The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 52, July 1948 - April, 1949 Page: 6
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
The first and most critical question in judging the utility of
the child-ladder method was whether detected migrations, or
ascertained arrivals of families, would be numerous enough to
furnish a respectable sample of the entire free population. Col-
umns 1-3 of Table 2 present an answer to this question. The
proportion of ascertained arrivals of families to all free families
turned out to depend largely upon the age of the county.5 In
-the old county of Liberty, arrivals ascertained from the Census
of 1850 were less than one-fifth of free families in 1850; in new
counties such as Cherokee and Henderson, the proportion rose
to one-half. On an average, ascertained arrivals of families
amounted to two-fifths of all free families. The sample provided
by the child-ladder method may therefore be adjudged entirely
adequate in point of size.6
The next question about the child-ladder method is qualitative
rather than quantitative. Which of the facts about the move-
ments of a family are beyond the purview of the method? Which
facts are within its reach, and how accurately does it describe
them? To see the method at its worst, suppose a family whose
movements are known from the birth of the parents onward. A
man, native of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, leaves
home in 1839, at the age of twenty-one, and the following year
marries in Crawford County, Georgia, a girl of seventeen brought
by her parents from Abbeville District, South Carolina, ten years
"The best index to the age of the bulk of settlement in a county is the per cent
of its free inhabitants born in Texas. Notice in Table 2 the inverse correlation
between the per cents of Texas-born and the per cents that ascertained arrivals of
families are of all free families. The per cents of Texas-born are based upon a
table in J. D. B. DeBow, Compendium of the Seventh Census, 308-309, 314-315,
listing by counties the number of free inhabitants born in the United States outside
Texas and the number born in foreign countries; the sum of these numbers sub-
tracted from the total number of free inhabitants gives the number of Texas-born.
Like figures for 186o cannot be obtained; the printed report tabulates by counties
the number of foreign-born and of United States natives, but offers no means
of distinguishing Texas-born from other natives. Eighth Census, 1860, vol. [I],
Population, 487-489. Texas-born again appear separately in the reports of all
censuses after 1860. Cf. Ninth Census, 1870, vol. I, The Statistics of the Popula-
tion... (Washington, 1872), 372-373, and Tenth Census, 188o, vol. [I], Statistics
of the Population... (Washington, 1883), 528-531.
"Table 2 does not show the per cents that all arrivals of families ascertained
from the Census of 186o were of all free families in 1860. The per cent for
nineteen counties was 32.5 per cent. The low and the high county per cents were
2o per cent for Chambers (part of Liberty in 1850), and 40.5 per cent for Cass.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 52, July 1948 - April, 1949, periodical, 1949; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101121/m1/12/: accessed May 28, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.