A Census Consensus:

1840 in Warren County, Missouri

by Dr. William M. Litchman, C.G.

            The federal census prior to 1850 is often an exercise in frustration for genealogists. The family names we so desire to learn about are there in tantalizing array and yet family members remain elusively anonymous. What can be done with statistical categories which could include cousins, nephews, adopted children, hired hands, and even strangers? By combining the pre-1850 census listings with data from other sources, it is often possible to define, identify, or at least categorize family members with reasonably high probability. It is less common to find two contemporary census sources with slightly different statistical categories.

            An earlier study of the parentage of Miranda Taylor Endnote showed that Miranda (b c 1826-8) and Stephen Bernard Taylor (b c 1833) Endnote are children of Vincent Taylor, farmer, born in Virginia. In addition, Eli P. Taylor (b c 1829) is very likely a son of Vincent. Endnote The present study deals with another child of Vincent Taylor and his first wife using two census listings for 1840 in Warren County, Missouri. Endnote

            The 1840 federal and Missouri state census categories for male and female children are as follows:

            Federal                                    State

            under 5

            5 and under 10            less than 10 years

            10 and under 15          over 10 years & under 18 years

            15 and under 20          over 18 years & under 21 years

The Missouri state census has two additional comprehensive categories: "all males and females between 5 and 16" and "total white persons."

            At first glance, these groups may not seem to invite interesting conclusions but consider the case of the Vincent Taylor family in 1840. The federal census listing for this family shows three boys age 5 and under 10, and one age 10 and under 15; three girls age 10 and under 15, and one age 15 and under 20. Consider now, the same family under the Missouri state census listing: there are three boys less than age 10 and one age 10 and under 18. The four girls in the family are all listed in the group age 10 and under 18. This makes eight children in all (out of 10 total white persons) but only seven are listed in the category of all children ages 5 to 16. One is left out; which one?

            The 5 to 16 age group overlaps the 0 to under 18 age group completely except for ages 0 to 4, inclusive, and age 17. None of the children of this family are under the age of 5. All four boys are between 5 and 15 and three of the four girls are between 10 and 15. This makes up the seven children in the critical group: ages 5 to 16. Thus, the extra child is the older girl, and she must be just 17 years old at the time of the census (born c 1823).

            Leaving the boys of the family for the time being and referring to the Miranda Taylor study: the three girls in the age 10 to under 15 category were identified as Miranda Taylor, daughter of Vincent Taylor, and two daughters of Neal and Mary McCann. Endnote The older girl remains unidentified. Now that she has been singled out by the two census listings, how can she be named and identified?

            Because of her age, it is likely that she will marry within the next few years. Two Taylor women of Warren County married within the decade following 1840: Catherine Taylor married William Brisco, 16 March 1843, Endnote and Miranda Taylor married Nathaniel Morris, 28 October 1847. Endnote We already know about Miranda Taylor. Catherine, however, is not yet identified as the daughter of any known Taylor parents.

            Let us examine each of the Taylor families present in Warren County, in turn. Of the Taylor families or individuals in Warren County, only Elizabeth and Vincent have girls. Endnote Elizabeth Taylor has two children in 1840: one boy under 5 and one girl under 5. Endnote

            Because there is only one unidentified Taylor woman who will be of marriageable age in the decade 1840-50; and because both Miranda and Catherine were married by the same minister; and finally because Catherine's marriage occurs at an appropriate time for a girl who was 17 in 1840, it is highly likely that Catherine Taylor is the daughter of Vincent Taylor. Thus, the 1840 federal and state censuses for Missouri have pointed the way to the identity and parentage of a female child of Vincent Taylor.



            It would be interesting to learn something about Catherine's life, but record and census searches have not yet revealed any mention of her. After their marriage, Catherine and William simply drop from sight.

            A recent visit to Warrenton has turned up an interesting document hidden away in a volume of probate-related materials. It includes a statement by Cecelia Taylor, third wife and widow of Vincent Taylor, in which she lists his known heirs. The document reads:

"State of Missouri, County of Warren: I, Cecelia J. Taylor, do swear to the best of my knowledge and belief that Vincent Taylor died without a will, that Fountain Taylor, Wisconsin; Kety Briscoe, Kentucky; Eli Taylor, Wisconsin; Bernard Taylor, Illinois; Muranda Morris, Wisconsin; are all the heirs of said deceased, that I will make a perfect inventory of and faithfully administer all the estate of said deceased, and pay all the debts as far as the assets will extend & the law direct, & account for & pay all assets which shall come to my possession or knowledge. Subscribed & sworn to before me this 6th day of May 1865. Albert P. Frowein, Clerk. Filed May 6th, 1865." [Will Record, Books A, B, C, June 1833-Apr 1869, Warren County, Missouri, p. 369 (Vol. C).]

            In this one document, the parentage of Miranda, Fountain, Eli, Bernard, and Catherine are all proved by as direct a witness as can reasonably be found. It is satisfying to know how accurately the circumstantial evidence predicted this result. Perhaps one day Catherine will be found.

Back to publications | home