Sunday, May 3, 2009

Bet that got the gossips talking!

This is the 1900 Census of Elizabeth Toner Loughlin Renehan's family. Let's review a little history, shall we? Elizabeth was born in Brooklyn, circa 1855; married Thomas Loughlin by 1876; had an as of yet undetermined number of children, among them Charles Thomas, who died at 8 months, Thomas, Katherine, and John; was widowed; married Thomas Renahan; had little Willie Mulvaney live with her for an undetermined period of time.

Click on the above census image, so you can see it full-size. Peruse it. The Loughlins are about 3/4 of the way down the page. Let's see if your reaction was anything like mine.

Mine went something like this:

"Oh, there's Elizabeth. Oh, there are her kids, Thomas, John, William, and Catherine. William's new to me. Oh, and there's the boarder. . . Thomas Renehan?! What's he doing there? They're not married yet!"

Now, I think we have to consider the time, and the fact that Elizabeth had 4 young children, and assume that she was not, in fact, living in sin with her boyfriend before they made it legal. I think we can safely - though not definitely - consider that the situation was one in which Elizabeth, was a respectable widow taking in boarders to make ends meet, one of whom was the equally respectable Thomas Renehan, a good provider who could take care of the family. Still, would it have been scandalous to get engaged to your boarder?

According to this census, Elizabeth was born in February 1860. That can't be true, if she was 5 in 1860. She has given birth to 11 children, 4 of whom are still living. Her son Thomas is 18, born in August, 1881. He's a coachman. John E., 15, was born in 1884. He's a day laborer. William, 13, was born in July, 1886. He's attending school. Catherine, 6, was born in March 1894. Thomas Renehan, the boarder, who would be the husband within 4 years (according to the 1910 census), is 40 years old and was born in 1860. (The month looks like it says "Afer," and I have no idea what it is supposed to be.) He, too, is a day laborer. He was born in Ireland, and immigrated to the US 29 years ago (I'm having trouble reading the year of immigration). He's a naturalized citizen.

Elizabeth rents the house.


Greta Koehl said...

Oh my goodness, you read censuses the way I do (looking for interesting facts). The month is Apr(il); for the year of immigration it looks as though 1887 was originally written and perhaps corrected to 1877?

Amanda said...

One of my great-aunts actually married a border of her grandmother's. It was quite surprising to find him listed on the census that way a few years before they married. Guess it was a good way to meet new people:-)