Her Mother: Nancy J.P (Sawyer) Flowers Sams

If you are new to my blog, please read my previous posts for more context surrounding this research. So far, I wrote posts on Rachel, two of her siblings, her father, but not her mother.

Through the 1910 Federal Census, we are first introduced to Mrs. N.J.P. Flowers.

1910 Federal Census

A name was not given only the initials Mrs. N.J.P. was listed as the head of the household on a farm (owned by the family). Why did she provide the census enumerator with her initials?  By the age of 37, Nancy had nine children with only eight living by the time of this census–Chauncey, John C, Fred L, Rachel H., Vincent A, Theodore, Gladys, and Hilda C. Flowers. All of her children are listed as mulatto.

Born in North Carolina during the early 1870s, Nancy was the only adult in the home, yet her martial status was M1, noting her first marriage. How long? 18 years. Nancy and her husband Harry married in 1891 when she was 19 and he was 45. Perhaps, Harry travelled for work leaving his wife and children in Florida. North to find work leaving his wife and children back home.

I could not find Nancy in the 1920 Federal Census, but by this time a divorced Harry had custody of the youngest children. She appears in the 1936 obituary of her eldest son Chauncey, “Mrs. Alexander H. Sams.”

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He is survived by his mother, Mrs. Alexander H. Sams. I also noticed Henry Sams listed as a brother of Chauncey, he had to be the son of Nancy. It turns out Nancy remarried to a Mr. Henry Alexander Sams of Florida. I still could not find the family within the 1920 Census, but I did find the family in the 1930 Census.



Henry and Nancy married in Florida when Nancy was 40 and Henry was 24 (her Tea-Cake). They had a son around 1915. In the 1930 Census, Nancy is 57 years old. Henry passed away in 1949. In the 1940 Census, I find him in the hospital listed as a patient. Where was Nancy? Well, I was too impatient to wait for the PA Census to be name indexed, so I decided to search for her myself. In 1941 article of Rachel Flowers, a reporter listed her address as 412 Salford Street. With this information, I searched the Census by street and found the next census. Take a look.


The Problem: Nancy Sams resided at this address (she was the head of the household). Fine. However, Rachel Flowers lived in the same household, listed as a lodger of Nancy…and she is 65 years old.

How can you explain this? The enumerator simply recorded the wrong information. It cannot be simply a coincidence–a daughter residing with her mother at an address affirmed by the local press. This moment also made me realize the flaws within these “credible” sources. The census only reveals so much and its information is based on who was home, how the enumerator recorded the information, and what blanks did he/she fill themselves.


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