Where Is the Connection to the Hired Man?

It’s always the connections that we do not know that can confuse us beyond belief.

In 1860, the household of farmers Charles and Rachel Cox in Montebello Township, Hancock County, included several of their children a farm laborer, George Kraft. The Coxes were Kentucky natives (aged 64 and 56 respectively) and comparatively well-off with Charles indicating he had $10,000 in real property and $1500 in personal property.

Based upon the ages of the Cox’s apparent children, they had been in Illinois for approximately twenty years–possibly longer.

1860 US Census, Hancock County, Illinois, Montebello Township, page 323

One may be tempted to think that the young farm laborer living with them was a relative. The 15-year old was a Kentucky native and one could easily weave a reasonable tale that he was a nephew or some such relative who was living with the family.

That’s not necessarily true.

It’s not necessarily false.

What is known is that Craft was the son of German immigrants who spent a short time in Campbell County, Kentucky.

What is also known is that Craft’s step-mother’s brother (Henry Trautvetter) was living a few households away in the same township in 1860. Craft’s father, George Craft, and step-mother, were living north of Montebello Township in the city of Nauvoo.

How did George Craft end up at the Coxes working as a young hired man?

I’m not certain. But it is possible that it had more to do with Craft’s step-mother’s brother living nearby than the fact that the Coxes were originally from Kentucky. Note: A superficial search into Charles Cox suggests that he left Kentucky by 1820 and moved to Indiana and later into IllinoisAt that point in time, the Craft and extended families were still in Germany. Based upon this information, it seems more likely that the George Kraft the hired man was “connected” to the Coxes through their geographic proximity in Illinois–probably with George’s father’s brother-in-law. 



2 thoughts on “Where Is the Connection to the Hired Man?

  1. In the census, I found teen-age children of a deceased ancestor, living with different neighbors as hired help. The widow had the younger children in her household.

    • That wasn’t uncommon either. I have several who “hired out” to the neighbors in their late teens or early twenties.

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