Sunday, June 6, 2010

1880 Agri-Census: Oh Mary, I Can't Tell You Not To Weep:

I had been looking and looking for my 3rd great-grandparents Louis and Mary White Cooper together in the 1870 Census in Grimes County Texas but with no success. I did find my grams in 1880 as a widow, and have been linking her children with wives and husbands since then.
I finally, without hurting these tired soles of mine, jumped for joy when I ran across the 1880 Agricultural Census taken in Anderson, Grimes County, Texas on June 1st 1880, and saw her name, Mary Cooper!!!
I would assume that she was a widow on this date because she is the only one listed on the sheet with the Cooper name. Two other persons listed are Henry Mathis the next door neighbor and Robert Parham the son in law of Louis Cooper's daughter Lydia.

According to the census my ggg-grandmother rented shares of land for a portion of the profits totaling 30 acres of pasture or meadow land,and another 100 acres of mowed lawn which probably was used to gather hay. The value of the land, including the fencing was around 150 dollars,and another 80 dollars for the livestock.
She didn't have use of a horse but she did have 4 oxen that she used to plow. I sure wish I knew who helped her with these chores. She had one son Jerry Cooper and the rest were girls.

Oh Mary, I can't tell you not to weep! My mind is visually looking at you now and I don't know how you did it. Why did you have to become a widow now with all those mouths to feed and only one man to help you work the fields.
I know your girls had to help but my God, what you all went through. Cutting all that wood into cords and still had to split with someone else. Sheesh!!

I am also wondering what may have bought you the most money. I see you had only 12 chickens and 12 other types of poultry. It may have been turkeys or those little guinea hens. They only produced 12 dozen eggs in 1879. Well, you did plant acres of Indian corn and oats,Canada Peas and dry beans to acquire a little more money.

Oh Mary, I can't tell you not to moan either! I am hoping that all the things you needed to take care of your family was at home on your own piece of land. Things like a little garden, some cows for fresh milk and a few pigs or hogs. Maybe a pond out back where there was plenty of catfish and sunfish. And trees galore with peaches and pecans and black walnuts.
And above all, I am wishing that you had piece of mind My dear Mary, where you could look out at night and know your children were safe and sound.


Angela Y. Walton-Raji said...


Thank you for an excellent example of how other kinds of records help one to tell the rest of the story.

So many researchers look at documents like the agricultural census and assume there is nothing there.

But in your case you have found the story by asking the questions that are not answered.

How DID Mary feeed her family with so few hands to work the fields?

Was the family diet supplanted by fruits, nuts and gems from her own small garden?

You have put flavor into your family story by asking the right questions.

Oh Mary---don't you weep! Your descendants can say to you, well done!

Kristin said...

i hope mary had that peace of mind too. she was working for herself now that must have made a hugh difference. now i've got to go find some agrigultural census for my farming ancestors. great information!

Ms Vicky said...

Thanks Angela for your comments. I was a little worried but the more I read the more I saw for myself what they went through just to make a living after reconstruction.

Ms Vicky said...

Thanks Kirstin! Good luck on your search and thanks for your comments.