Department of the Interior, Central Office
Washington, D.C. May 1, 1900
Attention Enumerator: enumeration must be completed within two weeks from June 1.
Particular Attention to Details in following Sections: Name and Relationship Section-Column 3-4, #108 through #125...Personal Description-Columns 4-6.
June 15, 1900
Good Afternoon, Mrs. Carroll. I am Mrs. Jenkins the Census Taker. I apologize for the interruption of your evening meal, but I am down to the last day allowed by the Department of the Interior and your household is the last family on my schedule. Is your husband home?
My Great Grandmother had just settled her children at the table for their supper. She offered the Census Taker a glass of tea and explained that her husband and brother were in the field and would not be in for at least another hour.
While Mrs. Jenkins made ready to fill in the Census Form, Janie filled the children's plates then sat down with her glass of tea and provided her husbands name as....Head of Household....Stephen Carroll, white male, birthdate..Nov 1872, married, 3 years, Farmer, born in Tennessee. She was just finishing with the last person in the household, John her brother, when her oldest reached across the table for the basket of bread, and in the process knocked over the Enumerators glass of tea.
The Enumerator quickly picked up the completed Census Form and began shaking off the tea which had a few rivulets of tea and black ink spotting the page. Janie had dashed to the kitchen for a cloth which helped to blot the now blurred letters of her children's 'Personal Description-Columns 4-6'.
My Great Grandmother apologized as she dried tears and hushed bawling children. Mrs. Jenkins packed up her papers and prepared to leave as quickly as possible. It had been a long day.
Later that evening she envisioned the children as she had seen them at the table and attempted to repair the blurred lines of their names and relationship. The oldest one was wearing a dress, and I can just make out O t h e l l, so the last letter is 'a', she thought to herself. Then she completed that childs line with daughter in column 4 and F for Female in column 6. A few months later, the Stephen Carroll Family sat for this portrait.
Standing next to their father are sons Merritt Douglas and Othello Elisha.
In Great Grandmother Janie's lap is my Grandmother Stella.
One hundred and ten years later when this photo was found in Janie's Photo Album their identities were not known, and I tagged it "couple and three daughters". Through a lot of 'Photo/USCensus Research' including Mrs. Jenkins 1900 Census report, I was able to determine that the couple was indeed Stephen B. and Martha J. Carroll and their three children. Mrs. Jenkins in her haste, left Stella off completely, and mistakenly put an 'a' at the end of the name O t h e l l instead of an 'o'.
One look at him in that skirt, and I'd have made the same Enumerator Error!