Another interesting find in the 1880 New Hope census:
Elias Wood was a 55-year-old black laborer born in Maryland. Hannah Peterson was a 29-year-old mulatto woman born in New Jersey. They were both illiterate. There is little question of the children’s parentage, as the census indicates their father was born in Maryland and their mother in New Jersey (click on the image for an expanded view).
Given that their eldest daughter is 13 years old, it appears that their relationship began at least thirteen years and nine months earlier in the autumn of 1866, when Elias was a lecherous old bachelor in his forties and Hannah was a young girl of 15 or 16. Perhaps these circumstances explain why they never married.
Interestingly, Hannah is listed as a “House Keeper.” Women who work in their own home are listed as “Keeping House” in the census, while women working as servants in other peoples homes are sometimes listed as “House Keeper.”
As a further insult, the census enumerator John Pidcock listed their relationship status as “single” to drive home the point that the government does NOT recognize their relationship. John may have had some inside information since he lived down Mechanics Street from them:
Fifty-nine years old and boarding in another guy’s house? Unemployed for a third of the year? Maybe John should have refrained from name-calling.
Note: The possibly illegitimate children living in a boarding house in my previous post share the surname Wood, but beyond their name I’ve found no connection.