Some rich scenes occur in taking the Census under the late law of the States of New York for that purpose. The following, from an eye witness, is one:

“ Is the head of the family at home?” asks the inquiring Marshal.

“ Here’s the devil with his book again for the d’rectry,” shouts a junior of the family to the maternal head above stairs, who presently appears. “ Is it the heads of the family ye want sure ; but last week ye wanted our name for ye d’rectry an’ now ye want our heads? A free country this, sure, when one’s head is not safe. Be off, and bad luck to ye and all like ye.” After some explanations, the questions in order are asked.

“ Who is the head of the family!”

“ Ann Phelim ye honor, the same in ould Ireland foriver.”

“ How many Males in this family?”

“Three males a day with prateys for dinner an"—

“But how many Men and Boys?”

“Och, why there’s the ould man an’ the boy and three children who died five years ago, heaven rest their dear souls, the swatest jewils that iver"—

“ But how many are now living?”

“ Meself, and me daughter Judy, ye see them, and a jewil of a girl she is indeed.”

“ But have you no males in your family?”

“ Sorra the one, the ould man works hard by the day, and Patrick is not at home at all, but to his males and his bed.” [1]

“ How many are subject to Military duty?”

“ Niver a one ; Patrick and the ould man belong to the Immits, and sure finer looking soldiers were niver born ; did ye not see him when the old Gineral was buried, ‘twould have made your heart beat to see two such fine lookin’ gintale well behaved boys.”

“ How many are entitled to vote?”

“ Why the ould man and meself and Judy, and warn’t it we that bate the Natives an’ the Whigs an’ all, an’ elicited ould General Jackson over ‘im all. Sorra the day when he died and disappointed us all, for a fine man he was.”

“ How many colored persons in your family?”

“ Nagers, did you name Nagers? Out man, an’ don’t be insultin’ me. Out wid ye, and niver ask for me senses agin—don’t ask about me senses—whither I have nagers in the family? Yer out of yer senses, yerself, begone and don’t bother me.”



Source: New York Spirit of the Times 15.25 (16 August 1845): 293. University of Virginia Alderman Library.

Erin Bartels prepared this typescript.

[1] Original text omits final quotation mark.

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