My ancestor Ellis Fowler (b. 1770) and his wife Mary made an appearance in the Union County SC census in the years 1800 to 1850, with one exception: they were not counted in 1810. This missing decade could have answered many questions regarding the number of sons and daughters born to the couple.

Maybe the census taker overlooked the household. I imagine that it would have been easy to miss a tiny log cabin buried deep in the woods down a long rutted, dirt road. Perhaps a gentle shower turned into a hard rain and the census taker decided that it would be easier to head home rather than continue his trudge deeper and deeper in the red clay mud. Maybe all of the family members were in the fields toiling in the hot sun, and the knock of the census taker went unanswered. It may even be possible that some of the Ellis Fowler family were ill with fever and the census taker bypassed the home so that he would not become ill also. Whatever the reason, it is a research tragedy — to me — that the family was not enumerated in 1810.

It was not uncommon for men, women, and children to be absent from the census. It happened often back then and it still happens today. It makes the job of a researcher a little more difficult but it is something that one just deals with and moves on. It also happens, a little less often, that a family, or individual, will be counted twice. I do not mind when this occurs as it can give us a better look at the lives of the ancestors being researched.

What follows will be in two parts. Part One will give two examples of Union County, SC Fowler families who were counted twice in the 1870 census. Part Two will be my attempt in understanding the 1820 Union County SC census in which some Fowler families (as well as others) appeared to have been counted twice with no rhyme or reason.


Example #1 Elijah Fowler and Family

  • Elijah T. Fowler (1830-1908)
  • Mary Jane Moseley Fowler (1835–1918)
  • Gassaway Josephine “Josie” Fowler (1861–1953)
  • Susan Bettie Fowler (1863–1923)
  • Frances “Fannie” Fowler ( b. 1868)

Elijah T. Fowler was the son of Thomas Gillman Fowler (1798-1880) and Susannah Hames (1804-1863). Thomas Gillman Fowler was the son of Godfrey Fowler (1773-1850) and Nannie Kelly (1775-1857). Elijah Fowler married his cousin Mary Jane Moseley, daughter of Daniel Moseley (1814–1894) and Biddy (1816–1870).

On June 23, 1870, the Elijah Fowler family was enumerated for the Union County SC Census by Mr. Going. The family lived in Draytonville which was located in Union County at that time; it is now part of Cherokee County, SC.

The Elijah Fowler family moved from Draytonville to Jonesville between June 23 and September 21, 1870, the day they were counted for the census by Mr. William A. Bolt. The oldest daughter was called Gassaway in one record and Josephine in the other; the middle daughter Susan had a birthday on September 7, and was recorded accurately as age 6 in June and age 7 in September; the youngest daughter Francis was called by her given name in one record and Fanny in the other.

It is fairly easy to see that the family of Elijah T. Fowler was counted twice in 1870, once in June and again in September. Draytonville and Jonesville are not a great distance from each other and the Fowler families moved back and forth between the two townships often. It is obvious that this was a case of a family moving from one location to another and census takers visiting both places.

Example #2 William Edward Fowler and James Monroe Fowler

  • James Fowler (1832–1862)
  • Caroline Hodge (1830-1912)
  • Desdamona Fowler (1854–1887)
  • William Edward Fowler (1856–1894)
  • James Monroe Fowler (1858–1931)

William Edward Fowler and his brother James Monroe Fowler were the sons of James Fowler and Caroline Hodge. James Fowler was the son of William Fowler (b. 1795) and Rhoda Moseley. Caroline Hodge was the daughter of John Jackson Hodge (1802-1882) and Martha Patsy Fowler (1809-1872), daughter of Womack Fowler (1785-1849) and Susannah Moseley (1792-1878).

While scanning the 1870 Union County census for the Draytonville township, I noticed the two Fowler boys wedged in-between a household headed by William Franklin Hodge (1837-1909), and another of Calvin Wister Hodge (1850-1928). I wondered why a fifteen year old boy would be listed as Head of Household in a census record. Knowing that the two Hodge men nest door were brothers of Caroline Hodge married to James Fowler, I looked a little closer.

It made perfect sense to me that Caroline Hodge Fowler would have sent her two sons to work on the farms of her brothers in nearby Draytonville. James Fowler had died and the male influence of the Hodge uncles would only benefit the young boys as they prepared for manhood.

Mr. Going, the census taker for that part of Union County, made his rounds on June 23, 1870 and counted the two Fowler boys in their own household next door to their uncles.

William Edward and James Monroe Fowler had moved back into the Jonesville township household of their mother, Caroline Hodge Fowler, in time to be counted again on September 21, this time by census taker Mr. William A.Bolt.

1870 Union County SC Census

This example of the two Fowler boys was not indicative of an entire family moving to a new home but that of the sons in a family being sent away to work and spend time with extended family. This would happen more and more often after the civil war when many fathers did not return home and women were raising young boys on their own.


Several years ago, I noticed that I often got “double” results when I looked up someone in the 1820 Union County, SC Census. It happened when I ran a search for Jasper Fowler (1785-bef 1850), son of Ephraim Fowler. I discovered that there were two Jasper Fowlers with almost the same numbers (ages and number of occupants) in each household. In other words, the households of the two Jasper Fowlers were almost identical.

I had never seen another Jasper Fowler in Union County, and I was a little confused trying to understand why an “extra” Jasper appeared in 1820, then disappeared never to be seen again.

And then, the “double” headcount happened again, this time with Mark Fowler. It happened over and over with others I researched. I eventually began to “unsee” the double results.

I did notice that the 1820 Union County census had two townships: Union and Not Stated. This was the first time since the beginning of the census that the county had been broken up into more than one township category. It would happen once more in 1850, then beginning in 1870, the county would be more accurately divided:



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