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Monday, September 15, 2008

Counted, But Unaccounted For

In July 1860, census taker Elias D. Bruner found 35 people living in Nobles County, Minnesota. By 1862, all of them had disappeared.

It is as if the families suddenly appeared in Nobles county in 1860, then disappeared just as suddenly. Is it possible that every single surname was spelled incorrectly? That seems unlikely, as only one adult in the settlement, Thomas Marks, was unable to read or write. Did the settlement exist, or was it a figment of Bruner�s imagination? That seems equally unlikely. How does one explain that the families and bachelors cannot be found through searches involving individual states, the entire country, and sites overseas? [Link]
Thorndale and Dollarhide's Map Guide to the U.S. Federal Censuses, 1790-1920 suggests an answer:
Historian Robert J. Forrest says seven southwestern counties had no white population in 1857 but Democrats fabricated census schedules to cover their ballot fraud. These seven counties are shown on the map with question marks. (See "Mythical Cities of Southwestern Minnesota", Minnesota History 14 (1933), 243-62).

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