Columbia County in 1820
Fifteen municipalities made up Columbia County in 1820, which included what became Montour County in 1850: Berwick, Bloom Township, Briar Creek, Catawissa, Derry, Fishing Creek, Greenwood, Hemlock, Liberty, Limestone, Madison, Mahoning, Mifflin, Mt. Pleasant, and Sugarloaf. 17,621 inhabitants resided in this mostly rural county.
The 1820 census
Some of the entries in the 1820 census have been rearranged to appear alphabetically by the first letter of the surname, while most are in the order of visit as we are accustomed to seeing. It is the Fourth census of the United States and the official census day is August 7, 1820. Persons to be naturalized is one of the unique categories and our age ranges are broader, thus providing us with less definite information about our ancestors. To decipher your hash marks, keep a blank 1820 census form in front of you.
Information on the 1820 census
The heading topics were Page, State, County, Call Number/URL, and Enumeration Date. The following information was detailed:
- Name of county, parish, township, town or city where the family resides
- Names of heads of families
- Free White Males: Under 10, 10-16, 16-18, 16-25 (notice that all in the 16-18 category will also be enumerated in this category), 26-45, 45+
- Free White Females: Under 10, 10-16, 16-25, 26-45, 45+
- Foreigners not naturalized
- Numbers of persons engaged in Agriculture
- Numbers of persons engaged in Commerce
- Numbers of persons engaged in Manufactures
- Male Slaves: Under 14, 14-25, 26-45, 45+
- Female Slaves: Under 14, 14-25, 26-45, 45+
- Free Colored Persons: Males; Under 14, 14-25, 26-45, 45+, Females; Under 14, 14-25, 26-45, 45+
- All other persons except Indians not taxed
Helpful tool to determine birth year
Remembering that your ancestors are now just hash marks in an age range, you may find the following chart helpful in trying to determine their birth year. If their age in 1820 was:
- Under 10 – born 1810-1820
- 10-16 – born 1805-1810
- 16-18 – born 1802-1804
- 16-25 – born 1795-1804
- 26-45 – born 1776-1794
- 45+ born before 1775
As I mentioned previously, information is getting sketchier traveling back through the censuses. Hopefully you will be able to pinpoint your ancestors by pulling together conclusions drawn from age ranges, townships and neighbors.
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