I spent some time this past week perusing the 1900, 1910, and 1920 census records for Baxter County, Arkansas. Just about every page in the Barren Creek Township/Buford area has relatives. I was looking at my 2nd Great Grandfather Randolph Sinor's family through the successive census records. On the 1900 census we find Randolph and Laura I. Sinor (Cunningham) with all of their five children, Enos H. Sinor, Mary J. Sinor, Maude E. Sinor, Loueller M. Sinor, and Truman L. Sinor. We have an Aunt Eller just like in Oklahoma. It is often good idea to look at the adjacent families when looking at census records. Four houses away we find the widowed Laura Castell (Casteel) and her twelve year old son, Elbert L. Castell (Casteel), the future husband of Mary J. Sinor. One of the nice bits of information also found on the 1900 census is the month and year of birth of each individual. . The dates of birth of the family members are as follows: Randolph Sinor, December, 1866, Laura I. Sinor, November, 1972, Enos H. Sinor, July, 1891, Mary J. Sinor, October, 1892, Maude E. Sinor, November, 1894, Lueller M. Sinor, November, 1896 Truman L. Sinor, December, 1898.
In the 1910 census we find Randolph D. Sinor and Laura Sinor with their two youngest children still at home, Ella (Loueller) Sinor (age 13) and Truman Sinor (age11). They also had a three year old "boarder" named Pearl Hedrick. Personally, I find "boarder" a strange term to apply to a three year old. Living next door are relative newlyweds, Harrison Ganes and his wife, fifteen year old Maud Ganes (Sinor). Living a few houses in the other direction we find the Thomas R. Haney family with their 16 year old son Don, the future husband of 13 year old Ella Sinor. Realize this is rural living in the Ozarks. A few houses over in the census might well be a half mile away.
In the 1920 census we find Randolph Sinor and Laura Sinor with their youngest son, Truman (age 20) still at home and 12 year old Pearl Headrick, now listed as an orphan rather than a boarder. Living in the next house over is Elbert L. Cassteel with his wife Mary Cassteel (Sinor) and three children, May, age 10, Hubert, age 8, and Velma, age 5. Mary Jane Casteel (Sinor) died the following year in a tragic accident. She was picking blackberries along the White River bluffs and fell over a cliff. She is buried in the Fairview Cemetery in Baxter County, Arkansas. The headstone inscription lists her name as Mary Jane Caststeel, born Oct 12, 1892, died May 31, 1921. Note that Casteel has been spelled differently in each of the two census records and the headstone. I can only imagine what a sad tragedy this was at the time. I'm sure she wasn't picking berries recreationally either. No doubt it was part of a serious effort to help feed the family. 90 years later, Mary Jane Casteel (Sinor) has become symbolic of all the seriously obsessive-compulsive berry pickers we have in our family. We have joked about instituting an annual "Aunt Mary Jane Memorial Berry Picking Foray". Unfortunately, we wouldn't be able to do that on May 31st, the anniversary of her death. The blackberries ripen much later in the Pacific Northwest than they do in Arkansas. Even the salmon berries don't ripen that early up here.
I asked my mother about Pearl Headrick. She was Great Great Grandpa Randolph Sinor's niece. Her mother, Bethany Hedrick (Sinor), was Grandpa Randolph Sinor's younger sister. Pearl's mother died in childbirth and Grandpa and Grandma took care of her since she was two days old. She always called them "Mam" and "Pap" as they were the only parents she ever knew. It somehow seems very wrong to have her referred to as a "boarder" on the census. When my mother was living with her grandparents in Baxter County, Arkansas she attended a one room school house with about 15 other kids, All but one of those kids were her cousins. Two of them were Pearl Headrick's daughters and four of them were grandchildren of Mary Jane Casteel (Sinor). I will ask my mother to post her school group picture from her time in Baxter County.