Gender determined later

1850 U.S. Census, Windham, Connecticut

I found a rather curious census entry that was definitely not as it appeared. The above 1850 census in Windham, Connecticut listed Anna C. Tingley, age 56, Merchant; Ann M. Tingley, age 60, no occupation; Anna N. Tingley, 27, Clerk; and Ann M. Tingley, 23, no occupation. This quartet would appear to be an all-female household, with two women named Anna and two women named Ann. The women named Anna have occupations, while the women named Ann do not. Does this seem peculiar? It is!

The two women named “Anna” are actually two men named Arunah. These are part of the Lippitt family of Rhode Island for whom Newbury Street Press is preparing a genealogy. Ann Maria Lippitt (1790–1858) married Arunah C. Tingley (1792–1863) at Providence, Rhode Island in 1814, and the couple had a son Arunah N. Tingley and a daughter Ann Maria Tingley. The family moved to Windham after the children were born. The two Arunahs first names are misspelled frequently (the father is also called A.C. Tingley). The family (minus the younger Arunah) moved to Chicago, and Arunah C. Tingley’s death was reported in Willimantic [Conn.] Journal News with the following additional information:

“Arunah C. Tingley, whose death is announced under our obituary head, was for a number of years in the early days of Willimantic a prominent business man and is well remembered by all our old residents. He was at first agent for the Windham cotton manufacturing company, and continued in that capacity until after their second mill was erected. He was also engaged in merchandise and traded in the company’s old store, which stood where the present one now stands. He afterwards kept the hotel in the center of the village for a number of years.”[1]

The son Arunah N. Tingley (1822–1893) enlisted in the Civil War, and settled in Waterford, Connecticut, where his name was also constantly misspelled, although he was assigned the correct gender. It’s only this 1850 census that got both Arunahs’ names and genders off!

This makes me wonder, if in at least this case, the census taker did not initially record the gender? You would think if he was interviewing the family, it would be clear who was male and who was female. Even if the enumerator got the information from a neighbor, it would probably have been clear this was a household of two men and two women.

However, say the census taker did not record the gender. Either this information was filled in later, and surmised from the names on the form, or another associate filled them in, likewise by surmising the gender from the written given names.

While I’m sure most of us have seen census inconsistencies with ages, birthplaces, and names, this is the first time I have seen a census inconsistency with gender!


[1] Willimantic Journal News, 26 June 1863. Willimantic is a neighborhood in Windham, although it was a separate town 1893–1983 before being annexed back to Windham.

Christopher C. Child

About Christopher C. Child

Chris Child has worked for various departments at NEHGS since 1997 and became a full-time employee in July 2003. He has been a member of NEHGS since the age of eleven. He has written several articles in American Ancestors, The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, and The Mayflower Descendant. He is the co-editor of The Ancestry of Catherine Middleton (NEHGS, 2011), co-author of The Descendants of Judge John Lowell of Newburyport, Massachusetts (Newbury Street Press, 2011) and Ancestors and Descendants of George Rufus and Alice Nelson Pratt (Newbury Street Press, 2013), and author of The Nelson Family of Rowley, Massachusetts (Newbury Street Press, 2014). Chris holds a B.A. in history from Drew University in Madison, New Jersey.View all posts by Christopher C. Child