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Sunday, March 2, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: #9 Sarah Jane Hairston and a Challenging Census Record

The Hairston Family - 1880 U.S. Census Falls County, Texas

No Story Too Small
I first found my Hairston family in the 1880 U.S. Census of Falls County, Texas. It was a challenging record.  A black mark over some of the names left me guessing. No one is named as "head"of the family and none of the dwellings were marked so I don't know if the Hairston family lived together in one home or if there were several homes. 

Most of my Hairston family members in the 1880 census could be identified. Phillip, my great-grandfather, appeared to be the head with his wife, Lodema, and two Gilbert children (children of his sister Mary).  John L. Hairston, Phillip's father, was listed as a boarder and Permelia Noah, another sister of Phillip, was there with her two sons, Willie and Oscar. Martha (Mattie), the youngest sister, was listed with her husband, James Chisum, and children, Walter and Stella. 

The last Hairston on that page is the biggest challenge. This 34 year old was first recorded as a daughter and then son was written on top of daughter.  Gender was first F and written over as MThe name looks like James, but I believe it is Jane

Census records can be far from perfect. Remember that we are probably not looking at the original record. Did the transcriber have difficulty reading the census taker's handwriting.  Information can be incorrect or omitted. Who was the informant for this family? 

Some researchers surmise that it is James. AND, because the birth year is 1846, that James is actually William Hairston, the son of John L. Hairston who was born in 1846. 

I will continue to believe that this is Sarah Jane Hairston, not James.  A James is not mentioned in earlier census records. Two other census records indicate that Sarah Jane was born in 1845 while this 1880 census gives her a birth year of 1846. A difference of a year is not a deal breaker for me as I have seen far too many errors on census records to change my mind. 

Sarah Jane Hairston - 1850 U.S. Census Hinds County, Mississippi


Sarah Jane Hairston - 1860 U.S. Census Hinds County, Mississippi - Note the age indicates 1846 for year of birth. 

Sarah Jane Hairston - 1900 U.S. Census Erath County, Texas

So, what happened to Sarah Jane? I can't find a death record or record of her on later census records. She was single in 1900. Did she marry? 

I do have one clue. On a visit to Texas, in 2001, a Thompson descendant shared some photos with me. On the back of a baby picture/postcard of one of Floyd Thompson's sons, Floyd wrote to his mother (Sarah Jane's sister, Martha) about the baby and briefly about life in Baylor County. At the end of the message, he wrote something like"tell me about Aunt Jane." I know that Floyd's sons were born between 1912 and 1916 which means Sarah Jane was living after 1912. I just wish that I had taken more time to document this information during that Texas trip!  

#9 Sarah Jane Hairston


Diana

© 2014


Sources

1850 U.S. census, population schedule, Hinds County, Mississippi, family 714, J. Harston household; National Archives microfilm publication roll M432; digital image, Ancestry.com, http://www.ancestry.com (accessed 16 Feb. 2014).

1860 U.S. census, population schedule, Hinds County, Mississippi, family 616, Phillip A. Hairston household; National Archives microfilm publication roll M432; digital image, Ancestry.com, http://www.ancestry.com (accessed 27 Feb. 2014).

1880 U.S. census, population schedule, Falls County, Texas, Phil Hairston household; National Archives microfilm publication roll M432; digital image, Ancestry.com, http://www.ancestry.com (accessed 27 Feb. 2014).

1900 U.S. census, population schedule, Erath County, Texas, family 616, Phillip A. Hairston household; National Archives microfilm publication roll M432; digital image, Ancestry.com, http://www.ancestry.com (accessed 27 Feb. 2014).

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