Casefile Clues

31 October 2013

Rufus Stephens and Clarissa--Both Sets


This is the 1850 census enumeration for "person of interest" Rufus D. Stephens (town of Port Huron, St. Clair, County, Michigan). The 81-year old is living with his apparent wife, Clarisa aged 68.


Rufus cannot be located in any later federal censuses in Michigan. It is believed that he died after this 1850 census enumeration and before the 1860 enumeration. This conclusion is solely based upon the fact that he cannot be located in 1860. It is very possible that he is enumerated in 1860 under a spelling or handwriting that has been overlooked.

Attempts have been made to locate Rufus in earlier census records. Based upon the place of birth for his likely child Aaron, it is thought that the Stephens family lived in New York before they lived in Michigan. There is a Rufus Stephens who appears in Lewis County, New York in several pre-1850 census records.



Year
Location and details
1810
Enumerated as Rufus Stephens in Lewis County, New York. Oldest male was 26-44, page 702 (right hand side).
1820
Enumerated as Rufus Stephens in Lowville, Lewis County, New York. Oldest male was 26-44. In Lowville—page 249.
1830
Enumerated as Rufus Stephens in Lowville, Lewis County, New York. Oldest male was  40-49, page 388
1840
Enumerated as Rufus Stephens in Lowville, Lewis County, New York. Oldest male between 60-69 , page 42, stamped upper right.

Concluding that this Rufus is the one who is living in Pt. Huron, Michigan in 1850 would be a mistake. 

Good research practice indicates that the 1850 US Census for Lewis County, New York, should be searched for a Rufus--this is one way to get a better fix on the Lewis County Rufus Stephens and determine if he could be the one for whom I am looking.

Sure enough, there is a Rufus Stephens living in 1850 in :Lowville, Lewis County, New York (stamped upper right page 186).


It is seen as a coincidence that the wife in both cases is named Clarissa. The Lewis County Stephenses are approximately ten years younger than the ones in St. Clair County, Michigan in 1850.This Rufus Stephens is apparently enumerated in Lewis County, New York, again in 1860 as an eighty-year old Connecticut native (enumerated in Lowville, stamped page number 63, line 12). 

Additional records on the Rufus of interest, Rufus D. Stephens, indicate that he actually spent some time in Ontario's Yarmouth Township in the 1830s and 1840s. That Rufus D. Stephens consistently uses a middle initial and in the 1842 Canadian census, Rufus D. Stephens has a near neighbor Arvin Butler who is also his apparent neighbor in St. Clair County, Michigan in 1850.

Tracking down the Lewis County, New York, Rufus has made it pretty clear to me that the man of that name enumerated there in 1810 through 1860 is not my Rufus Stephens. There would have been too much moving back and forth for all the dates to fit and it would be odd for Rufus to "move home" just to be enumerated in the census. 

Lesson-Never "grab" a census entry that "fits" and assume that it is the person of interest. Track that "new" person in prior and subsequent census records to see if he (or she) is existing at the same time as your ancestor, only in a different place. 

It's clear in this case that Lewis County, New York, Rufus is one person and he's not the Rufus for whom I am looking. Unfortunately for me the one I need moved around quite a bit more than the one I don't need.