Title Page
 List of Tables
 List of Figures
 Theoretical perspectives and review...
 Research design and methodolog...
 Historical perspectives
 The population of Walton County,...
 The structure of families and the...
 Family and household characteristics...
 Biographical sketch

Title: Household and family in the postbellum South: Walton County, Florida, 1870-1885 /
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00098119/00001
 Material Information
Title: Household and family in the postbellum South: Walton County, Florida, 1870-1885 /
Physical Description: xx, 239 leaves : ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Finlay, Barbara
Publication Date: 1976
Copyright Date: 1976
Subject: African American families -- Florida -- Walton County   ( lcsh )
Social life and customs -- United States -- 19th century   ( lcsh )
Social life and customs -- Walton County, Fla   ( lcsh )
Sociology thesis Ph. D   ( lcsh )
Dissertations, Academic -- Sociology -- UF   ( lcsh )
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Thesis: Thesis--University of Florida.
Bibliography: Bibliography: leaves 229-237.
General Note: Typescript.
General Note: Vita.
Statement of Responsibility: by Barbara Finlay Agresti.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00098119
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: alephbibnum - 000178944
oclc - 03142463
notis - AAU5458


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Table of Contents
    Title Page
        Page i
        Page i-a
        Page ii
        Page iii
        Page iv
        Page v
        Page vi
        Page vii
        Page viii
        Page ix
        Page x
        Page xi
        Page xii
    List of Tables
        Page xiii
        Page xiv
        Page xv
        Page xvi
    List of Figures
        Page xvii
        Page xviii
        Page xix
        Page xx
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
    Theoretical perspectives and review of literature
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
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        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
    Research design and methodology
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
    Historical perspectives
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
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        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
    The population of Walton County, 1870 and 1885
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
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        Page 112
        Page 113
        Page 114
        Page 115
        Page 116
        Page 117
        Page 118
    The structure of families and the developmental cycle, 1870 and 1885
        Page 119
        Page 120
        Page 121
        Page 122
        Page 123
        Page 124
        Page 125
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        Page 179
        Page 180
        Page 181
        Page 182
        Page 183
        Page 184
        Page 185
    Family and household characteristics and social structure
        Page 186
        Page 187
        Page 188
        Page 189
        Page 190
        Page 191
        Page 192
        Page 193
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        Page 236
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    Biographical sketch
        Page 238
        Page 239
        Page 240
        Page 241
Full Text







Copyright by
Barbara Finlay Agresti

To my parents,
James and Grace Finlay,
the Finlay clan of Fife.


A dissertation is the crowning work of a long and ardu-

ous career of graduate studies. None is ever completed

without a tremendous amount of help in many forms and from

many sources. I would like to take this opportunity to

mention just a few of the more important people to whom I

owe many thanks for their help a.nd support in my career as

a graduate student.

First of all, I would like to thank my chairman, Dr.

Gerald Leslie, for the many hours he spent in reading, editing,

and advising me concerning this and earlier drafts of my dis-

sertation. His standards are high, but I am sure that the

dissertation is much better because of his efforts. It was

Dr. Leslie who introduced me to the topic of family history

in the first place, and his help and encouragement during my

years at the University of Florida have been greatly appre-


To Dr. Joseph Vandiver, I owe a great deal. His in-

sightful and broad understanding of the rural South and its

history have been very valuable in writing this disserta-

tion. His kindness, humor, and ability to cope with the

endless rules and regulations of the graduate school while

remaining warmly human have.made graduate studies in this

department more enjoyable for many students, including my-


We were all saddened last spring by the death of Dr.

T. Lynn Smith, whose absence is keenly felt. Much of my

understanding of life in the rural South came from Dr. Smith,

both from his writings and from the many conversations we

had over the past four years. Although he was quite active

and prolific as a sociologist, he always had time for his

students. His help in pointing me to the right sources of

information for the background for this study and his in-

sightful interpretations of various aspects of Southern

demography and culture were invaluable aids. He was truly

an inspiration to this and many other budding sociologists

over the years, and his influence will continue to be felt

for some time to come.

I would also like to mention my other committee mem-

bers--Dr. Felix Berardo, who has always been a friend as

well as teacher to all students; Dr. S. S. Hill, Jr., whose

friendship and kindness I will always value; and Dr. Gordon

Streib, whose abilities and accomplishments have added depth

to this department. I especially thank Dr. Streib for stay-

ing with this project, even while recovering from major


Another person whose encouragement and faith in me have

been very valuable in my career as a graduate student is

Dr. W. G. Steglich, who served as my advisor and master's

committee chairman at the University of Texas at El Paso.

Without his support and friendship, I might never have come

this far.

To Alan, my husband and friend, and to Ginger and Kerry,

my daughter and son, I owe a great debt of thanks. Their

sacrifices, love, patience, and help in the everyday things

of life made this dissertation a much less formidable task.

To Ginger and Kerry, who have been with me throughout my

entire college and university career, thanks for everything.

You've made it all worthwhile.

I suppose I owe the greatest debt to my parents, to

whom this is dedicated, and my brothers, who have always

inspired me to greater things and whose support has always

been present. There is no way I can ever repay them.

There are probably many more people who should be

thanked, people whose influence contributed to the present

work. All of those mentioned and unmentioned have added

strengths to this dissertation. Any remaining weaknesses

are my own doing.



ACKNOWLEDGMENTS . . . . . . . ... .. . iv

LIST OF TABLES. .. . . . . . . xiii

LIST OF FIGURES . . . . . . . . . .xvii

ABSTRACT. . . . . . . . .. .. .. .. .xviii


I INTRODUCTION . .. . . . . ... .1
Emerging Interest in the Social History
of the Family . . . . . . . 2
Obstacles to the Historical Study of the
Family. . . . . . . . . . 5
General Purposes and Framework of This
Study . . . . . . . . . 6

TURE . . . . ... ...... .. 9
Family and Household Structure. . . . 9
Types of Family Groups . . . . 10
Other Aspects of Household and
Family Structure . . . ... 12
The Developmental Approach. .... . 13
Major Issues Concerning the Preindustrial
American White Family . . . .. 14
Family Structure . . . ... 14
Nonrelatives in the Household. ... .20
Family and Household Size. . . .. .20
Age at Marriage and Life Cycle of
Families . . . . . .. 21
Major Issues Concerning the 19th-Century
Black Family. . . . . . .. . 24
W.E.B. Du Bois . . . . . . 24
E. Franklin Frazier. . . . ... 26
Recent Data on Black Family Structure. 28




II Other Considerations of This Study. . 32

Sources . . . . . . . .. 34
The Samples . . . . . . ... 35
Operational Definitions . . . ... 37
Data Organization . . . . ... 38
Analysis of Data. . . . . . ... 44

Southern Economic and Social Conditions
in the Late 19th Century. . . . ... 46
The Southern Agricultural Population
in the 19th Century. . . . ... 48
Walton County, Florida, in the 19th Cen-
tury. ................ . 51
Transition of Walton County, 1870 to
1885. ... . . . . . . 56

1885 . . . . . . . .. .. . 60
The White Population of Walton County,
1870 . . . . . . . . 60
Race . . . . . . . . 61
Sex. . . . . . . . ... 62
Age. .. . . . . . . . 62
Marital Status . . . . .. 65
Estimated Age at Marriage. ... . 66
Fertility. . . . . . . 67
Mortality. . . . . . ... 68
Occupation and Social Class. ... . 70
Birthplaces of the Population. . 73
Length of Florida Residence. ... . 74
The Black Population of Walton County,
1870. ..... . . . . . 75
Race .. . . . . . . . 76
Sex. . . . . . . . . 77
Age. . . . . . . . 78
Marital Status . . . . ... 80
Estimated Age at Marriage. ... 81



V Fertility. . . . . . ... 82
(cont.) Mortality. ........... . 82
Occupation and Social Class. .. . 83
Birthplaces of the Population. . 86
Length of Florida Residence. . . 88
The White Population of Walton County,
1885. . . . . . . . . . 89
Race . . . . . . ... 90
Sex. . . . . . . . ... 91
Age. . . . . . . . ... 91
Marital Status . . . . .. 95
Estimated Age at Marriage. ... . 96
Fertility. . . . . . ... 97
Occupation and Social Class. ... . 97
Birthplaces of the Population. ... 101
Length of Florida Residence. .. 103
The Black Population of Walton County,
1885. . . . . . . . . ... 104
Race . . . . . . . . 106
Sex. . . . . . . . . 106
Age . . . .. . . . 107
Marital Status . . . . .. 109
Estimated Age at Marriage. ... 110
Fertility. . . . . . .. 111
Occupation and Social Class. .. 112
Birthplaces of the Population. ... 114
Length of Florida Residence. .. 116
Conclusion: The Population of Walton
County, 1870 and 1885 . . . . . 116

MENTAL CYCLE, 1870 AND 1885. . . . .. 119
Structure of White Families, 1870 . .. 120
Young Couples. . . . . . 121
The Childbearing Years . . .. 124
The Childrearing Years . . ... 124
Widowhood. . . . . . . 126
The Children . . . . . . 128
Single Adults. . . . . . 130
Conclusion: The Life Cycle of the
Individual. . . . . . . . 132



VI Structure of White Families, 1885 . .. 134
(cont.) Young Couples. . . . . .. 136
The Childbearing Years . . . 137
The Childrearing Years . . ... 139
Widowhood. . . . . . ... 140
The Children . . . . ... 142
Single Adults . . . . . 144
Conclusion: The Life Cycle and Economic
Crisis. ................. 146
Structure of Black Families, 1870 . 148
Two-parent Families. . . . .. 152
Widowed and Broken Families. .. 153
Other Tests of Black Family Strengths
and Stability. . . . . . 155
Living Arrangements of Children. .. 159
Living Arrangements of the Aged. .. 162
Conclusion: Black Families in 1870 .. 164
Structure of Black Families, 1885 . . 165
Young Couples. . . . . .. 167
The Childbearing Years . . ... 168
The Childrearing Years . . . 169
Widowhood. . . . . . ... 170
The Children . .. . . . 170
Single Adults. . . . . .. 172
Conclusion: Black Family Structure and
the Life Cycle. . . . . . .. 174
Changes in Black Family Structure, 1870-
1885. . . . . . . . . . 177
Household Composition and the Family
Cycle . . . . . . . . . 180
Summary . . . . . . . ... 184

STRUCTURE. . . . . . . . . . 186
Selected Characteristics of Black and
White Households, 1870 and 1885 ... 186
Extended Kin . . . . . . 187
Boarders . . . . . ... 188
Household Size . . . . .. 190
Number of Children . . . . 191
Marital Status of Household Heads. 191



VII Sex of Household Heads . . ... 192
(cont.) Summary of Household Characteristics,
1870 and 1885. . . . . .. 193
Household Characteristics by Rural-Village
Residence . . . . . . . .. 194
Extended Kin ..... . . ... 195
Boarders . . . . . . . 196
Servants . . . . . . . 197
Household Size . . . . .. 198
Number of Children . . . . 198
Structure of Primary Families. 198
Summary: Household Characteristics
by Rural or Village Residence. . 200
Household Characteristics and Social
Class . . . . . . . ... 201
Extended Kin . . . . ... 203
Boarders . . . . . . . 204
Household Size . . . . .. 206
Number of Children . . . .. 207
Marital Status of Household Heads. 210
Sex of Household Heads . . .. 210
Summary: Household Characteristics
and Social Class . . . ... 212

VIII CONCLUSIONS. . . . . . . . ... 214





REFERENCES. . . . . . . . . . . . 229

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH . . . . . . . ... 238


Table Page

1 Racial Composition of White Household Sample,
1870 . . . . . . . . . .. 61

2 Sex Composition of White Sample, 1870 ... . 62

3 Marital Status of Adults in White Sample, 1870,
by Sex . . . . . . . ... .... 66

4 List of Occupations of the White Sample, 1870 71

5 Occupational Class of White Sample, 1870. . 72

6 Birthplaces of the White Sample, 1870 ... . 73'

7 Recency of Migration of Families of Household
Heads, White Sample, 1870 . . . . .. 74

8 Racial Composition of Nonwhite Population of
Walton County, 1870 . . . . . ... 77

9 Sex Composition of Black Population of Walton
County, 1870, by Race of Household Head . . 78

10 Marital Status of Adult Black Population of
Walton County, 1870 . . . . . ... 80

11 List of Occupations of the Black Population of
Walton County, 1870 . . . . . ... 84

12 Occupational Class of the Black Population of
Walton County, 1870 . . . . . . . 85

13 Birthplaces of the Black Population of Walton
County, 1870. . . . . . . . ... 87

14 Recency of Migration of Families of Black House-
hold Heads, Walton County, 1870 . . ... 88

x i i i

LIST OF TABLES (continued)

Table Page

15 Sex Composition of White Samples, 1885. .. 91

16 Marital Status of White Adults in Walton County,
1885, by Residence. . . . . . . ... 95

17 List of Occupations of White Samples, 1885. . 98

18 Occupational Class of Adults in White Samples,
1885. . . . . . . . . ... . 100

19 Birthplaces of the White Samples, 1885. .. 102

20 Recency of Migration of Families of White
Household Heads in Walton County, 1885. .. 103

21 Sex Composition of Black Population in Walton
County, 1885, by Race of Household Head . .. 106

22 Marital Status of Black Adults in Walton County,
1885, by Sex. . . . . . .... . 110

23 List of Occupations of the Black Population of
Walton County, 1885 . . . . . . . 112

24 Occupational Class of the Black Population of
Walton County, 1885 . . . . . ... 114

25 Birthplaces of the Black Population of Walton
County, 1885. . . . . . . . . 115

26 Recency of Migration of Families of Black
Household He.ads, Walton County, 1885 . . .. 116

27 Structure of Families in White Sample, 1870 . 121

28 Living Arrangements of White Children in Walton
County, 1870. . . . . . . . . 129

29 Living Arrangements of White Single Adults in
Walton County, 1870 . . . . . .... 131

LIST OF TABLES (continued)

Table Page

30 Structure of White Families in Walton County
Samples, 1885 . . . . . . . ... 135

31 Living Arrangements of White Children in Walton
County, 1885. .... . . . . . . . 143

32 Living Arrangements of Single White Adults in
Walton County Samples, 1885 . . . ... 146

33 Structure of Black Families in Walton County,
1870. . . . . . . . . ... .. 150

34 Percentage of Adults Not Living in Family Groups,
1870, by Race . . . . . . . . 151

35 Probable Family Structure of Slaves of Walton
and Holmes Counties, 1860 . . . . . 157

36 Sex of Probable Heads of Slave Families in
Walton and Holmes Counties, 1860. ... . 158

37 Living Arrangements of Black Children in Walton
County, 1870. . . . . . .... . . 160

38 Living Arrangements of the Aged, by Sex and Race,
1870 and 1885 . . . . . . . ... 163

39 Structure of Black Families in Walton County,
1885 . . . . . . . . . . 166

40 Living Arrangements of Black Children in Walton
County, 1885. . . . . . . . . 171

41 Living Arrangements of Black Single Adults in
Walton County, 1885 . . . . . ... 173

42 Household Composition by Stage of Family Life
Cycle . . . . . . . . .. . . 181

43 Percentages of Households Containing Relatives
and Boarders, by Race, 1870 and 1885. ... . 188

LIST OF TABLES (continued)

Table Page

44 Characteristics of White Households in 1885,
by Village or Rural Residence . . . ... 196

45 Structure of Primary Families, 1885, by Village
or Rural Residence. . . . . . . .. 199

46 Percentage of Households Containing Extended
Relatives, by Social Class. . . . . .. 204

47 Percentage of Households Containing Boarders,
by Social Class . . . . . . . 205

48 Mean Household Size by Social Class, 1870 and
1885. . . . . . . . . . . 207

49 Mean Number of Children in Household, by Social
Class, 1870 and 1885. . . . . . . 208

50 Percentage of Household Heads Who Were Married,
by Social Class, 1870 and 1885. .. . . 211

51 Percentage of Households with Male Heads, by
Social Class, 1870 and 1885 . . . ... 212


Figure Page

1 Wholesale Price Index, Farm Products, 1870-
1890 ... . . . . . . . . .47

2 Age and Sex Distribution of Walton County
White Sample, 1870 . . . . ... .64

3 Age and Sex Distribution of Walton County
Black Population, 1870 . . . ... .79

4 Age and Sex Distribution of Walton County
White Sample, 1885 . . . . ... .93

5 Age and Sex Distribution of Lake De Funiak
White Population, 1885 . . . ... .94

6 Age and Sex Distribution of Walton County
Black Population, 1885 . . . . . 108


Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate Council
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment
of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy



Barbara Finlay Agresti

August, 1976

Chairman: Dr. Gerald R. Leslie
Major Department: Sociology

This study deals with the family, household, and popu-

lation characteristics of a farming community in the South

during the two decades following'the Civil War. These

decades were a time of rapid and disruptive change in social

and economic conditions in the South. The study represents

an addition to the growing literature on the history of the

American family. For white families, the emphasis is on

description of household and family structure in a hitherto

neglected area--the farming South. For blacks, the data are

used to test some of the controversial ideas of E. Franklin

Frazier and others concerning black family structure in the

postbellum period.

Data from census manuscripts for Walton County, Florida,

for the years ,1870 and 1885 are analyzed. Detailed de-

scriptions of the black and white populations in those years


are presented. Residential family structure is discussed in

detail by stage of the family cycle, for black and white fami-

lies separately. Other analyses include comparisons of house-

hold characteristics by occupational class, rural-village

residence, and over time.

For whites, the data presented add to our knowledge of

the 19th-century rural Southern family. The data show evi-

dence of stem family organization among the rural people.

For blacks, new evidence supporting the "matriarchal thesis"

of Frazier and others is presented, at least for the 1870

population. Important gains had been made, however, by 1885,

when black and white families are seen to have been quite


Some dramatic changes occurred during the 15-year inter-

val studied. For example, the proportion of extended house-

holds, especially of the married sibling type,-increased

sharply. This and other changes are explained in terms of

the social and economic changes occurring in the community

and in the South during the period.

General conclusions of the study point to the adapta-

bility of the family institution and the need to consider

the historical and socioeconomic context in family research.

The importance of the developmental approach is emphasized.

In addition, the results show the importance of using

families, as well as households, as basic units of analysis

in historical studies.




This study deals with the family, household, and com-

munity in a late 19th-century Southern farming area. Its

setting is Walton County, an agricultural county in the

western Florida panhandle, in the years 1870 and 1885. This

study makes a contribution to the history of a county, to

the sociology of the family, and to the history of the

American family as well.

The initial date selected for this study--1870--was

chosen in order to analyze family data drawn from the first

census after the Civil War. The white population of the

South had suffered heavily from war casualties, economic

losses, the loss of capital invested in slaves, and the de-

moralization of unconditional defeat. Only five years had

passed since the end of the hostilities, and the region was

midway in the often bitterly resented Reconstruction period.

Even more important was this period for black Ameri-

cans, seven-eighths of whom were just released from a system

of human bondage. Family patterns instituted in slavery

were undergoing adjustments to a new order of life, one

doubtless filled with many hardships and many hopes.

The second point in time to be analyzed--1885--not only

added 15 years during which adjustment to the new order

could be made, but followed by a decade or more the end of

Reconstruction. While it is impossible to separate the

adaptive processes from the social-psychological effects

of the end of Reconstruction on the two races, it seems

probable that, for most blacks, the high hopes of the earlier

decade had been scaled down by the realities of the birth of

Jim Crow. The present study hopes to explore some of the

effects of these rapidly changing conditions on a little-

studied region--the farming South.

Emerging Interest in the Social
History of the Family

The social history of the family has become an increas-

ing topic of interest over the past decade, both in Europe

and North America. This growing interest was stimulated by

early studies in France (Gautier and Henry, 1958; Aries,

1962). Soon afterwards, English scholars, led by a group

at Cambridge University, began to publish work in the field

(Wrigley, 1966, presents a long list of such studies).

Finally, American and Canadian students of family history

have begun contributing, especially within the past five or

six years. As a result of this new interest, a new journal,

the Journal of Family History, has just begun publication,

several special issues of scholarly journals have been de-

voted to family or demographic history,I and several articles

have appeared calling for more and better research in the

area. (See, for example, Saveth, 1969; Hareven, 1974;

Berkner, 1973a.)

There are at least two reasons for the new interest in

the history of the family. First, historians, who have tra-

ditionally emphasized the role of outstanding people and

events, have become aware of gaps in their knowledge and

understanding of past events and social conditions which

affected the bulk of the population. Their new interest in

"the common man" has stimulated interest in basic institu-

tions, such as religion and the family, that closely touch

and shape the lives of the major portion of the population.

(For examples of this new historical interest, see Thernstrom,

1Journal of Interdisciplinary History 2, 1971; Journal
of Marriage and the Family 35(3), 1973; Daedalus 97 (Spring),
1968; Journal of Social History 5(1), 1971.

1964; Hareven, 1971; Powell, 1963; Demos, 1968, 1970;

Lockridge, 1970).

The second reason is the renewed interest of sociolo-

gists in social change, which has challenged stereotyped

conceptions of what family life was like a half-century or

more ago. Goode issued the challenge in 1963, with the

following portrait of what he called "the classical family

of Western nostalgia."

It is a pretty picture of life down on grandma's
farm. There are lots of happy children, and many
kinfolk live together in a large rambling house.
Everyone works hard . . The family has many
functions; it is the source of economic stability
and religious, educational, and vocational train-
ing. Father is stern and reserved, and has the
final decision in all important matters. . All
boys and girls marry, and marry young . . After
marriage, the couple lives harmoniously, either
near the boy's parents or with them, for the couple
is slated to inherit the farm. No one divorces.
(Goode, 1970:6)

Goode went on to emphasize that there is a paucity

of historical data on the family and that more adequate

data are needed.

Theorizing about family changes over time is
easier, of course, if we enjoy a firm body of data
about the past, and in particular if we know how
the family pattern operated at some specific point
in time: drawing a curve between only two points
in time is dangerous, but not so unwise as drawing
a curve from the present to an unknown and pos-
sibly legendary past. (Goode, 1970:xi, xii)


Heeding Goode's admonition, a variety of sociologists has

begun to provide empirical studies of various aspects of

family life in the past. (Furstenberg, 1966, Farber, 1972,

Demos, 1970, Lantz et al., 1968, are a few. See also the

collection by Gordon, 1973.)

Obstacles to the Historical
Study of the Family

Sociologists and historians have been hampered in

studying family history by the lack of adequate sources of

data. Family life is generally so taken-for-granted that

few people have bothered to write about it. The accounts

that do exist, largely from moralists and philosophers,

generally fail to distinguish between real and ideal be-

havior, and they focus on the patterns of elite groups with-

out any indication of the relevance of those patterns to the

bulk of the population. Lower-class people, often being

illiterate, did not leave memoirs, diaries, or other written


Given these limitations, the scholars who are develop-

ing the new family history have been ingenious in discovering

new sources of data, basically demographic in character.

These include parish records of the important life events

of baptisms, marriages, and deaths. Wills, court records,

land deeds, property inventories and even physical arti-

facts have also been used. For studies of 19th-century

America, the manuscript census has been a valuable source.

Regardless of the specific sources used, the techniques of

analysis applied have generally been quantitative and


General Purposes and Framework of This Study

Several studies have been published recently of colonial

family patterns in the Northeast (Demos, 1970; Greven, 1970;

Lock.ridge, 1966; Smith, 1973a, 1973b; Norton, 1971;

Wells, 1971, 1971-1972, 1972). In addition, there are a

few studies of urban family patterns in the 19th century

(Sennett, 1973; Pleck, 1973; Hershberg, 1971). Very little

has been done, however, on 19th-century family patterns

in rural areas or in the South. (But see Modell, 1971, and

Eblen, 1965, for limited demographic studies of frontier


Our knowledge of white family patterns is scattered

and incomplete, but our knowledge of black family patterns

is even more so. For many years after its publication in

1939, Frazier's analysis of the influence of slavery on black

family patterns was accepted widely and almost uncritically.

Recently, the "cliometric" work of Fogel and Engerman (1974)

and the research of Genovese (1974) have called many of

Frazier's conclusions into question. Although four studies

have appeared concerning black families in cities of the 19th

century (Pleck, 1973; Hershberg, 1971; Lammermeier, 1973;

Harris, 1976), almost nothing has been published on rural

black families of the South--especially in the nonplanta-

tion areas.

The present study of both black and white family pat-

terns in a Southern rural county in the decades after the

Civil War should add significantly to our knowledge. Three

general approaches to the data will be used, often simul-

taneously. In the first, descriptive, approach, both white

and black family patterns will be enumerated in detail.

For white families, we will provide data on a little-studied

population in a little-studied time period. For black

families, systematic demographic data may afford some in-

sight into current issues concerning the nature of black

family history.

In the second, analytic, approach, variations in family

and household composition according to certain social-structural


characteristics will be analyzed. The focus will be on the

relationship between family structure and other aspects of

social structure. Then, in a dynamic approach, we will com-

pare family patterns at two points in time, 15 years apart.

The emphasis will be upon changes in family patterns and

household structure, and the relationship between these

and other changes in the community. The three approaches

combined should enable us to understand the family in the

community as both changed over one brief period of time.



Meaningful research proceeds from explicit theoretical

bases and utilizes carefully defined concepts. The first

task of this chapter is to specify major concepts relating

to the nature of the family and to household structure.

Secondly, the basic issues involved in applying these con-

cepts to white and black families of the 19th century will

be drawn from a review of published research in the area.

Family and Household Structure

Kinship refers to a system of norms governing relation-

ships based upon consanguineal and/or affinal ties. In

turn, family structure is a system of norms associated with

kinship statuses. These norms specify which kinship sta-

tuses are recognized and what obligations accrue to particu-

lar statuses vis-a-vis others.

The basic characteristics of the American kinship sys-

tem were described by Parsons (1943). He noted that our


kinship system is similar to those of most modern societies

and has not changed significantly over the past couple of

centuries. Family structure, on the other hand, has changed

considerably. This change has been associated with the

progressive loss of family functions (Ogburn, 1954).

The major components of family structure include rules

of residence, rules of authority, inheritance rules, and

role definitions associated with particular statuses. The

thrust of the present research involves the residential

aspects of family structure, but other aspects may often be

inferred from knowledge of residence patterns. In addition,

we are interested in household composition and the inter-

relationships among all members of households, whether kin

or not.

Types of Family Groups

There are four basic types of resident family groups

of great importance in the present study. These are the

nuclear family, the single-parent family, the stem family,

and the sibling family.

The nuclear family consists of a married couple and

their offspring living in a single household. A married

couple without children is designated a conjugal couple, but

for many purposes conjugal couples and complete nuclear

families will be considered together. The nuclear family

has usually been found to be the most common form of resi-

dent family, even where other family forms are common

(Berkner, 1973b; Laslett, 1973).

The single-parent family consists of one parent, either

mother or father, and at least one natural child. The 'hild"

may be of any age, as long as he or she is unmarried and

living with one parent.

The stem family was first described by Le Play as the

famille souche (Sorokin, 1928:86). In this study, stem

families are those in which two ever-married, directly

lineally related individuals are residing together, with or

without spouses and/or children. The most common example

would be a young couple living with the husband's aged par-

ents. Although the stem family usually refers to a struc-

tural process through which families go, it is used here

to define a type of residence group which is sometimes

associated with that process.

The sibling family is a group of two or more siblings,

at least one of whom is over 18 years of age, who reside

together with no parent or own child present. This kind of

family group might be common if a large proportion of the

population never married or if elderly widows lived with

siblings rather than with their children.

All of these basic residence groups may be further

extended by the presence of other relatives in the house-

hold. In addition, they may be augmented by the presence

of one or more unrelated residents, normally either rent-

paying boarders or servants.

Other Aspects of Household
and Family Structure

In addition to the type of family group within the

household, several other aspects of family or household

structure are of interest. These include the size of house-

holds (the total number of individuals who reside together

as one domestic and economic unit) and the size of families

(both the number of children born per marriage and the number

of kin present in the household). The age at which marriage

typically takes place and the proportion of the population

that marries are also important data for the study of family


In addition, the typical life cycle of the family,

from its inception at marriage to the death of the last

spouse, is interesting and important to this study. Finally,

the functions of families and of households will be

determined, insofar as possible, by looking at patterns of

residence and their relation to various aspects of social


The Developmental Approach

The importance of a developmental approach to the study

of families has been well documented (Lansing and Kish,

1957). The concept of a series of stages through which

families pass in their normal development was introduced by

early rural sociologists (Sorokin et al., 1931) and later

popularized by Glick (1947, 1955), who noted important

changes in the typical life cycle of families over the past

century. The concept is important in any study of household

composition, because the composition of the family at any

one time depends upon its stage of development. The stem

family, for example, can be seen as one stage in a much

longer cycle, during much of which the family group is

nuclear (Berkner, 1973b). The need to consider this in

historical studies is echoed by Hareven (1974). A develop-

mental approach will be used for many parts of the analysis

in this study.

Major Issues Concerning the Preindustrial
American White Family

A classic history of the American family was published

in 1917-1919 in three volumes by Arthur W. Calhoun. Other

traditional sources for American family history are those by

Goodsell (1939), Howard (1904), Sirjamaki (1953), and Bardis

(1964),the latter two being summaries of the traditional

literature. All of these works suffer from reliance upon

such imprecise data sources as legal documents, travelers'

accounts, and popular literature. During recent years, the

work of the new social historians, historical demographers,

and sociologists of family history has begun to question some

of the findings and interpretations of these traditional

sources. In this section, some of the major points of dif-

ference between the traditional and more recent interpreta-

tions will be discussed.

Family Structure

The most important questions about the American family

of the.past center around its structure. Traditionally,

historians and sociologists have believed that preindustrial

families had strong extended kinship ties, in contrast to

the more isolated nuclear family of contemporary society.

The view that many households in past centuries contained a

wide variety of kin has been especially common (Bailyn,

1960:17-18; Laslett, 1973).

Recent research on household structure for the colonial

period has shown that, for various communities in various

times, most households were nuclear. Marriage agreements

almost always provided for the establishment of separate

households for the new couples. The parental family house,

in both Andover, Massachusetts, and in Plymouth Colony,

was always left to only one son (Demos, 1970:63; Greven,

1970). Pryor's study of Rhode Island households in 1875

(1972) also found most households to be nuclear in family


There is a problem, however, in identifying certain

forms of family structure by cross-sectional research such

as the studies just cited. One form of family organization

for which this is true is the stem family found in farming

areas in the United States and Europe (Leslie, 1976:223).

In families of this type, one son stays in the parental

household after marriage, while the other siblings move

out at marriage to form new households. The son who stays

in the parental home eventually inherits the parental land

and home, which remain intact. The other sons often receive

parental support in setting up their own households, but

the original parental land is not divided among them.

As Berkner (1973b) has pointed out, even when such an

extended family system is typical, most households at any

one time are nuclear, because nonheirs leave the parental

household to form nuclear households. The parental house-

hold would be considered "extended" only for the period of

time between the marriage of the heir and the death of the

parents. This period may be relatively short when compared

to other stages of the family cycle, especially if marriage

ages are high and life expectancy is low. Berkner points

out the need to look at the developmental stage of the

parental household, as well as whether or not the household

is extended, because the extended family is "merely a phase

through which most families go" (1973b:41).

When studies of rural American families are examined

closely, a clear pattern of stem organization seems to

emerge, although it has not been identified as such by

other authors. Demos notes, for example, that one extended

household type in Plymouth was the residence in some house-

holds of aged grandparents. When parents were aged, or when

one died, it was common for the son who was to inherit the

homestead to reside with the aged couple or widowed parent

and to provide for them until their deaths (1970:75-76).

The same situation was described by Greven for Andover


Often, though, sons who received the parental
homestead as their portion of their father's es-
tates also received part of their parents' houses
and lived in them while their parents were still
alive, thus forming households which effectively
consisted of three generations under a single roof.
A widow nearly always was specifically bequeathed
a room or rooms in her husband's house and provi-
sions to be given to her annually by one or more
of her sons . Generally, of course, married
sons lived separately in houses of their own, but
aged parents usually expected to share a house with
one of their children. Extended households, for the
most part, were the product of old age and the neces-
sities for care and attention which elderly men and
women obviously needed. (Greven, 1970:137-138)

This pattern in Andover became increasingly common as

the original land tracts became subdivided to the point that

impartible inheritances to only one son became the rule.

When land was plentiful, it had been common to settle all

sons on their own property; but later generations found that

their landholdings would not permit further partitioning.

Thus, the number of three-generation households increased

at the same time that landless sons began migrating to

other areas. Family extensions were, in this instance,

related to changes in land-inheritance patterns resulting

from population growth and from full settlement of the


One should keep in mind that new settlements would not

usually have three-generational households, because most

migrants were young. It would normally be 40 or 50 years

before the original settlers of a community were old enough

to have grandchildren in their households, and longer before

land settlement and subdivision increased this pattern. It

would be expected, then, that extended households would in-

crease over time in a relatively new settlement, if indeed

the stem pattern were normative. This seems to have been

the case in Andover (see Greven, 1970:98, 137-138, 220, and

257) and also in rural Michigan in the 19th century (Bieder,

1973). It might also explain the relative lack of extended

families in Bristol, Rhode Island, in 1689, since this was

a relatively new settlement at the time (Demos, 1970:79).

It seems plausible that many early American families

were stem families, especially after the full settlement of

an area. As families moved to the cities, the lack of

landed property to keep within the family probably led to

the breakdown of this system; the urban family's resources

were easily divisible among several siblings, whereas

agricultural land is only divisible a limited number of

times. This interpretation is consistent with the English

pattern. Extended families in rural areas involved aging

parents being supported by sons who were to inherit the

property, while those in urban areas more often involved

young couples being temporarily supported by their parents

(Anderson, 1971).

It should be kept in mind that even when stem family

organization exists, most sons usually set up nuclear house-

holds, and the parental household is nuclear for most of its

existence, so that the proportion of three-generational

households in the population at any time is quite small.

The finding of Pryor (1972) that over 10 percent of the

Rhode Island rural households in 1875 were multigenerational

may be quite significant in view of this fact.

In summary, it is not good practice to attempt to de-

scribe family structure merely from cross-sectional data.

Some attention must be given to the family life cycle. Only

thus can we determine important aspects of family organiza-

tion, such as the means for assuring continuity of family

relations and property across generations. For white fami-

lies in this study, one of the major questions concerning

family structure is just this: Is there evidence of the

stem family among the agricultural population, or are

nuclear families in separate households the norm at every

stage of the life cycle?

Nonrelatives in the Household

Early descriptions of 18th- and 19th-century American

families did not emphasize the presence of nonrelatives with-

in family households. Several recent empirical studies,

however, have reported that many households included non-

relatives (Pryor, 1972; Anderson, 1971; Modell and Hareven,

1973; Demos, 1970; Lockridge, 1966). Some of these unre-

lated persons were household servants, many of whom were

children (Demos, 1970:71; Lockridge, 1966:343n). Still

others were single adults who had no other choice but to

reside with a family as boarders (Demos, 1970). By 1875,

the proportion of Rhode Island households containing non-

relatives of the head was still fairly high--24 percent of

all households (Pryor, 1972:588).

Family and Household Size

Traditional estimates of early American family size

have been high, owing to the unreliability and exaggeration

of such sources as travelers' accounts and literary works.

Calhoun wrote that families of 10 to 12 children were the

norm, and that those with over 20 children were not rare in

colonial days (1917-19:87). These estimates have been al-

tered in view of the findings of recent studies. Most of

these studies have found average completed family sizes of

around seven or eight children in the colonial period

(Demos, 1970:192; Smith, 1973a; Greven, 1970; Wells,

1971:75). This figure decreased somewhat for 19th-century

populations (Wells, 1971:75; Farber, 1972). Still, American

family sizes have been found to have been consistently lar-

ger than European families of similar periods.

Although the number of children born per family was

relatively large, the average number of persons per house-

hold was smaller. Some households contained only young mar-

ried couples, others contained families in the childbearing

stage, while, in still other cases, some or all of the chil-

dren had grown and left the parental home. High infant

mortality rates were another factor in keeping household

sizes low.

In colonial days, household size probably averaged four

to six persons. In 1790, the average household size for.the

United States was 5.7 persons; less than twice the size of

U.S. households in 1950, 3.4 persons (Grabill et al., 1973:


Age at Marriage and Life
Cycle of Families

Most writers about the early American family concluded

that marriages took place at very early ages (Calhoun,


1917:67; Sirjamaki, 1953:40). Often, too, women were be-

lieved to die in childbirth, leaving their widowed husbands

to marry for a second or a third time.

Studies that have utilized quantitative data from

family reconstitution or census analysis have called both

of these assumptions into question. The average age at

marriage in the 17th and 18th centuries in America has con-

sistently been found to have been fairly high, usually around

27 years for men and 22 or 23 years for women (Wells, 1972:

426; Henripin, 1964; Demos, 1970:193; Smith, 1973a:406;

Greven, 1970; Farber, 1972:42). Moreover, a high proportion

of men who married were married only once (Greven, 1970:29;

Wells, 1972:423-424). Even in colonial days, marriages

broken by early death were the exception and not the rule.

Robert Wells brought together data from 18th- and 19th-

century Quaker families with data for recent decades pub-

lished by Glick and Parke (1965) in an article describing

changes in the typical family life cycle over the past two

centuries in the United States (Wells, 1971-1972). The

major changes have been (1) a progressive decrease in the

age of mothers at the birth of their last child and (2) an

increase in life expectancy for both spouses. At the same

time, the median age of women at first marriage has not

really changed substantially. This means that the child-

bearing period was relatively much longer for women of

earlier centuries, and that most marriages of the earliest

group studied (early 19th century) ended by the death of a

spouse before the last of the children left home. It was

Glick who first pointed out that a "new phase" in the family

life cycle had appeared in the 20th century, the "empty

nest" stage (1947). Throughout the 19th century, most fami-

lies never experienced this stage, but went directly from

childrearing into widowhood.

We have now briefly discussed the experiences of white

families in both the accounts of early writers and those of

the new generation of empirically oriented historians. Most

of the studies reported have dealt with colonial populations.

It will be useful to compare their findings with ours to see

if they are supported for a Southern rural community in the

late 19th century. In the chapters on data analysis, an

attempt will be made to discuss each of the topics intro-

duced here.

Major Issues Concerning the 19th-Century
Black Family

There has been a revival of interest in recent years

in the history of the black family in the United States.

This is due not only to the general interest of the past

decade in family history, but also to the renewed interest

in black history and the slavery experience brought about by

the increased awareness of minority groups in the 1960s. For

decades, most sociologists had accepted the interpretations

of the black family of E. Franklin Frazier (1948), but recent

publications (Pleck, 1973; Genovese, 1974; Fogel and Enger-

man, 1974; Gutman, 1973; Harris, 1976) have questioned

some of the conclusions made by Frazier and other early


W.E.B. Du Bois

Although E. Franklin Frazier is usually remembered as

the pioneering student of black family structure and patterns

in the 19th century, most of his major conclusions were

anticipated by about 30 years by William E. Burghardt

Du Bois (1899; 1908). Du Bois, noting the poor condition

of black families in the early 20th century, believed that,

at least, they were much improved over the conditions of

the slavery period. The slave family, according to Du Bois,

had been practically destroyed by the exigencies of the cot-

ton producing system (1908:22, 31).

Du Bois was one of the first to emphasize the division

between the house servant and the field slave. The house

slaves lived close to the families of their masters, learn-

ing from them and often adopting their mores. Among this

group, the monogamous, patriarchal family system developed

as the ideal family type (1908:47).

Another group of field slaves, larger in number, lived

at a distance, both spatially and socially, from white

families. This group became highly demoralized, especially

where masters were of the "absentee" type. They lived in

"quarters," not family cabins; sexual exploitation was

common and there was practically "no family life" and no

moral instruction (1908:passim).

Such family life as there was among these field slaves

was characterized both by the "absence of fathers" and by

lack of ability of fathers to govern or protect their

families. A man could be sold or separated from his family

at any time and his wife could be made the master's or

overseer's concubine. Thus, the father's place in the

authority system was diminished (1908:49).

Du Bois spoke of the "absence of mothers" as character-

istic of slave families. Even though mothers were a more

stable element in the child's world than were fathers, they

were unable to spend much time in child care. Young chil-

dren often were left alone or in the care of other children,

while their mothers had to go to the fields (1908:49).

This situation of demoralization and weak family ties

allegedly carried over into the postslavery era. The two

groups which had formed during slavery--house servants and

field slaves--diverged. The former house slaves continued

to be patriarchal and monogamous, similar to white families.

The others continued to'have unstable marital and family

relationships, although these gradually became more stable

over time (Du Bois, 1908:31).

E. Franklin Frazier

Thirty years after Du Bois published these ideas, E.

Franklin Frazier studied the same problems and came to much

the same conclusions (1930, 1948). Frazier emphasized that

the stability of slave families depended largely on the

characteristics of the particular master. Masters could

force matings, sexually exploit slave women, and separate

families by sales; or they could enforce stable, monogamous

families. Even where the masters were kind and encouraged

stability, the slaves' dependence upon the master's will

prohibited the development of a strong, independent black

family (Frazier, 1930).

Frazier, like Du Bois, emphasized the importance of

the mother in the family. The father was not dominant be-

cause his will was not enforceable over that of the master.

The mother, on the other hand, did play a fairly stable role

in the raising of her children. It was to her that the

children turned for strength and support (1930:236).

Like Du Bois, Frazier also noted the differences be-

tween house servants and field slaves. It was among the

field slaves, especially, that the strong-mother, weak-

father family became widespread. The house servants' fami-

lies were patriarchal and stable (1930:259).

After slavery ended, much of the black population

wandered about for awhile and then settled down into semi-

stable family groups. However, there still were high il-

legitimacy rates, a high proportion of female-headed families,

and high migration rates. The "matriarchal" family, in

which the female was the more stable and dominant parent,

grew as a significant black family type (1948:102-113).

Another group of blacks, mostly composed of former free

blacks, house slaves, and mulattoes, settled down into

stable, monogamous, patriarchal families. Often these "Black

Puritans," as Frazier called them, owned their own homes and

small parcels of land. Some became educated professionals.

This group assumed leadership in the black communities in

the South (1948:190-208).

The worst situation was among those who moved to the

city slums and the migrant lumber camps. Among these groups,

"free sex behavior and spontaneous matings" of short dura-

tion, violence, poverty, ignorance, and "the absence of

family tradition and community controls" were the norm


Recent Data on Black Family Structure

Several books and articles have been published recently

which question in some way the conclusions of Du Bois and

Frazier concerning the 19th-century black family. Three of

the most important are discussed here.

The year 1974 saw the publication of two important

works on slavery, both of which contained many observations

concerning the family life of slaves. The first of these,

and the most controversial, was Time on the Cross by Robert

Fogel and Stanley Engerman (1974). The authors analyzed

data from a large number of plantations and concluded that

Frazier was wrong in his insistence that slave families were

unstable and mother-dominant. These authors emphasized the

strengths of the black family, arguing that owners had much

to gain from seeing that black families stayed together and

were satisfied. They believe that monogamy was the rule

among slaves and that most lived in single-family houses

rather than in quarters. Fogel and Engerman also deny the

degree of sexual exploitation described by Frazier and Du Bois

as well as Frazier's "matriarchal thesis." "For better or

worse," they write, "the dominant role in slave society was

played by men, not women" (1974:142).

Fogel and Engerman's book has been attacked from many

quarters and it seems clear that the book is marred by

methodological and theoretical flaws. The study did have

access to very good data sources, however, and its findings

cannot be completely brushed aside. Perhaps most important

of all, Time on the Cross has done more than any recent

book to reopen debate on some questions concerning slavery,

including some pertaining to slave families, which had

probably been closed for too long.

The second work on slavery published in 1974, which

has been acclaimed by historians, is Eugene Genovese's

Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made. Even though

a few criticisms of Genovese's work have appeared, the gen-

eral consensus of almost all who have read the book is that

it is a "masterpiece" (Elkins, 1975:48). In various parts

of the book, Genovese describes aspects of slave life which

deal with family matters.

Genovese gives much evidence to refute the "myth of

the absent family" among slaves, as presented by Du Bois and

Frazier. He points out that, immediately after emancipa-

tion, there was a rush by many slave couples to have their

unions legalized; and many runaway slave problems had family

motives. In spite of tremendous pressures of a difficult

life situation, the slaves managed to create a family life

of their own. Even before emancipation, many masters took

pride in the maintenance of intact families among their

slaves, because this gave them better social control, en-

couraged responsibility among slave men, and furthered

satisfaction with the slave status. In addition to stable

marriages and nuclear groups, Genovese argues that slaves

reached out to extended kin to provide protection and sup-

port in times of trouble or need (1974:450-458).

Genovese did recognize some problems and some unique

norms of slave families. The sexual code of slaves, for

example, was not as strict as was that of whites, including

more acceptance of divorce and remarriage. Some of the dif-

ferences in these norms gave rise to accusations of "immor-

ality" from the white quarter (1974:461-475).

The place of the father, according to Genovese, was

more important than Frazier and Du Bois recognized. He

argued that the norm was for fathers to have authority over

their wives and children and that this dominance was ac-

cepted by both male and female slaves. Genovese admits

that enough cases of indifferent fathers and strong mothers

occurred to give rise to the "myth" of the matriarchy, but

he argues that the two-parent, father-dominant family was

the ideal (1974:490-494).

Another historian of the black family, Herbert Gutman,

has argued even more strongly for the basic stability of

the black family under slavery and afterwards (1973). For

Gutman, it was the urban experience of discrimination and

poverty which caused the decline of the stability of the

black family and which led to the high incidence of female-

headed families. Stanley Elkins, in reviewing a forthcoming

book by Gutman on black family history (1975), writes that

Gutman's major conclusions point to family continuity over

time, the importance of the black father in the family, and

a "high degree of stability."

It is to these areas of disagreement that the present

analysis of black family structure is directed. More inten-

sive and careful research is needed to deal with questions

of black family types, the stability of black marriages,

the stability of black family ties over time, and the place

of the female within the family. Until more data are avail-

able, the issues will not be resolved.

Other Considerations of This Study

In addition to focusing upon specific issues relating

to 19th-century white and black family structure, a few com-

parisons will be made in an attempt to show the relation of

certain aspects of rural social structure, social class,

and village-rural residence, to specific aspects of family

and household structure--household size, presence of boarders

and extended relatives, and marital status and sex of the

household head. We will explain changes over the 15-year

time period of this study in terms of social and economic

changes in the community.



The first task after having defined the problems to be

studied was to choose an appropriate geographical area from

which to,gather data for the study. An area was needed

which was primarily agricultural and fairly typical of the

"commercial farming" South. It was also necessary to find

an area for which data were available and in good condition

and whose georgraphic boundaries did not change during the

period of the study. It would be helpful, also, if there

were nonquantitative sources, such as histories of the area,

which could be consulted for background material. The main

purpose was to find a clearly defined area, such as a county

or counties, whose population could be studied in depth by

use of data from census manuscripts and other sources which

might be available.

The search for an appropriate area was limited to the

state of Florida, because the data were readily available

and there was a special census for that state in 1885.

After consideration of several areas, the county of Walton

in the Florida panhandle was chosen. Walton County was a

farming area fairly typical of much of the South, and it met

fairly well the needs of the study.


The primary sources of information on households and

individuals were the census manuscripts for the years 1870

and 1885. These were available on microfilm in the P. K.

Yonge Library of Florida History in the library of the Uni-

versity of Florida in Gainesville. The films are copies of

the handwritten enumerations that were prepared by officials

in each county and sent to the census bureau for compilation.

The originals are now in the National Archives, from which

the microfilms are available.

The major source of data was the population schedules,

which contain information on all individuals in every house-

hold enumerated. Also of interest for information about

property and agriculture were the agricultural census

schedules, taken in conjunction with the population censuses.

There was some problem in the fact that the schedules

for 1870 and 1885 differed somewhat. The 1870 schedules did

not contain information on the relationship of the individual

to the head of the household, as did those of 1885. In most

cases, however, the combined knowledge of the ages, surnames,

and birthplaces of the individuals in the household were

enough to establish the relationship with a great deal of

certainty. When no relationship could be established with

reasonable certainty, the individual was classified as a

nonrelative. There were not many cases in which this was a


Other sources of information used include the census

slave schedules of 1860, numerous census publications, ceme-

tery records, and John L. McKinnon's History of Walton

County (1911). A comparison of the validity of the data

from census manuscripts and those from published census

materials showed that the published materials were prone to

error in reporting what was actually in the manuscripts.

The data presented in this study are probably much more re-

liable than are the published figures.

The Samples

The populations to be sampled consisted of long list-

ings of individual names, by households. Since the households

were not numbered in a single sequence and since the records

were on microfilm, the manipulation of the data for sampling

purposes was cumbersome. A simple random sample, under

these conditions, would have been difficult and perhaps not

as good as the sampling method chosen. A systematic sample

was taken of the white households, thus assuring that all

sections of the county were covered. The sample may be con-

sidered equivalent to a simple random sample for statistical

purposes' (Mendenhall et al., 1971:151-152). The sampling

proportions were one-in-four for the white households of

1870 and one-in-five for the white households of 1885.

Since the black population of Walton County was small

and since it was very important to the study, the total

population was included in the study. Data were gathered

for every black household and for every black individual

living in a white household.

In addition to the stratification by race, the 1885

white sample was stratified by residence. In that year, the

households were reported by locally defined place names or

town or village. One village was selected for more in-depth

study, and data were gathered for every white.household within

the village. In some cases, the difference in sampling

proportions had to be taken into account during the analysis

by weighting the village cases differently than the other


Operational Definitions

Before explaining how the data were coded, it is neces-

sary to define some basic terms as they are used in this


Family--two or more people residing together who are

all relatives of primary degree or who are directly related


Primary family--the family of the household head; if

two or more families are present, the one whose status and

property appears to be dominant.

Subfamily--a family group residing with another family

but not lineally related thereto and not including the house-

hold head, but which is part of the kinship group of the

household head.

Secondary family--a family group which is resident with

another family to which it is not related.

Household--the total group of individuals who reside

together as one unit, usually in one physical house; includes

boarders, servants, and extended kin.


Head of household--the person who is primarily respon-

sible for the economic welfare of the household.

Simple nuclear household--a household containing only

one nuclear family and no other household members.

Extended household--a household containing a primary

family plus other non-nuclear kin.

Augmented household--a household containing the primary

family and nonrelated boarders.

Note that if two adult siblings and their nuclear fami-

lies were living together, there would be two family groups,

primary and subfamily. If the same siblings were living

with a parent, however, the lineal tie of both to the parent

would connect them into one primary family. The strict

definition of these concepts was necessary in order to clas-

sify household family structural types.

Data Organization

Data were gathered for each household in the samples

taken. For each individual, two records were prepared, a

household record containing information about the household

and a "person" record. The household record contained some

17 bits of information, as follows:

1. Type of dwelling, whether single family or group


2. Single or plural family groups)

3. Number of head's kin

4. Number of boarders

5. Number of servants

6. Structure of the primary family

7. Number of head's own children

8. Birthplace of head

9. Time since migration to Florida

10. Marital status of head

11. Race of head

12. Sex of head

13. Age of head

14. Age of oldest child of head (in household)

15. Age of youngest child of head (in household)

16. Kinship (relation to head) of non-nuclear members

17. The number of stepchildren of head (if any).

A complete household schedule, including the explanation of

codes used for all of the items, is found in Appendix A.

A few items require more thorough explanation, however.

Family structure refers to the pattern of kinship rela-

tionships within the primary family of the household. The

typology used draws heavily from that developed by Anderson

(1972) with some minor modifications. The categories used

in this typology were as follows: primary individual,

married couple only, complete nuclear family, stem family,

sibling family, and other families. Most of the categories

are self-explanatory,having been discussed in Chapter II,

pages 10-12.

Migration time was estimated from looking at the birth-

places of the parents and children. In many cases there was

not enough information to estimate this, but if some of the

children were born in another state and others in Florida,

a rough estimate of the date of migration could be made by

using the ages of the children. For those born in Florida

or whose older children, age 15 or above, were born in

Florida, it was certain that either these were not migrants

or that they were not recent migrants. Admittedly, this is

a gross estimate of recency of migration, but in the absence

of better data it is believed to be useful.

One of the first problems in coding the data was to

determine the head of the household. While in many cases it

was fairly obvious, it became more difficult in more complex

households. The misclassification of headship has certain

consequences for the analyses, especially if the

misclassifications are not simply random. For example, in

a three-generational family, is the male of the oldest

generation the head, or is the son in the middle generation?

If an older widower in such a household is classified as

the head, should an older widow in a similar situation also

be classified as the head? In this study it is assumed that

the oldest person--male or female--who is given an occupation

which seems to be dominant in the household is the head.

Thus, in a few cases the headship was assigned to a female

who was living with her son and his wife, but only when she

was classified by the census taker as, for example, a

"farmer" or "planter," and her son was a "laborer." Where

the woman was given no occupation, she was not considered

the head of the household if there was an adult male within

the family. Obviously this problem is important when we look

at the proportion of male versus female heads of households.

The assignment of headship is in some ways arbitrary; there

is no one "correct" way to do it. But one must be careful

to avoid coding so as to introduce unknown bias or to prove

one's own pet hypotheses. The main rule to follow is to be

explicit about how the statuses are assigned,so that others

can judge the work as well as understand it, and to be

consistent in the method of assignment. The following rules

of thumb were developed for use in this study.

1. In a nuclear family, the husband is the household


2. In a one-parent family, .the parent of either sex is

the head, if there are no extensions. If a mother and chil-

dren are living with a male relative whose occupation seems

to be the dominant one in the household, he is the head.

3. Where two or more adult males and their families

are residing together, the one whose name appears first in

the manuscript is the head, unless the other's occupation

or kinship status clearly appears to make him dominant.

4. If there are two adult generations present, the

parent is the head, unless he/she is not given an occupation

by the census enumerator.

In general, the judgment of the census taker was relied

upon, since he usually knew most of the people in the dis-

trict. Finally, the coding of headship was a decision of

the author, and all of the relevant factors (age, relation-

ship, occupation) were carefully weighed in making the assign-


Another problem arose at times when the manuscript it-

self seemed wrong or confusing. In every case where a house-

hold record in the manuscripts seemed of questionable validity

or where the errors were not obvious (as in John Smith's sex

being coded as female), the household was not included in

the sample. There were only a few of these households--four

or five in all. Most were cases in which the ages of the

"parents" were impossibly close to the ages of their alleged

"children," or similar types of erroneous records.

The second type of record was the person record which

contained information on each individual in each household

sampled. The information recorded included the name, race,

sex, age, marital status, occupation, birthplace, and father's

and mother's birthplaces. Also included were codes for the

individual's relationship to the'head of the household and

his/her occupational class. For 1870, t.he amount of real

and personal property belonging to the household head was

recorded (this item was not included in the 1885 census).

The complete schedule of codes for the person record may

be found in Appendix B.

Marital status was coded on the basis of the de facto

residential arrangement of the persons in the sample, not

the legal status. Any common-law marriage, under this sys-

tem, was treated as a marriage. Likewise, any woman with

a child, but no husband, was considered to be "widowed," even

though there may have been a few never-married mothers in

this category. There were very few cases in which the

marital status was given by the census taker as "divorced"

or "separated." All of these cases were treated as "widowed"

or "formerly married." It was impossible, from the data

available, to make more precise classifications than these.

Still, it seems legitimate to look at simply the de facto

marital and residential arrangement as an indicator of family

and marital stability.

Analysis of Data

After the data were all coded and punched on machine-

readable cards, they were transferred to magnetic tape

for processing. Most of the analyses done were simple,

because the primary goal of this research is description.

The specific methods of analysis will be presented as we

come to them in the analysis chapters to follow. All com-

puter work was done with the Statistical Package for the

Social Sciences (Nie et al., 1975) and the Statistical

Analysis System (Barr and Goodnight, 1972).



This study focuses upon a Southern American county,

Walton.County in Florida's panhandle, during the decades

immediately following the Civil War. There have been very

few studies that deal with the Southern population during

the 19th century, even though its character has been recog-

nized by historians as unique (see Grantham, 1967). The

South is a very good setting for studies of black 19th-

century families, most of whom were in that region at that

time,and also for the study of rural families in general.

The industrial process had had very little impact upon the

region during the years involved. Finally, the rapid changes

occurring in Southern society during the 1870s and 1880s

provide an opportunity to observe families in the midst of

great changes and stress.

Southern Economic and Social Conditions
in the Late 19th Century

In the decades following the Civil War, the South

experienced rapid, disruptive changes in labor, land tenure,

and economy. At the same time, the entire nation was ex-

periencing a fairly serious economic decline which lasted

throughout the 1870s and 1880s.

With almost yearly declines in farm prices (Figure 1)

came increasing hardship for Southern farmers. Previous

studies have shown that the plantation system of the ante-

bellum period survived and actually expanded during these

decades with the development of sharecroppingg" (Woodward,

1951; Smith, 1953:318). Most of the literature has concen-

trated on the problems of the plantation South, to the

neglect of the approximately half of its land area which

was organized into middle-class, family-sized farms (see

Gray, 1933, and Smith, 1953). One notable exception is

found in the work of Owsley (1949), Plain Folk of the Old

South. This neglected side of Southern culture is the

setting for the present study.








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The Southern Agricultural Population
in the 19th Century

The 19th-century South was almost entirely agricultural

and rural, but there was diversity in the kinds of agricul-

ture practiced (Owsley, 1949:7). The majority of farms

were small, family farms, not plantations (Gray, 1933:481-


In addition to planters, Gray describes two other types

of Southern farmers, both of which are important in this

study. These two groups he called the "poor whites" and

the "commercial farmers." Poor whites resembled pioneer

farmers, living in crude one-room log cabins with few

furnishings. They cultivated small patches of corn or rice,

sweet potatoes, cowpeas, and other garden produce. On their

subsistence farms, the women and children did most of the

farm work, while the men either hunted or were idle. Some-

times these farmers owned a few hogs or other animals; they

almost always had a dog and a rifle. These people were

despised by many more fortunate Southerners as being of an

inferior class, the "clay eaters."

The second class mentioned by Gray was the commercial

farmers, the "yeomen of the South." These were the owners

of family-sized farms, some of whom owned a few slaves.

These people engaged in diversified farming, in contrast

to the planters, who dealt in staple crop production. Their

social standing was quite varied, ranging from very poor to

fairly well-off, slave-owning farmers. Their houses were

usually comfortable; they filled their barns with hay and

forage; and they usually had gardens and orchards. If they

had no slaves, the women worked at making clothing and pre-

serving food (Gray, 1933:489). The relations of these

farmers with their slaves were frequently very friendly and

"almost intimate." Gray characterizes this class as having

"sturdy independence, self-respect," sociability, hospital-

ity, and a democratic spirit (1933:490).

Gray also mentions a class of "free white laborers"

whose living conditions varied with their labor contracts

and the type of agricultural work which they did. After

the war, the black population was often in a similar posi-

tion to these workers, and often in competition for the same


Most of the farmers in the present study were of the

commercial farming type or farm laborers. These are the

people whom Frank Owsley described as the "plain folk of

the Old South."

The plain folk . were usually landowning farmers
and herdsmen, though a small minority were engaged
in other occupations. Their thoughts, traditions,
and legends were rural, for with the exception of
an occasional ancestor who had been brought from
some British city or debtor's prison as an indentured
servant, their families were rooted in the soil. . .
To them the land was, with God's blessings, the direct
source of all the necessities of life. . (Owsley,

They were often from Scotch or Scotch-Irish origins. Some

became large landowners or professionals, but the majority

"remained landowning farmers who belonged neither to the

plantation economy nor to the destitute . poor white

class. They, and not the poor-whites, comprised the bulk

of the Southern population from the Revolution to the Civil

War" (Owsley, 1949:viii).

According to Owsley, these people were a true "folk,"

with a sense of solidarity based on their common origins in

the British Isles. They were characterized by "closely knit

families," strong religious feeling, and self-sufficiency.

These traits, according to Owsley, allowed them to survive

the period of Reconstruction without the disruption that was

felt in other parts of the South.

One more element of the Southern agricultural popula-

tion remains to be discussed. This is, of course, the black

population, most of whom were slave laborers before

emancipation. Their condition depended largely upon the

kind of agricultural system in which they were working and

on the humanity of their owners or overseers. According to

Smith (1953), many of the problems of slavery were, in

fact, the problems of plantation agriculture, which did not

disappear after slavery was ended. In the farming districts,

however, the slaves were in more direct and open contact with

their owners. Typically, the farmer and his slave worked

in the fields together. With such personal, face-to-face

relationships, some of the more dehumanizing aspects of

plantation slavery were avoided. After the end of slavery,

apparently, most black farm workers in the South were either

"farmers," who owned or rented small plots of land and were

similar to white small farmers, or farm laborers, either

working for a share of the crop or for a cash share.

Walton County, Florida, in the 19th Century]

Walton County lies in the western panhandle of Florida,

bordering Alabama on the north and the Gulf of Mexico to

the south. It was first settled by white men in the early

]Most of the information for this section comes from
J. L. McKinnon, History of Walton County (1911).

1820s, when a party of Scottish settlers from North Carolina

came south in search of fertile lands on which to settle.

They found what later became Walton County, an area of forest

and swamp, full of rivers, springs, and lakes.

They were able to make friendly territorial arrangements

with the Euchee Indians who were already there, and the set-

tlement known as Euchee Anna was formed. These early settlers

were followed in the next three decades by others, many of

them friends or relatives of earlier migrants to Florida.

After about a decade of white settlement, the Indians left

to go farther south, complaining that the newer white

settlers were destroying their forests and wildlife.

In 1824, Walton County was officially formed and its

area encompassed what is now Walton, Holmes, Okaloosa, and

Santa Rosa Counties. Later, Santa Rosa and Holmes Counties

were formed; and in 1915, Okaloosa County was formed. At

the time with which the present study deals, Walton County

still included the Okaloosa County area. Almost all of

the settled area of the county, however, was in the south-

east corner of the county, the rest of the county still a

wilderness. This part of the county is within the present

boundaries of Walton County.

In the early years, Walton County was quite isolated,

travel being very difficult. Between 1837 and 1860, roads

were built from Tallahassee to Pensacola through the county

and from the bayfront village of Freeport to Euchee Anna

and on northward into Alabama. As a result, travel and

trade increased sharply, a trip to Pensacola taking only

one week instead of three or four. Most of the trade was

with merchants in Pensacola, and most goods went by way of

sailing vessels out of Freeport. Cargo was mainly the prod-

ducts of the small farms of the county: molasses, corn,

cotton, chickens and eggs, venison, lamb, pork, tallow,

raw hides, and other farm produce.

By 1860, according to the census publications for that

year, there were 2,584 whites and 453 blacks in Walton

County. The black population had been brought in with the

white settlers for slave labor on the farms.

The Walton County antebellum society was typical of

Gray's "commercial farming" type, although in 1860 there

were three farms that could be classified as small plan-

tations. Most of the slaveholders in the county owned

only a few slaves and had small family farms (Smith,

1973). The slaves and their owners worked together

in the fields, with no overseer or drivers to direct

their work. According to Julia Smith (1973), there were few

disciplinary problems in such a situation, and the slaves

had relatively good living conditions. They often ate from

the same kitchen as did their owners, and they attended the

same churches, the slaves sitting in a separate section of

pews or in a special gallery. McKinnon wrote that Walton's

slaves "were all Presbyterians," holding weekly prayer meet-

ings in their own quarters or houses and worshipping in the

Valley Presbyterian Church on Sundays.

According to McKinnon, the slaves of Walton County

typically lived in small cabins behind the "Big House,"

not in communal quarters. In most cases, each slaveowner

had only one slave, and only a few in the slave schedules

for 1860 showed more than 10. The close working arrangement

and the personal relationships between slave families and

their owners led, in some cases, to a kind of "family soli-

darity" among slaves and owners (Smith, 1973).

The census publications for 1870 reported that there

were eight churches in the county: one Baptist, three

Presbyterian, and four Methodist. Judging from the number

of seatings in the buildings, there were more Presbyterians

than Methodists and still fewer Baptists (United States De-

partment of the Interior, 1872b:533). Since a large

proportion of the original population of the county was of

Scotch origin, this is as would be expected. The original

church in the county, and the center of county life for

many, was the Valley Church, first organized in 1828. It

was located near Euchee Anna and the other early settlements,

and it was the site of the first and only cemetery in the

county for many years.

In 1870, Walton County had a total of 276 farms, half

of which were between 20 and 50 acres in size. Another 41

percent of these farms were smaller than 20 acres, with only

five farms having 100 or more acres. The average acreage

per farm was 24.6 (United States Department of the Interior,

1872c:348). The main crops of the Walton County farmers

were Indian corn, oats, molasses, rice, cotton, and some


Walton County's delegates were not secessionists, the

county having been a "Whig county," not unfavorable toward

Lincoln (McKinnon, 1911:269-270). They were among the few

county delegates to refuse to sign the secession articles

in 1861. But secession came anyway, and Walton County sent

her share of young men. Naturally, as the war progressed,

the involvement became more intense, and the former Whigs

became staunch Confederates. McKinnon lists 90 names of

Walton County Confederate soldiers who were killed in the

war (1911:377-378). In the later war years, there were some

minor raids into the county, and there was one final raid

by Union soldiers in which much livestock was killed or

stolen and many of Walton's citizens were kept imprisoned in

Euchee Anna for two days, according to McKinnon (1911:327-

328). These soldiers took many of the former slaves with

them, although it is not known how many. The turmoil and

high feelings of the war seem to have broken the racial accom-

modation which had been fairly stable before the war. Not

long after the war, Walton County experienced its first

lynching, and there were several instances of tension and

resentment mentioned by McKinnon.

Transition of Walton County, 1870 to 1885

Walton County changed greatly after the Civil War.

Before the war, the county was almost totally devoted to

agricultural and livestock interests. Afterwards, however,

rapid development of the county's resources began, and the

economic basis of the county changed. The postbellum county

residents engaged in the timber business, logging, steam and

sawmill building, sail and steamboat building, and trade by

way of the bay and the rivers. For a while after the war,

the efforts to develop resources were very successful; then

the economic depression hit and developments slowed down.

The depression hit farmers the hardest. In 1869, the

276 farms of Walton County had produced an average of $550

worth of goods, while the average value of produce for 1885

farms was $282. During the same interval, the number of

farms increased by 31 percent to 361, while the number of

improved acres increased by only 20 percent from 6,803 in

1870 to 8,152 in 1890. The overall value of farm produce

for the county dropped by 33 percent, from $151,833 in 1869

to $101,780 in 1889. (These figures were calculated from

data given in United States Department of the.Interior,

1872a:720; 1872c:116, 348; and United States House of Repre-

sentatives, 1896:129, 202.)

In the early 1880s the Louisville and Nashville Rail-

road built a branch through Walton County and, according

to McKinnon, its impact on the county was great.

It acted as though it was a great bomb shell
dropped down in the midst of the Valley, crush-
ing, rooting up and driving the old Scotch settlers
in every direction, leaving only enough there for
seed. . It broke up . one of the plainest,
simplest, most social, and truly religious communi-
ties in Walton. (McKinnon, 1911:350)

Apparently the new form of transportation gave many

residents of Walton an opportunity to move which they had

not had before. It also made moves away from one's family

less traumatic, as the way back for visits by railroad was

not so difficult as former modes of travel.

With the railroad came the building of Lake De Funiak,

later known as De Funiak Springs. This village was founded

in the early 1880s and built on a small hill near the new

railroad. It was settled by newcomers, both Southerners

and Northerners. The town was advertised as a tourist

attraction, and had some success-as such.

The racial tensions and antagonisms arising from the

war and Reconstruction seem to have reached a peak in Walton

County in the late 1870s, as whites were more and more upset

by the rule of the "carpetbag government" (McKinnon, 1911:

342). In 1876, however, Governor Drew was elected and the

Reconstruction era in Florida came to an end. McKinnon men-

tions several examples of racial disturbances in the county

which took place during the 1870s, but he seems to recog-

nize a distinction between the "old family Negroes," who

were known to the county and who were fairly stable in family

life,and others who were migrants to the county, often work-

ing in the logging camps and who were disliked even by the

older black population of the county.

It seems likely that a kind of new accommodation had

been reached by 1885, although it was not completely stable.

Since this was the beginning of the real Jim Crow era in the

South, it seems likely that the black population of Walton

County may have been worse off in many ways than it had been

in 1870. However, it is likely that whatever the situation

was in 1885, it may have been fairly stable as compared to

that of 1870. The economic problems of the 1880s had probably

hit the black population very hard, though, since they were

still in many ways dependent on the whites, who now were not

as likely to be protective of their interests and feelings

as they might have been earlier.

We now turn to the analysis of the characteristics of

the population of Walton County as it was in 1870. Perhaps

it was similar to the prewar population, since there had

not been much time for radical changes to occur. The Recon-

struction era in Florida lasted until 1877, and it was not

until the late 1870s that racial tensions and Jim Crowism

developed to a great degree. In 1870, then, the transition

from antebellum to postbellum society was still probably in

its infancy.


1870 AND 1885

Among the most important determinants of the structure

of a community are the characteristics of its population.

By this is meant the composition of the population in terms

of age, sex, marital status, residence, and other demographic

variables, and the nature of its processes of fertility,

migration, and mortality. In this chapter, we will describe

these characteristics of Walton County for the years 1870

and 1885, for whites and blacks separately.

The White Population of Walton County, 1870

In 1870, there were some 2,800 white individuals who

were enumerated in the Walton County census manuscripts.

The sample obtained contained information on 710 individuals

living in 115 white-headed households. The average house-

hold size, then, was 6.2 persons.


Within the white-headed households in the sample, there

were 684 white individuals, 22 blacks, and 4 mulattoes

(Table 1). About 23 percent of all white households in the

1870 sample had at least one nonwhite resident. This is

probably close to the proportion of households which 10

years earlier had at least one slave. For the remainder

of this discussion, the "white sample" refers to only the

white residents of white households. Since all white per-

sons in each household chosen were included in the study,

this means that the white sample is equivalent to a simple

random sample of white persons in the county.

Table 1. Racial Composition of White Household Sample, 1870

Race N Percent

White 684 96.3

Black 22 3.1

Mulatto 4 0.6

Total 710 100.0


The sample of white households contained 328 white

males and 356 white females, for a sex ratio of 92.1 males

per 100 females (Table 2). This fairly low sex ratio, al-

though not extreme, may be partially due to the loss of men

during the recent war. It is rather unusual for a rural and

relatively newly settled area to have a sex ratio very far

below 100.

Table 2. Sex Composition of White Sample, 1870

Sex N Percent

Male 328 48.0

Female 356 52.0

Total 694 100.0


The mean age of the white sample was 22.1 years, al-

though the median was only 17.5 years. The ages of indi-

viduals ranged from birth to 80 years, and the quartiles

were 9 and 30,years. In other words, it was a fairly young

population, with three-fourths of its members being under

30 years of age. Moreover, over 40 percent of the sample

was under 15 years of age.

Males had a slightly wider distribution of ages than

did females. The median age for males was 17.0 years; for

females, 17.7 years. The quartiles were, for males, 15 and

32; for females, 17 and 30.

The cause of the low sex ratio can be hypothesized by

looking at the age and sex distribution of Walton County's

white population in 1870 (Figure 2). First, there appears

to be an imbalance in the numbers of men and women aged

25 to 39 years. This would have been the age group which

had the heaviest losses in the war for men. Walton County's

Confederate dead numbered 90, according to McKinnon's list

(1911:377-379). This might partly explain the low sex ratio

for the county in 1870.

Note also the lower numbers of children in the youngest

two age groups of the diagram. These two bars represent

the children born during the war years and afterward, and a

lower birth rate for those years seems likely. Another pos-

sibility is that the small number of young children is due

to enumeration errors. It seems likely that, in cases where

the enumerator found no one home and got his information



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from a neighbor, infants and very young children might have

been more easily forgotten than older, more visible, chil-

dren. If this happened to any large extent, it could de-

crease the number of children enumerated in these age groups,

thus giving the appearance to lowered fertility for those

years. At this point in time, there is no way to determine

the exact source of the small number of young children in

the census listings.

Marital Status

Of the 402 whites who were 15 years of age or older,

184 (45.8 percent) were single, 186 (46.3 percent) were

married, and 32 (8.0 percent) were separated, divorced,

or widowed (see Table 3). This proportion of married adults

is not unusually low, since the average age at marriage

was high in the 19th century.

Although there were more aged men than women, a rela-

tively low proportion of males were widowed. Widowers

could usually find second wives, because they could marry down

in the age structure. Widows, however, had to look upward

in the age structure for husbands. This severely limited

their chances of remarriage. Thus, there were three times

as many women as men in the widowed category.

Table 3. Marital Status of
by Sex

Adults in White Sample, 1870,.

Marital Male Female Total
Status N Percent N Percent N Percent

Single 90 47.1 94 44.5 184 45.8

Married 93 48.7 93 44.1 186 46.3

Widowed or 8 4.2 24 11.4 32 8.0

Total 191 100.0 211 100.0 402 100.1

Estimated Age at Marriage

Since there were no data available on age at marriage,

the median age at marriage was estimated by means of a

cumulative distribution of the proportion of individuals

of each sex who were ever-married at each age between 15

and 45.1 The resulting estimates should only be considered

as crude indicators of the median age at marriage.

For the white sample, the youngest married males were

19 years old; for females, the corresponding age was 17.

Only 38.6 percent of the male adults aged 15-45 years had

A description of the procedure is found in Appendix C.

been married, and the estimated median age at marriage was

29.0 years. Hence, according to these estimates, the usual

age at marriage for both men and women in this sample was

rather late. For comparison, the median age at marriage

in the United States as a whole in 1890 was 26.1 years for

men and 22 years for women (Glick, 1957:54). It appears

that marriage in Walton County took place at later ages

than in the country as a whole, for whites at least.


Since there were no vital statistics in Walton County

in 1870, the best measure of fertility is the fertility

ratio, or the ratio of children under five years of age to

women in the childbearing years, age 15 to 44, inclusive,

multiplied by 1,000 for better readability. In Walton

County in 1870, the fertility ratio, as calculated from

the sample data, was 505.9, which is somewhat lower than

that for the United States as a whole (about 650) (Broom

and Selznick, 1968:278). The lowered birth rate for the

war years and following may have lowered this ratio, since

it involves those children born between 1865 and 1869, in-

clusive. It is probable that the social upheavals result-

ing from the war and Reconstruction had caused temporary

declines in fertility and marriage rates in Walton County,

both of which are reflected in the measures at which we

have been looking. On the other hand, the possibility of

enumeration errors in the youngest age categories, as men-

tioned earlier, still remains.


Unfortunately, the only records available of mortality

in Walton County during this period are those inscribed upon

burial markers and stones in the Valley Church cemetery.

There are problems, of course, with the representativeness of

this sample of deaths, since some graves may have been

unmarked, and some individuals may have been buried else-

where. But, as is common in historical research, we must

take the data which we are given and note their weaknesses.

Some useful insights may come from looking at these records,

even if they are not of the precision which we would demand

for present-day statistics. One positive note about the

data from this cemetery is that it was the main cemetery

in the county during the years of the study (McKinnon,

1911:256). Although the cemetery had both black and white

graves, the data presented here are for the whites only,

and they are taken from a transcription by Bruington (1951).

We were interested in getting an estimate of the average

age of death for males and females in Walton County during

the decades under analysis. Since the number of deaths was

fairly small, all deaths between 1850 and 1885 were recorded

and analyzed together, so that any conclusions to be made

apply to the general period, and not to the specific decade

or year. There were 70 male deaths and 55 female deaths

recorded. In addition, there was one person whose sex could

not be determined in the records. In all, 126 deaths were

recorded, excluding soldiers' deaths. For each, the year

of birth, the year of death, and the sex of the individual

were recorded, along with the state of birth, where given.

There were 46 deaths in the 20 years prior to 1870, and

80 in the 15 years afterward, which reflects the growing

population of the county as well as the growing old of the

first generation of settlers. About one-fourth of all of

these deaths occurred before the age of 15 (25.4 percent),

most of these, of course, in the first five years of life.

One-third of the male deaths occurred between the ages of

15 and 44, but 44 percent of the female deaths occurred

during these ages. About 41 percent of the males and 33

percent of the females had died above the age of 45. The

male-female differential represents the greater death rate

of women due to childbirth. If, however, we look only at

those who lived through the childbearing years (those age

45 or above), women had higher average ages at death than

men. Specifically, the mean age at death for those who

died after 44 was 64 years for men and 69.1 years for women.

The age at which women died at a much greater rate than men

was in the range from 35 to 44 years, the late childbearing

years. Still, about 25 percent of all adult deaths, both

male and female, occurred at or above the age of 65 years.

Occupation and Social Class

The occupations of the individuals in the sample are

given in Table 4. A glance at the titles and the distribu-

tion is enough to establish the fact that most of Walton

County's laboring population in 1870 was employed in rural

occupations--farming, lumbering, milling, and simple labor-

ing. It seems clear from the context of the manuscripts

that most of the individuals classified as simply "laborers"

were farm workers who did not own land. The "farmers"

were those who did own at least a small plot of land.

Table 4. List of Occupations of the White Sample, 1870

Title N

Laborer 87
Farmer 75
Carpenter 5
Servant 5
Lumberman 4
Seamstress 4
Sail 3
Captain of lighter 3
Shingle maker 3
Miller 3
School teacher 3
Cooper 2
Driver 2
Teamster 1
Peddler 1
Clerk 1
Boat mate 1
Minister 1
Blacksmith 1

Total 205

The occupations were classified into the following six

categories: (1) professional, (2) managerial, proprietori-

al, and clerical, (3) skilled crafts, (4) unskilled trades,

(5) laborers and servants, and (6) farmers and stockmen.

The results of this classification are presented in Table


Table 5. Occupational Class of White Sample, 1870

Class N Percent

Professional 4 1.9

Managerial, clerical, 6 2.9

Skilled craftsmen 18 8.7

Unskilled manual 11 5.3

Laborers, menial 92 44.7

Farmers 75 36.4

Total 206 99.9

The modal status level was that of the laborers, with

farmers being second. Both of these groups together made

up about 80 percent of the laboring population. In addi-

tion, there were a few skilled laborers (18) and some un-

skilled laborers with titles other than "laborer" or

"servant." Only 10 individuals of the 206 with occupations

given were in either the professional or proprietorial

classes (4.8 percent of the total). The county was defi-

nitely dominated by agrarian interests, having only enough

of the nonfarm occupations to support the farm population.

Birthplaces of the Population

Just over half of the white sample had been born in

Florida (Table 6). Another 28 percent were born in Alabama,

with 7.5 percent originating in Georgia. Thus, these three

states were the birthplaces of 90 percent of the white

sample. The rest came mostly from the upper South, with

less than 1 percent being of foreign birth. Almost all of

the original Scotch settlers, many of whom had been born in

Scotland, were dead by 1870. The population represented

here probably is largely of first- or second-generation

American birth.

Table 6. Birthplaces of the White Sample, 1870

State of Birth N Percent

Florida 367 53.3
Alabama 196 28.5
Georgia 51 7.4
N. Carolina 33 4.8
S. Carolina 30 4.4
Virginia 2 0.3
Other South 2 0.3
Other U.S. 1 0.1
Foreign 6 0.8

Total 688 99.9

Length of Florida Residence

The large proportion of Florida-born individuals over-

estimates the proportion of families who came from other

states, since many younger children, even of migrant fami-

lies, were born in Florida. In order to control for this

problem, estimates of the recency of migration of families

were made, where possible. This estimate was based on the

place of birth of the household head, the places of birth of

his children, and their ages. It was possible to estimate

this for 85 of the 115 primary facilities in the sample.

The results of the estimates are presented in Table 7.

Table 7. Recency of Migration
Heads, White Sample,

of Families

of Household

Length of Florida
Residence N Percent

Florida native 21 24.7

15 years or more 38 4.4.7

10-14 years 6 7.1

5-9 years 2 2.4

0-4 years 18 21.2

Total 85 100.1

Of the 85 families, about one-fourth were Florida natives,

and the bulk of the rest had lived in the state for longer

than 15 years. As might be expected, only a few had come

to Florida during the war years. After 1865, however, the

immigration to the state seems to have picked up, as just

over 20 percent of household heads had been in Florida for

less than five years.

The Black Population of Walton County, 1870

There were 3802 black or "mulatto" individuals listed

in the Walton County Census of 1870. Almost three-fourths

of these individuals (274 in all) lived in 48 black-headed

households; while the remaining 106 were listed as part of

47 white households. This latter group seems to be a hold-

over from the days of slavery, when black slaves were listed

under their masters' names. There is evidence for believ-

ing that the social condition of these blacks was also little

different from that which existed prior to emancipation.

If so, this group makes an excellent source of information

about the black family in the South in the last years of slavery.

2This includes two whites, one who was the wife of a
black household head, and the other who was her son, pre-
sumably by an earlier marriage.

The mean household size for black households in.1870

was 5.7, slightly less than the white mean of 6.2 The mean

number of blacks per white household containing blacks was

2.3, with a median and mode of one per household (27 of the

47 households had one black individual each.) This is simi-

lar to data taken from the 1860 slave schedules, in which 128

slaveowners held an average of 4.3 slaves each, the mode

being one. The mean was high due to a few (nine) slave-

holders who owned more than 10 slaves, one of whom owned

46. This is one reason for believing that the blacks living

in close association with whites in 1870 were in many cases

former slaves who had never left the "master's" farm.


In 1870, nonwhites were classified by the census

enumerator as being either "black" or "mulatto," depending

mainly, it appears, on the skin color of the individual.

According to many analysts of black life and culture in

the South after the Civil War (see, for example, Frazier,

1948), there was a prejudice in both the white and black

communities in favor of lighter-skinned blacks. In the

black household data, there were 192 blacks and 80 mulattoes;

in white households, there were 80 blacks and 26 mulattoes

(Table 8). Overall, about 28 percent of the nonwhite popu-

lation of Walton County in 1870 was classified as mulatto.

Table 8. Racial Composition of Nonwhite Population of
Walton County, 1870

Race of Household Head Total
Black White Nonwhite
Race N Percent N Percent N Percent

Black 192 70.6 80 75.5 272 72.0

Mulatto 80 29.4 26 24.5 106 28.0

Total 272 100.0 106 100.0 378 100.0


In 1870, there were 139 males and 135 females listed

in black households, with an additional 63 black males and

43 black females in white households (Table 9). The over-

all sex ratio for blacks, then, was 202:178 or 113.5 males

per 100 females. For blacks in white households, the sex

ratio was 146.5, while that for blacks in all-black house-

holds was 103.0. In other words, the sex ratio in black

households was very evenly balanced, while that for blacks

in white households was heavily unbalanced in favor of males.

This may be related to the fact that young men were wanted

to do farm work, and thus were more often kept by the farmers

as slaves or as free workers. Note that both black groups

had higher sex ratios than did the whites, whose women out-

numbered their men with a sex ratio of 92.1.

Table 9. Sex Composition of Black Population of Walton
County, 1870, by Race of Household Head

Black Households White Households Total
Sex N Percent N Percent N Percent

Males 139 50.7 63 59.4 202 53.2

Females 135 49.3 43 40.6 178 46.8

Total 274 100.0 106 100.0 380 100.0


The age range of the blacks in white households was

from birth to 64 years, with a median age of 17.0 years.

Forty-two percent of this group were under 15 years of age,

and only 11 percent were above 30. For blacks in black

households, the range was greater, from birth to 87 years,

with a median age of 17.7. The overall age distribution of

the black population in 1870 is given, by sex, in Figure 3.

Notice the paucity of blacks in the older ages and the

relatively constricted numbers of young children, especially

when compared to the white pyramid (page 64).

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