Wednesday, July 25, 2012

1900 Census

Census records provide only basic information, but they also provide clues and leads to more complete stories about families and communities, sometimes by what they record, and other times by what they leave out.

The 1900 Ocracoke census lists Name, Age, Sex, Occupation, Date of Birth, Number of Children Had, Number of Children Living, and Number of Years Married. Sometimes the enumerator, Perry Coleman Howard, added information not asked for. For example, William Kelly's occupation is listed as "Head (Frm: MD)"; his wife, Neva listed as "Wife (Frm: NC)." William Kelly was a mariner (from Maryland as indicated). Neva Mae Howard was born and raised on Ocracoke. Perry Coleman obviously thought it noteworthy to point out that Capt. Kelly was not from North Carolina.

In a similar entry William H. Luther, one of the island preachers, is listed as "Minister/N.J." I wonder...did Mr. Luther introduce some of those northern ideas? And did Perry Coleman want to make sure folks understood that he, too, was not from North Carolina.?

For whatever reason, it was thought worth jotting down on the census records that two people living on Ocracoke in 1900 were not born in the state.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the Hurricane House and the Hurricane Boards. You can read it here:


  1. Anonymous8:03 AM

    I have been enjoying your entries about the 1900 Census. I have been researching my family history for many years and find the Census information fascinating....does not matter if it's my family or the ones on Ocracoke! This subject makes me wonder what happened to the records from Portsmouth Island after the last people left some years ago. I am also curious if Ocracoke has many records (beyond census)at the Preservation Society or if they mostly stay in families?

  2. I believe I have, somewhere, Portsmouth census records. If I do, they won't be difficult to find. Maybe I will mine them for a blog one day.

    The Preservation Society library has a rather large collection of documents, wills, deeds, books, and photographs...but it needs to be organized and indexed. OPS has recently applied for a grant to help make the library more accessible. We are hoping it is granted.