Sunday, 4 June 2017

Census Sunday: 1880 USA Census

Grave of Mary Polly (George) Couch.
Italy Cemetery, Texas, USA.
[Source: Find A Grave]
The other day I decided to dive back into the world of my American ancestors. I thought I would have a look at my 4x Great Grandparents John Couch and Mary 'Polly' George. John was born in about 1800 in South Carolina and passed away in 1863 in Odgen, Utah. Mary Polly was born in 1804 in Tennessee and passed away on 30 June 1882 in Italy, Ellis County, Texas. They married in approximately 1828 in Alabama and had eight children - Elva Jane, Samuel Mitchell, John Meredith, William Jackson, Mary Elizabeth, Marion Walker, Nancy, and James Keys Clark.

When I checked Mary Polly's hints on Ancestry, I noticed there was one for the 1880 US Census in Ellis County, Texas. This made sense as she is buried in Italy Cemetery, Ellis County.

Mary Polly is Number 36 below. She is 75 years old, and has her Granddaughter Lizzie Couch with her. It tells me that Mary Polly's parents were both born in North Carolina, which I did not know. I don't even know her parent's names. Mary's sons Samuel and Marion both married Cherokee women. According to the census, Lizzie Couch's mother was born in 'Cherokee Nation' but I'm yet to figure out if her father was Samuel or Marion.

1880 USA Census showing Mary Couch
[Source: Year: 1880; Census Place: Precinct 4, Ellis, Texas; Roll: 1301; Family History Film: 1255301; Page: 491B; Enumeration District: 050. and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census [database on-line]]. 

Mary Elizabeth Sharp nee Couch, approx 1900.
[Source: Personal Collection]
Hang on a minute! I see a Sarah Couch and Nancy Couch just above Mary. Who are they living with? Mary E Sharp. Sarah and Nancy are Mary E's nieces. Who is Mary E Sharp? Mary Elizabeth Couch, Mary Polly's daughter. Mary Elizabeth is my 3x Great Grandmother. She was born in 1838, Alabama, and in about 1855 she married Jesse Euing Sharp, my 3x Great Grandfather. Mary Elizabeth is listed as a Widow, which is correct as Jesse passed away around 1861. Mary Elizabeth's nieces Sarah and Nancy, also have their mother's birthplace as 'Cherokee Nation' - two more children of Marion and/or Samuel. Mary Elizabeth's two sons with her are William and John Sharp. In addition to William and John, Mary and Jesse Sharp had two older children - Jessie Mitchell and Mary.
Mary Elizabeth passed away in 1915 and is buried in Frost Cemetery, Texas.

Okay, let's pause on the Couch/Sharp family for a minute.

Below Mary and Lizzie Couch is a George W Spencer. George is with his wife Frances E and children Burnett, Mattie, George, Jesse P, William, and Charles.

How are they relevant? What's going on? Who are they? All the questions!

George W Spencer is none other than George Washington Spencer, my 3x Great Grandfather. George (1832 Alabama - 1904 Texas) married Frances Elizabeth McWilliams (1837 Mississippi - 1908 Texas) in 1855, Mississippi. In addition to the six children listed above, they had two older children - Julia Latchapalee and Mary.

George Washington Spencer
approx 1880s.
[Source: Personal Collection]
Cast your eyes back to the census for a minute. Who do you see at the bottom, underneath the Spencer's?

Do you see the surname McFaddin?

Who is listed as the Wife? Julia L...also known as Julia Latchapalee Spencer! In 1877, Julia married Porter McFadden in Ellis County, Texas. They had one son, George Beveley McFadden, born in February 1880. He is the baby listed with them.

Sadly, in 1882, Porter McFadden passed away which left Julia on her own with a toddler. But not for long...

Because on the 25th of April, 1885, in Corsicana, Navarro County, Texas, Julia Latchapalee Spencer McFadden married Jesse Mitchell Sharp. This is how the the Sharp/Couch family and the Spencer family become one. Julia and Jesse are my 2x Great Grandparents.

Marriage Record for Julia Spencer and Jessie Sharp.
[Source: "Texas, County Marriage Records, 1837-1965," database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 4 June 2017), Jesse W Or Jesse M Sharp and Julia L Mcfadden, 08 Apr 1885, Marriage; citing Navarro, Texas, United States, various county clerk offices, Texas State Library and Archives Commission, Texas Dept. of State Health Services and Golightly-Payne-Coon Co.; FHL microfilm 1,034,859.]

Thanks to the 1880 Census, I think it is safe to say that the Couch's/Sharp's and Spencer's knew each other well before the wedding of 1885.


  1. Mother had Mary "Polly''s" father as Samuel George and John's parents as Thomas and Elva Couch (no maiden name). Did you know their family emigrated to Utah and then John became a Mormon. Mary "Polly" packed up children and returned to Texas without him. (Or so Mother told it ....) and I still wonder when Jesse and Julia divorced and the story there.

  2. I have included your blog in INTERESTING BLOGS in FRIDAY FOSSICKING at

    Thank you, Chris