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The Shermans and the Census

My Sherman family lived in southeastern Illinois from about 1870 on. I have spent several hours with the United States census records for Coles and Edgar counties trying to learn more about this family. I had hoped to learn the following:

  • How this extended family moved through the area,
  • Where the Sherman family originated,
  • Whether other Shermans who lived in these counties are related to me.

The earliest Sherman ancestor I have identified is Daniel Sherman (about 1800-aft. 1862). Not all of Daniel’s children settled in Illinois, but I know that Anderson, Evaline, Thomas, John, and Jasper passed through there. Daniel himself does not appear on the Illinois census, and I believe he died before 1870.

In that year, Anderson Sherman lived in Indiana, but the others had moved on to Illinois by then. According to the census, most of them lived in Paris Township, Edgar County. Daniel’s widow Rebecca lived in a household with her son John and her 4-year-old granddaughter Annie, who was Thomas’ daughter. Jasper Sherman and his wife Armecia, and Evaline Sherman Alvey also lived in Paris Township. Thomas was also widowed, and he worked in nearby Hunter Township at the time. Other Sherman families lived in Embarrass and Grandview townships, but I do not know whether any of them are related to my family. My Shermans had lived in Kentucky before the Civil War, while these other Shermans seem to have come from Germany, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.

By 1880, I can find no family members still living in Paris Township. Thomas now lived with his daughter and new wife in Edgar Township. Rebecca and Jasper had died and are buried in Symmes Township. John had married and gone back to Kentucky. Anderson had joined Thomas in Illinois, but he lived in Elbridge Township, as did a Sherman couple from Pennsylvania. I have not located Evaline Sherman Alvey on the 1880 census. The unidentified Shermans who had lived in Embarrass Township in 1870 remained there in 1880, but the other Sherman family no longer lived in Grandview Township.

These migrations through Edgar County do not provide much insight into my Sherman family. I have learned only that while their mother was alive, they all lived fairly close together, but they split up and began to go their own ways after she died in 1876.

So what, if anything, can I learn about Daniel Sherman from these census records? Of course, they indicated he probably died before 1870, but they do not tell me when or where. Furthermore, the records conflict on where he was born. Each child reports different information for his/her father’s birthplace:

  • Anderson (the oldest son) identifies his father’s birthplace as Kentucky or Pennsylvania,
  • Evaline said her father was born in Kentucky or New York,
  • Thomas listed his father’s birthplace as unknown or New York,
  • John always said his father was born in Kentucky,
  • Jasper died before the birthplace of parents was recorded.

Daniel himself always reported his birthplace as New York, a state sometimes echoed by Evaline and Thomas, so that is probably correct. Unfortunately for me, New York is a big place, and I know only that Daniel lived in Kentucky by the late 1820’s. None of the other Sherman families in Coles and Edgar Counties came from New York. No help there.

I have learned all I can from these census records. Now I have four other daughters (Polly, Emily, Eliza, and Gilla) to locate on census records for the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. As far as I know, they did not move to Illinois, so I will need to look for them in other states. First, I need to verify married names for Polly, Emily, and Eliza. Then I will search for their census records, too, in hopes of learning more about this family.

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