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1860 Federal Census, Mortality Schedule, North Elba, Essex County (John Brown)

1860 Federal Census of Mortality for North Elba

1860 Federal Census of Mortality for North Elba

New York State Library, NYSL_Census_Mortality_NorthElba
Document Description
1860 Federal Census, Mortality Schedule, North Elba, Essex County
Why was the man named “John Brown” put to death by hanging?
John Brown’s raid was in Harper’s Ferry, Virginia. Why was his death in New York State?
What impact did John Brown’s death have on the beginning of the Civil War?
Historical Challenges
Research what John Brown was found guilty of. The punishment in his time was hanging. What crimes are punishable by death in the U.S. today? Why are some people against the death penalty? Why do some people support the death penalty? Which side do you support and why?
Look into the modern United States census. What types of data are collected? How are the data collected? How has the Census changed over time?

About this Activity


Lesson Topic:


Historical Context
Mortality schedules, or lists of people and their cause of death for the twelve months preceding the census, appear at the end of each town’s population schedule in the United States Census for the years 1850-1880.  The New York State Census from 1845-1875 also contains mortality schedules for the communities of New York.  Taken from the same census as the Lansingburgh Census of Mortality, this record demonstrates that local records can reflect national events and historical persons. 

This schedule from North Elba, Essex County, New York, documents the death of John Brown and members of his family.  North Elba township, located in the Adirondacks, includes the village of Lake Placid today.  Brown purchased the land in the late 1840s from Gerrit Smith, an abolitionist and philanthropist.  Smith had a plan to sell Adirondack land to poor African American men so they could relocate.  Brown purchased land from Smith planning to help the resettlement.  However, Brown’s attentions turned to the civil unrest developing as western territories sought statehood.  John Brown’s farm and burial plot are maintained as a historic site. As noted in the record, Brown was executed by hanging.  This occurred after his conviction for treason associated with his infamous raid on the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia in 1859.  This record is from the New York State Library.  Additional records about John Brown and his family are located in the records of the Essex County Clerk and the Historian’s office in Elizabethtown, NY.

Essential Question
What does this document reveal about American society at this time?
Check for Understanding
Write a brief paragraph (3-4 sentences) answering the essential question.