Casefile Clues

24 January 2013

We Love Our Sanders' Patent Wheat Separator

"Love" may be too strong of a word, but it makes the point.

Newspapers have been running ads disguised as letters for a quite some time. This one from 1850 provides clues about a DeMoss relative from Ohio.

Date: Friday, November 22, 1850  

Paper: Daily Ohio Statesman (Columbus, OH) --obtained on 

 Genealogybank.com
It is not often that newspapers from the mid-19th century provide occupational clues for our ancestors.

A relative appears in an ad in a Columbus, Ohio, newspaper for wheat separators. The newspaper is not the first place I would look for information about an ancestor's occupation, but it goes to show that one never knows. The census is one of the few records during this time period that provides occupational information on rural residents and we will see what the 1850 and 1860 census has to say about Louis.

1850 Census

The 1850 United States Census enumeration indicates that Louis Demoss is a laborer. There are no other individuals with a name "close" to Lewis Demoss in Coshocton County. Roscoe (the location of the mill referenced in the newspaper clipping) is in Jackson Township. It looks like this is the Lewis referenced in the newspaper item.


Year: 1850; Census Place: Jackson, Coshocton, Ohio; Roll: M432_670;

 1860 Census

The 1860 United States Census enumeration indicates that Louis Demoss is a miller and still living in Jackson Township. He has aged the appropriate number of years from the 1850 enumeration and it seems reasonable that we have located the same person. The name of the wife is different; however, the daughter Lenora is still in the household and Emaline Demoss (a neighbor in 1850) is now listed with Louis.
Year: 1860; Census Place: Jackson, Coshocton, Ohio; Roll: M653_950

Was he really a laborer in 1850?


The 1850 census for Louis was taken on 7 August 1860 and the census date was actually 1 June 1850. It is possible that Louis did not work for the mill on either of those dates but was working for the mill on the date the newspaper was published?

No--that's not quite it either. The "letter" in the paper (actually an advertisement for the separator) was dated  8 April 1850. That is before the date of the census--regardless of which census date is used.

I am inclined to believe that the listing as a "laborer" is not incorrect in the 1850 census. "Laborer" covers a variety of things and his wife could have simply told the census taker that he "worked at the mill." Heaven only knows how some census takers interpreted phrases such as that.

What is clear is that I've got the same person--regardless of how "accurate" the occupation is in 1850.

Newspapers, such as those  Genealogybank.com  may provide a variety of clues.