1820 Federal Census

Submitted by John Austin

The census of 1820 was the second Federal census taken in Franklin County NY and the first one in which the residence of the inhabitants was noted. The county at that time was split into six towns. Below is the list which relates those older six towns to modern day Franklin Co.

Bangor: includes Bangor, Brandon and Santa Clara
Chateaugay: includes Belmont, Burke, Chateaugay and Franklin
Constable: includes Constable and Westville
Dickinson: includes Dickinson, Moira and Waverly
Ft. Covington: includes Bombay and Ft. Covington
Malone: includes Brighton, Duane and Malone

There were probably almost no permanent residents of the southernmost towns of Altamont and Harrietstown in 1820.

The first six censuses of the US were not like the ones developed later: the only people mentioned by name were heads of household. Then, the number of males and females in certain age categories were listed, then some info on how many were engaged in agriculture, how many were aliens etc. The lack of specific names is a constant source of irritation to the researcher, partly because no female names are listed unless they were heads of households. Also, any child, elderly parent, in-law, farm laborer or boarder is simply listed by sex as part of the household, regardless of last name and whether related to the head of household or not. As a warning then, researchers should understand that the fact someone does not appear by name in this census does not necessarily mean that he or she is not counted somewhere in the census as a member of a household. This is especially true of young, unmarried people who may have been living with and/or working for other people.

The microfilm of the census is generally in good shape, and the writing is quite legible in most cases. The main problems in transcription occurred at the gutter where the two pages intersect. In several cases either the pages were not spread far enough to reveal the entire gutter, or there had been tape placed over the middle for repairs, and it blocked out some names. As a result, some names had to be left out entirely, and some had to be guessed at. In case of doubt, the researcher should consult the actual microfilm and see if the information is more legible on that copy.

The first, third, and fourth gutters in Malone are entirely illegible except for the numbers of people. In Chateaugay, the second gutter is probably "Perry" or "Percy", but the first name looks something like "Charain". On the last page of Chateaugay, Young and Prustage are quite legible, but some sort of debris blocked the first names. Researchers might be able to discover the first names just by using a different copy of the microfilm. In Ft. Covington, the fourth gutter is most certainly not "Steckly", but it was the only name close to what appears there. The first name is Jonathan, and the numbers are legible, but the rest is anyone’s guess. The first Constable gutter is probably Christopher Austin, but may be something else. The second gutter is definitely "Heath", but the first name is unclear and ends in "-bon". "Albon" seemed like a good candidate and that is the way it is entered.

The most difficult part of this transcription was entering the correct number in the columns for males and females of a certain age. There are probably mistakes in the transcription of the numbers especially and researchers are cautioned to inspect the microfilm themselves before coming to any conclusions. This list is meant only to be a quick guide to the presence or absence of certain last names in the census. Most spellings were kept as they appeared, but some were modernized.

Go To:BangorChateaugayConstableDickinsonFt. CovingtonMalone