Request: another pair of eyes on this 1850 census page

+3 votes

My ancestors, the Houston family, have a somewhat perplexing household in 1850 Robeson county, NC. The census taker seems to have written in the county of birth in some cases instead of just the state. If I'm not mistaken, John Houston, aged 60, seems to be born in "Sampson", surely meaning nearby Sampson county, NC.

Census image:

Further down, there's a "Doctor Franklin", aged 4. The " after his name seems to indicate that he is a Houston, like the preceding members of the family. Perhaps he was named after the doctor who delivered him! I suppose he could've been a late-in-life baby for John and his wife Chloe (aged 50 in 1850, so it's not impossible she had a surprise pregnancy in her late forties). Alternatively, he may be an out-of-wedlock child for their daughter, Charity. The other daughter, Emily, is a bit young to have a four-year-old but I suppose not outside the realm of possibility.

Also in the same household is William Britt Sr., aged 74. For the life of me I cannot read what his occupation is supposed to be. "Cooper"?

in Genealogy Help by Jessica Key G2G6 Pilot (177k points)

3 Answers

+2 votes
John Huston's birthplace clearly says Sampson.

Chloe says, Roberson, as does 25 y/o William.

Charity is South Carolina.

Emily in Roberson County.

Doctor Franklin is 4 months old. Parents didn't always name their children right off the bat. I have seen them listed as Infant for up to a year old. I am no expert but am willing to be that the census taker listed the doctor who could verify birth if needed rather than infant. Interesting to say the least.

William Britt Sr.age 74 also born Roberson County, NC is a cooper by trade.

It appears this census taker only listed the state they were born in if it WAS NOT North Carolina.

Oh, one other thing....on the previous page about 3 or so houses away is Joel Britt. I would almost betcha that Mr. Britt Sr. is a member of that family just in case your trying to figure out that relationship.
by Gigi Tanksley G2G6 Mach 3 (32.3k points)
Thank you, Gigi.

The Britt connection seems to come through John and Chloe's son John Jr.'s wife Drusilla Smith, who's mother was a Britt. William Britt and young Henry P. Britt are probably an uncle and a cousin of some kind to her. On the 1850 census John Jr. and Drusilla are only living one household away with their young children.

If "Doctor Franklin" is four months old, it makes it less likely he's a son of Chloe's. I'm now wondering if he's the same as the 9-year-old William B. Houston who's living with John Sr. (now widowed) and Charity in the 1860 census. Weirdly while searching around for the origin of this name I discovered ANOTHER person with the given name "Doctor Franklin" -- Doctor Franklin Edmund who got married to Amelia Lamb in... you guessed it... 1850 Robeson co. NC:
Sorry! I got the m for male mixed with months and set you on the wrong path. I will wear a hair shirt tomorrow to make up for it.  lol
+2 votes
Last question, yes, a cooper was a maker or repairer of casks and barrels.
by Kitty Smith G2G6 Pilot (539k points)
+3 votes

Counties - yes.  They start at the top of the page, with County spelled out, and ditto down from there.

Doctor Franklin was four years old.  I don't see any indication that his age was stated in months.  For an infant, it would usually say 4/12 (see Sena (?) Wilcox, Line 22).  I can't explain his name, but subsequent censuses and other records might clarify both name and age.

Mr Britt was a cooper by trade.

There was a Doctor Franklin Houston who served in the 27th Mississippi Infantry, and was captured at Kenasaw Mountain, Georgia, and joined the US Army in 1865.  He would have joined the Confederate Army at about 16, which is young but not impossible.

"United States Civil War Soldiers Index, 1861-1865," database, FamilySearch ( : 4 December 2014), Doctor Franklin Houston, , Company , 5th Regiment, US Volunteer Infantry, Union; citing NARA microfilm publication M1290 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 24; FHL microfilm 1,604,907.

by Herbert Tardy G2G6 Pilot (575k points)
edited by Herbert Tardy
You are correct on the Doctor Franklin! The m for a male I listed as months. He should definitely have had a name at that point. Hope his parents didn't think the doctors name was doctor.   My apologies for making an error!!
I think his name really was Doctor Franklin Houston, and he was probably the soldier I cited.  I didn't have much luck linking the soldier to the 1850 family, but what are the odds of that being a different man?  Maybe someone with a Fold3 subscription can see the Civil War records and shed some light.

Edit to add:  Benjamin Franklin was sometimes called Dr Franklin, and that's probably how the boy was named.

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