Remarks in Mercer County’s 1850 Mortality Schedule

Mercer County, Ohio’s 1850 Mortality Schedule is rather interesting. Not just because it has information about individuals in the county who died sometime during the 12 months prior to the 1850 census day, 1 June 1850, but because one of the enumerators wrote remarks in the Remarks section at the bottom of the pages. Reading remarks on an old document is usually pretty interesting.

Mortality Schedules were created from 1850-1880, separate schedules to supplement the censuses that were taken every 10 years. Mortality Schedules reported deaths occurring the year prior to census day. Census day in 1850 was 1 June, the day from which family information was to be collected. The 1850 Mortality Schedule was to include those who died between 1 June 1849-31 May 1850. 

1850 Mercer County, Ohio, Mortality Schedule

Two people enumerated the 1850 Mortality Schedule in Mercer County, Willshire Riley and Vincent Bebout. This schedule is small, consisting of only 6 pages. These 6 pages report a total of 177 deaths. Willshire Riley recorded 126 deaths on 4 pages and Vincent Bebout recorded 51 deaths on 2 pages.

The interesting thing is that Willshire Riley wrote remarks on each of his 4 pages. Although Riley seemed more interested in recording the soil and land conditions than he was in recording the mortality information, he made some interesting observations.

1850 Mortality Schedule, Mercer County, Ohio, remarks by Willshire Riley

Riley recorded deaths in the townships of Union, Dublin, Marion, Granville, Butler, Franklin, Jefferson, Hopewell, and Center. Bebout did not indicate the townships he recorded, but one would assume they were the remaining five townships, Blackcreek, Liberty, Gibson, Recovery, and Washington.

Cholera was a major cause of death during that time period. So was smallpox. Other common fatal diseases in the county included scarlet fever, consumption, and measles. 

Some of the writing was difficult to read and I have underlined words that I was unsure of.

Mercer County, Ohio, 1850 Mortality Schedule, as reported by Willshire Riley:

p.737, Union & Dublin Townships
Union had 11 deaths, 1 from cholera
Dublin had 10 deaths, 3 from cholera.
One of the Dublin cholera deaths was T. [L?] G. Dugdale, 26, a physician.
Remarks: Union Twp escaped the pestilence which swept over the County last year. It being settled altogether by farmers & one leading thoroughfare running through it. Soil rich producing all kinds of grain well, also well adapted to the raising of grass. Well watered land rolling. Timber much the same as Jefferson Tp. Water limestone & sulphur ranging in the depth from 20 to sixty feet. There are a great many fountains within this township, these are obtained by [?] to an average depth of 50 feet & are invariably sulpher.

1850 Mortality Schedule, Mercer County, Ohio, Dublin Twp.

p.754, Marion Township
Marion had 35 deaths, 21 from cholera
One child, a one year-old, died from “tething” for 42 days, which I assume was teething. Another child died from burns and another from “fits,” which could have been epilepsy we know it today.
Remarks: This Township is somewhat rolling, but few small streams. Soil a black loam with a yellow clay subsoil. Water generally limestone, with the southern part some sulphurs, obtained at a depth of from 15-20 feet. Timber generally burch with hickory, ash, walnut, bur, red & black oak & some cherry. Thickly settled by Germans with a Negro settlement in the N.W. corner. Cholera now fatal in this than any other Township in the County.

p.753: Granville, Butler, Franklin Townships
Granville had 14 deaths, 5 from cholera
Butler had 12 deaths, 1 from cholera
Franklin had 9 deaths, 1 from cholera
One 28 year-old man fell out of a tree in Granville Township.
Remarks: Granville & Butler Tps, considerable of Cholera throughout last summer. Somewhat rolling & reasonably well watered, streams small. Water a limestone at a depth of twenty-five feet, soil mostly a black loam sandy in many places.
Franklin Tp: Much the same as above.

No page number, Marion, Jefferson, Hopewell, Center Townships
Marion had 13 deaths, 1 from cholera [probably a continuation of the township from p.754]
Jefferson had 12 deaths, 1 from cholera & 5 from smallpox
Hopewell had 4 deaths, 2 from cholera
Center had 6 deaths, 1 from cholera and one from smallpox
Jefferson Tp: The smallpox raged with great virulence in this Tp throughout the months of Dec, Jany, & Feby (proving fatal in but few cases however). Soil a black loam on a limestone foundation. Water limestone. Timber burch, bur, white, red & black oak, sugar, hickory, ash, elm & cherry. A large portion of the land in a wild state though getting rapidly [?]. Ground somewhat undulating. The only stream Beaver River. Water flows almost unlimited from the Mercer County Reservoir which bounds it on the south.
Hopewell & Center Tp: Soil, Timber & water much the same as Jefferson Tp, but sparsely settled, a great portion of the land being owned by speculators.   

The final two pages in Mercer County’s 1850 Mortality Schedule were enumerated by Vincent Bebout, who did not write any remarks nor did he indicate what township he was reporting on. Bebout recorded 51 deaths, 2 from cholera on page 735 [or 739] and 6 from cholera on page 762. Scarlet fever was also the cause of several deaths. Bebout probably reported on the townships not covered by Riley, Blackcreek, Liberty, Gibson, Recovery, and Washington.  

I noticed a high number of infant and children deaths in this Mortality Schedule. Cholera was bad and people usually died within 1-3 days. Many passed away after being ill one day. People lingered longer with scarlet fever and smallpox, often 8-14 days.

I also checked the 3 pages of Willshire Township’s 1850 Mortality Schedule, but unfortunately enumerator S.E. Brown did not make any notable comments. Brown wrote just one comment at the end, stating that he carefully recorded the deaths and followed the instructions. It is no surprise that in Willshire Township there were several cholera deaths, as well as deaths from scarlet fever, smallpox, and other causes.

The questions asked on the 1850 Mortality Schedule: Name, age, sex, color, free or slave, married or widowed, place of birth, month died, profession, disease, number of days ill.

This can be a good source of information, particularly if your ancestor deemed to “disappear” by the 1850 census.

Source: 1850 U.S. Mortality Schedule, Mercer County & Van Wert County, Ohio,, viewed 4 Aug 2022.


    • Virginia Britten on August 5, 2022 at 9:58 am
    • Reply

    Thank you for your wonderful reporting. Did not find any of my family mentioned, but a wonderful source for others.

    1. Thank you. I may list all names in Mercer’s 1850 Mortality Schedule sometime in the future, since I did not list many in this post. There aren’t that many names but it would be an interesting list. Thanks for writing.

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