The Clark Family in 1850, part 1

Looking at the 1850 Census: A Growing Family

Continuing our look at important sources for Clark family history, let’s return to the decennial U.S. federal census. If you missed it, be sure to read our earlier post on Jonathan, Mary, and ? on the 1840 Census. The 1850 census was the seventh United States federal —and first “all name”— decennial census; every free person—man, woman or child—living on June 1, 1850, was to be counted and named on a separate line on the census form. It was also the first federal census to ask for certain additional information, such as each individual’s place of birth and occupation. (Enslaved African-Americans were enumerated on a separate form and not by name, but by sex, age, and owner. Click here for more information on the 1850 and 1860 so-called Slave Schedules.)

Based on what we know from the Clark Family Record and other sources, as of the official enumeration day, June 1, 1850, if the census enumerator and his Clark family “informant” were both accurate in providing and recording the data, we should expect to find the following living family members listed on the 1850 census: parents Jonathan and Mary Clark and their children Caroline, Henry, Elizabeth, Persis, and new baby Teresa. Let’s look at the census page and see what the enumerator recorded:

CLARK, Jonathan family 1850 census (

“United States Census, 1850,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 12 April 2016), J M Clark, Mequon, Washington, Wisconsin, United States; citing family 1120, NARA microfilm publication M432 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.). Click to open larger image in a new window.

And there they are! The Clark household begins on line 16. They were the 1109th dwelling-house and 1120th family visited and recorded by this enumerator in his assigned census area:

J  M  Clark     age 38, male

Mary       ”     age 29, female

Caroline  ”    age 9, female

Henry      ”    age 7, male

Elizabeth ”   age 5, female

P A            ”   age 3, female

Mary        ”   age 5/12 (i.e., 5 months), female

Arthur     ”   age 16, male

The Clark house of 1850 was also home to a farm laborer, a German immigrant named John Buck, age 30.

How well does the information on the 1850 census schedule agree with the Clark Family Record? What can this census tell us about Jonathan, his business and the rest of the family? And do you notice anything, well, unusual about the Clark family on this 1850 census? That will be the subject of our next post…