Prior to following up on the link Randy Seavers gave to the
Ancestry.com collection of the Federal Nonpopulation
Census Schedules 1850-1880, I hadn't really given much
thought to how my West ancestors made their daily living.
I knew the regular census images said they were farmers
which seems to have ended with my great grandfather P.J.
West. My grandfather Floyd Earl West Sr was a lumberman
and his brother Clarence worked as the caretaker of the
Aziscohos Dam for over fifty years. And frankly, I never
noticed many farms up there when I visited as a kid other
than one near my Aunt Flossie's place in Milan, NH. It
wasn't until a few years ago when I found the Federal Census
images on Ancestry.com that I learned that my West
ancestors had been farmers. I thought they were all
These schedules have been invaluable. Now I know what crops JP
and his brothers grew,that they periodically changed what they grew,
that they supplemented the income from the farms by cutting wood on
their farms. I think that Jonathan and Asa sold their logs to Hiram or
used his mill to turn them into lumber to be sold. But while I now know
what they did, I wonder about the why and how. That entry for a crop
of hops on Asa's farm in 1870 for example. How long had he been
growing hops and why did he start? Why did he stop by 1880? Was
it a case of it not being a good cash crop, or due to weather conditions,
or was it just a one year experiment that failed? What prompted
Hiram's decision to sell his farm and run a saw-mill and grist-mill
instead?(more on that later)
Where in Upton was the farm that John Cutter West and then JP West
owned? When was it sold and why? Was it because JP's sons Paul,
John and PJ had no intererst in farming or did financial reasons force
him to sell?
So you can see that while the Nonpopulation Schedules provided me
with information I hadn't known about my family, they've also given me
more questions for which to find answers.
To me, that's the fun of genealogy!
(As to that sale of Hiram's farm:it turns out he sold it to my 2x great
grandfather Asa F. Ellingwood in 1877 who then sold it agaIn sometime
between 1880 and 1885. I found that in Florence O'Connor's book,
The Ancestors and Descendants of Asa Freeman Ellingwood and
Florilla (Dunham)Ellingwood. I should have known to check there first
for answers about my Ellingwood line! )