Sunday, August 16, 2015

52 Ancestors #33: Blind Since Birth

Ancestor Name: Abner Beard (1812-before 1900)

In FamilyTree Maker (FTM) I created a Documented Facts report, which turned out to be 26,103 pages long. I searched it for "1880 Schedules of Defective, Dependent, and Delinquent Classes" and found Abner Beard.

Abner had some pretty interesting sources citations. He was a plaintiff in a chancery court case  brought by his uncle against the heirs of his father and he was born blind and, therefore, was listed in the 1880 Schedules of Defective, Dependent and Delinquent Classes.

He was born in 1812 in Franklin County, Virginia, to Robert Mitchell and Nancy C. (Webb) Beard. His father was a professor of religion and a veteran of the War of 1812 having served in the 121st Regiment, Virginia Militia.  Abner was their eldest child. He married Martha Hale in 1843 in Franklin County. They had two children by 1860, Robert M. (1854) and Mary A. (1856) and Abner worked as a potter. The value of his personal property was $100. He was 48 years old and blind.

In 1870 the family lived in Blackwater, Virginia, and Abner did not work. Two more daughters were born since the previous census, Celestia (1860) and  Sally (1865), so the family now consisted of four children. Abner's blind condition is once again noted on the census form. So it's not surprising that he would be listed on the special schedule for the 1880 census.

Abner Beard in the 1880 Schedules of Defective, Dependent and
Delinquent Classes; image courtesy of

Abner was enumerated in 1880, along with his wife and three children, Robert M., Celestia, and Sally. Abner's occupation was listed as pipe maker, and he was again listed as being blind. The special census indicated Abner was partially self-supporting, his blindness was from birth and was total, and he had never been institutionalized for his condition.

Things get kind of murky after 1880 and what I wouldn't give for an 1890 census! Robert M. Beard, their only son, disappeared after the 1880 census; their daughter, Mary A., after the 1870 census. Celeste married Lewis Hale in 1886.

Robert's widow, Martha, lived with her brother David Hale and his wife in 1900. By 1920 she lived with her daughter and son-in-law, Celestia and Lewis Hale. Martha died later that year.

This is my entry for Amy Johnson Crow's 52 ancestors in 52 weeks challenge optional theme Defective, Dependent & Delinquent.

The Court Case Regarding the Slaves of Mary (Mitchell) Beard

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