December 26th, 2011

Was John Veeder Plantz a twin?

There's a particularly nicely sourced tree over on rootsweb that does a meticulous job of describing how people appear in various censuses.

Here is John V Plantz's appearances in censuses over the course of his life, up to 1900, and a listing of his appearances in obituaries for his parents back in the Mohawk Valley.

The compiler has not included John V Plantz's appearances in the Colorado Census, nor has the compiler included references to his grave marker in Colorado.

So something is odd, but very often something is odd with census records. It takes a little attention to notice just _how_ odd this is.

(1) The census entry which the tree listed above mentions when John and George are 18 clearly labels two boys as twins: there's a backeting mark and the word "twin" written vertically across the lines.

(2) The boys in question are "George" and "Henry", yet the boys in question are "George H" and "John V" in the previous census.

(3) The 1900 census record has John Veeder giving a July 1842 birth date (compatible with the first two census entries, but nothing in between). In 1900, George is living in the same Iowa county as John.

(4) The twins turned 21 in 1863. The first Union-side draft occurred in 1862, but the first real effort started in 1863. George Henry mustered in and served until the end of the war. John told two rounds of census takers (and probably the rest of his life telling his kids and grandkids) that he was a couple years younger than someone born in 1842 would be. (If you're wondering about the 1890 census, go read the sad, sad tale in wikipedia and then be amazed at how long ago Hollerith was.)

(5) John V appears in the 1910 and 1920 census, giving an age compatible with a July 1842 birth date and living in Colorado. Some of his family came with him, but others stayed in Iowa.

Sidney died young. Sarah and Earl both married but I don't think they had children. Bernard had kids and stayed in the Mohawk Valley. George married late, moved to Audubon, but returned to Mohawk to be buried, as near as I can tell. He didn't have children. The offspring of Bernard and their genealogically oriented membership and the offspring of John Veeder and their genealogically oriented membership appear to have had absolutely nothing to do with each other thereafter. And John Veeder's descendants appear content with what really looks like an inaccurate birth _year_. (Heck, I was until a couple days ago.)

If Bernard has descendants in my age range, they are my fourth cousins. I'm reasonably certain I've identified descendants in my parents generation (3rd cousins once removed) who live not far from where all of this happened in the Mohawk Valley, and quite close to where I spent Christmas at my sister-in-law's house.

If you're researching Adam and Maria's kids and would like to add your opinion, I'd _love_ to hear it. (And if you're tempted to attack my character, just pay some attention to how careful I've been to not come right out and accuse John V. of anything other telling some census takers one thing and other census takers other things.) Census records can be screwed up. I was prepared to believe the moving birth year was just one of those things, until I noticed that there might be another explanation.

Update: John Veeder Plantz was most definitely a twin

I'm pretty sure genealogists dream of finding stuff like this.

Oh, and if you're wondering about how I got hold of the newspaper, it can be found

Along with many, many, many other newspapers. These are a well-documented and thoroughly digitized people.

From the 29 Jan 1903 Amsterdam Daily Democrat and Recorder (New York), page 2:

Wedded Sixty-Two Years

Unusual Anniversary the Occasion for a Merry Family Gathering

Mr. and Mrs. Adam Plantz, two venerable residents of the town of Mohawk [and my GGG grandparents], were the victims of a delightful surprise party tendered them Wednesday on the occasion of the sixty-second anniversary of their marriage. Mr. and Mrs. Plantz, who have all these years lived at the Plantz homestead at Albany Bush, had not anticipated that the anniversary would be otherwise observed than with pleasant memories on their own part of the joys which have contributed to their many years of marital existence, and surrounded with the family of their son, Bernard Plantz, where they reside. However, the three children of the aged couple had made other plans and during the day invaded the hospitable home and added much to the prevalent good cheer. They day was passed with reminiscences of the more than three score years which have elapsed since Adam Plantz, as the bridegroom, and Maria Veeder, as the bride, plighted their troth at her home near Fonda, on Jan. 28, 1841. Of course there was a bountiful dinner and other pleasing features which Mr. Plantz, now 83 years of age, and his good wife, who is 85, enjoyed to the full extent, in company, as they, were with their children, grandchildren and other relatives.

The party included two sons, Bernard and Earl Plantz, with their wives, of Albany Bush, the daughter, Mrs. James N. Clark of Amsterdam, together with Mr. Clark; Stewart and Rhoda Plantz, children of Bernard Plantz; Mr. and Mrs. David Plantz of Perth; Giles Plantz and daughter, Lottie, of Perth; Mrs. and Mrs. John Putnam and Mrs. William Powell of Johnstown; Mr. and Mrs. George Joslin of Perth. Despite their many years Mr. and Mrs. Plantz are in the enjoyment of robust health and unimpaired faculties. Their oldest children, twin sons, John and George, reside at Exira, Audobon [sic] county, Iowa.

[I know all the names until the David Plantzes and they I don't know any of them until the twins are mentioned. I was actually _looking_ for Stewart's son Bernard when I stumbled across this. Happy, happy, happy stumble. It's like finding an answer key and discovering you did it all correctly. Also, a super cool little story.]