Monday, April 9, 2012

1940 Census

Seventy-two years ago this month, census enumerators started visiting households in the Town of Bovina as part of the 16th Decennial Federal Census. Enumerators worked for about a month collecting information on every person in town.  When done, Bovina's population was found to be 806 people, up 35 people from the 1930 census.

This census was released to the public on April 2.  A quick perusal brought up some interesting tidbits:

  • William Springsteen was a hired hand working for Chauncey McFarland at the Butt End.  There is a note from the census taker after this entry:  "Left an individual census form on first visit, but when called for the party had left; address unknown."
  • One of the families enumerated on April 6, 1940 was that of Benson LaFever, with my grandmother, Anna Bell, supplying the information about those in the household, including my then eight year old dad, Charles.  That same day, the census person visited the home of Kate Birdsall, a widow with two children at home.  Kate lived in what is now my house.  
The census included information as to where people were living five years previously.  Twenty-seven people in Bovina reported coming from Nebraska:

  • Two families, the Rabelers and the Mayhews, had come from Madison, Nebraska.  The Rabelers had all been born in Nebraska, except the head of the family, Henry.  Henry, age 62, had been born in Germany.  The Mayhews had all been born in Iowa, except for Elizabeth, wife of Arthur Mayhew, who was born in Kentucky. 
  • The Alec Rabeler family, comprised of Alec, his wife May, and sons, Alex, Raymond and Charles and daughter Ruth, came from Stanton, Nebraska.  
  • The Gouldhammer (Goldhammer) family came from Boone, Nebraska.  Hero and his wife Freida were German born.  Their daughter 14 year old daughter Hilda was born in Nebraska.   
  • The 20 year-old  hired man on the Henry Menke farm, Egar Grotelueschen, came from Platte, Nebraska.
The 1940 census asked a number of questions concerning employment, including the number of hours worked March 24-30, 1940 and the annual salaries. 

  • Farmers had very high hours recorded, from 70 to over 90 hours a week.  They did not record a salary. 
  • Marjorie Ormiston, a school teacher, recorded 80 hours.  
  • Helen Fuhrmann, age 18, was a cook in a hotel, working 74 hours a week while living at home with her parents and siblings.
  • William Sarle listed his occupation as a Welfare Doctor, working 40 hours a week.
  • Town Highway Superintendent Hugh McPherson recorded 100 hours a week, earning $1200 a year.
  • Alex Hilson reported working 60 hours a week as a clerk at a retail grocery store, earning $1000 a year.  The store was his father's store.  He was 25 years old and was enumerated with his wife, Lillian (who  is still going in her 90s!).
  • Art Decker was earning $1400 a year as a truck driver for the county.  
  • There were two active clergymen in Bovina.  Kenneth Arnold was the Episcopal priest at St. James Church in Lake Delaware, earning $3000.  Harvey McClellan, the minister of the Bovina United Presbyterian Church, was earning $1800 a year for 72 hours a week of work (his housekeeper, Anna Cowan, earned $156 annually for also working 72 hours a week). 
  • Lake Delaware generally had higher salaries than other areas of Bovina because of the Gerry Estate. Estate superintendent Thomas Wallace earned $3300.   Herdsmen Roy Mauger and Burnell Lathrop each earned $1200, as did the foreman of the breeding stables, Wessel Pothemus.  The garage foreman, Purl Grundy, earned $1080.  Game protector, Thomas Rae, earned $2400.  Harry Rendall, the Gerry Estate gardener, did not earn nearly as much, earning $675 a year for 45 hours of work a week. 
  • The highest salary recorded on the 1940 census for Bovina is that of Mathew L. Bruce, earning '$5000+' for 60 hours a week as a farm superintendent. 
  • Malcolm Hotchkin, age 42, earned $1200 a year as a shovel operator, working 100 hours a week.  His daughter Margaret, age 17, worked 5 hours a week doing clerical work in a public school.  She earned $19 for 1939.  [Margaret's sister Barbara would marry fellow Bovina resident John Hilson.]
  • There were several people working for the Bovina creamery.  Lindsey Moore earned $1820 a year as the superintendent.  Floyd Aitken worked 70 hours a week at the creamery in the 'dry milk room,' earning $924.  My uncle, Bob Boggs, earned $1090 annually as a worker at the creamery, working 63 hours a week. 
  • Cecil Russell reported working 60 hours a week as proprietor of a retail grocery store, while his competitor, John Hilson, reported 65 hours. 
  • Raymond Lewis was working as a carpenter for the National Youth Administration, though he worked only 37 weeks for them in 1939.  In April of 1940, Raymond was the census enumerator for Bovina. He was 25 years old, living with his parents and two brothers.  His house was the 9th in the enumeration.  
Here's a sample page from the Bovina census.  I was able to download it from, but the 1940 census also is available for free at  I happen to have chosen the page where my dad and his family show up - dad's on line 59. 

No comments:

Post a Comment