Monday, November 18, 2013

Who is the REAL George W. Hackett?

I was excited to find an obituary and gravesite for George W Hackett, Phil's 2nd great-grandfather.  Now I have birth and death dates!  The Hackett family were solid Pennsylvania citizens spending decades in McKean County.  George was born and died there.  His son James (Phil's great-grandfather) was born in McKean County and died nearby in Potter County.  And so it goes.  So it should be simple to find his George's parents, right?  WRONG!!

There are many trees on Ancestry that point to a James Hackett as the father of our George (also known as George W).  James appears in the 1870 as James Hacket (one t) with a son named George.  But this George is listed as being 10 years old.  Our George was born in 1852 (per his gravestone and his obituary) which would make him 18 in 1870.  Yet all the other particulars check out, especially that they are living in Keating, McKean County, PA.  Looking at other 1870 census records, we find numerous George Hackett/Hackets born in the 1850s in Pennsylvania - much closer in age to our George.  But none of them living in McKean County.

So what to do?  Looking at the original image of the 1870 census helps.  Here George, son of James, is listed before a younger son, named Judson.  Judson's age is clearly marked as 12.  The numerals used for George's age are very faint with a clear one and a curled 0.  Or is it a 6?  I think it should read as 16.  Even though this doesn't match with the age calculated from his obituary/gravestone, it DOES make sense when we look at the numbers recorded on other censuses as George aged.

George's age as listed on the 1900 census would have him born in 1856.  In the 1910 census, his birth year is calculated as 1853 and in the 1920 census, it finally appears corrected at 1852.  I need to go and find the 1860 and 1880 census records to complete the set.  It will be interesting to see how old George is listed on these!  It appears that math was not his strong suit  - or maybe he just didn't like birthdays?

So if we assume that the Hacketts stayed in McKean and also that the age listed on the 1870 census is indexed incorrectly, we can conclude that George is the son of James and Eliza Hackett, with a younger brother named Judson!  Now on to climb more of the Norton/Palmer family tree.