Southern California Genealogical Society

1890 Census News Items

Los Angeles Times,June 17, 1890. "The local census men have their work pretty nearly done, and they are mighty glad of it. Although they have, almost without exception, been courteously received, the fact has been forcibly impressed upon them that the job of enumerating people of varied degrees of intelligence, and of different nationalities and color, at 2 cents apiece, is no snap. One of the compilers said confidentially to the Times man yesterday: 'The next time you catch me doing any census work you may use my head for a foot-ball."

Los Angeles Times,June 25, 1890, "City Briefs." "Jim Roberts, the census enumerator for Azusa district, made an official visit up San Gabriel Canon the other day, and found eighteen people, whom he duly enrolled. The trip took two days, and the enumerator earned 80 cents."

Los Angeles Times , June 25, 1890. "Grass Eaters Brought to Their Senses. The grass-eaters were before United States Commissioner Van Dyke yesterday for refusing to answer the questions propounded to them by Census Enumerator Edwin Clark. The defendants rejoice in the names of William Wiederholtz, George P. Hinde and Walter l. Phales. They are vegetarians, and were arrested by Deputy United States Marshal Ralph Dominguez in Orange County. The enumerator was present yesterday afternoon when the defendants were brought before the Commissioner. Mr. Clark stated that in pursuance of his duties he went to the farm where the vegetarians live, and propounded questions, more or less personal, which are required to be asked of citizens. The members of the colony declined to recognize the authority of any mere mortal to ask them questions, and said that the Great Creator would not allow it; that He would call them to account for any infractions of His rules. Mr. Dominguez also stated that the defendants demurred to the authority of the United States Government to pry into their affairs. When called upon to state their side of the case, the veterinarians stated that they are aliens, and do not understand the census laws of the United States. Since their arrest they have learned the scope of the authority of the officers sent around to collect infinitesimal statistics, and expressed themselves as perfectly willing to answer any questions that might be propounded to them. District Attorney Cole could not see that their tardy recognition of the Government’s authority was the correct thing, and did not accede to a request to dismiss the proceedings. Commissioner Van Dyke, after hearing the evidence in the case, held the vegetarians to answer to the charge brought against them. He fixed their bond at $100 each. The bond was given and the defendants were released, to come up for trial later.

Los Angeles Times , June 25, 1890. "The Census – Funny Things in the Office of the Supervisor. Some funny things happen in Supervisor Mosher’s office when people, who think the enumerators have skipped them, come in and ask to be allowed to give their names in. Yesterday a lodging-house man came in and informed Mr. Mosher that he had a family of fifty at his house and the enumerator had not been near them. The district in which he lives was looked up, and the very first name on the list proved to be the gentleman’s family. One of the numerous family had given in the names and failed to inform him. In nine cases out of ten, when people who come in and say their names have not been taken, a look through the enumerator’s books proves that they have been counted. "

Los Angeles Times, July 2, 1890 : "...[Supervisor] Mosher has received some singular letters from his enumerators, the following of which is a fair example: "I shall send by registered mail this evening my papers, and I hope that they may prove to be more satisfactory to you than they are to me; for to tell the truth, I never in my life have done so perplexing a job; at first, I misunderstood the instructions, and in trying to correct them, I mixed my count and -- well, all I have to say is, that if they will hurry up the asylum, they have a fair prospect for one subject, at least, and as for my time account, I have actually spent much more time than I have put in. I have been in the middle of the night to the low lodging-houses and hauled the miserable galoots out of their dirty rags to answer to their names, and hunted up doctors and old soldiers to get their records; and in many cases have spent from two to three hours chasing one man. Please don't cuss the papers, for I have cussed them till they will bear no more; and don't be too hard on me, for if I get much more "census" I shall "flee to the mountains of Hepzibah, where the lion roareth and the whangdoodle mourneth for his first-born. Yours truly, in affliction _____. My gun is loaded for any man who says census to me after today."

Los Angeles Times , July 3, 1890: "A woman in this State, in filling out a census blank, put down her husband as a lunatic. She told the census enumerator that he was at present engaged in paying an election bet by pushing a wheelbarrow 25 miles, and she didn’t expect him home for a week."

Los Angeles Times, July 6, 1890. A Census Crook. San Francisco - James Joseph Cusick, one of the census enumerators, was arrested in Santa Rosa on Friday, and returned to this city today by Deputy United States Marshal Wood, to answer a charge of returning several hundred fictitious names while collecting statistics. He filled in 375 certificates with the names of base-ball players, and counted in the names of many business men who have offices in his district, but who live elsewhere. The district has been recanvassed, and shows about 1000 inhabitants, but Cusick's returns ran up the list to about 1375. Cusick is only 25 years old. The maximum penalty for his offense is a fine of $5000 and two years' imprisonment.

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