Friday, December 5, 2008

Researching Chaffee County in the 1870 Census

Until 1879, Chaffee County was the southern part of Lake County. The 1860 and 1870 census will show people who lived in what is now Chaffee County in the Lake County census. The Lake County census includes Oro City, Centreville, and Granite. HeritageQuest also includes Fairplay in the Lake County census possibly because William Beery conducted the census for both counties and the towns are not in order according to county in his census pages.

Usually, the census taker would enumerate the households in a settlement or post office, then start a new record for the next post office. But William Beery didn't seem to take this approach to gathering his statistics. He started in Oro City, which is now Leadville, and worked his way south.

This became clear to me when I found my great-great-grandfather, Wilburn Christison, in the Oro City census as Wilburn Christie. It seemed funny to me that he was farming in the Leadville area amongst all of the miners. Then I saw the next name was James Woodard, who farmed near Trout Creek at the time. So, Wilburn probably lived north of Woodard in the Trout Creek area at this time. You will notice Henry A.W. Tabor in Oro City, listed on the page before Wilburn Christie.

Continuing south in the Oro City census - Other names that help locate where the people were living include:
Charles Nachtrieb - Owned the flour mill at Nathrop, the town named for him
Thomas Cameron - Adobe Park, near today's Salida
John Burnett - Poncha Springs

The Centreville census shows people living in the Brown's Creek and Gas Creek areas (the people involved in the Lake County War). June Shaputis wrote a book called
Where The Bodies Are that tells about the people involved in the Lake County War and where they lived. It's a valuable resource.

Granite is also in Chaffee County now.

I hope this helps solve some of your Chaffee County 1870 census problems. Leave a comment if you have any questions or you can e-mail me directly by clicking on my photo in the sidebar and finding my e-mail under my profile.

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