"Let me see generation times, will we hear children singing rhymes? Sweet memories gone by..."

30 August 2012

The Other Campen Family

Now all you young fellas, when for marriage you go
Examine your true love from the top to the toe
And if you don't do that, like me you'll be sold
To a damsel not nineteen, but a ninety-year-old
-- "Only Nineteen Years Old" (Traditional)

Not long ago, while browsing through the 1940 Census for family members, I came across the record for the family of Henry Campen.  Henry was the older brother of my great-great-grandfather, Louis Campen.  Henry died in 1927, but his widow Louise and two daughters were still living in Baltimore City in 1940.  At first glance, the record is somewhat unremarkable.

The circled X next to Louise's name indicates that she was the one who gave the family's info to the census taker.  She reported that she was 68 years old, and her daughters Teresa and Laura were 35 and 33 years old... except that they weren't.  Not even close!

Now, I've come across many, many census records where ages weren't right, but normally, they're still in the ballpark.  And Louise and her daughters have a history of distorting their ages in every census record going back to 1900.  But in 1940, Louise just outright lied:  she was born in 1856, so she would have been 84... not 68!  And not only that, Louise lied about her daughters' ages as well.  Teresa should have been 61 (not 35), and Laura was 57 (not 33).  This time she was off by more than 20 years!

Dating back to brothers Henry and Louis, there was a split in the Campen family.  According to family lore, they jointly inherited their father's canning business after his death, but Henry tricked Louis out of his share.  Louis died in 1901, aged only 44 years, leaving behind his wife Mary and six children.

Aunt Jean once wrote to me about the Campens:  "Henry's family were well to do.  They had a chauffeur and went to Florida in the Winter.  The story is that one of Louis' grown daughters talked with one of Henry's daughters on a street car and suggested that they get together and Henry's daughter indicated that they were not interested.  After all they were first cousins."

Ancestry.com has several travel records for Teresa and Laura from the 1950s.  They went on a few cruises, and visited England twice.

The divide in the family can also be seen in where Henry and Louis were buried.  Louis and his wife are buried at the old Baltimore Cemetery in unmarked graves, but Henry's family were buried at the better-known Green Mount Cemetery, in a plot just down the hill from Johns Hopkins' family.

On the other hand, though, neither of Henry's daughters ever married (whatever their ages were!), so his family line died out, while Louis has dozens of descendants alive today.

No comments:

Post a Comment