A census record, like a photograph, is a snapshot of our ancestors in one brief moment of time. Exploring the census also helps us explore the lives of Richland County’s most famous residents like, Rev. Charles Jaggers.
In 1790 the newly formed United States government became the first country in the world to legislate a census be taken every ten years. The information collected in the census would be used to assign the number of legislative seats each state would be given and provide an estimate of tax revenues.
Our government still takes a nation-wide census every ten years for the same reasons. However, with the public release of a census every 12 years or so genealogists and historians also use the census to explore family histories. Currently the census records from 1790 -1940 are available for public use and the 1950 census is expected to be released in April 2022.
No two censuses are alike because each census asks different questions. A census record, like a photograph, is a snapshot of our ancestors in one brief moment of time. Exploring the census also helps us understand the lives of Richland County’s most famous residents like, Rev. Charles Jaggers.
Charles Jaggers (1830-1924), a renowned early nineteenth century philanthropist, was so well-known that Time Magazine, in 1924, published an article about his good works saying, “With some contributions he established a mission; with others he took the gospel to the chain gangs”. In recent times we can find a bronze statue of Rev. Jaggers, sculpted by Thomas I. Weston, in the Columbia Museum of Art’s collection.
As one of South Carolina’s emancipated people, Rev. Jaggers was first recorded with his full name in the 1870 census. Prior to emancipation slaves were identified in the census with a hash mark. On August 6, 1870, census-taker Ed Hudson Smith, entered the Jaggers’ Waverly home and asked a series of questions about the Jaggers’ household (spelled Gaugers). Looking at the census record we can easily picture the family, at that moment.
Exploring the 1870 census questions we find detailed information about the Jaggers family. Charles is married to Susan and, on that date, they have three children: Mary, John and Harriet. Both Charles and Susan were born in Virginia and their children in South Carolina. Charles is 35 and gives his occupation as a railroad worker. We also know the family valued education as the two oldest children attended school. Only Rev. Jaggers is identified as not being able to read or write.
The 1920 census is the last census where Rev. Jaggers is enumerated. The information in this census differs some from the 1870. On January 14, 1920 Jaggers tells the census taker he was born in South Carolina as were his parents. While he says he can now read and write he indicates he never attended school. He is 88 and living with his second wife, Harriett, and his 15 year old granddaughter, Eloise. He is still working as a minister and receives a salary. His home on Oak St. is mortgage free.
The photograph below features Jaggers granddaughter, Eloise Jaggers Green, who is listed in the 1920 census. In all there are census records of the Jaggers’ family in 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910 and 1920. Using the information found in the census is a building block to creating a family tree. Residents with a Richland Library card have free, 24/7, access to all of the federal censuses through the HeritageQuest database.