Feminist (?) Friday: A “Farmerist”

1850 US Federal Census for Washington Township, Morgan County, Indiana, page 27 Elizabeth Harden is listed first in Dwelling/Family 378.

One never knows what might be found in a census or other old document. This reference to an Elizabeth Harden (no relation to us) is found on page 27 of the Washington Twp., Morgan Co., Indiana 1850 US Federal Census. (Only every 2-page spread is numbered, and this was on left side of ‘page’ 27.)

Elizabeth appears to be the head of household, and was listed as a “Farmerist”- not just a “Farmer” like the men on the page were termed. The value of her real estate was $400, similar to another family on the page but much less than others.

Today the term “Farmerist” is used as a blend of “farmer” and “activist” but it has also been used to describe the large group of farmers in a culture. I have never seen the term before, and definitely not in reference to a woman who might have been farming. It would be interesting to see if this census taker called other women in this situation a “farmerist” as well.

Likely Elizabeth is a widow and owns the land, with children and possibly grandchildren and daughter-in-law living with her. This is all conjecture and research for someone in that line to pursue, of course.

Anyway, a lot of women had to assume “men’s” duties when their husbands died or left them, whether for something temporary like going off to the Gold Rush to make a fortune and return, or whether the men just left and were never seen again. It is interesting to see that the name of the occupation changed here probably because she was a woman- hoping it was not meant in a derogatory way.


Notes, Sources, and References: 

  1. 1850 US Federal Census for Washington Township, Morgan County, Indiana, page 27, Dwelling/Family 378: Elizabeth Harden.


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