Written by Jacob Smith, Digitization Coordinator for the Huron County Museum.

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As part of the Huron County Museum’s ongoing digitization project, I have been busy scanning and uploading census records called Return of Inhabitants to the Museum’s online collection (which you can click here to view). The Return of Inhabitants are informative documents for genealogists.  Information ranging from ages of family members to the types of livestock on each property are just two pieces of information that these documents provide.  As someone who has a keen interest in genealogy, I was thrilled to find information about my ancestors.  For example, I was able to find information on the Smith family in the 1850 Return of Inhabitants for Wawanosh Township, which can be seen in the image below.

Photo of a page from the Return of Inhabitants for Wawanosh Township, 1850

The Return of Inhabitants are in book-like format.  To read the information, you must follow the line numbers on the far-left side of the page.  In the case of my ancestors, the Smith family, I must follow line number 10.  Upon reading across the page, it is stated that James Smith and his family lived at Lot 16, Concession 5 of Wawanosh Township, they were non-proprietors of the land, and they were a family of four.

Looking at the next page, again looking for number 10 and reading across, we see that the Smith family lived on agricultural land, were natives of Ireland, belonged to the Church of Scotland, and had two children, a boy, and a girl, between the ages of 2 and 5.

Photo of Return of Inhabitants, Wawanosh Township, 1850

The next page shows that James Smith was married, and was between the ages of 30 and 40, and his wife was between the ages of 14 and 30.  Also noted on this page was the death of a young girl.  Upon further research of the Smith family, I learned a daughter of James and Margaret Smith had died of an illness while immigrating from Ireland to Canada.

Photo of Return of Inhabitants, Wawanosh Township, 1850

The next few pages document information about their property.  James Smith and his family lived on a 50-acre plot of land.  However, as seen in the image below, all agricultural information regarding their farm is left blank.  I know from genealogy research that the Smiths immigrated to Canada in 1850, the same year this Return of Inhabitants was taken.  It is possible that their farm was not agriculturally productive at the time this census was recorded.

Photo of Return of Inhabitants, Wawanosh Township, 1850

Through the Return of Inhabitants, I was able to learn about my family history.  Scanning and uploading these documents was a rewarding experience.  My goal throughout the project was to digitize as many documents as possible, giving the opportunity for researchers to work from the comfort of their homes.  I hope you find the Return of Inhabitants to be a useful source of information.  Happy researching!

Looking for census records from the 1860s and 1870s?  Click here to view digitized Assessment Rolls.

The Huron County Archives has additional census records that have not been digitized.  Please contact the Archives for more information.

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This project is funded (in part) in part by the Government of Canada

Ce projet est financé (en partie) par le gouvernement du Canada.