Since my last post focused on the US Federal Census records that we have for Tom Copeland (1876-1948), I thought it might be nice to look at the census records we have for his wife, Myrtle (Crider) Copeland. Myrtle was born in 1886, so she is not on the 1880 US Federal Census. As I mentioned in my post about Tom, there is no US Federal Census for 1890 because most of the records were destroyed by a fire in 1921. Therefore, the first US Federal Census we have for Myrtle is for the year 1900.
In 1900, Myrtle was living in Magesterial District 06, Graves County, Kentucky. The US Federal Census record shows her parents are “William H” (William Herbert “Hub” Crider), age 39; and “Willie J” (Willie J. Killebrew), age 34, both born in Kentucky. Myrtle is called “Myrtie M”, she is 18 years old (born in Kentucky), and the oldest of many siblings: a sister “Ola S”, age 12; another sister (who is actually a brother) “Virgil O”, age 10; a brother “Jewell L”, age 7; another brother “Robby F”, age 5; a sister “Unis P”, age 2; and a baby brother “William C”, age 8 months. According to this record she is “At School” and she can read, write, and speak English. She is still single.
Ten years pass and the 1910 US Federal Census finds our Myrtle living in Independence, Dunklin County, Missouri. Sound familiar? It should! Tom Copeland was also living in Independence in 1910. In fact, as you can see from this record, his daughter “Ima Couplin” (Imogene) was living just a few houses away from Myrtle and her family at the home of her grandparents, the Buntings (highlighted in blue). Because of his marriage to Clara Bunting (who by 1910 was institutionalized), Tom may have lived with the Buntings when the Criders arrived in town or, at the very least, he would have visited his daughter there occasionally. We can see that his proximity to the Crider household made possible his future marriage to Myrtle, the results of which led to the existence of many of us! Sometimes, when I see connections like this, I realize how lucky I am to be alive. One wrong move by my ancestors and I wouldn’t be here! Back to the record: Myrtle is now 24 years old and has gained some siblings, but lost her mother. Her father, “Hubbard Crider”, age 50, is a widower with many mouths to feed: Myrtle, age 24; “Jewel”, age 18; “Lester”, age 16; “Eunice”, age 12; “Clay”, age 10; and “Cleatus”, age 8. There is also a “Rado Crider” listed, who is Myrtle’s sister-in-law, wife of her brother Virgil. Although she was 24, Myrtle was still single, and not working — she was most likely caring for her younger siblings in the absence of their mother.
From here on out the census records available for Myrtle Crider are the ones that I covered in my post about Tom Copeland. In 1920 the US Federal Census shows Myrtle is living with her husband, Tom Copeland, in Neal, Mississippi County, Arkansas. She is 34 years old, born in Kentucky (and both parents were born in Kentucky, as well). She is the mother of two children: “Dortha B” (Dorothy), age 8; and “Othar D” (Dewey Otho), age 6. Since Dorothy is her oldest child, we can guess that she met and married Tom Copeland sometime between 1910, when they were listed separately on the census record, and 1912, when Dorothy was born (we know the date of their marriage, but that will have to wait for another post).
Moving on to 1930, the US Federal Census for that year tells us that Myrtle is 43 years old. She first married at the age of 23 (this is probably true, since she married in 1910). She did not attend school within the last year, but she can read and write. She and both of her parents were born in Kentucky. Myrtle now has four children: “Dorthy” (Dorothy), age 18; “Dewey”, age 16; “Delvie” (William Delvie a.k.a. “Bill”), age 6; and Donnie (“Donna”), age 3 months. I don’t know if you noticed, but I see that there is a big gap between Bill and his next oldest sibling, Dewey (10 years!). From this record we might wonder if there was at least one other child born between them, possibly more. But, what happened to this child(ren)? These are the kinds of things that one can only discover by close examination of the records. Now that we suspect there was another child, we will know to look for him or her in another source. Losing a child (and a sibling) would have been devastating for the Copeland family, though sadly not uncommon during the early 20th Century.
The last census record we have for Myrtle is the 1940 US Federal Census. As we learned in our analysis of Tom Copeland’s census records, the family returned to Missouri sometime between 1930 and 1935. They now reside in Clay, Dunklin County, Missouri. The census record indicates that Myrtle provided the information to the enumerator, so we can trust it, to some degree (mistakes could still be made!). Myrtle is 54 years old, and a “House Wife” in her “Own Home.” She received 8 years of schooling, which is 5 more than her husband, Tom. She has two of her children still living with her: a son, “Delvie” (William Delvie a.k.a. “Bill”), age 15; and a daughter, “Donnie” (Donna), age 12. Wait a minute — wasn’t Donna 3 months old at the time of the last census? Yes, she was, but we can trust that if anyone was wrong it was the enumerator or the person supplying the information in the last census record, since we would hope that Myrtle knew the ages of her own children (childbirth isn’t something one easily forgets).
Well, that brings us to the end of the available census records for Myrtle. Since she didn’t pass away until 1967 she is listed on the 1950 and 1960 US Federal Censuses. But, the public won’t have access to those for a long time. If we want to know more about the next few decades of Myrtle’s life, we’ll have to look elsewhere!