Monday, October 1, 2018

A Farm in Queens New York ~ 52 Ancestors #39

I am participating in this year's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks writing challenge from Amy Johnson Crow. Each week has an optional writing prompt and this week's writing prompt is On the Farm.

Yes we all have plenty of farmers in our family trees. It's kind of fun to think about places where farmers were plentiful in the 19th century, but where I don't think we find farms now, like Jamaica, Queens County, New York.

My third great-grandfather, Thomas Cutler Whitman, was born in Nova Scotia in 1803 and immigrated with several members of his family to New York in 1857.

The 1860 U.S. census shows that he was a farmer. He is on the top line of this census image that includes his wife, Diana, and several children (and future son-in-law, William Bruce at the bottom).

1860 U.S. census, Queens County, New York, population schedule, Jamaica, p. 127, dwelling 873, family 964, Thomas C. Whitman; digital image, Ancestry ( : accessed 1 January 2010); citing NARA microfilm publication M653, roll 845.
Value of real estate is blank, but value of personal estate is $1,000.

The fun part comes from finding that farmer on the non-population agricultural census schedule and seeing what he produced.

1860 U.S. census, Queens County, New York, agricultural schedule, Jamaica, p. 6, line 27, Thomas Whitman; digital image, Ancestry ( : accessed 1 January 2010); citing Archive Collection Number: A16; Roll: 16.

The items that are listed for my third great-grandfather include:
Improved acres of land: 40
Cash value of farm: 4,000 [I'm not sure why that doesn't correlate with the value of his real estate and personal property in the population schedule.]
Value of Farming Implements and Machinery: 1,000
Horses: 2
Milch Cows: 5
Swine: 1
Value of Live Stock: 400

When you're looking at the agricultural census (any record actually), be sure to click on the next page (and in some cases, the previous page), there may be more!

Irish Potatoes, bushels of: 100
Butter, lbs. of: 500
Hay, tons of: 7
Value of Animals slaughtered: 30

Compared to the other farms in this community, his was relatively small. 

Thomas Whitman died in 1870 and probably could never have imagined that the farmland of Jamaica, New York, would become so urban within several decades.


  1. Wow, Jamaica, NY was really a farm community . . . and is completely unrecognizable as anything remotely like a farm today. So little greenery, so much concrete. Do you know why this ancestor left Nova Scotia to go to New York?

    1. I'm not sure why Thomas Whitman and part of his family left Nova Scotia to go to NYC, but it's possible that he followed his oldest daughter, Esther, who came to Boston in June 1849. I think she was following James Pyle who came to Boston in May 1849. They married in NYC in 1853 and are my 2nd great-grandparents.