Archive for the ‘John Craighead’ Category

Craigheads Owned Slaves? (part 3 of 3)

May 12, 2014

Not overly confident that my analysis would convince readers that I’d broken the code, so to speak, of the 1800 Federal Census, I contacted Ancestry.com. After waiting on hold a good while, a youngish, by the sound of her voice, native speaker of American English took my call. She was quite pleasant and seemed knowledgeable about Ancestry.com’s service—more knowledgeable than I am about my own account. Because I sign in with my email address and password, I didn’t know my account ID. Fortunately, it displays on the upper right corner of the screen. She reviewed my account then asked about my problem.

Since my problem was related to a specific record, all I had to do was to tell her what search criteria I had used and which record I had retrieved. Soon, she had Thomas Craighead’s 1800 Federal Census record on her screen and was able to verify that Ancestry.com had indeed determined that he had three slaves. When she looked at the original record, she immediately saw my problem and went about the analysis I described in the previous post. She arrived at the same conclusion about the numbers of slaves owned but could not find a key to use to decipher the log either. She contacted her technical support but to no avail. Ancestry.com does not know, or isn’t sharing, how exactly they transcribed handwritten and coded census reports into searchable digital form. The only way I can imagine it was done was by doing it manually one person at a time. Someone had to read the census pages, determine how names were spelled and how many people of each category lived at the address, then key it into a database. Errors were made as illustrated previously with Alenander Carothers. This was far from the first time I couldn’t retrieve a record via search that I knew should be available or, as in this case, had already seen along with the result for a different search.

The next step is to contact the National Archives. I’ll get back to you when, if ever, they tell me anything. Here is a link to a search: http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=7590&enc=1

 

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Craigheads Owned Slaves? (part two)

May 10, 2014

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>