I'm doing research for a new book set in 1849-50 Williamson County, Texas. I found the US Census for this area that was taken in 1850. What a treasure! No, there aren't wonderful stories or antiquated letters or anything of that nature with the census. Just names, ages and occupations of the residents. But there are little nuggets of gold hidden among those dry facts that simply can't be ignored!
Like what, you ask?
Take Oakust Hogeman, for instance. He was a 22 year old student originally born in Prussia. He lived with the Joseph Rubirth family, a 52 year old farmer who was also born in Prussia. Joseph's wife was born in Louisiana, as were several of their children before they moved to Texas. Was Oakust Joseph's younger brother or nephew? What was he studying? Why did he come to America?
Then there is 19 year old George R. Allen. He lists himself as an artist! Cool! Among all those farmers and carpenters, this young man proudly calls himself an artist. I love it! I Googled his name and what to my wondering eyes should appear, but quite a bit of information about his later years as an artist. He painted portraits, some of Sam Houston's family.
Some other interesting occupations listed are the 28 year old surveyor from Indiana, the 40 year old cooper from Tennessee and the 34 year old millright. Of course there were also the Baptist clergyman, the Methodist clergyman and the Christian clergyman. A couple of physicians and school teachers. One grocer and several merchants. One gentleman lists himself as a turner, which I'm not sure what that is. "Someone who works with a lathe" is all I can come up with. Perhaps he worked with metal or wood.
One thing that kinda tickled me was that there was a box to check if you were insane or "idiotic." HA! I prob'ly would have checked that one! You also needed to let the government know if you were illiterate, deaf and dumb, a criminal, or a pauper.
I'm telling you! This is interesting stuff to a historical fiction writer! Just think of all the stories behind these boring statistics!
I'm off to read some more! There no telling what other nuggets I might come across!