Saturday, July 08, 2006

The Way We Were

While doing a little (late) spring cleaning in my attic, I ran across a very old document entitled 1850 Census by State. For the state of Mississippi, it reported census numbers by county. It was quite interesting, so I thought I would share what our county looked like 156 years ago. I tried to scan the document; however, it was not legible when I tried to post it, so I will simply relate each statistic as recorded in the 1850 Census of Washington County:

White Males: 339
White Females: 207
White Total: 546

Colored Free: 7
Colored Slave: 7,836

All Classes, Male: 4,402
All Classes, Female: 3,987

Total Population 1850: 8,389
Total Population 1840: 7,287

Born out of state (US): 368
Born in Foreign Country: 21

Total Dwellings: 126
Total Families: 126

White Scholars during Year: 53
Whites 5 and under 20 years old: 131
Whites over 20 unable to read & write: 1

Accommodation of Churches (Persons): 300

Doing a little math, it would appear that each "dwelling / family" was comprised of 4.3 people. We can assume that these are white families, since there were only 7 freed slaves at the time. Apparently each "family" had a "dwelling", so we can infer that the concept of the duplex had yet to be invented.

Washington County was 94% black ("colored") which was owned by the other 6% (white). That would allow for each white male to own approximately 23 slaves each (women couldn't own slaves). You have to wonder what those 7 freed slaves were doing.

As for education, we did pretty well. We had 53 Scholars and only one white person over 20 who could not read and write. It should be noted that "Scholars" most likely refers to grammar school graduates since there were no colleges or universities at the time.

It appears that there were adequate church pews for the white population in 1850. I doubt that slaves were allowed to worship in mass.

From 1840 to 1850, Washington County increased its population by 14%, although, my bet would be that slaves accounted for a large part of that figure. It is interesting to step back and see where we were just 150 years ago. Much has changed. It is equally as interesting to project what Washington County, Mississippi, will look like in the next century.


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