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You hear it over and over: It is vital to our future and well-being to be counted every 10 years.
Although there has been little consistency over time, the results have always determined the number of congressmen each state is entitled to.
The first U.S. census was in 1790. It only asked the name of the head of the household. Slaves were not named, but the southern states refused to join the union if slaves were not counted. Finally, a compromise was reached that became known as the “Three-Fifths Rule,” which credited slave-owning households with three more people for every five slaves.
Lancaster County did not record residents of the Indian Land area before the 1820 Census. In 1813, the state line around the Catawba Indian Lands was first drawn. Before 1813, this area was claimed by North Carolina, although the Catawbas had chosen to be a part of South Carolina.
Not until 1840 did the census collect the names of anyone other than the heads of households. In the 1840 census, we find surnames of families that remain and grew in size in each of the pre-Civil War censuses – Potts, Gordon, Patterson, Bailes, Moore, Harris, Culp, Morrow, Griffin, Ross, Withers and others.
Race first became a census category in 1870. That year, Indian Land had 512 whites and 425 blacks. In 1930, the ratio remained about the same, but the population had greatly increased – 751 whites and 711 blacks.
Also in 1930, there were six public school teachers; 14 workers at sawmills, including a veneer mill and a door factory; 13 road construction workers, along with 19 convicts paving U.S. 521; four merchants; one gas station; a jewelry store clerk; and a cotton mill worker.
In the 1930 Census, we also find James D. Nisbet, listed as a retired “society doctor.” He achieved world recognition as a specialist of “diseases of the stomach.” In his 1930 household, there were three persons, who served as chauffeur, cook and maid.
By 1910, the categories of the questions had expanded greatly. One hundred years ago, the census asked whether you were able to read and write, whether your property was owned or rented, whether your home was mortgaged, whether you were a veteran of the Union or Confederate Army or Navy and whether you were blind or deaf and dumb besides the usual name, relation to the head of the household, sex and race. The “personal description” also asked whether you were single, married, widowed or divorced, the number of years of your current marriage, how many children you had borne and how many were still living. Your “nativity” included the birthplace of the head of household, as well as that person’s parents’ birthplaces.
In 1910, with so many more questions than our 2010 form, there was no provision for mailing. A census taker visited each home and personally filled out the form. One of these was John F. Collins, for whom Collins Road was named. His cramped handwriting is easier to read than some others. However, when indexed, we found that many names are not spelled correctly.
Ancestry.com has added a typed copy, but the transcriber often got it wrong. Some names that are misconstrued are Morron (Morrow), McDonnell (McDonald), Kilner (Kilgo), Brom (Brown), Wallus (Walker) and Aylie (Wylie).
Leap forward a century to our 2010 census forms. It is striking how much shorter and less inquisitive ours is today.
Everyone should respond to this census. It will determine the amount of money that will be available from both the state and the federal government, and might mean we could have our own post office here in Indian Land.