Saturday, January 30, 2010

Sarah Cummings found!

I had some time to think about my last post and I also did a little nosing around on Ancestry, and found my answer to Sarah's parentage. Actually the answer, like most answers usually are, was right under my nose the whole time. It was Aunt Joanna's mention of Brewster that helped put things in place. The image below is for the 1850 Federal Census for Rumney, New Hampshire and is remarkably different from the 1860 census in my last post.

So, you may ask what is so different from the 1860 census? It has to do with the order of the individuals in the household. The census years 1850 to 1870 listed each individual living in a particular household, however no relationship to the head of household is given. You should always approach these records with a little caution, especially in households headed by individuals of means. Notice Adams Holden's real estate is valued at $5000 in 1850. Adjusted for inflation, that would be the equivalent of almost $125,000 today! It is even more apparent in the 1860 census. Between personal and real estate, he is valued at $15,000 which is almost $350,000 in today's money.

Usually the head of household would be followed by a spouse, if alive, and then their children in order from oldest to youngest. After this, other family members would be listed, like parents, aunts, uncles, etc. Finally, other non-related individuals would be listed, like servants, boarders, hired help, etc. Of course there are numerous examples where this pattern was not followed, however it is a great framework to create a working assumption of a family unit. The 1860 census appears to follow this perfectly. Husband, then wife, followed by children oldest to youngest. 1850 however, does not. Notice how Sarah, who has a middle initial of A instead of L is listed after the other Holden children. Whenever you see a change like this from one census year to another, you should always approach the family unit with caution. has a large collection of family histories among many other things and the answer to my census puzzle is there. Sarah can be found the Holden Genealogy, Ancestry and descendants of Richard and Justinian Holden and of Randall Holden. The image on the right is the listing for Adams Holden. Sarah is listed as an adopted daughter. That would explain why she was not listed with the Holden children in 1850. By 1860, she was a Holden.

I checked the information for Sarah Arrington and our Sarah Lucy is there. What was even more fascinating, the author lists the informant as Sarah Cummings! So I can now place her into a family, let's see what we can find out about them...

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