26 April 2015

Census Sunday attempts to track Civil War veteran across the nation

Most of my ancestors were born, lived and died within a tight geographic circle. There were a few who moved away for work only to move back. Of course my immigrant picked up and moved across the pond! They seem to be the only daring ones though – except my uncle Benjamin VanHorn. 

Benjamin was born in Pennsylvania, and lived in Chester County most of his formative years. He fought in the Civil War, on the Union Side. It goes without saying that he traveled during that time. A few years after the war, he married in Philadelphia and moved shortly thereafter to Virginia (where their eldest was born) before settling in California.

Benjamin was born around 1843 to George VanHorn and Jane Dudbridge. The first census he is named therefore on is the 1850 US Census.  

1850 US Census

Benjamin was just seven in 1850. Listed as Franklin, I found him in the 1850 US Census living with his parents. He has three siblings at this time: Pierson (my 3x great grandfather whose full name is Chrispin Pierson VanHorn), 10; Martha, 5; and Joanna, 2. The family lived in Kensington Ward 5 in Philadelphia. His father, George, was employed as a sawyer at that time.  

1860 US Census

Benjamin, 17, was living with his parents and siblings in 1860. The family lived in Valley Township, Chester County, but they were covered by the Coatesville post office.  George (his father), Chrispin, and Benjamin are listed as farmers. Jane (their mother) is a housewife. The other children – Martha, Joanna, and William – are in school. 

1870 US Census

Benjamin and his young family were settled in California by 1870. They lived in Milpitas, Santa Clara, California. Their post office was Alviso. It was just him, his wife Margaret, and their two year old daughter Virginia. 

1880 US Census

By 1880, Benjamin, now 37, is married to Margaretta Hensel and they live in Milpitas, Santa Clara, California. He is a farmer. They have five children: Virginia, 12; Minnie, 9; George, 7; Teresa, 3; and William, 1. Virginia had been born in Virginia. The other children were all born in California. 

1900 US Census

Benjamin, now 57, is widowed. He lives in San Jose, Santa Clara, California with four sons: George, William, Lemuel, and Hensell. Benjamin is now a carpenter. George was a cook. William and Hensel were day laborers and Lemuel was an engineer. 

Since the US Census is only conducted every 10 years, there is a huge life gap between 1860 and 1870. In that single decade, other sources confirm, Benjamin fought in the Civil War, was a Prisoner of War at Libby Island, married, moved to Virginia, and finally moved to California where his family settled.

Census Sunday is a genealogical prompt of GeneaBloggers. 
© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2015.
Locations listed are located in Pennsylvania (USA), unless otherwise noted in post.