Craigheads Owned Slaves? (part two)

Before I make the claim that some Pennsylvania Craigheads, particularly those who were ancestors of the Craighead Naturalists, once owned slaves, I should be absolutely certain it is true. The first thing to do was to look at the actual census documents to make sure Ancestry.com had the right census page and had interpreted it correctly. I quickly found the 1800 Federal Census page for Thomas Craighead. That page not only included him but his son Thomas Jr. as well as some neighboring farmers. (See below) Deciphering the census page was, and remains, a challenge. The page appears to have been hand drawn in a ledger book. Column headings, such as they are, are not obvious. From Ancestry.com’s analysis and comments from the National Archives, I imputed the first five columns that contained numbers represented free white males in five different age brackets. The second five numeric columns represent the number of free white females in five different age brackets living on the property. The eleventh and twelfth numeric columns, the rightmost columns on the page, had no entries and contained few entries. Thomas Craighead Sr. had nothing in his eleventh column and three is his twelfth column. Alex Carothers has one in his eleventh column and Daniel Holmes has ones in both columns. No one else on the page has an entry in either column.

Verifying how the entries in the eleventh and twelfth columns were determined to represent slaves posed a significant problem. Ancestry.com listed Daniel Homes has having one slaves and one other (non-white?) free person in addition to all the free whites living at his home. Alex Carothers was more of a problem. Several searches involving several spellings were required to receive his record as Ancestry.com interpreted his name as being spelled Corathers. That he had one other free person living at his home and a one in column eleven supports the conclusion that column eleven contains the number of free whites and column twelve contains the number of slaves. Non-citizen Indians were not counted because they were enumerated on their tribal rolls, at least in theory.

The next piece of the puzzle was contacting Ancestry.com to find out how they converted these handwritten ledgers into searchable text.

1800 Fed Census Thomas Craighead 3 slaves

<end of part 2>

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