Minnesota Territorial Census, 1857 (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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Minnesota Territorial Census, 1857 .
This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
Minnesota, United States
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Flag of Minnesota
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Location of Minnesota
Record Description
Record Type Territorial Census
Collection years 1857
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites

What is in the Collection?

The collection consists of indexes and images of the population schedule listing inhabitants of the Minnesota Territory in 1857.

NOTE: "All entries for the following newly created [23 May 1857] counties were fabricated to cover voter fraud: Cottonwood, Jackson, Martin, Murray, Nobles, Pipestone, and Rock. (For further information see Robert J. Forrest, 'Mythical Cities of Southwestern Minnesota,' Minnesota History, 14 (1933), pp. 243-52)." This collection coincides with NARA publication T1175.

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Minnesota Territorial Census, 1857.

Collection Content

Sample Images

Information found in this collection may include:

  • Name of each person who resided with family on 21 September 1857
  • Age
  • Sex
  • Race
  • Place of birth
  • Individual native to U.S. or was a naturalized citizen
  • Occupation, if male and over 15 years of age

How Do I Search the Collection?

To begin your search it is helpful to know:

  • The name of your ancestor
  • Other identifying information such as age or birth place

Search by Name by visiting the Collection Page:
Fill in your ancestor’s name in the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information about those in the list to what you already know about your own ancestors to determine if this is the correct family or person.

View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page:
If you did not find the person you were looking for, you may need to search the collection image by image.
⇒Select the Browse link in the initial search page
⇒Select the "County" category
⇒Select the "Township/City/Town/Village/Ward" category which takes you to the images

Look at each image comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine if the image relates to them. You may need to look at several images and compare the information about the individuals listed in those images to your ancestors to make this determination.

With either search keep in mind:

  • There may be more than one person in the records with the same name.
  • You may not be sure of your own ancestor’s name.
  • Your ancestor may have used different names or variations of their name throughout their life.

For tips about searching on-line collections see the on-line article FamilySearch Search Tips and Tricks.

I Found Who I was Looking for, What Now?

When you have located your ancestor in the census, carefully evaluate each piece of information about them. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details that can lead you to other records about your ancestors. For example:

  • Use the age listed to determine an approximate birth date.
  • Use the race information to find records related to that ethnicity, such as records of the Freedman’s Bureau or Indian censuses.
  • Use the naturalization information to find their naturalization papers in the county court records. It can also help you locate immigration records such as a passenger list, which would usually be kept with records at the port of entry into the United States.

Tips to Keep in Mind

  • Occupations listed can lead you to employment records or other types of records such as school records; children’s occupations are often listed as “at school.”
  • Birthplaces can tell you former residences and can help to establish a migration pattern for the family.
  • It is often helpful to extract the information on all families with the same surname in the same general area. If the surname is uncommon, it is likely that those living in the same area were related.
  • Be sure to extract all families before you look at other records. The relationships given will help you to organize family groups. The family groupings will help you identify related families when you discover additional information in other records.
  • Married family members may have lived nearby but in a separate household, so you may want to search an entire town, neighboring towns, or even a county.
  • You may be able to identify an earlier generation if elderly parents were living with or close by a married child.
  • You may be able to identify a younger generation if a young married couple still lived with one of their sets of parents.
  • Additional searches may be needed to locate all members of a particular family in the census.
  • You should also be aware that the census may identify persons for whom other records do not exist.

I Can't Find Who I'm Looking for, What Now?

  • Look for variant spellings of the names. You should also look for nicknames and abbreviated names.
  • Search the indexes and records of nearby localities.
  • Try alternative search methods such as only filling in the surname search box (or the given name search box) on the landing page leaving the other box empty and then click on search. This should return a list of everyone with that particular name. You could then browse the list for individuals with the same family number.
  • There is also the possibility that a family was missed in the census.

General Information About These Records

The census information was handwritten on preprinted sheets. It is arranged by county (counties are in alphabetical order), then by smaller jurisdictions.

Minnesota became a territory in 1849, in which year a territorial census was taken. Territorial censuses were also taken in 1853 and 1855. The 1853 and 1855 censuses are very incomplete. The federal government had a territorial census taken in 1857, just before Minnesota became a state. However, there was some fraud involved in this census. Ballot boxes were stuffed with ballots that had names of fictitious voters. In addition, there are some localities within the counties of Cottonwood, Jackson, Martin, Murray, Nobles, Pipestone, and Rock which may be entirely fictitious.

The census was compiled to obtain a count of the population of the territory to determine how many representatives the state would send to Congress. Accuracy of the information in the census is determined by the accuracy of the knowledge of the informant, which could have been any member of the family or even a neighbor. As stated in Collection History, some information in this census was deliberately falsified.

For a summary of this information see the wiki article: United States, How to Use the Records Summary (FamilySearch Historical Records).

Citing this Collection

Citing your sources makes it easy for others to find and evaluate the records you used. When you copy information from a record, list where you found that information. Here you can find citations already created for the entire collection and for each individual record or image.

Collection Citation

"Minnesota, Territorial Census, 1857." Database with Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2016. Citing NARA microfilm publication T1175. Washington, D.C.: Central Plains Region, National Archives, n.d.

Record Citation (or citation for the index entry):

The citation for a record is available with each record in this collection, at the bottom of the record screen. You can search records in this collection by visiting the search page for Minnesota Territorial Census, 1857.

Image Citation

The image citation is available by clicking on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen. You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Minnesota Territorial Census, 1857.

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