Census Records for the In-Between Years: 1855 — Part 2

Who’s On That 1855 Census Page?

This is a follow-up to our previous post about the Jonathan M. Clark family and the 1855 Wisconsin state census. You might want to read that post first, and also take a look at our recent discussion of English/Latin and German Kurrent hand writing styles as used in places like Wisconsin in the 1800s.

In the comments to that 1855 state census post, blog reader and Clark House friend Liz Hickman asked:

Am curious about the others listed on the page; starts with James Woodworth [Rev.?]. Do you see any other names of interest? Can you figure out the name below Jonathan’s?

Liz Hickman, reply to Census Records for the In-Between Years: 1855

Thanks again, Liz, let me see if I can help. First of all, let’s take a look at that first page of the Mequon return for the 1855 state census:

Wisconsin State Census, 1855, Town of Mequon, page 1. FHL film no.1,032,689; DGS film no. 4,245,040. This census is fully indexed and searchable here.

Go ahead and click on the image; it should open in a new browser window, easy to enlarge and view details. What do you see? As we noted in the Lesen Sie Kurrent? post, the enumerator—town clerk William Zimmermann—had a rather florid hand, and favored an interesting combination of mostly English/Latin cursive letters mixed with a sprinkling of German/Kurrent letters. (I have particular trouble deciphering Mr. Zimmermann’s intentions when writing capital letters R and B, and lower-case “e” vs. “i”.)

That said, here’s my rough transcription from the image of this first page. For what it’s worth, the indexers at Ancestry and FamilySearch transcribed a number of these names differently, and they could be correct. I know that if I compared other maps, land documents, censuses and county histories to my list, I would probably revise some of these initial transcriptions. Take a look and compare:

  • James Woodworth
  • Henry Meyer
  • Charles Normann [?]
  • Died Nero
  • Pat. Can[n]ophy
  • Died Rintelmann
  • H Rintelmann
  • John Schau
  • Jacob Jost
  • Fred Schlegel
  • [E?]rnst Schroder
  • Maik [phonetic for Mike?] Rabin
  • Wm [?] H. Steger
  • August Spechl (or Specht?)
  • Thomas Gough
  • Fr Groth
  • Wm Desmond
  • Jesse Hubbard
  • Jon. M. Clark
  • John Beaumann
  • Chr Bowen
  • P Burk(e)
  • Ed Timmlin
  • Thomas Dooley

At the head of the list is, indeed, our old friend Rev. James Woodworth—from Town of Mequon, section 1—followed by early settlers Henry Meyer and the Rintelmann families (sections 1 and 2). In fact, by comparing the order of names on the list with a map of the area from 1872 (more on that in an upcoming Monday: Map Day! post), it’s clear that enumerator Zimmerman began his Mequon census in Sec. 1—the northeast corner of T9N–R21E—and worked his way westward, through sections 2, 3, 4 and so on.

Other Mequon settlers that are found frequently in the documents and histories include adjacent section 3 neighbors Friedrich Groth (on the north side of the Clark farm), Jesse Hubbard (on the west), and the Desmonds (to the northwest). Thomas Gough lived just east of the Clark farm in section 2.

Who’s that just below JMC’s name on the census? My best transcriber’s guess is “John Beaumann,” which is a name that’s new to me. I did a little searching at Ancestry, looked at some early maps and histories, and checked the index at the BLM/GLO. No Beauman(n) on the maps, but I did find some Beauman(n)s in a few other southeast Wisconsin records at Ancestry. The Washington/Ozaukee county land records might have some info, but it’s possible that John Beaumann didn’t buy land near JMC and merely rented from a local owner and then moved on to Milwaukee or elsewhere. The only BLM/GLO land patent for a John Beaumann was issued in Nicollet county, Minnesota, in 1872. The only other “Beaumann” federal land patent in the database was obtained by one Peter Beaumann in St. Clair county, Illinois, in 1838. Interestingly, on the 1860 federal census, there is a John Beauman living next to Lake Michigan in little town of Pentwater, Michigan. This John Beauman is a 35-year-old laborer, born in Switzerland.

Back to the census. Did you notice the two “Died” heads of families, “Died Nero” and “Died Rintelmann”? I hadn’t seen that before, and my initial guess was that these two families had recently suffered the loss of their male head of household, and enumerator Zimmerman chose to use “Died” instead of a more typical phrase such as “Widow Rintelmann.” But a comparison with the 1872 map shows both farmers with their first names abbreviated as “Diedr.” So! Mr. Nero and Mr Rintelmann are not deceased, they are both named Diedrich.

After this census, the late-1850s brought dramatic changes to the lives of the Clark family; the federal census of 1860 would be the last time they would be enumerated in the handsome stone home that Jonathan M. Clark built in 1848. More on the 1860 census, some major life events in Clark family, and a new map, coming up.

5 thoughts on “Census Records for the In-Between Years: 1855 — Part 2

  1. Reed, good to have some more ‘Mequon’ names to see if any have pre-Mequon connections to JMC. I see, in going back to your informative page on James Woodworth, that he was contemporary with other families from Nova Scotia: Isaac Bigelow, Daniel Strickland and Stephen Loomer. Wasn’t there a Bigelow family in Derby-Stanstead area?



    • Hi, Liz—

      Yes, there was a substantial group of Nova Scotia immigrants to Mequon in the early years, and I’ve only begun to link them together. Along with the families mentioned in that earlier post (Woodworth, Bigelow, Strickland, Loomer), there are also members of the Loomis family that came to Mequon from Nova Scotia.

      There were at least one or two Bigelows in the Stanstead, Lower Canada/Quebec area in the first half of the nineteenth century. One Levi Bigelow was based in Derby and/or Derby Line, Vermont, as early as 1804 or 1808. He seems to have moved across the border and became a notable citizen of the Stanstead area until at least the early 1850s. I’ve also seen a mention of a Samuel Bigelow in Stanstead in the early 1800s. I’ve got lots more work to do with these folks.

      The Nova Scotia cluster of immigrants forms an interesting part of the early history of Mequon; I hope to have time to discover more about the families and their relationships (lots of these ex-Nova Scotians married other ex-Nova Scotians, and it gets confusing pretty quickly) and their lives in early Mequon.

      If anyone wants to follow up on the Bigelow family and/or some of the other Nova Scotia or Lower Canada immigrants to Mequon, here’s a short reading list to get you started:

      Howe, Gilman Bigelow, Genealogy of the Bigelow Family in America […] to the Year 1890, Worcester, Mass., 1890.

      Hubbard, B. F., Forests and Clearings: The History of Stanstead County, Province of Quebec […], Montreal, 1874.

      Woodworth, James W., My Path and the Way the Lord Led Me, Milwaukee, 1878.

      The Woodworth book has quite a bit of detailed information about the Nova Scotia families and their emigrations to Wisconsin, but it is hard to find. UW-Oshkosh has a copy, and the Clark House and OCHS libraries each have a pdf copy on dvd. The other two books are available online at several sites, including as free, downloadable GoogleBook pdfs. Happy researching!


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