Amy Johnson Crow is hosting an online learning experience called “31 Days to Better Genealogy.” If you haven’t signed up for this, you can do so here. There is also a closed Facebook group that you can request to join after you sign up for the daily newsletter. You will receive a daily email and during the day, Amy posts a live video on the Facebook group. All members of the group are encouraged to work on the tip of the day, report their results, help and encourage each other.
Yesterday’s topic was “Explore Your Ancestor’s Occupation” and one of the items listed included looking at the Agriculture Census if your ancestor was a farmer. The ancestor I wanted to explore was my great-grandfather, James Emory House, born in May 1842 and died in October 1924. For most of his life he lived in Coshocton county, Ohio and indicated on the US Censuses that he was a farmer. His daughter – my grandmother’s sister – Julia Ann House had graduated high school (as did most of the eight children in the family), and when Julia married on Christmas Day in 1906, her dress was “white silk draped in chiffon.” Not only was it out of the ordinary for a family to afford to give their daughter a lavish wedding but to purchase a silk wedding dress for her. Those things indicated that James House had a substantial income.
I turned to the Non-Population Schedule in Agriculture for 1880. It showed that my great-grandfather owned 50 acres of improved land, 10 acres of woodlands with a total value of $2700. He owned two horses, 4 dairy cows, 5 other cattle, 8 swine, and 50 barnyard poultry. His chickens laid 200 dozen eggs in 1879. There were two acres in apple orchard with 50 fruit bearing trees and one acre in peach orchard with 40 fruit bearing trees. In 1879, five acres were grass mown and six acres of hay harvested. Crops included Indian corn – 4 acres/150 bushels; Oats – 2 acres/50 bushes; Wheat – 10 acres/170 bushels; and Irish potatoes – a quarter acre/20 bushels. Today, that $2700 would be close to $60,000.
This census provided me insight as to how well-to-do my great-grandfather and his family were back in the late 1800s and early 1900s.