1870 Census and Post Offices–A Challenge

I recently received a Civil War Pension file, indicating that the Soldier and his wife (after his death) owned 100+ acres of land. The letters in the file had the suspected post offices mentioned. I know, from census records, that the family had property as early at 1860 in Washington Township, Morris County, New Jersey. It wasn’t really a question of the township, but where in the township. Later census records were very clear where the farms were, including the current farm, celebrating 100 years at the current location.

I can also go back to the next previous farm, also in the township. In this area, one my say “in the valley” and “on the mountain”.

A visit to a local Archive was in order. The Archivist very nicely pointed me to where some old County Maps were located, and found an 1868 Map, that had the Civil War soldier’s father and sibling mentioned on the map.

Overlaying that map with Google Maps, I knew where the farm would have been. I drove to where I thought it was, and in fact, it is still a farm. All of the bends in the road were as they should be, the stream was where it should be, present day and that 1868 map. BUT, where was my Civil War Soldier. Certainly a 100 acre map would have some indication on that map.

Ort_J-1870-Map-MiddleValleyPO


I went back to the Census Records, reread my citation, and noticed something really weird. The 1870 Census has a Post Office name listed.

Ort_WH-1870-Census

The Post Office in Succasunna, NJ, and the Census says Township of Washington. Clearly, there is a problem here. Succasunna is NOT in Washington Township.

Back to the maps

1868-BeersMap

Succasunna is in the next township. Also, that was also one of the post office names in the Pension File.

Next stop, the Washington Township Historical Society. As it turns out, the person I spoke with knew exactly what I was talking about. The 1870 Census. She ready knew my question, where did Succassunna come from for that census record.

She had some information on the Post Offices in the township over time. Someone had already done research on them showing that they opened and closed over the years as the township grew.

I went back to verify my Census Records (image above) to make sure I didn’t miss anything. I did my usual back a couple of pages in the Census, forward a couple of pages. Many familiar and sometimes family names were listed, as expected in Washington Township, not in Roxbury Township, where Succasunna is located.

Well, if Post Offices opened and closed, there has to be a history of that. In fact I had looked for this before, but for Post Masters, not Post Offices. The notion in my mind was that the Washington Township Post Offices had closed or that the family was closer to this post office then ones on the other side / end of the township.

I did find a listing for Post Offices in New Jersey, and had dates that they were in “business”. Well, the Succasunna Post Office, didn’t open until 1888. BUT, in looking at that map again, besides Succasunna there was also “Suckasunny” (1808-1888).  OK, my usual “spelling doesn’t count” clicked in.

So, I am confused, as well as the folk at the historical society, about the 1870 Census with a Post Office listed in the next township. and trying to see which of the 8 or 9 Post Offices that have existed in Washington Township might have been closed in 1870 to have the Census bureau use the neighboring township. Oh, and it’s not that close.

The other problem here, is that Enumeration Districts had not been established, from what I can tell for the 1870 Census.

I know that I am missing something here, but am not sure what that is. With a 100 acre farm, I should be able to find it on one of these historic maps. I have seen the 1868 map and a 1878 map and have located the father Jacob but not my Civil War soldier.

Ort_J-1867-1887-Map

Am heading back to read the Civil War Pension file to see if there is a hint that I missed. I’ll pay closer attention to the Date and Post Office mentioned in the 125+ pages in that file, to see where this farm is.

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3 Responses to 1870 Census and Post Offices–A Challenge

  1. LisaGorrell says:

    Can’t wait hear what you find out. It’s frustrating when you can’t figure out a mystery like this.

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