Names of Interest, Stories Under the Tree

The Census Collector

Samuel finished giving his details to the Census Collector “I’ll get Jonah, my boarder for you.”

Samuel entered the kitchen to find Jonah sitting with his head in his hands.  His two children sitting quietly next to him.  He touched Jonah on the shoulder “Jonah you’ll need to go give the man your details.”

The collector was surprised as a rather dishevelled man with two sad young children appeared.

“How may I help?” asked Jonah.

“What’s your name and age.”

“Jonah Walker.  I’m 40.”

“And you’re married?”

“Um….um”  Jonah stuttered looking down to his children, tears welling in his eyes.  Quietly he said “I’m widowed.  My wife died last month.”

1871 England Census, Jonah Walker, Aaron Walker, Wolverhampton
Excerpt from 1871 England Census for Jonah

The collector quickly moved on realising his error, “Where were you born?”

“Here in Willenhall as were my children.”

What is your occupation?”

“Rim Lock Maker.”

“Are these your only children? What are their names and ages?”

“I only have three children left.  Sarah and George died earlier this year.  Little Anne died five year ago.  Catherine here is 8 and Aaron is 3.  Harriet is 1 but lives with my wife’s family.  I can’t cope with a baby as well” he said as way of explanation.

The collector looked sympathetically at Jonah who appeared to be struggling with his grief, “That is all I have to ask you sir.  I am so sorry for your losses. I hope it improves for you.”

Jonah gave him a weak smile as he ushered the children inside and shut the door.



Jonah Walker, Staffordshire, Family History
This photo is possibly Aaron Walker


Jonah Walker was my great great Grandfather.  At the time of the 1871 Census he was widowed and was a lodger with two of his children, Catherine and my great Grandfather, Aaron.  Harriet, the baby was living with his wife’s parents.  The part about Sarah, George, and Henney dying close to the Census is conjecture as I am yet to find death records to confirm this.   The above photo is believed to be Aaron – I received this photo courtesy of a cousin in England.



Read more of my ancestor fiction stories in Stories Under the Tree.




Do you want to find your ancestors in Census Records?  Then click the image to search Findmypast to start finding your family.

8 thoughts on “The Census Collector

  1. I have a passing interest in my family tree and I’m lucky that others have done much of the work for me. This was SUCH a clever way to make the story of your ancestor interesting and relatable. And I really loved the touch of the picture at the end. Well done!

    1. Thank you for taking the time to read.  I have a passion for my family history but find others eyes sometimes glaze over.  However, by bringing the history to life by inserting the family into the facts I find people are much more interested.  I would love you to come back to read more about my ancestors!

  2. You tell a story very well. Other members of my family have researched our family history, so I’ve always had an interest in it. The pictures make everything come to life. I will be back to read more about your history. Thank you for reviving my interest in genealogy. Do you just use this genealogy search service or do you have other resources you use as well?

    1. Hi Susanne 

      Thank you for reading the story and I’m glad you enjoyed it.  I’m pleased that it’s reignited your genealogy passion.  

      I use numerous avenues for searching as not all repositories have all the information.  Whilst Ancestry and Find My Past do both carry a lot of wonderful content and documents not everything is available on them.  As such I use a variety of resources in my research – online sites, libraries, genealogical societies, I’ve even utilised the services of a professional genealogy researcher to access original documents for me in Scotland that are not found anywhere else!

      I look forward to seeing more comments from you in the future as you make your way through the website.



  3. Thank you for sharing. You do have a way of making your family tree interesting. I love reading the stories of how you have come to find information about your ancestors. I do look forward to reading more about your family tree. Keep the stories coming, please. Did you learn to relay information about your family this way from going to school or is this just something you feel naturally?

    1. Hi Sylvia

      I undertook a Diploma of Family History through the University of Tasmania from 2016-2017. In there I learned some valuable skills and two of the units were about writing your family history. I had more of an affinity with fictional stories based on the records I hold than I did on the factual ones. I feel to write a fictional story brings the people to life. This particular story grabbed me. Jonah was married to Henney and had a couple of children in 1861, however, by 1871 Henney was dead and a number of his other children were gone as well. In a ten-year-period (maybe even less) he lost a wife and three children – how heartbreaking. I hoped with this story to bring the sorrow that Jonah had to life. I’m glad you enjoyed it.


  4. Hi. I love the way you make anecdotes come alive by putting the characters in actual conversations. I feel like I’m there with you. I love reading the stories of how you have come to find information about your ancestors. Also, your pictures make everything come to life! Now I want to analyze my family tree – especially on my father’s side. Unfortunately, everyone died on his side of the family. How do you suggest I go about it?

    1. Hi Shalisha

      I am so glad you enjoyed the story. I enjoy bringing my ancestors to life in these short stories, it makes them seem more real. In regards to your family tree, write down everything you know. See if you can find birth, marriage, death certificates for your father’s side – they are a great stepping stone to get his parents and possibly siblings names. Then when you have confirmed that you can look for his parents birth, marriage and death records. I would also suggest you search at as they may have other records as well. It is a subscription site, however, if you are serious about getting into genealogy it is well worth the investment.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *