Amy Johnson Crow of No Story Too Small has issued a challenge: write one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It can be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem – anything that focuses on one ancestor.
In 1880, there was a special census schedule for “Defective, Dependent, and Delinquent Classes” — the blind, deaf-mutes, paupers, homeless children, prisoners, insane, and idiotic. Those with mental or physical illness were asked additional questions regarding their medical history. Homeless children were asked about their parents. Prisoners were asked details regarding their imprisonment.
After looking at census records for my 3X great-grandmother Nancy Elizabeth Frazier Shiflett for last week’s prompt, I fully expected to find her son George in this special census. After all, he was enumerated in 1870 as being “Dumb.” Evidently he was also deaf. Census takers had been instructed NOT to check that box if a resident could still speak despite loss of hearing. However, George is not listed at all, suggesting he had possibly died before 1880.
Yet George’s brother John Conway Shiflett made the list. Or so I thought.
In 1880, John Conway and his two children by his first wife were living with his mother. There is a check mark in the box denoting “disabled.” So I went to the special census schedule to learn more about his disability, assuming that might have caused him to be destitute.
|1880 Federal Census Monroe District, Greene Co, VA|
“John C. Shiflett” appears in the DDD schedule on the pauper page.
|Pauper and Indigent page of the 1880 special census for Defective, Dependent, Delinquent Classes|
John C. Shiflett is the second name on the page.
- Is this person able-bodied? NO
- Is he or she habitually intemperate? NO
- Is he or she epileptic? NO
- Has he (or she) ever been convicted of crime? NO
Then “Is he or she idiotic?” Check
What? Idiotic? This census was conducted on June 1, and there is a marriage record for John C. in July 1880. What woman would marry an “idiotic” man? (Don’t answer that. I just realized how funny that sounds.) What’s more, John C. was also listed on the Deaf-Mute page.
“MY” John C. Shiflett married Mary D. Shiflett July 28, 1880. Together they had 3 children. So now I was not sure that this was the right guy. Fortunately, the DDD census includes the page and line numbers where the person is listed in the regular population census. Page 15, Line 13 Monroe District of Greene County. Sure enough there was John C. Shiflett, deaf-mute. Son of James F. and Mary E. Shiflett.
Oops. Wrong guy after all. But I have to wonder why the right guy is NOT included. Evidently his disability did not cause him to be a pauper, thus sparing him from being included.
© 2015, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.