Tuesday, August 25, 2015

52 Ancestors - With a Little Help from the Non-Population

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.

Our challenge this week is to look at one of the non-population schedules to learn more about our ancestors. In my on-going quest to sort out the various William and Sarah/Sallie Sampsons of Greene County, Virginia, I recently reviewed the non-population agricultural schedules.

There were two William Sampsons in Greene when the special census was conducted in 1850. Both had wives named Sarah. Both couples were roughly the same age. While only one Sarah was Sarah Jollett, both couples lived near other Jolletts or married Jollett cousins making it difficult to determine which Sampson couple is “mine.”

I wonder if the size of farm and near neighbors could shed some light on this puzzle.

1 – William Sampson

1850 Non-Population Agriculture Schedule
100 acres improved land and 142 unimproved
Value of the farm $700 and value of tools $100
2 horses, 2 cattle (non-milking), 7 sheep, 12 swine; value of livestock $250
Production: 100 bushels wheat, 18 bushels rye, 500 bushels Indian corn, 45 bushels oat, 300 pounds of tobacco, 22 pounds of wool, 10 bushels Irish potatoes, 50 pounds of butter, 15 pounds of flax, 1 bushel of flaxseed; value of products $100
Value of homemade manufactures $40
Value of slaughtered animals $80

This William lived close to Lucy Sampson, widow of John Sampson and mother of one of the Williams. His close neighbors in the non-population schedule included John McMullan, James Knight, Jacob Hammer, and Hiram Eddins.

These neighbors match those of the 1850 census in which the household of William and Sarah included two of five children, Maria and Franklin. I know this is Lucy Sampson’s son William and his family because William and Franklin took care of selling some land that had been left to William’s brother in their father’s will.

2 – William Sampson 

1850 Non-Population Agriculture Schedule

76 acres improved land and 71 acres unimproved
Value of the farm $50 and value of tools $6
1 horse, 1 work cow, 3 other cattle, 6 swine; value of livestock $70
Production: 30 bushels wheat, 10 bushels rye, 150 bushels Indian corn, 20 pounds of butter, 1 ton of hay, 1 pound of hops
Value of homemade manufactures $20
Value of slaughtered animals $45

This William’s neighbors included John Jarrell, William Conway, Rufus K. Fitzhugh, John Teal, and William Sims. Close neighbors in the 1850 census were Jarrell, Conway, and Sims. Jarrell and Conway are also mentioned in a deed from 1850 in which this William gave his land to his wife and the children listed in the 1850 census.

What does matching the census and non-population schedule do for my research? Probably not a whole lot. I had previously determined that the second William and Sarah are mine based on ages and gender of children in the 1840 census. However, a closer look at the description of the two Williams’ farms and production has reinforced the impression I’ve long held: that the OTHER William and Sarah were more well-to-do than MY William and Sarah.  

© 2015, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.


  1. This was interesting, hadn't ever heard of the Non-Population Agriculture Schedule; thorough records kept back then I think!


  2. I love those agricultural schedules and the information they give about "life on the farm." What a lot of work -- physical labor -- the farmers and their family members performed before modern times.

    It's interesting that you found two couples with the same names, similar ages, and living in close proximity to other Jolletts.

  3. Seems sometimes we need every little clue to help build the picture, Wendy, just like a jigsaw. I have the same situation with one of my GG-grandfathers in Dublin, in the first half of the 19th century - same fairly uncommon name and surname and my line are the poor relations (cause I'd bet they were related somehow).

  4. I love the agricultural census. When compared to their neighbors I can see how my ancestor lived in relation to those around him and I also get a good idea of what his day must have been like. It has helped me sort people out more than once.