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The 1880 Federal Census for Forsyth County Georgia was one of the more curious of my family censuses until I figured out what to make of it.

1880 Forsyth County Georgia Census, Hightower, District 74, p. 5

1880 Federal Census, Georgia, Forsyth County, Hightower District, Section 74, p. 5

My ancestors George W. West and Jennett Cowan West are where I expected them to be, in the Hightower District of Forsyth County, Georgia. Two of their younger children, the mysterious Elizabeth and Monroe are still at home with them.

Their daughter Edith West Harris, who had been living at home with them in 1870 with one child, is still living at home with them but with three more children with the surname Harris. (At first this was a huge mystery. I’d assumed she was living at home in 1870 because of widowhood or divorce, but family legend has that she just liked living at home with mom and dad, and her husband eventually moved to Arkansas because he couldn’t abide it.)

Lightner West, one of my favorite ancestors because of his awesome name and the tough circumstances of his life, is back with his grandparents. In 1870, this little Confederate orphan was living with his mother, Sarah E. Moore and her second husband, John Whitmire in neighboring Dawson County. I was extremely happy to see him back home with the Wests and enumerated with his proper last name. (There was a lot of scowling and narrowing of eyes when I founded him enumerated as “Lightner Whitmire” in 1870. He’s Lightner WEST!)

And finally, there’s Isaac Suthard. A fourteen year old black child listed as a farm laborer in the household.  Wait, who the heck is this!? He’s enumerated as being from Georgia, and with parents born in Georgia, and – as was par for the course at the times – he could not read or write.

I understand why my ancestor George W. West might have needed extra help on the farm. He had about 260 acres at that point (which was reduced to about 160 acres at this death in 1895), and only a young son and grandson for help if you didn’t count the women and young grandchildren. I assume this may even be why Lightner was living on the northwest Forsyth farm at that time instead of with his mother and step-father.

But where did Isaac Suthard come from? And where did he go?

I have tracked down a few clues, but admit I haven’t given this the due diligence it deserves in favor of trying to track down George W. West’s South Carolina origins.

Isaac Suthard’s Possible Origins

I found an Isaac Suthard, age 6, in the 1870 Federal Census in the Conns Creek district of neighboring Cherokee County, Georgia. (Where I’m from and live now.) He was living with his mother, Hulda, and brothers Augustus, 11, and Joseph, 2. It seems likely that this is Isaac. Present day Conns Creek (where he lived in 1870) and northwest Forsyth, where he lived with George W. West in 1880 are only a few miles apart.

Isaac Southard Cherokee County Georgia Federal Census 1870

1870 Federal Census, Georgia, Cherokee County, Conns Creek, p. 20

The only other Suthard family I found in neighboring counties in 1880 was the family of Benjam Suthard, age 27, his wife Julia, their two young sons, and Julia’s mother, Phena McKinney. They were living in Woodstock, Georgia, which would be a little far from Conns Creek but it’s not out of the realm of possibility that he’s connected to Isaac in some way.

1880 United States Federal Census, Cherokee County, Georgia, Woodstock, District 24, p. 2

1880 United States Federal Census, Georgia, Cherokee County, Woodstock, District/Section 24, p. 2

It’s clear to me that if I’m to find out what became of Isaac Suthard after 1880 I have a LOT more work to do. A very quick (some might call it “half-assed”) search of the 1900 Federal Census didn’t turn up any readily available likely candidates, but I haven’t even searched to find out what became of Hulda or the possibly-related Benjamin.

For now, due to other research interests, what became of farm laborer Isaac Suthard is going to remain a mystery to me. If you’re researching Isaac Suthard or his family, too, please contact me so we can work on it together.

Happy detecting!

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