Census reports can help to “fill in the blanks” of the lives of our ancestors by providing information about where they were living and what they were doing at the times of the census. They show us the composition of families and approximate birth dates of family members. They also give us a glimpse of the “neighborhood,” telling us who else lived in our relatives’ vicinity.
Amos James Casbon (1869–1956) and Carrie Belle Aylesworth (1873–1958) were married 26 November 1900 at the Carrie’s parents’ home in Porter Township, Porter County, Indiana. Shortly after, Amos purchased land just south of Boone Grove in Porter Township, built a modest home, and began to establish himself as a farmer. Amos and Carrie soon became parents. The growth of their family is reflected in the 1910 and 1920 United States census reports.
The 1910 census reflects the residence status and family composition as of April 15th of that year. The major column headings are Location, Name, Relation (to head of household), Personal Description, Nativity, Citizenship, language spoken, Occupation, Education, Ownership of Home, Whether a Civil War veteran, Whether blind, and Whether deaf and dumb.
Reading across the row containing Amos’s entry we see the following:
- His was the 150th house and 156th family visited by the enumerator (Calvin Skinkle, a fellow farmer residing in northern Porter Township).
- His name, misspelled as Amos Casborn
- His status as head of household
- He is married, white, age 40, married one time, for nine years.
- He was born in England, as were his father and mother.
- He immigrated to America in 1870; naturalization status is left blank.
- He can speak English.
- He is a farmer on a “general farm” and is categorized as an employer—not an employee (“W” on the form) or working on his own account (“OA”). He was not unemployed and had not been unemployed during the previous year.
- He can read and write; he did not attend school during the current academic year.
- He owns his farm, which is mortgaged.
- He is not a Civil War veteran and not blind, deaf, or dumb.
Here are detailed views of the personal descriptions for the entire family.
We can see that Carrie (misspelled as “Carry”) is 36 years old, has been married one time, and has had five children, all of whom survived. She and her parents were born in Indiana. As a housewife, she is not considered to have an occupation. She can read and write.
The children are:
- Berlyn (son), 9 years old (born 31 May 1901); able to read and write; attending school
- Ada (daughter), 7 years old (5 November 1902); able to read and write; attending school
- Vernon (son), 5 years old (9 August 1904)
- Harry (son), 4 years old (23 February 1906)
- Neva (daughter), 2 years old (6 September 1907)
This photo, taken in late 1911 or early 1912, shows the children in front of the small house they were born in. The youngest child is Herbert, born in August 1910. Carrie was about five months pregnant with him when the census was taken.
Since census enumerators tended to visit houses in order along a particular route, the census report can also tell us who else lived in the same vicinity. The surnames of the five families listed before and after Amos in the 1910 census are: Eaton, Ludington, Antrim, Edinger, Klemz, McFarland, Baker, Eaton, Phillips, Wells, and Cornell. Readers from Porter County may recognize some of these names.
By 1920, Amos and Carrie’s family was complete. Here is the 1920 census entry for the family. The entire page can be viewed here. The information reflects the family’s status on the 1st of January.
This detailed view shows the family members’ names, personal descriptions, citizenship, and education.
Here is a summary of the information shown above:
- Amos is now 50 years old, the home is still mortgaged; he now reports his year of immigration as 1871 (the ship Great Western arrived on Christmas Day 1870, so it was almost 1871) and was naturalized in 1895. I don’t know why he needed to be naturalized since he was a small child when he arrived in the U.S., and his father became a naturalized citizen in 1876.
- Carrie is now 46 years old. The 1920 census did not ask about numbers of children born and surviving, but she did lose one child, Doris, who died at age 11 months on 23 March 1915, due to acute endocarditis.
- Berlyn (misspelled as “Berlys”) is now 18, and no longer in school.
- Ada, age 17, Vernon, 15, Harry, 13, and Neva, 12, are all in school.
- The three children born after the 1910 census are: Herbert, age 10 (should be 9—29 August 1910); Donald, 7 (8 January 1913); and Delbert, 3 years, 3 months (30 September 1919).
The surnames of the five families listed before and after Amos are: Antrim, Schaber, Eaton, Story, Rasor, Frecke, Jewel, Moran, Shurr, and Frailey.
This 1921 plat map shows Amos’s property holdings at the time.
Though only snapshots in time, census reports can tell us a lot about our families and build a more complete picture of their lives.
 1910 U.S. Census, Porter County, Indiana, Porter Township, enumeration district (ED) 149, sheet 8B; imaged at FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/collection/1727033 : accessed 7 Feb 2022) >Indiana >Porter >Porter >ED 149 >image 16 of 24; citing NARA microfilm publication T624.
 1920 United States census, Porter County, Indiana, Porter Township, ED 153, sheet 10A; imaged at FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/collection/1488411: accessed 14 April 2017) >Indiana >Porter >Porter >ED 153 >image 19 of 22; citing NARA microfilm publication T625.
 Indiana, State Board of Health, Certificate of Death, Porter County, register no. 70; imaged as “Indiana, U.S., Death Certificates, 1899-2011,” Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/60716 : accessed 11 Feb 2022) >Certificate >1910–1919) >(Roll) 17 >image 265 of 4078; citing Indiana Archives and Record Administration, Indianapolis.
 Standard Atlas of Porter County, Indiana (Chicago: George A. Ogle & Co., 1921), p. 30; image copy, Indiana State Library Digital Collections (https://indianamemory.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/p15078coll8/id/2529 : accessed 6 Feb 2022).