Folks in the genealogy world depend heavily on both U.S. Federal Census records and state census records to verify names, dates of birth/marriage/death, residence and family group members. Some census records also provide a glimpse of more personal details about our ancestors: occupations, finances (did they own or rent?), stability (did they move around a lot?), neighbors, and much much more.
Most of my ancestors were farmers and it’s interesting to look at what that kind of life entailed.
Tyler Moses Beach (1798-1880) was born in New Ashford, MA. His father (Moses Tyler Beach) and grandfather (Caleb Beach) were both Revolutionary War patriots from Connecticut. Moses T. Beach moved to Cattaraugus County, NY, with his adult children, including Tyler M., around 1821. Both Moses T. and his son Tyler M. became founding members of the community of East Otto.
Tyler Moses Beach was the great-grandfather of George Beach Irvine (1884-1955).
The 1860 U.S. Census Non-population Schedule shows that Tyler M. Beach (age 62) was a pretty successful farmer in East Otto. He was primarily a dairy farmer but also raised sheep, produced maple sugar, was a beekeeper and grew various crops.
Below is the listing of his assets in 1860:
- 160 acres of land (135 acres improved & 25 acres unimproved) valued at $7,500.
- Farming equipment valued at $450.
- 4 horses
- 14 milch cows
- 7 other cattle (assume sheep, based on listing of wool, below)
- 1 swine
- Total value of livestock $370
- 30 bushels wheat
- 19 bushels oats
- 50 lbs wool
- 60 bushels potatoes
- 6 bushels buckwheat
- 500 lbs of butter
- 5,000 lbs cheese (holy cow!)
- 352 lbs maple sugar
- 20 lbs beeswax
- 20 lbs honey
- $20 value of homemade manufactures
- $54 value of slaughtered animals
Whew! The thought of managing such a large operation exhausts me. At the time, Tyler’s 21-year-old son, Robert, was living with him and assisting on the farm, as was a 29-year-old German immigrant, Joseph Harket.
Census records are a great starting point for gathering information, but they can lead the curious mind to ponder such things as, how did Joseph Harket come to live and work on the farm?