Notes for Census Death Schedules for Cazenovia, Fenner, and Nelson
Notes for the Deaths in Cazenovia, Fenner, and Nelson
Reported in the Census Death Schedules
1850, 1855, 1860, 1865, 1870, 1875, and 1880
Compiled by Daniel H. Weiskotten
Posted October 24, 1999
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Compiled from the Original Documents
 by Daniel H. Weiskotten
 December 1994

Enumeration Districts
Number of Deaths Per Township
Enumerator's Remarks and Comments


        Some years ago a transcription of names listed in census Death Schedules for towns in Madison County was compiled and circulated to local historians and libraries.  These lists, taken from several State and Federal census records, (as well as another partial set of transcripts by another compiler), did not include all of the census years available and had a number of errors.  It was obvious that the compilers had some difficulty reading the original records, were unfamiliar with the names, and did not copy some of the data correctly (Cleoma was transcribed as Celoma, scrofula consumption became scarlet consie, congestion of the lungs became cancer of the liver, and Chloey ended up as Coey).  Also, there had been no attempt to confirm several unusual entries and obvious errors of the original documents and the transcriptions retained the errors and misspellings of original document despite the obvious incorrectness (Clerasa = Clarissa, Bordnell = Bordwell, Schoburrie = Schoharie, Burdie = Burdick, Sherer = Shaffer, etc.).  If one is not familiar with the names of the area these errors might not be recognized, but, knowing the names of historic Cazenovia, Fenner, and Nelson the errors were obvious (I know that Caroline Shaffer died in 1850, not Caroline Sherer, and there are no Bordnells or Burdies, but there are Bordwells and Burdicks).
        These census records are valuable resources for genealogists, demographers, and historians but are of little use unless the information they contain is true to the original document.  In this listing every attempt has been made to check unfamiliar names, misspellings, obvious confusions, and illegible entries due to scratched and out of focus microfilm, faded ink, and poor handwriting.  The original documents or their closest equivalent were consulted in every case, and were often rechecked in their entirety.  Supplementary data such as Population Schedules and cemetery records have been checked to minimize the unknown and confusing entries (the family numbers of the 1870 Population Schedules differ from the numbers given in the Death Schedules but a pattern is present allowing identifications to be made).  The obvious errors of some of the original documents, copied by 19th century federal clerks who may have had a difficult time reading the unfamiliar names of Madison County residents or who cared little for the correct spelling of the names, have been corrected here but nothing which could not be verified in other documents was changed.  The worst example of poor copy work in the original document is for Joanna and Thomas Lynch, who are recorded in the census as Johemiah and Thema Lynch!  Examination of an earlier Population Schedules clarified these names.
        The data collected in the various years was not the same for each year.  Some years also included data on the place of birth, occupation, etc., but only the data that was constant (name, age, cause of death, date of death, place of death) was included in this listing.  The 1880 census, primarily concerned with immigration, records birthplace of the individual and their parents, occupation, length of residence, and a statement from the attending physician - which are not included in this listing.  The various spellings of diseases, as given on the Death Schedules, have been standardized but no attempt has been made to define the modern equivalent.  Marital status, or "civil condition," is given in the records but the omnipresent "single" for children under 16 years of age was not retained as it is meaningless at this age.  Kate Mullner, died February 1870 in Cazenovia, is listed in the Death Schedule as being 14 years old and married.  Cross-checks of the Population Schedules show this was the same Cate Mulliner, age 4, who is shown in the 1860 Population Schedule for the Town of Nelson.  As she was a Mulliner at age 4 it is likely that she was not married in 1870.  The Mulliners are not a Cazenovia family and why she was in Cazenovia at the time of her death is not known.
        Unfortunately the 1855 State Census Death Schedules did not list the name of the deceased but did give age, sex, marital status, month of death, and cause of death which might allow the individual to be identified through cemetery records.  A check was made of the transcriptions of the Cazenovia, Fenner, and Nelson cemeteries for matches to the Death Schedule data, with some result (42 of 99 entries identified).  A list of people who died during the 1855 census year (June 1, 1854 to May 31, 1855) who are buried in Cazenovia, Fenner, and Nelson cemeteries is given on a seperate page, and cross matches are referenced in the combined list of Death Schedules.
        The search for names for the 1855 Death Schedule showed that there are many others buried in Cazenovia, Fenner, and Nelson who died between June 1854 and May 1855 that should have been on the Death Schedule but are not.  The Table of Number of Deaths per Township, indicates either a widely fluctuating death rate, or that some deaths were missed by the enumerators.  Cemetery data indicate that the latter is most likely, and examination of various Population Schedules also shows an unusually wide fluctuation in population where a steady change should be noted - indicating many missed families.
        Although there were a few Cazenovia, Fenner, and Nelson individuals and families who are listed in Population Schedules as being black, colored, or mulatto only two persons in the Death Schedules are listed as with this category.  Charles W. Tousaint, died 1859, is listed as a mulatto and Theodore Dunbar, died in 1875, is listed as black.
       The originals of the 1850, 1855, 1860, 1865, and 1875 census records are to be found at the Madison County Clerk's Office in Wampsville.  Great difficulty was faced in locating the 1870 and 1880 Death Schedules which are compiled separately from the population and other schedules of those years.  The microfilm copies of the records for 1850, 1860, 1870, and 1880 were eventually found at the New York State Library, Division of Manuscripts and Special Collections.  Some of the originals of these records, in bound volumes containing all the like schedules of all the counties across the state, were shredded a few years ago in an attempt to save storage space at the Museum, Library, and Archives (a roll of film takes less space than a unique century old public record).  Although it is hoped that nothing ever happens to the master set of microfilms the data for Cazenovia, Fenner, and Nelson has been recorded elsewhere just in case.  Schedules of Agricultural Production, Industrial Production, Marriages, and Social Statistics (number of schools, churches, newspapers) are also found int he various census records.
        Several differences are noted between the copy of the 1860 census which is found at Wampsville and the copy which was at the NYS Library and these differences have been noted in the list.  It is not clear which list was the original, but it seems that it may be the copy at Wampsville which has the more correct information.
        Death Schedules have been transcribed for all years that they were known to have been taken: 1850, 1855, 1860, 1865, 1865 soldiers, 1870, 1875, and 1880.  Before 1850 there was no itemized listing of persons in the districts although at least some mortality figures were taken for some years (see page below for a table showing numbers for each census year).  After 1880 the focus of attention was on immigration rather than community composition and thus no Death Schedules were compiled.
        These lists should not be considered complete nor perfectly accurate records of those that died within the towns of Cazenovia Fenner, and Nelson during the years reported.  For various reasons; families moving, dates of death forgotten, etc.; individuals who died during the enumeration period may not be included or their data may be in error.  Several persons who appear in the record are noted to have actually died in other places and these are set aside from the combined set of data.  Soldiers who died in the Civil War are also presented in a separate set as few of these died in Cazenovia, Fenner, or Nelson.  Cross reference has been made in those cases where the individual died or is buried at home.
        The year of death is figured from, June 1, to, June 1 the year previous to the census taking (June 1, 1874 to, June 1, 1875), except for 1880 when the year ran from June 1, 1879 to May 31, 1880.


Election and Enumeration Districts:

State Census records were collected by Election District and the Federal Census collected by the township.  The 1880 Federal Census used Enumeration Districts which appear to be similar to the Election Districts used by the State Census.

    1855, 1865, and 1875 State Census
        Cazenovia District 1 = south part of town
        Cazenovia District 2 = central part of town and the south part of village
        Cazenovia District 3 = north part of village and north part of town
        Fenner has only one district
        Nelson District 1 = south part of town
        Nelson District 2 = north part of town

    1880 Federal Census
        Enum. Dist. 49 = south part of Cazenovia
        Enum. Dist. 50 = most of Cazenovia Village
        Enum. Dist. 51 = north part of Cazenovia and part of village.
        Enum. Dist. 56 = all of town of Fenner
        Enum. Dist. 69 = Dist #1 - south part of Nelson
        Enum. Dist. 70 = Dist #2 - north part of Nelson

Numbers of Deaths per Township

1835 Figures from Reports of Compiled Statistics
1850-1880 Figures from Death Schedules

                               Cazenovia               Fenner            Nelson
        1835                    61                        25                    29
        1850                    66                        24                    29
        1855                    56                        14                    27
        1860                    54                        19                    13
        1865                    49                          8                    14
        1870                    29                        14                    14
        1875                    57                        12                    17
        1880                    61                        15                    28

Enumerator's Remarks and Comments

There were no comments in 1850.

Nelson, District 1, 1855:

Nelson, District 2, 1855: Cazenovia, District 2, 1865: Cazenovia, District 3, 1865: Fenner, 1865: Cazenovia, 1870: Fenner, 1870: Nelson, 1870: Cazenovia, District 2, 1875: Cazenovia, District 2, 1875: Fenner, 1875: Cazenovia, Enumeration District 50 (Cazenovia Village), 1880: Cazenovia, Enumeration District 51 (north part of Cazenovia), 1880: