The Boy With the U.S. Census
Part 3 out of 5
"'Tis I that am the poor hand for writin', young masther, but there was
no schoolin' when I was a gurrl such as there is now. Jim, that's me
son, he makes shift to read me writin', but he always sinds me a written
envelope to put me answer in so that the postman can read it. An' so I
niver learnt the address. I thought, av course, he'd be here. But he
isn't, dear, an' so I must thravel all the weary way home again."
"But you don't sail till morning," said Hamilton, as cheerfully as he
could, "and maybe he'll come by then. I have a feeling, Mrs. Mahoney,
that he's just surely going to come."
"I'm not thinkin' it," the old woman said bravely, "but I take it
kindly, young masther, that ye should thry an' make the goin' easy. But
it isn't easy, 'tis a hard returnin'. An' me so proud that me son should
send for his ould mother. 'Tis a great country this America, but it's
too big. I'd niver 'ave lost me Jim in the ould country. I see they're
callin' us, an' I wish ye an ould woman's blessin', young masther, for
your cheerin' me at the last."
With a certain dignity, the old woman turned away and shook hands with
all the officials, with whom she had become a favorite during the three
weeks of her stay. Hamilton just ached to be able to do something, to
tell the Commissioner of the later telegrams, to appeal to the
department, to make some wild effort, but the actuality of the group for
deportation slowly making their way to the barge showed him the folly of
any such ideas. He roused himself, just as the friendly official who had
been his guide turned round with outstretched hand.
"I think you have seen it all now," he said, "and as the boat from New
York is just pulling in, you'll have plenty of time to board her."
Hamilton thanked his conductor warmly, and with a final look at the
group about to be deported, the last few stragglers of whom were making
their way toward the barge, he started along the wharf in the direction
of the New York boat. He was on the opposite side of the ship and had to
walk round, but, as his friend had said, there was plenty of time. He
had a good view of the boat as she landed.
The minute the bow touched the quay, before the mooring chains were on,
a middle-aged man who had been standing in the front of the boat, leaped
the light chain that runs waist high across the bow, and started on a
dead run up the bridge to the shore. One of the inspectors tried to stop
him, but he cried, as he went past:
"I'm going to the Commissioner's office. Don't stop me. I'm in a hurry."
Hamilton could just hear him, and it struck the boy as unnecessary for
the man to say he was in a hurry, for he showed it clearly enough. But
just before the runner reached him a sudden thought flashed into the
"Are you Jim Mahoney?" he called, just as the man swept by.
"Yes," answered the other, scarcely slackening speed and passing him.
Hamilton wheeled on the instant, and caught up to him in a few steps,
for the other man was older, not in training, and getting out of breath.
"You'll do it, don't worry," the boy said, as he overtook him, running
along beside him. "I was talking to your mother a few minutes ago and
she was all right. But she was just starting for the steamer then.
There's not a second to lose."
"What shall I do?" puffed the other.
"Go in there, by that door marked 'Information.' Tell them who you are
and they'll fix things up in a hurry. Then go up and see the
Commissioner. I'll go on and tell them at the boat."
Then, seeing that the man hesitated, he shouted:
"Go in there," and nudged him in the direction of the door.
As the man turned, Hamilton settled himself down to run. In a second he
was at the landing. The tender had just cast off her ropes and was
"Bridget," he cried, and his voice rang high and clear above the
dripping of the water from the cable, the creaking of the wheel as it
swung round, and the churning of the screw. "Bridget, Bridget Mahoney,
The captain came to the window of the pilot house and called back:
"Bridget!" he shouted again. "Bridget Mahoney's Jim's here!"
There was a pause, the captain not seeming to understand the situation,
but a cheer went up from the deportation officials on board and from
some of the tender's crew who knew; and the cry ran along the decks:
"Bridget, Bridget Mahoney! Jim's here!"
[Illustration: WHERE THE WORKERS COME FROM. Family of German
immigrants, passing through Ellis Island on their way to the Middle
West. (_Courtesy of U.S. Immigration Station, Ellis Island._)]
THE NEGRO CENSUS FROM THE SADDLE
Leaving New York the next day after his visit to the Immigration Station
on Ellis Island, Hamilton stayed only a few hours in Washington to
receive final instructions before proceeding to the southwestern part of
Kentucky where his work as a population census-taker was to begin.
At the appointed place he found the supervisor awaiting him.
"I suppose you know," remarked his brother's friend, shaking hands,
"that I've given you a fairly well scattered district to cover. You said
you wanted to get a chance to see Kentucky as it really is, and this,
together with your mountain experience, ought to give you variety
"They told me in Washington that it was largely a negro district?" the
boy said questioningly.
"It is about as much of a black district as any in Kentucky," was the
reply, "but it isn't solid black by any means. Therein lies its
interest. The negroes are of all varieties, from old-time slaves who
have never left the plantation on which they were piccaninnies during
the war, to progressive negroes owning fair-sized tracts of land, most
of them still living in the one-room shacks that you see all over the
country, but a few having bought what used to be the 'big house' in
"That's just exactly what I was after," Hamilton said with delight. "How
do I cover it, sir? In the saddle?"
"You can drive, if you want to," the supervisor replied, "and if it
wasn't for the agricultural schedules, I think it would be easier to do
the work from a buggy. But with the field work to consider, and in a
district as scattered as yours is, the saddle might work out better."
"I had been thinking of that," Hamilton said, "if a farmer was on the
other side of a plowed patch, I'd have no way of getting to him in a
buggy except by tying the horse and walking, while in the saddle I could
easily take short cuts. And I imagine, in a countryside such as you say
this is, I'll probably need to see every one on the place in order to
get anything like accurate figures."
"It's not at all unlikely," the supervisor rejoined. "Well, I thought
you would be needing a horse, and I've been looking round for one for
some time. I think I have the very one you will want. I told the owner
to hold back sale until you had a chance to look at her."
"Then the quicker I see the owner, the better?" suggested the boy.
"I think I had better go with you," the supervisor said, "and then they
won't try any over-clever work. Horse-dealing isn't always the most
guileless business, you know."
"So I've understood," Hamilton said, "and I really don't know enough to
judge the fine points of a horse."
"I was born and bred in the Blue Grass," his friend remarked, "and so
I've been around horses pretty much all my days. The census work is
quite a change from that."
"I hope you didn't have any bother over my coming in this somewhat
irregular way?" asked Hamilton, remembering what Mr. Burns had said to
him in Washington.
The supervisor laughed.
"Nothing serious," he said, "but there were several people who tried to
cut you out,--one of them especially. There were three applicants for
this district, and the one who was most resentful about an outsider
coming in wouldn't have been appointed under any circumstances. Indeed,
the best of the three undertook to describe the other two. His letter
was a wonder," he added, picking up one of the files; "I think I saved
it.--Yes, here it is. Read it, while I get ready to go out with you,"
and he handed the letter to Hamilton.
The letter was as follows in every detail:
"Dr. Sir I made out the Blank for a Job taking Census was a going
to make it & when I Got to the Postoffice there was such an a ray
of aplicants I concluded not to do so
"in the first Place there is two of these aplicants are Habichual
Drunkards one Professor A---- the other Mr. P---- A---- was born in
Canaday & has NO Interest here Except to be Suported by his wife &
the Publick & has had his Last School to Teach in this Town. he is
so Imoral People will not Tollerate him any Longer the Wrighter has
seen him on a Saturday SO Drunk he would Fall against People he met
if that is the Kind of Man you are looking For I don't want a Job I
can get along without
"I will send in my application Just the Same
"Mr. P---- is Not fare behind and is Dealer in Coal & Feed & his
Father has to take Cair of the Business for him.
"Dont concider him for a moment Mr
"as to my self this is the Firste time I ever aske for Publick
Buisness & I am an Indipendent Belever of mans Privlages & always
lived in this County
"you have this Information Without feer of any of above statements
"I remain Resptfully
Hamilton laughed as he returned the letter to the supervisor, who had
just come back with his hat and gloves as the boy finished reading the
"I don't think I need have been afraid of any of those three as rivals,"
he said, "that is, if our friend is right. His information, however, may
not be any more correct than his spelling."
"It's exaggerated, of course," the supervisor answered, "that's easy to
see, but setting aside the question of jealousy there's a good deal of
truth in what he says. Selecting and teaching enumerators was no light
job, let me tell you. You take seventy-five to a hundred absolutely
green hands, who have never done anything like it before, and it is a
hard proposition to make them understand. When you have to try and teach
them in a few weeks just how to do what is really difficult to do well,
you have a heavy task on your hands."
"You didn't appoint any colored enumerators, I suppose?" Hamilton
"No," the supervisor answered decidedly. "My judgment was against it to
start with and I couldn't see that any of my districts warranted it. It
may be different in counties where the proportion of colored population
runs as high as eighty and ninety per cent, but there are none like that
"Just in Georgia and Mississippi?"
"Alabama, South Carolina, and Arkansas have a few scattering 'black'
counties too," the supervisor answered, "for I wrote to several places
about this very colored enumerator question. I found the supervisors
over those districts about evenly divided for and against. I have been
able to get suitable men all through, I think, though I might have had
difficulty in securing a good appointee for your district."
"It's pretty wild out there evidently," Hamilton said anticipatorily.
"Not so much wild as isolated. Kentucky is scarcely a railroad center,
you know. Out of twenty-one counties in my district, fourteen possess
neither railroad, telegraph, nor telephone connection with the rest of
the world at all."
Hamilton whistled softly.
"I hadn't realized that there was any part of Kentucky as isolated as
that," he said, "even in the mountains. But I'm glad, just the same,
because these isolated communities are much more fun than the places
where everybody seems to be cut out by the same pattern."
"You'll find all the variety you want," the supervisor remarked, as he
turned into a big stable building, "and you'll need four legs more
beside your own two." He led the way to a stall near the far end of the
building, and brought out the little mare of which he had been speaking.
"What a beauty!" exclaimed the boy.
The supervisor laughed.
"That's no way to buy a horse," he said, turning to the stableman; "it's
a good thing I arranged the price before he came, or you'd have tacked
on another twenty dollars."
"Easy, and more than that," said the owner, with a grin.
"Well, Noble," said his friend, "I don't hear yon raising any
"I haven't any," the boy replied promptly. "And the price is what you
said to me?" he queried, turning to the supervisor.
"Yes, that stands," his friend replied.
"All right, then," said Hamilton, "I'll take her."
The supervisor pulled out his pocketbook.
"I had an idea," he said, "that you were just boy enough to want the
mare when you saw her and to want her right away. I made out a check for
the amount, and you can make one out to me when you get ready," and he
handed the slip to the boy.
Hamilton started to thank him, but the supervisor cut him short.
"If you'll come to the office this afternoon," he said, "the clerk will
give you the schedules and papers all ready made out for your district.
Here's a typewritten copy of the lectures I've been giving to the
enumerators, and while I don't suppose you really need to, you had
better read it over and return it to me when you're through with it. Now
I'm going to leave you here with this gentleman," he added, nodding to
the owner of the horse, "and you can arrange with him about getting a
saddle and so forth for the mare. Drop in at the office in the morning
as you start out and I'll make sure that nothing has been forgotten. See
you later," and with a nod to Hamilton, he stepped out of the stable.
To the boy the afternoon fairly seemed to fly, there were so many things
to do; and it was not until just before closing hours that he reached
the office and secured his portfolio. He had a brief chat with the
clerk, and went back to his hotel to study carefully the map of his
district and the route suggested, and to make sure that he thoroughly
understood the population and agricultural schedules he would have to
use. They were different in form, of course, from the manufacturing
schedules which the boy knew by heart, but the essential principles were
the same, and Hamilton found that in half an hour's time he saw plain
"It's a mighty good thing I had that manufacturing work," he said half
aloud, "or I'd find this pretty tricky. I should think it would be hard
for any one not at all used to it."
By supper time--they kept to old-fashioned ways in the little
hotel--Hamilton felt himself perfectly sure of his ground on the work,
and he went to bed early, knowing he had a long ride and a hard day
The following morning, an early breakfast over, Hamilton started on the
journey to his enumeration district, stopping at the office for a
moment's chat with his friend the supervisor, and receiving his
good-luck wishes before he went. The mare was a delight, being
well-paced, and the horseman from whom Hamilton had bought the animal
had taken a great deal of pains to get him a saddle tree that fitted
him, so that the boy enjoyed every minute of the ride. He reached the
first point in his district about one o'clock, and after a hasty dinner
started to work. The place was a tiny village, containing about forty
The population work, as Hamilton had expected, proved to be
comparatively simple, and the first house he visited was a fair sample
of the greater number of those he tabulated all through the month. As a
typical example it impressed itself upon his memory. He began next door
to the house where he had eaten dinner. The natural privacy of a home
was quite different from the public nature of a factory, and Hamilton
felt a little strange as he walked up to the door and knocked.
"Good-morning," he said, as soon as the door was opened, "I'm the
census-taker and I called for the paper that was sent for you to fill
"Yo' mean dat ar big sheet o' paper, jes' noth'n but quest'ns?" answered
the young negro woman, who appeared at the door.
"That's it," the boy answered, "is it all filled out and ready?"
"Lawsy, no! Why, it would take me fo' eveh to do all that writin'. Ah'm
no school-teacheh. An' besides, that's fo' fahmers. An' yo' have anotheh
jes' like it!" she continued, noting the portfolio the boy carried. "Ah
jes' know I can't eveh tell yo' all dose things."
"This is different," Hamilton pointed out. "Those other questions are
about farms, just as you say, but these are all about your own family."
"Yes, sah, yes, sah. Ah tol' mah husban' so when we were talkin' about
that yar farm business. The paper in the town gave a list o' questions,
an' Ah thought Ah would get mah Steve to help me get ready so's Ah sh'd
be able to answer yo' rightly when yo' come aroun', but he jes' said he
was too tiehed to do anythin', an' dat ar census list is the
confusin'est thing Ah eveh saw. Ah thought Ah ought to do somethin', an'
so Ah jes' took a big sheet o' wrappin' paper an' started to write the
answers to the quest'ns on that, thinkin' some o' the neighbors'
children would copy it on the sheet fo' me. But, I tell yo', sah, that
befo' I was half way through tellin' what the newspaper said we had to
tell, I was so mixed up that I was writin' mahself down as mah own
daughter and provin' that the baby was twice divo'ced."
"Then you really haven't got anything ready at all," said Hamilton.
"Then I'll just have to ask you the questions, and put the answers down
myself," the boy said cheerfully. "We might as well start right now."
"Won't yo' come in, sah?" the woman suggested. "Yo'll need a table, an'
pens an' ink."
"I have a fountain pen," the lad answered, "but it would be easier
writing on a table. I guess I will come in. Now," he continued, as soon
as he was seated, "has this house a number?"
"Yas, sah," the woman replied, "seventeen, High Street."
"And this is the first family I've seen, and the first house," said
Hamilton, entering a "1" in both columns. "Now for the head of the
family. I think you said something about your husband?"
"Yas, sah, Steve, he's my husban'. We done been married six years."
"You say his name is Stephen? What is his other name?"
"He's colored, I suppose."
"Yas, sah, he's quite dark complected."
"And you're his first wife?" queried the boy, as he wrote "Lawson,
Stephen," in the name column, the word "Head" in the relation column,
and the letter "B" for black, under the color or race column.
"Ah reckon Ah'm his first wife," the woman replied, "he was jes'
twenty-one when Ah married him."
"And you've been married six years," the boy went on, entering Stephen
Lawson's age as 27, the number of years married as "6," and "M. 1," to
show that he was married, and married only once. "But you look like a
girl still," he added, "you must have been married very young."
"Ah was jes' sixteen," she answered; "we was married on mah birthday."
"And your name is--?"
"Any other name?"
For a moment or two Hamilton wrote busily, filling in "Lily M.," "Wife,"
"F" for female, "Mu" for mulatto, "22" for present age, "M. 1" for first
marriage, and "6" for the number of years in wedlock.
"You have children?"
"One li'l boy, sah, but he's deaf an' dumb. An' so quick an' clever,
sah, in other ways, yo' wouldn' believe!"
"That's hard luck," said Hamilton kindly, "but they do such wonderful
things to help them now, you know. And he can learn a lot by reading."
"Yas, sah, it's hard enough. But we're glad he ain't blind."
"And what is his name?"
"Edward Habberton, sah, an' he's jes' fo' years old, near five."
Hamilton entered the name of the little deaf and dumb boy, whom he
could see sitting in an inner room, and noted down in the schedule his
age, his color, and the nature of his affliction.
"Now, Lily," he continued, "were you both born in Kentucky?"
"No, sah," she replied, "none of us, savin' little Eddie. I'm f'om
Delaware, an' mah Steve, he's f'om Maryland, where my mother come f'om."
"Wait a bit," said Hamilton, holding up his hand to stop her, "let me
get this straight. Stephen Lawson is from Maryland, you said, you're
from Delaware, and the boy was born in this State. Is that right?"
"And you said your mother came from Maryland but I suppose since you're
from Delaware your father was from Delaware also."
"Yes, sah," the woman answered, "he done live in Wilmin'ton all his
So Hamilton put down the birthplaces of the wife's parents and in the
same fashion those of the husband, while the filling in of the columns
for the parents of the child was simply a matter of copying.
"There's no need to find out about your naturalization then," he went
on, "of course you're both Americans. And you both speak English," and
he entered this also on the language column.
"What does your husband work at?" was the boy's next query.
"He's a gardener, sah."
"Oh, no, sah, in the big nu'sery here."
"On regular wages, then?"
"Yas, sah, nine dollahs a week."
"I don't have to put down how much he earns," the boy explained, "only
to state whether he is paying wages, or being paid wages, or working on
his own account.--But you must find it hard to get along on nine a
"Ah make mo 'n he does," the woman explained.
"You do? How?"
"Washin', sah. An' Ah take a lot o' fine washin', laces an' things like
that, which the ladies want jes' as carefully done! Ah make as high as
twelve an' sometimes fifteen dollahs a week."
"That helps a lot," said Hamilton, as he noted down the facts that the
woman was a laundress, and that she worked on her own account, typified
by the letters "O.A." in the wage column.
"You both read and write--or, wait a bit, I think you said you couldn't
write, and that you have to get the neighbors' children to help you."
"Ah can read pretty well," the woman replied, "but Ah never had enough
schoolin' to write much; mah mother was ill all the time, an' Ah had to
stay home. But Steve, he writes beautiful, an' he makes out all mah
bills an' things like that."
"I think there's only one question more," the boy said, delighted to
find that after all, even in the house of a negro laundress who did not
know how to write, the information could be so easily secured. After
jotting down a "Yes" and a "No" respectively for Husband and Wife in the
columns for literacy, he continued, "And that question is, whether this
house is owned by you or whether you rent it."
"We're only rentin' it, sah. Steve wants to buy it an' put a mo'gage on,
but Ah don't know anythin' about mo'gages an' Ah won't buy until Ah can
pay the whole price right down. Don' yo' think Ah'm right?"
"Well, Lily," answered the lad, as he folded up his portfolio and
prepared to go to the next house, "it would hardly do for one of Uncle
Sam's census men to come between a husband and a wife on the question
of their buying of their own home, would it?"
"Ah reckon not, sah. Is that all, sah?"
"Yes, Lily, that's all, and I'm very much obliged."
"It wasn't so awful bad," said the woman, with a sigh of relief.
"It's easy enough to answer census questions when you want to make it
easy and tell a straight story," Hamilton replied, "but you see what
trouble it would be for me with some one who wasn't willing to talk, and
how hard it would be for any one to make up a story as he went along,
and find it tally at every point in all the later questions."
"Well, sah," she called, in reply, as the lad passed out, "Ah jes' hope
yo' don' fin' a single one like that in this hyar whole village."
"I hope not, Lily. Good-morning," he rejoined and turned toward the next
The enumeration of the rest of the village went on rapidly. By working
quickly Hamilton was able to complete the numbering of the village by
nightfall, and he so stated on his daily report card, which he mailed to
the supervisor that evening.
The following morning he started off on his little mare, and struck
something new and puzzling at every holding he touched. The agricultural
schedule fairly made his head swim. It had certain difficulties which
the manufacturing schedule did not have, because, although the latter
contained more detailed information and required a more accurate
statement, still all manufacturers kept books. For the details needed in
the agricultural statistics no books had been kept; the negro farmer
seldom or never knew how many chickens he had, and the wild guesses that
would be made as to value of animals and land nearly turned the boy's
hair gray. Some of the white farmers were every bit as careless, one man
valuing his horses at $200 apiece and the next at $50; one man
estimating his land at $150 an acre and the next at $10.
A typical case was that of Patrick Meacham. Hamilton secured the facts
for his population schedule with comparatively little trouble from the
Meacham household, although he had to listen to a great deal of
unnecessary family history. There was no great difficulty, moreover, in
finding out that the farm consisted of 80 acres owned and 10 rented, but
a snag of the first magnitude was encountered on the question as to how
much of it was improved.
"Sure, 'tis all improved," the farmer said; "it was in horrible shape
whin I bought it."
"I don't mean improved that way," Hamilton objected, "what I want to
know is how much of it is good for pasture, is prepared for crops, and
"Sure, it's all good for somethin'," the Irishman answered; "what for
should I buy it if it wasn't good for anythin"?"
"Have you a wood-lot?" asked Hamilton, deciding to try and get at the
question in another way.
"I have a wood-lot. But I built a good strong fence around it, since I
came here,--ye don't mean to tell me that doesn't improve it? If ye
lived here, ye'd know better."
"That's all right, Mr. Meacham, it makes it better all right, but it
isn't counted in as 'improved land.' I'll put it down specially though.
There's ten acres of it, you said."
"And there's ten acres of swamp land that ye couldn't improve unless ye
built it on piles," the farmer said.
"I'll have to refer that to the Reclamation Service, I guess," the boy
answered, "anyhow for the time we'll just call it 'unimproved' and let
it go at that."
The next few questions passed off without a hitch, but an inquiry
concerning the number of animals born on the place during the year was
like opening the flood-gates of a dam. If Meacham had been as good a
farmer as a yarn-spinner there would have been no question as to his
success, for he had some story to tell about every yearling on the
place, and they were inimitably told. It was with great reluctance that
Hamilton found himself obliged to head off the man's eloquence and make
him stick to hard facts. An inquiry as to the number of eggs sold was
somewhat of a puzzle, but the farmer's wife knew the amount of the
"trade" she had received at the grocery store in the nearest town in
return for eggs, and at an average sale price of nine cents a dozen,
this was easily computed. She was also the authority on the amount of
butter made and sold, and on the garden truck.
The business man of the house was a twelve-year-old boy. Not far away, a
neighbor had forty acres in clover and some fruit trees, and knowing the
value of bees for pollinating the fruit, he was glad to have this boy
keep six hives near the orchard and field. A good share of the honey had
gone to the neighbor, and the family themselves had used all they
wanted, but still the boy's profit for what he had sold amounted to
sixty dollars. He was keen to have Hamilton enter him on the schedule as
an independent apiarist on his own account, but Hamilton pointed out to
him that a $250 farm was the smallest one allowed to be listed.
This low limit was almost reached the next day when Hamilton found
himself on a peanut farm for the first time. He had always known that
peanuts, unlike all other "nuts," grew underground but he had made the
common mistake of supposing them to grow on the roots of the peanut
plant like the tubers of a potato, instead of really being a true nut,
developing from a flower the elongation of the lower portion of which
reaches to the ground. The farm was run by an orphaned colored girl
nineteen years old and her four younger brothers.
[Illustration: ON A PEANUT FARM. Caesar and his sister at work when
Hamilton came to take the census.]
"Jes' as soon as the young-uns gits big enough," she said to Hamilton,
when discussing the statistics of her little holding, "we're goin' to
buy a big patch o' peanut land. Ah'd like to grow peanuts every year,
but these hyar gov'nment papers say yo' shouldn't. They say once in
every fo' years is enough fo' peanuts, but Ah'm goin' to try it every
"Aren't they a very troublesome crop?"
"'Bout the same as potatoes, Ah reckon. But they pay a good price fo'
picked peanuts, an' Ah can get these boys hyar to do the pickin'. In one
o' the papers Ah saw up to Colonel 'Gerius' place the other day, one the
gov'nment puts out, thar's a list showin' this country has to send to
foreign countries fo' twelve million bushels o' peanuts every year. Ah'm
goin' to try raisin' a real big crop, and Dicky hyar," she added,
pointing to the oldest boy, "thinks jes' as I do about it."
Hamilton was distinctly impressed with the evidence that this young
negro girl and her younger brothers not only knew enough about the
peanut business to be able to make it pay, but that they were reading
the government bulletins.
"I didn't know," he said hastily, "that you people--" and he stopped
suddenly, realizing the ungracious ending to his sentence.
"You mean us colored folks,--you didn't think we troubled 'bout such
things? Yas, sah, we don' have all the advantages o' white folks but
we're improvin' right along. Colonel 'Gerius jes' does all he can, an'
he gets us gov'nment seeds an' papers, an' advises every one fo' miles
aroun'. Yas, sah, we're gettin' on. If yo' have to go to Bullertown,
sah, yo'll fin' as nice a li'l place as thar is f'om one end o' the
United States cla'r to the other, an' thar's not one white person in
"Bullertown?" queried Hamilton in surprise. "I'm glad to hear it, for
that's the next place on my map."
"We're all proud of it hyar, sah, an' it 'pears to me, Bullertown owes
jes' everythin' to the folks at the Big House and to Mistah Ephraim
Jones. Yo'll see Mistah Jones, sah, an' I'd take it kindly if yo'll
remember me to him."
"All right, Delia, I will," said Hamilton. "Let's see, I did get all the
figures, didn't I?"
"Yo' said yo' had them all, sah," was the reply.
"Good enough. Well, I guess I'll go along. I'll not forget your message.
Good-by--" and the boy set his horse on a canter down the narrow road.
Throughout the rest of the day the census-gathering was of similar
character, and it was drawing toward dark when the boy saw before him a
well-ordered array of houses which he felt sure must be Bullertown.
Asking his way to the hotel from the first darky that he met, he was
answered most courteously.
"Thar's no hotel hyar, sah," the negro said, "but Mr. Ephraim Jones
entertains the visitin' strangehs, sah, an' if yo' go right on to that
big yaller house an' ask fo' Mr. Jones, sah, Ah jes' knows yo'll be
Hamilton felt diffident about quartering himself upon a perfect stranger
in this way, but it seemed to be the custom of the place, and since
there was no hotel, there seemed nothing else to do, and he rode on to
the gate. Tethering his mare to a tie-post in front of the house he
started up the walk, carrying his portfolio, so that in the event of any
mistake he might be able to make it appear that he had merely come to
take the census. But before he reached the door it was opened by a
wrinkled and old, but dignified darky.
"Walk in, sah, walk right in," he said. "Ah'll sen' one o' the boys to
look after yo' horse. Tom!" he called, "yo' take the gen'leman's horse
to the stable, rub him down with a wisp, an' give him some hay. In half
an hour water him, an' give him a feed o' oats."
"I'm obliged to you," said Hamilton, "for taking all this trouble, but
perhaps I had better explain who I am."
"That's jes' as yo' like, sah."
"Well," said Hamilton, "I'm the census-taker for this district, and I
was looking for a hotel where I could stay the night and begin work in
the morning. A man I met on the street told me that this town had no
hotel and suggested that if I came to you, I might be advised where to
"We have no hotel in Bullertown, sah," the old negro preacher answered,
"but the gen'lemen that come hyar do me the honor us'ally, sah, of bein'
my guests. Ah have a guest-room, sah, jes' 'sclusively fo' gen'lemen who
are not people of color."
Hamilton found himself flushing at the consciousness that this very
thought had been in his mind, and in order to cover any possible signs
that might have appeared in his expression, he answered hastily:
"Oh, that's all right,--it wouldn't have mattered."
The old preacher looked at him quietly and a little reproachfully and
"If you don' jes' mean things like that, young sah, don' say them. We
know. We find, sah, that it is mos' desirable for every one concerned.
If yo' like, sah, an' if yo're ready, Ah'll show yo' to yo'r room."
[Illustration: IN AN ALL-NEGRO TOWN. Residents of Bullertown on the day
that the census was taken. (_Brown Bros._)]
[Illustration: IN AN ALL-NEGRO TOWN. Residents of Bullertown on the day
that the census was taken. (_Brown Bros._)]
Hamilton could not help contrasting this reception with that which he
would have received in any town not entirely a negro community, and he
expressed this feeling to his host as they went up the stairs.
"It is entirely different hyar, sah," the latter said, "yo' see we are
isolated, an' a guest is rare. Then this community is a syndicate an' is
not run like a town. Thar's no quest'n hyar, sah, about colored and
white people bein' the same,--we know they're different. An' we believe,
sah, that it is in preservin' the color line, not in tryin' to hide it,
that the future good of our race lies. An' so thar's not a foot o' land
in Bullertown owned by any other than people o' color, an' not a white
person lives hyar."
"You own all the land, then?"
"The syndicate does, yes, sah."
"Then you must have some wealthy men among you?"
"No, sah, not one. The town was begun, sah, by the kindness of Colonel
"Colonel--he was, that is, he is--" began Hamilton, stammering.
"He is not a negro, sah," the old man answered finishing the boy's
embarrassed sentence for him with entire self-possession. "Colonel
Egerius, sah, was a plantation owner, befo' the war. Ah was one o' his
slaves, an' mos' o' the people in Bullertown are the children o' those
born in the plantation quarters."
"And he started the town?"
"Yas, sah, in a way. He fought with Lee, sah, an' my brother was his
body-servant all through the war. When Lee surrendered, the Colonel came
back to the old plantation. Some of the slaves had gone, but thar was
quite a few left still. He called us to the big house an' tol' us to
stay by the ol' place an' he would pay us wages. Some--Ah was not one o'
them, though Ah see now they were right,--said the quarters were not fit
to live in."
"But I thought you said Colonel Egerius was a kind master? How could
that be if the quarters were so bad?"
"No, sah," he said, "Ah should never call the old massa kind, he was
fair an' ready to help a willin' worker. But his slaves was his slaves
an' they had no rights. Thar wasn't any whippin' or any o' that sort o'
thing, but it was work all day, f'om befo' daylight till afteh dark, an'
we lived jes' anyhow."
"How came he to start the town, then?" queried Hamilton. "Your
description of him doesn't sound as though he were a man who would do
much for you."
"It was jes' because o' that, Ah think, that he did, sah. He was just,
sah. He said that while we were slaves we should be treated as slaves.
Now that the negro was not a slave any mo', thar was no reason to make
him live like one. He used to say the South was now pledged to help the
nation instead o' the Confederacy, an' while he did not agree, he would
live up to that pledge."
"That seems as fair as anything could be."
"Yas, sah, but it was easier to say that than to do it. Thar was no
money in the place, the slaves hadn' had wages, an' yo' can't build
houses without money, an' money was scarce afteh the war."
"How in the wide world did you manage it?" asked Hamilton.
"As Ah was sayin', sah, it was Colonel Egerius' doin'. He got a surveyor
from the town an' hunted over the plantation to fin' the best site fo'
a village,--the surveyor's name was Buller."
"That's where the town got its name, then?"
"Yas, sah, Ah jes' wanted it called Egerius, but the Colonel wouldn't
hear of it. Then all o' the ol' slaves that wanted to stay by the place
got together, an' the Colonel showed us how to make a sort o' syndicate.
Then he sol' us the land jes' as low as it could be made, payment to be
in labor on the plantation, so in a few years' work every man who wanted
to stay reg'lar on the job got title to his lan' an' his house, an' took
wages afteh that."
"That was a wise move," said the boy after a moment's thought. "He sold
his land at a fair price, got the money back that he put into buildings,
established a regular supply of labor for his plantation, and at the
same time fixed it all right for you."
"Yas, sah," the old negro answered, "an' now every man in the town
either owns his house or is buyin' one f'om the syndicate, an' we have
bought up all the surveyed property f'om the Colonel. Now, sah,"
continued the preacher, "if yo' will excuse me, Ah will see that yo'r
supper is got ready. Hyar, sah," he added, opening the door into a
small room, "is yo'r sittin' room, an' yo'r supper will be served hyar."
As much surprised as gratified at the excellent arrangements for his
comfort, Hamilton refreshed himself after his dusty ride, and was as
hungry as a wolf when supper arrived. A little darky girl, black as the
ace of spades, waited at table, and in conversation Hamilton learned
that she was the adopted daughter of the eldest son of the negro
preacher, the son being a professor in one of the negro colleges. After
supper Hamilton asked to see his host in order that he might secure the
details of the family for the census, and thus make use of a disengaged
"So your son is Professor of English at the University," said Hamilton,
as, with all the details secured, he closed the census portfolio. "Do,
you think the negro ought only to learn a few things, or do you think he
ought to be taught just the same as in the regular universities?"
"Thar should be one good university," said the old preacher, "with very
difficult admission examinations. It would be a good thing fo' colored
lawyers an' doctors, an' if the standard were high--higher even than in
white colleges--these men would get standin' fo' themselves an' give
standin' to the colored race. But, even then, I'd have them keep away
f'om the other lawyers an' doctors."
"You're strong on that color line, Ephraim," the boy remarked. "Surely
you don't believe in 'Jim Crow' cars and all that sort of thing?"
"As long as thar is prejudice, Ah do," was the unexpected answer, "an'
thar's no place fo' the negro in the city. He can't beat the white man,
an' thar's no chance o' his securin' a monopoly o' any trade. Thar's
nothin' fo' him in the city savin' jes' labor an' bein' a servant, a
porter, or somethin' o' that kind."
"You don't see many negro laborers in Northern cities," the boy
remarked, "they're mostly elevator runners and in positions of that
"It is in the No'th that trouble lies," the old man said, "the South has
"How do you make that out?" cried the boy. "You say the South has
settled the race question? I thought it was the biggest issue there was,
down here and in the Gulf States."
The old negro preacher shook his head.
"Farmin' an' cotton raisin' has settled it. Did yo' know that mo' than
two-fifths, or nearly half the cotton raised in the United States was
grown by negroes ownin' their own land? An' the cotton crop of
America's one of her biggest sources o' wealth. Those that don' own the
land lease it on a share basis known as the metayer system, but more'n
more o' them are owners every year."
"I hadn't really thought of the negroes as owning land at all," said
"A stretch o' land three times as big as the British Isles, or equal to
the New England States is owned by the colored race," was the reply,
"makin' in the United States a negro country larger than plenty o'
"And is that land worth much?"
"Oveh half a billion dollahs, sah, Ah was told at the last census, an'
it's worth a lot mo' now."
"But," said Hamilton, "the negro doesn't seem able to make use of it.
Even if he does own the land and is making money, he still goes on
living in a shiftless way. One would hardly believe the kind of shacks
I've seen in the last couple of days."
"Ah'm ashamed to say you're right, sah," the old negro answered, "Ah
reckon one-third of all the negroes in the South still live in
one-roomed cabins, cookin', eatin', and sleepin' in the same room, men,
women, an' children all together. But they're improvin' right along."
"They ought," said the boy, "if they're working on cotton, because, I've
been told, that is always a cash crop. But why does every one leave the
cotton crop to the negro. It isn't a hard crop to raise, is it?"
"Thar's no one else c'n do it but the negro, sah," the preacher
answered. "It's the hardes' kin' of work, an' it has to be done in
summer, an' thar's no shade in a cotton fiel'. Right from the sowin'
until the las' boll is picked, cotton needs tendin', an' yo' don' have
much cool weather down hyar."
"You sow cotton something like corn, don't you?" asked the boy, who had
never seen a cotton plantation and wanted to know something about it.
"Yas, sah, jes' about the same way, only it has to be hilled higher an'
hoed more'n corn. An' weeds jes' spring up in the cotton fiel's oveh
night. The pickin', too, is jes' killin' work. Yo' see a cotton plant
doesn' grow mo'n about fo' feet high an' thar's always a lot of it
that's shorter. The bolls hang low, sometimes, an' yo've got to go
pickin', pickin', stoopin' halfway oveh an' the hot sun beatin' down on
yo' neck an' back. Since the war the planters have tried all sorts o'
labor, but thar's no white man that c'n pick cotton, they get blindin'
headaches an' fall sick. I reckon their skulls are too thin or maybe
it's jes' because they're not black, seem' that it's harder fo' a
mulatto th'n a full-blood negro."
[Illustration: "'WAY DOWN YONDER IN DE COTTON FIEL'." Typical picking
scene. Working under a blazing sun and a haze of heat, without any shade
in sight. (_Brown Bros._)]
"You would make all the negroes cotton planters?"
"Ah'd have all the cotton crop in the hands o' the negroes, sah," the
old man answered, "an' the trade schools would provide fo' all the
workers in towns in the cotton district, an' in solid negro towns thar'd
be room fo' all the colored doctors an' lawyers an' preachers."
"I see your idea," said Hamilton. "You would just make the cotton
section solid negro. Would you try and be independent of the whites?"
"No, sah," the other answered decidedly. "It's jes' those No'thern
niggehs that are talkin' that way all the time. Thar's a lot o' talk up
No'th, but down hyar an' furtheh South, whar the mos' o' the colored
people are, they're willin' enough to be let alone. Thar's a lot o' talk
about a race war, an' it might come some time, but not likely fo' a good
many hundred years, an' somethin will come up to settle it befo' then.
But Ah'm reckoning sah, that yo'll be wantin' to make war unless Ah let
yo' go to bed. Thar's a bell, sah, if yo' want anythin'."
"I wonder," said Hamilton half aloud, as the door closed behind his
host, "if that isn't a whole lot more likely to be true than the
alarmist stories you read in magazines."
The following morning, after Hamilton had almost finished covering one
side of the street in collecting the census statistics, he heard the
trot of horses' hoofs, and looking up, saw a tall, stern-visaged
soldierly-looking gentleman, with iron-gray hair, riding a powerful
iron-gray horse. Beside him rode a young fellow, evidently his son. Both
reined up when they saw Hamilton. Seeing that he was expected to
introduce himself, he stepped forward.
"My name is Hamilton Noble," he said; "I'm the census enumerator for
this district. I presume you are Colonel Egerius?"
"Yes, Mr. Noble," the old Confederate leader replied. "Ephraim sent me
word that you were here, and I received a letter a week ago from the
supervisor, whom I have known for some time, telling me that you were a
friend of his. I wanted to bid you welcome, sir, and to express the hope
that we shall have the pleasure of seeing you at dinner with us
"I shall enjoy coming, Colonel Egerius," he said. "At what hour?"
"Six-thirty," the Colonel replied, "we keep early hours in the country.
By the way," he added, "have you heard anything of this peonage business
here this morning?"
"No, sir," the boy answered, "I started out with my schedules bright and
"I purpose to hold an inquiry after lunch," the planter continued. "You
are lunching at Ephraim's of course?"
"Yes, Colonel Egerius," the boy answered.
"Very well," was the reply, "we will lunch together if you have no
objection. Since I heard of your expected arrival I have been looking
forward to your visit. Now that you are here, sir, we must make the most
of you. Allow me to present my son Percy."
Hamilton made a suitable reply, and consulting his watch found that it
was almost lunch time.
"I will join you in half an hour, Colonel Egerius," he said, "and shall
look forward to the evening with great pleasure."
"You play a good knife and fork, I trust," said the old gentleman,
smiling, as he gathered up the reins.
"Almost good enough to do justice even to Southern hospitality,"
answered Hamilton with a smile. The old soldier nodded approvingly.
"Remember now," he said, as he rode away, "we'll hold you to your word."
At lunch Hamilton took occasion to remark on the well-being of
"I was surprised," he said, "to find a village so well managed and
looked after, and all by negroes."
"There's nothing surprising in that," the Colonel answered. "How could
they do anything different? I have shown them every step they were to
take; all that they had to do was to continue."
"You mean they couldn't have done it by themselves?"
"The negro never has done anything by himself," the old Confederate
replied. "He has lived as far back as time goes in one of the most
fertile and well-watered countries of the world,--Africa--and he never
had enough initiative to rise out of tribal conditions."
"But he seems to be doing all right now," suggested Hamilton. "I hear
the negro is getting to own quite a share of the cotton crop."
"He has not done so well as appearances would show," the soldier
replied; "he has learned a few--only a few--of the tricks of modern
civilization, and those only outwardly. The few cases of leadership such
as that of Booker T. Washington, for instance, are due to the white
strain, not the negro."
"I thought Booker T. Washington was a pure negro!" exclaimed Hamilton.
"He is not," was the emphatic reply. "In his own writings he states that
his father was a white man. His mother was a negress. He gets his brains
from his father and his color from his mother."
"Do you think that the negroes will ever marry enough with the white to
become all white?"
"Not now," the Southerner answered. "It is a crime in many States and
punishable with imprisonment."
"Then what's going to be done?"
"I'm unreconstructed yet," the old Colonel said grimly. "I think still
the negroes were better off as slaves. They're always going to be
slaves, anyway, whether in name or not. And as for their relation to
the cotton crop. You say they are succeeding in it. Perhaps. But did
they learn the uses of cotton, did they develop machinery to clean and
spin it, or devices for weaving? Was it negroes who worked out the best
means of cultivating the cotton or experimented on the nature of the
most fertile soils? Not a bit of it. They simply grow cotton the way the
white folks showed them."
"But they seem to be getting a big share of it!"
"I see you've been talking to Ephraim. What good would it do the negroes
if they owned every foot of the cotton land? They would still have to
depend on the man that buys the crop, and the cotton exchange wouldn't
be run for the benefit of the negro. In slavery days, too, there was
some one to take an interest in the negro and help him. Now he's got to
do it for himself, and he can't do anything but go on in the same old
"You think it was better in the old days?"
"In some ways for the negro, yes. But it was harder for the people of
the South. There was always trouble of some kind in the slave quarters.
Before the war you had to support all the old, the sick, the children,
and the poor workers. Under present conditions you hire just whom you
want. The cost is about even, and the responsibility is less. Now," he
added, lunch being over, "if you've finished we'll go and see what this
peonage business is. Ephraim," he called, "is that man here?"
"Yas, sah," answered the old negro. "He's hyar."
"Bring him in, then."
In a minute or two the old darky returned, bringing with him a gaunt,
emaciated negro, who cringed as he entered the room. He was followed by
a brisk, young mulatto.
"If yo' please, Massa," said the old preacher, dropping unconsciously
into the familiar form of address, "this is Peter, young Peter's
"I've seen him before," the Colonel said abruptly "Peter, were you on
"What's the matter with him, Ephraim?" queried the old soldier. "He
looks to me as though he hadn't had enough to eat."
"It isn't only that, Massa," said the negro, "he's been whipped 'most to
"Whipped!" cried Hamilton, startled. Then, remembering suddenly that
the matter was not his concern, he flushed and turned to the Colonel.
"I beg your pardon, sir," he said, "I forgot."
The old soldier, who had been a stern disciplinarian in his time, had
drawn himself up indignantly at the boy's interruption, but his
immediate apology caused the old gentleman to see that it was just a
flash of boyish indignation, so he merely turned and said:
"Let him tell his story."
"Ah was born hyar durin' the war," the negro began. "Ah c'n jes'
remember Missis, an' Ah've often heard mah mother cry when we was livin'
in Atlanta an' trouble come, 'If only Ah could go to Missis.'"
"Get to your story, boy," said the Colonel, "I haven't time to waste."
"Ah was brought up in Atlanta, Georgia, an' times was always hard. Six
years ago Ah hired out to a lumber man in Florida. Thar were sixty of us
hired together. The pay was good. The day we come, we were put into a
group o' huts with a stockade 'roun', an' men with rifles guarded us
night an' day. Ah reckon thirty men was shot tryin' to escape durin' the
years I was thar."
"Yas, sah, leastways I know of five, an' heard o' the rest."
"Talk about what you know, not what you've heard," admonished the old
soldier. "Go on."
"It was killin' work. We had to be in the woods by daylight an' stay
thar until it was too dark to see. Thar was trouble enough at first but
the worst come later. About three years ago a lot mo' huts was put up
an' the stockade was made bigger. We thought things would be easier as
the new men would get all the knockin' about. Nex' week the new crowd
came,--they were convic's hired for the job."
"Excuse my interrupting, Colonel Egerius," asked the lad, "but can that
be true? Does any State hire out its convicts to forced labor?"
"Some do," was the reply, "and Florida is one of them. Go on, boy."
"Floggin's started in when the convicts come, an' thar was no difference
made between us an' them. We were supposed to be paid, but our pay was
always in tickets to the comp'ny store, an' they charged double prices
for everythin'. They never gave us a cent o' money. A lot of us got
together an' decided to escape, but when it come to doin' it, only
three would go. One got away entirely, one was shot, an' Ah was caught.
They took me to the stockade an' whipped me 'mos' to death, three days
runnin'. The third day Ah was so near dead that they didn't tie me up,
an' when, hours later, Ah did stagger to mah feet, they jes' pointed to
the fields whar the hands was workin'. Ah heard one o' the guards say,
'He won't go far,' an' Ah hid in the woods, Ah don' know how long, jes'
livin' on berries, an' at las' Ah got away. Ah knew Ah would be safe in
The Colonel looked at the man closely.
"I believe you've been a bad nigger," he said, "and I wouldn't believe
any more of your story than I had to. But it's easy enough to see that
you have been abused, and that you need help right now. I'll give you a
chance. Peter, your father is staying with you?"
"Ephraim," the Colonel said, turning to the old preacher, "put this man
on the payroll as a field hand, beginning from to-morrow, but don't send
him to the field for a couple of weeks. Behave yourself," he added,
turning to the peonage victim, "and you'll be all right here."
The negro thanked him profusely, and went out, his wretched frame
showing up miserably in the strong sunlight as he passed by the window
of the dining room.
"But that's worse than any slavery I ever heard of," burst out Hamilton
"Peonage?" answered the old veteran. "Oh, yes, much worse."
"And it still goes on?"
"There were several hundred stockades in operation last year," was the
reply, "and that's a fair sample of their work."
[Illustration: HOW MOST OF THE NEGROES LIVE. Type of shack usually seen
in Southern States, though the owners are not always in poor
HOBOES ON THE TRAMP
Although he realized that his lines had fallen in pleasant places for
the enumeration work, it was not without a certain sense of satisfaction
that Hamilton entered up what was marked on the map as the last house,
and started for the supervisor's office. He was a day ahead of time, and
was congratulating himself on his success in having covered the entire
district in the appointed time. In order to make his record as good as
possible the lad thought he would get an early start and be in the
supervisor's office before noon, thus emphasizing his punctuality.
Accordingly it was but a little after seven o'clock when he was in the
saddle and on the road.
Knowing from experience that the highway made quite a circuit to reach a
little group of three houses, which he had already enumerated, Hamilton
struck out across country, using a little footpath through some woods.
At that early hour of the morning he was not expecting to meet any one,
and it was a great surprise to him when he heard voices. A moment later
he reached a small clump of trees, and came right upon three men, one
with a tea-pot in his hand, standing up and leaning a little forward as
though ready to show aggressiveness to any intruder, the other two on
the ground, one sitting, and one lying half asleep on some boughs
carelessly thrown down. As Hamilton was still in his enumeration
district and felt that here were some people who might not have been
registered, he pulled up.
"'Morning, boys!" he said ingratiatingly.
"Howdy!" the impromptu cook replied, and waited for the boy to go on.
"I'm the census-taker for this district," the boy continued, "and I knew
this was a short cut across the fields; but I didn't know I should find
"Inform the gentleman, Bill," spoke the traveler who was lying down,
"that we were equally unaware of the unexpected pleasure of this meeting
but that we would have been better prepared to meet him had he sent a
courier to announce his coming."
"You heard him," the first speaker supplemented jerking his thumb over
"I heard him all right," answered Hamilton, dropping immediately into
the spirit of the thing, "but tell him that I was unaware that he had
left his town residence for this convenient and airy country house."
"As I live, an intelligent reply!" was the response in tones of
surprise, and the speaker sat up on his rough couch.
To Hamilton the situation was a little difficult. There would be no
trouble in merely exchanging a few greetings and then passing along on
his journey, but the boy was above all things conscientious, and he
could not forget that these men were probably not entered upon the books
of the census, and that now, on the very last day of census-taking, they
were in his district. And he knew well enough, that if he broached the
question it would not be favorably received. However he thought he saw a
"If you have a pannikin of tea to spare," he said, "I'd enjoy it."
"If you like to put up with what we've got, join us an' welcome," the
tall tramp said.
"All right," Hamilton answered, "I will."
"Permit me to do the honours!" said the second tramp. "This is 'Hatchet'
Ben Barclay, the gentleman sitting down is 'Jolly' Joe Smith--not
because of his humor but because of his powers of persuasion, and I am
Harry Downe, very much at your service."
"Better known as the 'Windy Duke,'" interjected the tea-maker, who had
by this time returned to his task of preparing breakfast, and was busy
frying slices of ham on a piece of stick over the hot wood coals.
"I'm Hamilton Noble," the boy answered in return, "and I've just got
through taking the census for this district. I've got all the names in
here," he added, tapping his portfolio, "and now I'm going to the
supervisor's office to turn in my reports."
"I am afraid your census will be incomplete," said 'Windy,' "for, so far
as I am aware, the rolls of the United States will be lacking the names
and distinction of this gallant little company."
"Haven't you been listed?" asked Hamilton, glad that the subject should
have seemed to come up in so natural a way and mentally congratulating
himself on the success of his device to secure the friendship of the
"Nary a list," said 'Hatchet Ben,' "the rustlers of the Ringling Circus
told us that they had been enumerated four times, once for every week
they played, an' that not a blessed one of the census men would believe
they had been taken before; but they cut us out entire."
"Well, I guess I had better take you right now," said Hamilton. "I've
room on the census sheet for a few more names."
"You can count me out," said 'Hatchet Ben,' "I'm not lookin' for that
kind of fame."
"Don't you think it's fair to the country to let it know who you are?"
"What's the census to me?" the other said defiantly. "I calc'late a
country that doesn't give a fellow a livin' doesn't care much about his
"But you're getting a living, just the same," answered Hamilton, "and
you're an American, anyhow, aren't you?"
"New York State," the tramp replied.
"And you?" asked Hamilton, turning to the orator of the party.
"I'm an Oxford man," answered the 'Windy Duke,' "classical tripos--if
you know what that means."
"I do," answered Hamilton, "but why--" and he stopped.
"You were going to ask me why I prefer to wander afield rather than be
'cribbed and confined' within narrow walls. I am but one of many, an
educated man without any knowledge of how to use his learning. Do you
care for Greek? There are some clever scenes from Aristophanes that I
can give you, or if you have a taste for satire I yield second place to
none in my interpretation of Juvenal. On the pre-Cadmean alphabets I
am--in my humble way--quite an authority. But these magnificent
talents," he added with a self-depreciatory smile, "do not enable me to
run a business as successfully as a Greek fruit peddler or a Russian Jew
vender of old clothes."
"You could teach," suggested Hamilton.
"Only my friends," replied the scholar. "To teach requires pedagogy and
numerous devices for improving the youthful mind. I do not greatly
admire the youthful mind and it bores me. I am informed that I also bore
it. Hence I prefer rather to wander than to teach. I do not claim
originality in this role; there have been 'scholar gypsies' before this.
The phrase sounds better than 'educated hobo,' but the meaning is the
"And you?" queried Hamilton of the third speaker.
"Plain American," the other said simply, "born and raised in Ohio. Not a
Yankee, not a Westerner, not a Southerner,--nothin', jest plain
"Well," suggested Hamilton, "I think you chaps ought to let me put you
down in the schedule here. We need white men in this country badly
enough in all conscience, and we might as well make the strongest
showing we can. Two Americans and an Englishman will help the average
just that much. Part of the 'white man's burden,'" he added with a
"If you put it that way," said 'Hatchet Ben,' "I calc'late after all I'm
elected for one. Anything I can do to put down, even on paper, these
foreigners that live on nothin' and drive a decent man out of a job,
I'll do. I'm down on this jabberin' mob from the south o' Europe bein'
dumped down here by the hundred thousand every year, an' you can take
that straight from me."
"It's a little curious," said Hamilton, noting down the facts as they
came up in conversation, not wanting to work directly upon the schedule
for fear of rebuffs, "that two of you should be Americans and one an
Englishman. Somehow, one always thinks of an American as making good,
not tramping it."
"Nearly all hoboes are Americans," 'Hatchet Ben' explained, "there's a
few English, and a few Swedes. Lots of races in this country you never
meet on the road."
"Trampdom," said 'Windy,' "is a most exclusive circle. For example, you
never saw a Jew hobo, did you?"
"No," Hamilton said. "Never."
"And you're never likely to," 'Hatchet Ben' interjected, "there's no
money in it, not unless it is organized and run on a percentage basis.
There are a few French Canadians, but no real Frenchmen on the road, and
the Dagoes never take to it."
"I wonder why?" Hamilton queried.
"I purpose writing a monograph upon the subject of the nationality of
the Hobo Empire," the 'Windy Duke' broke in, "and therein I shall
enlarge upon my theory that the life of a tramp requires more
independence and more address than any profession I know. I find that
usually those who adopt this unromantic gypsy career are the men who
will not drop to the level of the horde below them and who consequently
take to the life of the road in protest against the usage of an
ill-arranged social state. That, for example, is the condition of my two
"Would you mind my asking what made you take to the road?" said
Hamilton, turning to the first speaker.
"Not at all," 'Hatchet Ben' replied. "It's a very usual story. I'm a
steel worker by trade, an' when I was workin' I was reckoned among the
best in the plant."
"What did you quit it for?" asked Hamilton.
"Slovaks," the man answered. "Every year or two the Pittsburg operators
would get together an' pretty soon gangs of foreigners would start
comin' to the West. They seemed to know where to come, an' started work
the mornin' after they got there, without even seein' the boss."
"But that could hardly be, I should think," said Hamilton; "that would
be importing contract labor and they would be stopped at Ellis Island."
"Not much fear of that," the steel worker answered "the operators keep
men in Europe just trainin' the foreigners what to say. These men come
over in the steerage with the immigrants, advance them, if necessary,
the amount of money to enable them to land, buy their railroad tickets
at this end, an' all the rest of it."
"Dangerous business if they got caught at it!"
"They're paid to take chances," the other replied. "Then, when these
foreigners come, they know nothin' about the scale of wages in America
only that the pay is so much larger than anythin' they can get in their
own country, an' they live even here in so cheap a way that no matter
what wages they receive they can put money aside every week. The boss
doesn't see any use in payin' them at a high rate, when they work just
as well for small, an' down goes the wages."
"But they get a poorer grade of labor that way," objected Hamilton, "I
shouldn't think that would pay."
"They make up for it by increasin' the power of machinery, by givin' a
man less and less to learn and more and more of some simple thing to
"In a way that ought to be good, too," the boy persisted, "for the more
a machine does, the bigger wages the man who runs it gets."
"I'm not a machinist," the tramp replied, "an' even if I were I should
be in competition with the Swedes all along the line. Bein' just a
steel worker, I stood for one reduction in wages because they promised
to give me a better job. But this supposed better job was just bossin' a
gang of these foreigners, an' they got after me because I took every
chance I got to talk 'union' to these men, showin' them how they could
just as easily get more pay than they were bein' given. That didn't suit
the company at all, so I was fired, an' they put me on the black list."
"And you couldn't get any more work there at all?"
"Not there, or at any place in the district. Or, for that matter, in any
place in the United States unless I gave a false name. Steel workin' is
my trade, an' I don't know any other; the men that run that trade in the
United States refuse to let me work at it; very well, then, if the
country won't let me earn my livin' by working for it, it'll have to
give me a livin' without. But I'd go to work to-morrow, if I had the
"Not me," began 'Jolly Joe,' as soon as the tall tramp had finished,
"I'd sooner be a hobo th'n anythin' else I know. In the first place, I'm
not like 'Hatchet Ben,' I don't like work an' I don't do any unless I
have to, an' then besides, there's more exercise for my talents in this
business. If you think it isn't a trick to rustle grub for three hungry
men, just you try it. An' while I've been on the road for nearly six
years, I've never had a dog set on me yet."
"How do you mean?" asked the boy.
"There's always grub on a farm if you know the right way to go about
getting it," was the reply "and there's very few places I ever go away
from without some bread or a hunk of ham or a pie. Lots of chickens get
lost, too, an' you find them wanderin' about in the woods, belongin' to
nobody, an' there's plenty of nests that hens lay astray that the
farmers never could find. If you watch the bees closely, there's nearly
always some swarm that's got away an' made a nest in a dead tree. The
trouble is that most people are too busy to lie still all day an' watch,
an' those that aren't busy don't know."
"But you don't rustle tea that way," said Hamilton, touching the tin
pannikin with his knuckle.
"'Windy' looks after that."
"I am not without some small means," explained the 'Windy Duke,' "but my
income would not permit my living in any sufficiently attractive city
in a manner suitable to my desires. By adopting this vagrant life,
however, I am able to relinquish a part of my very moderate annuity to
my sister, and still retain sufficient to share up with my
fellow-adventurers when times are hard or 'Jolly's' persuasive tongue is
not quite up to the mark."
"But you didn't tell me," said Hamilton, turning to 'Jolly Joe,' "why
you started going on the road. You said you didn't like work, but where
had you tried it?"
"I'll make the story short," was the reply. "I'm a railroad section
hand, an' was lookin' to be made a foreman on a section near New York. I
had a pile of friends among the men just above me, and I believe I would
have worked up pretty rapidly."
"You would be president of the road by now, 'Jolly,'" put in the 'Duke.'
"I'd be goin' up, anyhow," the other replied. "But one day an order came
along from headquarters changin' the make-up of the gangs, an' next week
I found myself the only American on an Italian gang, under an Italian
foreman. All of us were shifted around the same way. The foreman knew a
little English--not much--an' he tried to give me orders in mixed
English an' Italian. I told him I wouldn't do anythin' I wasn't told to
do in straight American, an' when he started in jabberin' and abusin' me
with every bad name he'd heard since he landed, why, I gave him a
hammerin'. So, just as 'Hatchet Ben' here was driven out by Slovaks, it
was a gang of Italians that gave me my throw-down. I tell you America's
all right for everybody but the American He doesn't stand a show."
"That sounds hard for the American working-man," the boy said, "but
there must be a lot of them working somewhere, they're not all tramping
"The back-country farmer is an American nearly every time," 'Hatchet
Ben' replied, "the foreigners don't get so far away from the cities and
towns. I don't know why."
"I think I know the reason of that," volunteered Hamilton. "I heard some
census men talking about it, and one of them had spent a long time in
Italy. He said that while it was true plenty of the peasants worked in
the fields, they usually lived together in villages and went to the
fields in the morning. Then the farms are very small,--our average-sized
farm here would make five or six of them,--and so the village idea
can't be made to work in this country, and the Italians won't stand for
being separated from the nearest neighbor by a mile or two."
"I can quite understand that," the Englishman said thoughtfully; "it
would be far less pleasant living in this care-free fashion of ours if
one were doing it alone."
"It may be rather pleasant," Hamilton admitted slipping back into his
pocket the necessary details for the schedule which he had secured from
the three men while breakfast was being prepared, "but I think a day or
two of it would be enough for me, and I certainly wouldn't like your end
of it, 'Jolly'!"
"Well," the other replied, as Hamilton strolled over to his mare and
lightly swung himself in the saddle, "if I hadn't done some rustlin'
yesterday you would have gone without breakfast this mornin' or at
least, without this kind of breakfast."
"And mighty good it was," the boy replied, "I don't know when I've
enjoyed a meal so much. I'm ever so much obliged, boys. Good-by."
The incident gave Hamilton plenty to think about on the rest of the ride
to town, and he found himself genuinely sorry not to have a chance to
see more of the three. He could not help admitting to himself that
under proper conditions they would be just as fine citizens of the
country as any one could be, and the phrase "Nearly all hoboes are
Americans" kept running in his head.
He reached the supervisor's office just as a young fellow, but little
older than Hamilton himself was stepping out. He noticed Hamilton's
portfolio and said, a little mischievously, the boy thought:
"How many, if I may ask?"
"Twenty-two hundred and six," answered Hamilton, rightly supposing the
question to refer to the number of people he had enumerated.
The other threw up his hands.
"I pass," he said, "you beat me by nearly a hundred," and he laughed and
went on, while Hamilton continued on his way to the supervisor's office.
The boy exchanged greetings with his friend, who said:
"I heard you talking with that young chap who just left, when you were
coming into the office. Do you know him at all?"
"Not in the least," replied Hamilton, and he quoted the brief
"There's quite a story about that case," the supervisor said, settling
himself back in his chair, "and though I'm as busy as an angry hornet
I'll stop just long enough to tell you. When I was picking the
enumerators for the Gullyville district--that's away at the other end of
the section from where you were--I found an unusual number of
applicants. At the examination, however, there were two who stood head
and shoulders above the rest. One was the principal of a village school,
and another was the chap you saw. His name is Wurtzi, and he gave his
occupation as a student and his age as nineteen."
"I didn't think he looked even as old as that," commented Hamilton.
"Yes, he's nineteen. As I was saying, the choice seemed to lie between
these two. Wurtzi's paper was a few points better than the other, indeed
I think it was one of the best tests turned in to me from any center. On
the other hand, the schoolmaster was a graduate of one of the large
colleges, had lived most of his life here and in the mountain districts
of the State, was prominent in church affairs, and knew everybody. That
was why, when I sent the papers to Washington, I recommended him for
appointment instead of the boy, of whom I knew nothing except that his
examination paper was slightly the better of the two."
"Yet the boy got the job!"
"He did," the supervisor answered. "The government rejected my
recommendation, and I got a letter from the Director stating that Wurtzi
should be appointed on his showing rather than the other unless I knew
something against him."
"I suppose that was fairer," Hamilton said thoughtfully, "but I thought
that matters of that kind were left to the discretion of the
"Generally they were, but still there were reversals in a good many
cases," was the reply. "But from everything that I've heard, suggestions
from Washington seem to have had the knack of being just about exactly
the right thing. They certainly were in this case. I sent the lad his
commission at once, of course."
"What did the master have to say?" asked Hamilton.
"I'm coming to that," the supervisor replied. "Two or three days later
he came into my office.
"'I understand Wurtzi has secured the enumerator's job?' he said.
"'Yes,' I answered, 'it was a pretty close thing between you so I sent
the papers to Washington to decide, and the Director ruled that the
other was more satisfactory.' The schoolmaster laughed and sat down.
"'I don't know whether I ought to be angry or pleased,' he said; 'it all
depends on how you look at it whether it can be considered as a
compliment or an affront.'
"I just stared at him.
"'I don't follow you in the least,' I said. He laughed.
"'Of course you didn't know that Wurtzi was one of the boys in my
school,' he replied, 'and more than that, he is the poorest boy in the
school. He lives about three miles out of the village, and the only way
in which he could secure his father's permission to allow him to come to
school was that he should turn over to him the trifling sum we pay for
"Pretty good stuff in the boy to want to learn under those conditions,"
"He wanted to educate himself, and his mother was very ambitious. She is
Polish, evidently of the better class--and, as you know, the Poles are
one of the most intellectual races of the world--and the boy gets his
brains from her. The school-master told me that two years ago the boy
could neither read nor write his own name, and yet, within that time he
had learned to rival his teacher in a fair contest! And during those two
years he had been walking barefoot three miles to school, getting there
by daybreak, making the fire, sweeping the floor, cleaning the windows,
and then settling down to prepare his morning lessons before the opening
"I told Sinclair," the supervisor continued, "that I thought he ought to
be ten times prouder of the success of his pupil than of the merits of
an examination paper, because it took a higher degree of ability to
teach well than merely to answer a set of test questions, and the boy
must have been wonderfully well taught to achieve so much. He agreed
with me, of course, but I could see that it irked him a little just the
same. He volunteered, however, to assist his pupil as much as he could."
"That was very decent of him, I think," Hamilton said, "lots of men
would have borne a grudge. But did you say his name was Sinclair?"
"Yes," the supervisor answered, "Gregory Sinclair. Why?"
"And you said he had been in the mountains?"
"Quite a good deal."
"Then that must be Bill Wilsh's teacher," exclaimed Hamilton, and he
told the supervisor the story of the "cunjer," the whittled schoolhouse
and the "trying" scholar. "I've got the carving still," he concluded,
"and as you probably will see Mr. Sinclair again soon, I wonder if you
would give it to him for me. Don't forget to tell him that the door was
made to appear open, to show him that he was expected back."
"Of course, I shall be glad to give it to him," the supervisor answered,
"and from what I know of Sinclair, I feel sure he will go back, though
probably only in the holidays and for a visit. Where is this carving?"
"At the hotel, sir," the boy answered, "I'll bring it over this
afternoon. I'm sorry not to have had the chance of seeing him myself, he
must be a fine chap."
"He is," the supervisor agreed, "and he showed the stuff he was made of
in connection with this poor lad in his school. I happen to know that he
really put in a lot of time helping Wurtzi in order that he might make
"You said the boy was Polish?"
"Polish, of the stock that's making another country out of the deserted
districts of New England. Land that has been abandoned by the Americans
the Poles are making productive. That's where the real wealth of the
future is coming in--from the people who will work the ground without
exhausting it as reckless landowners formerly have done all through this
country. Many a farm has had its soil so robbed of nourishment that its
fertility will take years and years to return. These European peasants,
however, are so used to making much of a small plot that they are
redeeming the ground. You know, I'm one of those that believe in all the
immigration possible, and I've never forgotten one of Broughton
Brandenburg's sayings about it."
"What was that?" asked the boy.
"That 'it is always the most ignorant immigrant that makes the best
"I certainly don't see that," Hamilton replied.
"He absorbs Americanism more quickly," the other explained. "For
example, there's no class hatred idea to be fought down, no anarchistic
tendencies, no desire to turn liberty into license. The ignorant
immigrant comes to work, he gets a job immediately, he finds that there
is good pay and steady employment for a man who does work. There's not
one in ten thousand of that kind that does not prosper from the day he
lands. But you'll hear all sorts of ideas and suggestions in Washington.
When do you go?"
"I'm leaving to-night, sir," the boy answered. "I thought it might
please the Bureau if I were there a day ahead of time."
"They'll be willing enough," the supervisor answered "I imagine every
added helper is of value now, with all these schedules piling in. I'll
drop a note to the Director to-night, telling him of your work; your
schedules are in good shape, and I think you've done very well to cover
your district in the time. I wish you all sorts of luck, and write to me
once in a while from Washington so that I can hear what you're doing and
how you're getting along."
Hamilton thanked the supervisor heartily, and after a word or two of
farewell returned to the house of a friend where he was to dine before
starting on the night train for Washington. Immediately on reaching
there he went directly to the Census Bureau, sent in his card, and the
Director's secretary, a keen young fellow, came out to see him.
"I think I've heard Mr. Burns speak about you, Mr. Noble," he said,
looking at the card he held in his hand. "The Director is very busy
right now, but he said when you came you were to go down to Mr. Cullern;
I'd take you there myself but I'm needed here."
"Well, there's really no necessity, Mr. Russet," the boy replied, "tell
me where it is and I'll find my way."
But the other beckoned to an attendant.
"Show this gentleman to Mr. Cullern," he said. Then, turning with a
smile to the boy, he said, "You'll be all right, I guess."
Hamilton thanked him, and the secretary hurried back through the
swinging half length door to the inner office. Following the messenger,
Hamilton found himself on the main floor with hundreds of machines
clicking on every side of him. The chief of the floor looked at the
card, turned it over, read what had been penciled on the back, and said
"I think I'll start you on one of the punching machines."
"Very well, sir," the boy answered, "I want to learn everything I can."
"I have a vacant machine," the other continued, "one of the men is away
on sick leave. If you want to begin right away you can start this
afternoon. Here," he said, picking up a pamphlet from a pile which lay
on a table near by, "is a list of instructions."
"I'm quite ready to start now," Hamilton declared.
"Your machine is over here, then," his new superior said, leading the
way to a far corner of the room. "You had better try to find out as much
as you can from the instructions, and one of the foremen will be 'round
to tell you more about the working of it a little later."
"All right, sir," the boy replied, sitting down at the machine, "I think
I can get on to it without much trouble."
The keyboard was entirely strange to Hamilton. It looked not unlike that
of a big typewriter, or resembled even more closely a linotype keyboard,
only it was divided off into sections each one of which was brightly
colored, giving the arrangement of the keys quite a gay effect. The
instructions were very clear, and with the machine in front of him the
boy quickly saw its principles. He was so deeply sunk in the book that
he did not notice the coming of the sub-section foreman, who looked down
at the boy for a moment or two with an amused smile. Presently he
coughed, and Hamilton looked up suddenly to see him standing there.
"I beg your pardon," asked the boy, "were you speaking?"
"No," said the newcomer, "but I was going to before long. You seem to be
just eating up that book."
"Mr. Cullern said he thought you would be here before very long," said
Hamilton, rightly guessing that this must be the foreman, "and I thought
the more I knew about it before you came, the better it would be all
"Do you know anything about census work?" was the next question.
"Yes, sir," the boy answered, "I was an assistant special agent on the
manufactures division, and I only left my population district the day
"I thought it likely that you had been doing enumeration work," the
foreman answered, "coming in to-day, just when that end of the work
closes, but I didn't know, of course, you had been doing manufactures. I
wonder why they sent you to this department; I should have supposed that
you would be editing schedules."
"I hope to go on the Census Bureau force permanently," the boy
explained, "and I was anxious to have a chance to learn all the various
parts of the work by doing them myself. Judging from this book, it
doesn't seem hard."
"Let me hear what you know about it."
Hamilton closed the book.
"I think I have it fairly straight," he said. "These first four columns
on the card I have nothing to do with, so far as I can make out; is that
"Yes," the older man replied, "that is looked after in another way. The
district and State and all that sort of thing go in that section, and
that is arranged by what we call a gang-punch."
"I don't know how that works," the boy said, "this list of instructions
to the punching clerk doesn't say anything about it."
"It doesn't need to," his informant answered, "for the simple reason
that the punching clerk has nothing to do with it. But I'll tell you if
you want to know. There are about seventy thousand enumeration districts
in the United States, and all we have to do is to set the gang-punch to
the number of the district."
"But there are not seventy thousand divisions on the card or anything
like it," the boy cried, "all told there are only forty-eight places in
those four columns."
"That works by the permutation of numbers," was the reply. "You can
arrange two numbers in only two ways, but you can arrange three figures
in six ways, four in twenty-four ways, five in one hundred and twenty
ways, six in seven hundred and twenty, seven in over five thousand ways;
ten would give you over three and a half million ways of changing them
around--and you can see for yourself where forty-eight would land you.
The actual address, street, and house number, and everything else we get
by reference to the schedule."
"That's enough!" cried Hamilton. "I can see now. It would take a sheet
of paper a city block long merely to write down the figures."
"If you wrote down end to end all the possible relations that
forty-eight figures could be put into you'd need a lifetime to write
them down. Why, just with an alphabet of twenty-four letters, Leibnitz
the great mathematician, calculated that over six hundred septillions of
easily pronounceable words, none over three syllables long, could be
arranged. We have room enough to arrange any trifling little matter
like seventy or eighty million addresses, although, in truth, the
gang-punch merely provides the district and section of district, and the
schedule would give the rest if we had any need to refer to it."
"I see," said Hamilton, "and I suppose a number is put on the card which
corresponds with every district number on the schedule. Then I come in
on all the rest of the card."
"Yes, every other hole is punched by the clerk."
"But this machine doesn't seem to punch," the boy objected; "I put in a
canceled card just now and tried it, but when I put the key down,
nothing happened, the key just stayed down."
"It's not supposed to punch until the whole card is ready," the other
explained. "You depress into position the various keys you want until
all the records needed for this one card are ready. Then you can glance
over your keyboard, comparing what might be called your map of depressed
keys with the line of the schedule you are copying. If one is wrong, you
can release that one and put down the correct one in its place, the card
being as yet untouched. You see, each field or division of the card
corresponds with a differently colored section of the keyboard, and this
makes it easy to insure accuracy in reading from the schedule."
"But how is the punching done, then?" queried Hamilton.
"You press the bar," the foreman explained, "and that throws in the
motor attached to the punching mechanism, which brings the entire die
and card up against the end of the punches which have been depressed by
the operator, including, of course, the gang-punch, and these perforate
the card. It is then immediately withdrawn, and drops automatically into
either the 'male' or the 'female' compartments of the machine, the
location of the hole tilting the slide that determines on which side the
punched card shall fall."
"So that really the sorting into sexes is done by the one and the same
operation as the punching of the card," the boy remarked; "I see now.
That's a first-class idea."
"It saves a great deal of work," the older man said. "Then, too, with
the same group of motions a new card has been fed from the holder and is
in place for punching. At the same time, the schedule, which is held in
rigid alignment, has been turned just exactly the right amount to bring
the next line in the direct vision of the operator. Thus he never has
to stop and think whether he has done a line or not and never skips a
line because of an error of eyesight."
"I can understand that now," the boy answered "Now let me see whether I
really can do the rest of the card. In what you call the third
column--though it is really the fifth--I punch either 'Hd' for the Head
of the Family, 'Wf' for Wife, 'S' or 'D' for Son or Daughter, and 'Ot'
"Then, further down the same line, 'M' is Male and 'F' is Female. That's
easy enough. In the next section down, but still in the same line is 'W'
for White, 'Mu' for Mulatto, 'B' for Black, 'Ch' for Chinese, 'Jp' for
Japanese, and 'In' for Indian."
"Go ahead," the foreman said, "you're not likely to go wrong as yet."
"The age seems clear, too," said Hamilton, "you punch the five-year
period nearest to the age and then add on. For instance, the way it
looks to me is that if a fellow was sixteen, you would first punch the
'15' and then the '1' in that little cornerwise bit at the bottom of the
next section. But I don't see what the '5' is for."
[Illustration: FACSIMILE OF PUNCHED CENSUS CARD. Example of record made
for every person in the United States, this card being the actual record
of the author.]
"That's for babies in the sixth division of the first year, or from nine
to eleven months old; the first division means under one month, and the
rest either one, two, or three months apiece."
"I see it all now," exclaimed the boy, "you have to punch two holes for
age for every person. For a boy of ten, you would have to punch the '0'
as well as the '10,' I suppose, to make sure he isn't older and the
extra years forgotten."
"That's the reason exactly."
"The meaning of the section next to the age is easy, too," Hamilton
continued. "'S' for Single, 'M' for Married, 'Wd' for Widowed, 'D' for
Divorced, 'Un' for unknown, any one could guess. But this 'Mother
Tongue' business has me going."
"I thought it would," was the reply. "But it's not so hard if you
remember a few things, particularly that the language of a country is
not always spoken by the greatest number of its inhabitants. Now the
mother tongue of Wales is Welsh, but a large proportion of the people do
not speak Welsh. Thus an English-speaking Welshman's card would be
punched 'OL,' meaning Other Language, or the language next in
importance to the mother language of the country."
"On that basis," said Hamilton, "if the second most important language
of Denmark is German a card that was punched 'Den' for the country would
have to be punched 'OL' if the person whose census was registered had
spoken German as his native tongue, but 'LC' if he had spoken Danish,
which is the native tongue of the country. But I should think there
would be some cases that would not come under that rule."
"There are--a few," the foreman replied, "but the way in which those are
to be punched will be noted on the schedule by the schedule editors."
"Some schedules need a good deal of editing, I suppose," exclaimed
"You may be sure of that," the other answered. "If you think for a
moment how impossible it would be to have all the supervisors and
enumerators work exactly in the same style, you can see how necessary it
must be for some group of persons to go over them to make them all
uniform. Besides which, there are a lot of obvious mistakes that the
editors remedy before the card is punched ready for tabulation. But go
on with your explanation, so that I can see if you really do understand
"The parent columns run the same way, of course," Hamilton continued,
"'U.S.' meaning any one born in the United States, and 'Un.' cases in
which the parentage is unknown. Then 'NP' means native-born parents, and
'FP' foreign-born parents. Further on, 'Na' means Naturalized, 'Al'
stands for Alien, 'Pa' that first papers have been taken out, and 'Un'
unknown. Down the column, 'En' seems to mean that the foreign-born can
speak English, 'Ot' that he can only speak some tongue other than
English. The year of immigration, of course, is obvious. But this
occupation, I can't make head or tail of!"
"That you have to learn," the instructor said. "There is a printed list
here for reference that contains the principal kinds of employment in
the United States and classifies them. In a very little while you will
find that you can remember the numbers which signify the more common of
these and you will need to refer to the list but seldom. All occupation
returns not contained in the printed list will be classified and punched
later by a special force of clerks. Holes punched for those out of work
and the number of weeks unemployed are all easy. At the top of the last
column, too, 'Emp' means Employer, 'W' Wage Earner, while 'OA' means
working on his or her own account, and 'Un' is for Unemployed."
Back to Full Books