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Monday, January 9, 2017

Census Sightings: Bienville Parish Ward 4 - 1870

This colorized sketch titled, "The Census Taker," was published ca. 1870.
The 1870 census is one of historical significance. It was the first census after the war. Families had relocated. Many women were seen as heads of households. And, it is the first census record that lists African Americans by name.

The Enumerator / Census Taker was referred to the Assistant Marshall in 1870. Instructions to the Assistant Marshall in 1870 tell how each family should be enumerated. It appears that three copies were required to be submitted by the Assistant Marshall. 

Homer J. Twitchell was the Assistant Marshall for the 4th Ward in Bienville Parish, Louisiana. This young man, from Vermont, was the 21 year old brother of Marshall Twitchell, a state senator, former Freedman's Bureau agent for Bienville Parish, and self-proclaimed carpetbagger. In 1870, Homer lived with his brother and other family members at the Starlight Plantation in DeSoto Parish. This was in an area considered a Yankee colony. Just four years later, Homer would be one of several local officials murdered in the Coushatta Massacre. 

The final page of the Census in the 4th Ward of Bienville Parish - 1870

The 45 pages of the 4th Ward in Bienville Parish Census of 1870 was fraught with misspellings, name errors, and other inaccuracies. I am sure this isn't the only part of the country with records containing so many errors, but what were some of the reasons for these errors? 
  • How mature was the census taker? Did he take the job seriously?
  • Who copied the original forms? These pages were copied by at least two different people. Was handwriting on the original copies difficult to decipher?
  • Did the census taker have adequate spelling skills?
  • Northwest Louisiana was a very violent area during reconstruction. Was this a deterrent? Did Homer really get all of his information from the enumerated citizens or did he depend on information from other sources?

Here are some family members I found in the 4th Ward Census records. 

John Regan and his family appears to be divided into two households. His name is written as Cragan. Three of Regan's sons were killed in the war. Here is an accurate list of his family.
Regan, John
Regan, Martha
Regan, Mary Catherine
Prior, Dorothy Regan - Her husband was killed after the war.
Regan, Lucy
Regan, Reddick Bryant
Regan, Alice

This is my great-grandfather's family. Homer Twitchell may not have felt safe visiting this home.
It took me years to find this family. Here is a corrected list.

The family of Terrell Bryan
Bryan, Terrell (born in GA- not Thomas )
Bryan, Harriet (born in GA)
Bryan, Fanny
Bryan, Terrell (Bunch - a female)
Bryan, Hollon
Bryan, Alice

The family of Joseph B. Bryan
Bryan, Joseph
Bryan, Sarah
Bryan, Reddick
Bryan, James
Bryan, Alice
Bryan, Elizabeth - NOT Sarah (my great-great grandmother)

The family of James Bryan
Bradley, Laura -not related
Bryan, James
Bryan, Alice
Bryan, Josie (not Jerry)
Bryan, John

The Tillman Bryan Family
Bryan, Tillman (Not Fred)
Bryan, Mildred
Prothro, Edward
Bryan, Tillman
Bryan, John
Bryan, Sarah (Sally)
Bryan, Ida
Bryan, Tommie Ella

Manning, Mary

No errors in the enumeration of Amanda "Manda" Watts and family. Daughter Sarah was living with Amanda's sister in Ward 1 of Bienville Parish. 

To learn more about the 1870 Census or the Coushatta Massacre, see the sources at the end of the post. 

If you want to know more about the families I research, click here to like my Facebook page where you will see each post and other genealogical finds. 


© 2017


"1870 Image Gallery - History Sights and Sounds - U.S. Census Bureau." 1870 Image Gallery - History Sights and Sounds - U.S. Census Bureau. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Jan. 2017. <>.

"1870 Instructions - History - U.S. Census Bureau." 1870 Instructions - History - U.S. Census Bureau. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Jan. 2017. <>. 1870 United States Federal; Census Place: Ward 4, Bienville, Louisiana; Roll: M593_507. Online publication - Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2009.

"Coushatta Massacre | Entries | KnowLA, Encyclopedia of Louisiana." Coushatta Massacre | Entries | KnowLA, Encyclopedia of Louisiana. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Jan. 2017. <>

Sherrod, Ricky L., and Annette Pierce Sherrod. Plain folk, planters, and the complexities of southern society: a case study of the Browns, Sherrods, Mannings, Sprowls, and Williamses of nineteenth century northwest Louisiana. Nacogdoches, TX: Stephen F. Austin State U Press, 2014. Print.

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