When I attended the Boston University, Certificate Program and the study group for the book, Mastering Genealogical Proof, by Dr. Thomas W. Jones,[i] I became enamored with his handling of census records. He created tables of the census data, with notes and citations beneath. The elegance of this presentation is perfect for a visual person, such as me. I had struggled with writing my census conclusions; this approach allows me to present my thoughts in an organized manner. I encourage you to read the Mastering Genealogical Proof if you haven’t already. Thank you, Dr. Jones.
Okay, enough of the fangirl gushing and back to the subject matter, The New Jersey Census and it’s “substitutes.” Whether New Jersey or any other state consideration has to be given to what records exist for that area and where can I access them, then also who was enumerated, and questions asked. There are plenty of classes and websites available for this subject matter. I won’t be covering this in-depth. I will add links at the end to help you find the material. Except for fragments, the 1890 Federal population schedule was destroyed. Additionally, Federal Census before 1830 does not exist for the state. Census loss, coupled with vital records being mostly unavailable before 1848, makes any research in the late 18th and early 19th century quite a challenge. Whether you research yourself or hire a professional, it will take a good bit of time to complete.
As always, I start with a research question and develop a plan. Today’s question is who were the parents of Peter Teeple, from Piscataway New Jersey, who died on 1 April 1870, at the age of eighty-five.[ii] Luckily we have a marriage record and a death record for Peter, each with its breadcrumbs to follow.
What do we know about Peter?
There is an excellent reason to believe Peter was born about 1785. Every record I have for him lists an age that ties into that date. Such consistency is rare to behold. His death record indicated that he was born in Warren County. When I viewed the death ledger, I did raise my eyebrows a bit; I knew very little about him, but the location seemed suspect. Most other entries listed a specific town, but for Peter, it was Warren County. Warren County was incorporated in 1824, thirty-nine years after Peter’s birth. Would his family identify Warren County as his birthplace, first thinking of the town, and then saying the county where it is today? It feels wrong, particularly after I viewed his marriage record. His parents were “unknown,” common when the aged died during this period.
Peter and his wife Catherine Clawson [Clauson] were married 15 February 1820, in Somerset County,[iii] most likely at the Bedminster Reformed Church.[iv] This area is relatively close to Warren Township, Somerset County. Let’s see if the couple appeared in the 1820 census. Oh, wait 1820 is one of those years where we won’t find anything for New Jersey. However, there are other options. We just need to use analysis and persistence.
Luckily, one of the couple’s sons, George (quite the character), was interviewed late in his life. Part of the interview indicated that his father, [Peter], died young at eighty-six because he wasn’t a hunter. George later stated that his Grandfather from Pluckemin lived to the age of one hundred and one because he was active and hunted.[v] This article would lead me to believe that George knew his Grandfather (who else would have taught him to hunt). It’s too bad the article didn’t provide the name of his relatives. George was born in 1824, so his Grandfather may have been alive for the 1830 census, at least. Peter was born in 1785; depending on the birth-order, this would have his father born as late as 1765 (maybe earlier).
A Research Plan
My research plan emerges; search the Federal Census, Militia records, and New Jersey Tax Ratables for a man with the surname of Teeple, Deeple, and variants who was born as late as 1765 and died after 1830, possibly as late as 1866. Though the one hundred and one years may have been an exaggeration, I will give George the benefit of the doubt. I will limit my search to the state of New Jersey, but not to any particular county. I begin with the 1830 census because it is closest to the birth of George.
Up next, my technique for how I evaluate census using excel.
Resources for Census Information
Family Search Wiki – Federal Census
New Jersey State Census County by County Overview – Thanks to Michelle Tucker Chubenko, Jersey Roots Genealogy. It’s a terrific resource, and I am sure it took quite a bit of time to create. Michelle is always generous with her knowledge. Visit her at Jersey Roots.
New Jersey State Censuses, 1855–1915 (2017 Update)
New Jersey Tax Ratables Guide – Thanks to Heather Husted. Mention of other sources beyond Tax Ratables as well.
Using Ratables for New Jersey Genealogy
New Jersey Tax Ratables – at the New Jersey State Archives
(Note – Tax Rateables available on microfilm at Rutger’s Special Collections as well)
[i] Jones, Thomas W. Mastering Genealogical Proof. Arlington. National Genealogical Society. 2013.
[ii] New Jersey, Department of Health Bureau of Vital Statistics, Return of Deaths, page 87, (1870), Peter Teeple, SHEVS004 reel no. 43, New Jersey State Archives, Trenton.
[iii] “New Jersey, County Marriages, 1682-1956,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/: accessed 14 December 2018), image 103 of 366; New Jersey State Archives, Trenton
[iv] E.R Kruizenga, The History of Bedminster Church, (Bedminster: Consistory of the Reformed Church of Bedminster, 1909), p15-18; Ancestry (https:// ancestry.com : accessed 14 December 2018).
[v] “85 Years Young; Guns For Rabbits George Teeple Enjoys Hunting Tells How to Live Many Years,” Trenton Evening Times, 30 November 1909, page 3, column 5; GenealogyBank (accessed : 14 December 2018).