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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

1850 :: The Census Taker

On this date in our extended family history . . . the 21st day of October . . . in the year 1850 . . . T.J. Allen is acting as "the census taker" and is busy visiting residents of Milam County, Texas . . . this particular Mr. Allen just happens to be the third husband of Matilda Connell Allen Allen nee Roberts . . . who is an older sister of our Mahala . . . who is a 3rd great grandma to the Keeper of this family history blog . . . regarding the job of "the census taker" it has been written that . . . 

It was the first day of census,
and all through the land;
The pollster was ready,
a black book in hand.

He mounted his horse
for a long dusty ride;
His book and some quills
were tucked close by his side.

A long winding ride
down a road barely there;
Toward the smell of fresh bread
wafting up through the air.

As an enumerator for Milam County, one of the households Mr. Allen documented on this date contained the following family members . . .

Elijah Goodnight 17 [sic]

The woman was tired,
with lines on her face;
And wisps of brown hair
she tucked back into place.

She gave him some water
as they sat at the table;
And she answered his questions
the best she was able.

He asked of her children
Yes, she had quite a few;
The oldest just turned nineteen,
the youngest is still two.

He noted the sex,
the colour, the age.
The marks from the quill
soon filled up the page.

They came from Illinois,
of that she was clear;
But she wasn't quite sure
just how long they'd been here.

They spoke of employment,
of schooling and such;
They could read some and write some,
though really not much.

When the questions were answered,
his job there was done;
So he mounted his horse
and he rode back toward home.

We can only imagine
his voice loud and clear -
"May God Bless you all
for another ten years."

As it turned out, by the time the next census is taken (1860), T.J. Allen has died of yellow fever while working as editor for The Galveston Journal . . . most of the members of this branch of the Goodnight and Daugherty family have moved on to other parts of Texas . . . and the above mentioned "Charlie Goodnight" has been a member of the Texas Rangers (1857) . . . 

Before another census comes around in 1870, Charlie has been involved in a near state-wide round-up of feral Texas longhorn cattle that have been roaming free during the years of the war between the states . . . he has invented the "chuck wagon" . . . 

and he has used that early version of a "food truck" when he and Oliver Loving drove their first herd of cattle northward out of Texas along what would become known as the Goodnight-Loving Trail (1866) . . . 

Now picture a time warp -
it's now you and me;
As we search for the people
on our family tree.

We squint at the census
and scroll down so slow;
As we search for that entry
from long, long ago.

Could they only imagine
on that long ago day;
That the entries they made
would effect us this way?

If they knew, would they wonder
at the yearning we feel;
And the searching that makes them
so increasingly real.

We can hear if we listen
the words they impart;
Through their blood in our veins
and their voices in our heart.

Slightly adapted
original poem
Darlene Stevens

This blogpost was researched and prepared specifically for The Sixth Annual Great Genealogy Poetry Challenge over at cousin Bill's blog which is known as . . . West in New England . . .

P.S. . . . as an additional tidbit . . . on this date in the year 1899 . . . Noah Smithwick dies in California . . . but back in 1850 he was also living in Milam County, Texas . . . and on the 11th day of September in that year, he was also enumerated by T.J. Allen . . . this Noah Smithwick is the author of Recollections of Old Texas Days . . .

See also . . .


Bill West said...

Great story, Vickie!

BeNotForgot said...

Click HERE for a list of the participants in the 2014 Great Genealogy Poetry Challenge.

BeNotForgot said...

This was a fun one to resarch and compose . . . LUV making history personal!

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