Over a 20-day period in January 1920, John W. McCune went from door to door as a census enumerator, collecting information on the citizens of Bovina for the 1920 Federal Census. McCune had been appointed enumerator the month before. He was 54 years old at the time he took on this task.
Here’s some of the information he found about the people of Bovina 100 years ago:
· Bovina had 858 people in 1920. The town had a population of 912 in the 1910 Federal Census and 867 in the 1915 New York State Census. At the 1925 state census, the number would drop slightly to 850. By 1930, there would be a significant drop to 771.
· Bovina had twenty-one children under the age of one. There were 255 children aged 16 or less. 174 of these children were attending school. 735 people could read and write (the vast majority of those who couldn’t were young children).
· The town’s oldest resident was Robert R. Haynes, age ninety-one, living with Everett J. DeSilva. Robert was the grandfather of Everett’s wife, Katherine Haynes DeSilva. Robert would live another six years, dying in 1926 at the age of 96.
· Bovina had 402 females and 456 males.
· Bovina had 404 married people and 121 single people above the age of eighteen (a total of 399 were listed as single, including children). Bovina also had thirty-two widows and twenty-two widowers.
· Forty-nine people were listed as naturalized (nineteen), alien (twenty-six) or papers submitted (four).
· 757 Bovina citizens were New York born. Forty-eight others were born in the United States outside of New York, including twenty-one from Pennsylvania. Forty-nine were foreign born, including ten from Canada. Other countries represented include Austria (five), Denmark (two), England (five), Germany (five), Holland (one), Ireland (two), Italy (three), Norway (three), Scotland (eight), and Switzerland (three). Two came from “Straits Settlements,” which were a group of British territories in Southeast Asia, including Singapore.
· Bovina had 141 farms, the vast majority likely being dairy farms.
· Under Trade or professions, Bovina had 144 farmers – the single biggest category of occupation. Bovina also had 118 laborers, eleven teachers and six carpenters. Some other occupations included five servants, two blacksmiths, three machinists, three drivers and three truck drivers, and one each had such jobs as barber, electrician, file clerk, and postmaster.
McCune, the census taker, died in Bovina in 1942.