April 28, 2014

Look carefully at household members in a census

In working on my Peckham line, I became interested in Walton Hazard Peckham, MD, born in 1800 to Peleg Peckham and Desire Watson. Though trained as a physician, he abandoned that profession and took on a property investment and management role with his wealthy father-in-law Christopher Mildeberger in New York City.

I knew that Walton and Margaret Mildeberger married in 1839 and had two children. In 1850 they were living with her parents in NYC, part of a large household with numerous servants.  Margaret’s brother Oliver was in the household along with another couple (Charlotte and Marshall) that I initially overlooked, assuming they were servants too.  DON”T ASSUME !!  I must keep reminding myself.

The 1855 census is now more widely available and with the notation of “county of birth”, it adds information.  What struck me as I reviewed the Mildeberger household’s record today was the fact that Margaret was listed as Mildeberger (not Peckham, though her husband and children were listed as such) with relationship of “child” in reference to her father who was head of household. And then it was clearly laid out that Charlotte Pipoon, wife of Marshall, was her sister – listed here also as a Mildeberger “child”.

It seems simple, but becomes easy to glide through a record only picking out the individuals you are looking for. I get excited to move on … but a slow analysis reveals the extended family lines that are of great interest to me. I think knowing the siblings and in-laws tells us a lot about our target individuals.