, and that of their parents, in New Jersey. However, since none of these census households included a father or mother, it did not help me answer my research question which was “Who were the parents of Andrew, Charley and Furman Carson of White City, Kansas, and of Wes, location unknown?”

Because I wanted to learn who the parents of the brothers were, I needed to choose a census where they were all likely to appear together in the parental household. Looking for four people together rather than just one individual increases the likelihood that, when found, you have identified the correct family group.

In this case, the census closest to their birth dates was the 1860 census. If I was doing this research today, the 1860 census would be the first census to search. However, if you were doing research fifteen years ago, you may recall that the 1860 census index was available in book form, and only the heads of household were typically indexed – not children. Since I did not know the name of the parents of the Carson brothers, that census wasn’t my first option. Instead, I chose to search for the brothers in the 1870 census using a published Heritage Quest index that included children.

In 1870, Charles would have been about 18, Andrew would have been about 16, and Furman would have been about 14. Therefore, I needed to look for young males of these names and ages in the census index for New Jersey. If all were indexed, all entries should lead us to the same household assuming that the brothers had not yet left home. Finding Wes in the household would have been a bonus, since no information regarding his life had been uncovered up to that time.

The net result of this exercise was that the only entry in the census index that matched up was that of “Firman” Carson.2 True to form, Wes was not found at all, and the entries for males named Andrew or Charles Carson were all older than our subjects.

1870 New Jersey census index Firman Carson

This index entry led me to the correct roll of microfilm and page number, which yielded this result:

1870 New Jersey census entry Carson family
1870 U.S. census entries for Carson family members showing Furman, Charles and Andrew in the household, highlighted in yellow.3

Although not stated, we can surmise that Caroline Carson may have been the mother of all the Carson children in the household, including Charles, Andrew, Furman, Eley, Amanda and Jane Carson; the ages fit into a logical birth sequence, and all bore the same surname. Oddly enough, the census index got two data points wrong: the spelling of Firman – clearly “Forman” in the census entry, and his age, which shows as 13 not 14. Still, it led me to the correct family. Using the printed index was easier than cranking through a whole county’s worth of entries on the film.

Now that I potentially had the name of one parent and the Hamilton Township location in Mercer County, New Jersey, I continued my research – operating under the assumption that Caroline was the children’s mother. Where was the Carson father, and who was Lewis Rainear?

***
Sources:
1 Image: “Morris County Kansas Incorporated and Unincorporated areas White City Highlighted” courtesy Wikimedia user Arkyan under the GNU Free Documentation License (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Morris_County_Kansas_Incorporated_and_Unincorporated_areas_White_City_Highlighted.svg : accessed 21 Dec 2013).

2 Raeone Christiansen Steuart. New Jersey 1870 Census Index (Bountiful, Utah: Heritage Quest, 1998), p. 246.

3 1870 U.S. census, Mercer County, New Jersey, population schedule, Hamilton Township, p. 82 [stamped], dwelling 270, family 268, Caroline Carson family in Lewis Rainear household, National Archives microfilm publication M593, roll 871. The original of the edited image shown here downloaded from Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 21 Dec 2013) rather than scanning a poor copy printed from microfilm at the time.

Civil War Trust Infographic: “Battles of the Civil War”

The Civil War Trust’s mission to preserve historic battlefields of the American Civil War (1861-1865) necessarily includes an educational component so the public understands why it is important to save this hallowed ground. To this end, they have published a great deal of information about the Civil War in general, and about specific battles in particular, on their website: CivilWar.org.

The Civil War Trust’s recently released infographic underscores the human cost of war by ranking Civil War battles by casualty rates, and comparing the loss of life to other wars and conflicts the United States has participated in.

Source: https://www.civilwar.org/learn/articles/battles-civil-war-infographic
Brought to you by The Civil War Trust

I’d like to highlight the section of the infographic showing overall casualty rates for the Civil War. Note the information in brackets, where it says:

Some modern research indicates that the number of Civil War deaths could be considerably higher.

Civil War Deaths

The oft-cited figure of 620,000 dead in the Civil War has been challenged by historian J. David Hacker of Binghamton University in New York. In a December 2011 article published in the Civil War History journal, he suggests the death toll could be as much as 20% higher: 750,00 casualties instead of 620,000.

Read more about how Hacker calculated the new figures using digitized census data from 1850-1880 in these articles:

New Analysis Suggests Civil War Took Bigger Toll than Previously Estimated

New Estimate Raises Civil War Death Toll

 

Last updated 15 Jan 2018 to correct the infographic link