University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point University Library
University Library, UW-Stevens Point
Library Home | About Us | Hours | Directory | Library News | Visitors & Maps | Site Index | Help
1900 Portage County Census (photos from the Portage County Historical Society Web Exhibit)

Introduction to the 1860 U.S. Census
Portage County, Wisconsin

Portage County, from an 1895 Rand McNally Atlas (click here for a larger view of the area (288KB)

Portage County, from an 1895 Rand McNally Atlas
 Click here or on the map for a larger view of the area (288KB)

Click Here to Search the Central WI Genealogy Index
Read the Introductions:
1850 | 1860 | 1870 | 1880 | 1900

The 1860 census, begun on the first of June, 1860, and to be completed within five months, was taken by Assistant Marshal Thomas B. McNair, a resident of the city of Stevens Point, then a city of 1,538 inhabitants. McNair was responsible for visiting each of the 1,593 households in Portage County, to determine each of the following, as of June 1, 1860, the effective date of the census:

  1. The name of every person whose usual place of abode on the first day of June, 1860, was in this family
  2. Description: age, sex, color (white, black, mulatto)
  3. Profession, Occupation, or Trade of each person, male and female, over 15 years of age
  4. Value of Estate Owned: Value of Real Estate, Value of Personal Estate (new for 1860)
  5. Place of Birth, Naming the State, Territory, or Country
  6. Whether person was married within the year
  7. Whether person attended school within the year
  8. Persons over 20 years of age who cannot read and write
  9. Whether deaf and dumb, blind, insane, idiotic, pauper, or convict

Nationally, this army of enumerators went door to door, counting and compiling data on the 31.4 million inhabitants of the country, not including Native Americans not taxed, nor slaves, who were counted separately. Portage County at that time consisted of fifteen governmental units (fourteen townships and the city of Stevens Point, not yet divided into wards), and had an official total population of 7507. For the first time in 1860, persons were asked about the value of their real estate and personal property. Their responses are probably not particularly accurate. Indeed, it has been suggested that fear of increased taxes may have motivated some to undervalue their property.

Although the boundaries of Portage County had been fixed by 1856 as they are today, the township boundaries remained unsettled until 1899. In 1860 the towns of Alban, Carson, Dewey did not yet exist. At that time the town of Eau Pleine extended to the east of the Wisconsin River, and the town of Hull extended north to the Marathon County line. The present town of Carson, and part of Linwood, formed the township of Stevens Point, what remained of the old Territorial township of that name which had originally extended east to the county line. The land now in the town of Alban was then part of New Hope. Part of Linwood lay south and east of the Wisconsin River, later to be ceded to the town of Plover. Various other township boundaries were slightly different from what they are today. It should therefore be kept in mind that finding families in different townships in different censuses does not necessarily mean that they had moved.

This index groups families together, alphabetized by surname, for ease of identification. Exceptions to the family grouping occur when family members have a different surname (married daughters living at home, stepchildren, mothers-in-law, etc.); these are indexed separately. Each entry gives, in the right-hand column, the page number of the census schedule where the name can be found. On the microfilm, look for the page number in the upper left- or right-hand corner. Unfortunately, for reasons which are not clear, the pages were not microfilmed in numerical order. The pages can be found in the following sequence: 47 – 58, 75 – 90, 11 – 22, 35 – 46, 1 – 6, 117 – 122, 23 – 34, 67 – 74, 105 – 116, 59 – 66, 135 – 158, 123 – 134, 159 – 197, 7 – 10, 91 – 104.

In producing this index, considerable care and effort has gone into deciphering the penmanship, which is generally good, but as with all records of this type, large allowance should be made for variant spellings and misspellings. In some cases it is possible only to make a reasonable guess as to the enumerator’s intent. Watch out for the “long s”, a letter which in 1860 had not yet fallen into disuse: in cursive script, “ss”, with a long s in the first position, can look like “p.”

The 1860 Census

Unit Census Pages Population
Town of Almond 46 – 58 491
Town of Amherst 74 – 89 600
Town of Belmont 10 – 22 465
Town of Buena Vista 34 – 45 428
Town of Eau Pleine 1 – 5 185
Town of Hull 116 – 122 225
Town of Lanark 23 – 34 435
Town of Linwood 67 – 73 274
Town of New Hope 104 – 116 484
Town of Pine Grove 58 – 66 299
Town of Plover 134 – 157 895
Town of Sharon 122 – 134 454
City of Stevens Point 158 – 197 1,538
Town of Stevens Point 6 – 10 143
Town of Stockton 89 – 104 592
Total Population 7,507


2004 University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point University Library
900 Reserve Street | Stevens Point, WI 54481
7153463038 (administration) | 7153462540 (circulation) | 7153462836 (reference)

This page last modified: Monday, January 30, 2012