The Boorem Family
and the U.S. Census,
1800-1930

by Jeffrey L. Thomas

The Boorem family has appeared in every U.S. census return with the exception of the first federal census taken in 1790. Church records and the family's absence in the 1790 census are an indication that John Boorem probably arrived in America in the early 1790s. He married Catherine Fry and had at least seven children, with five living to maturity. Of his surviving children, Jacob would go on to a distinguished career as Justice of the Peace, while John (our next ancestor) would be counted among the early settlers of Paradise Valley in Monroe County, Pa.

I have written a short commentary on each census decade from 1800 to 1930, that notes the location of the family and the makeup of the household. I have also commented on the families of certain descendants, and provided links to the actual census image for the primary family mentioned.

1800 Census - Nazareth Township, Northampton County, Pennsylvania

The Boorem family resided in the small community of Nazareth in Northampton County, where John Boorem I was a carpenter and a house builder. He makes his first and only census appearance in 1800 for Nazareth Township, Northampton County, Pennsylvania, as "John Boram".

1810 Census - Lower Nazareth Township, Northampton County, Pennsylvania

According to his estate administration papers, John Boorem I died 25 April 1810 shortly before the census of 1810 was taken. His widow Catherine became the head of the household and is listed in the census as simply "Widow Borum".

1820 Census - Lower Nazareth Township, Northampton County, Pennsylvania

By 1820 Nazareth Township had been split into Upper and Lower Nazareth. The Boorem family resided in Lower Nazareth, where we find John Boorem II listed among the heads of households for the 1820 census (John Borum). By then he had married Elizabeth Nauman, daughter of Michael and Anna Nauman, and started a family.

1830 Census - ?????

I have yet to locate the Boorem family in the 1830 census, with the exception of John Boorem II's brother Jacob, who is still listed in Lower Nazareth. Their absence in the returns of 1830 may be an indication that the family was still in transition between Nazareth and Paradise Valley.

1840 Census - Price Township, Monroe County, Pennsylvania

Monroe County was formed from parts of Northampton County in 1836. Paradise Valley was not incorporated as a township until 1848, so in 1840 the area was still a part of Price township. Having gone missing for the 1830 census, the family of John Boorem II reappears in the 1840 returns (John Boroam). Unfortunately our ancestor would not live to see the first modern census in 1850.

1850 Census - Paradise Township, Monroe County, Pennsylvania

John Boorem II met an untimely death in 1844 when, according to family tradition, he was killed when a tree he was chopping in the woods fell on him. His death at a relatively early age deprives us of a glimpse of our pioneering ancestor in the first modern census in 1850.

The returns for that year show that son Jacob, (line 35), age 29, was listed as the head of the Boorem household, with the widowed Elizabeth Boorem, age 49, listed second. Elizabeth is shown as the owner of the farm which is assigned a value of $600.00. Sons John (John Boorem III), age 18, Francis age 15, and Samuel, age 8, and daughter Lydia, age 6 round out the Boorem family in 1850. Daughter Elizabeth, (born 1838), is inexplicably absent from the family group. Jacob is listed as a "Stone Mason" while John is simply listed as a "Laborer". This is the first appearance (by name) of John Boorem, the namesake of his father and grandfather. By 1850 daughter Susan had married Ruben Miller and was living in the township with her husband, while daughter Sarah was living with her husband Samuel Robbins in Scranton, Pa., where she died in 1880.

The also returns show that eldest son Joseph Boorem was living just across the creek (Paradise Creek), with his wife Elizabeth and family. Elizabeth was the daughter of George Dornblazer, one of the valley's first settlers. In 1852 a sanctuary for the new Evangelical Church in Paradise Valley was erected on land donated by this pioneer settler.

1860 Census - Paradise Township, Monroe County, Pennsylvania

The 1860 census reveals a lot of information about the Boorem family at mid-century. Elizabeth Boorem (line 26), age 60, is shown as the head of the household, owing the family farm valued at $1,500.00 and personal property valued at $200.00. Son Jacob, age 36, who never married, is again listed as a mason, John, age 27, is listed as a farmer, while Samuel, age 19, is listed as a day laborer. This is perhaps an indication that, although Jacob was the oldest brother living with the family, it was John who was running the family farm. Daughter Elizabeth, age 21, absent in the 1850 census, reappears, and her sister Lydia, age 16, is present as well. Daughter Susan Boorem, died ca. 1859, however her husband Ruben Miller, age 35, and their children Jeremiah, age 3, and Jacob, age 5, are present in the household. The last listed member of the Boorem family is Elizabeth's 86 year old mother Marie Nauman widow of Michael Nauman, who arrived in Paradise Valley with the first wave of settlers in the early 1820s. Like the Boorem family, he came from Nazareth in Northampton County. There is no doubt that in 1860 Marie Nauman was one of Paradise Valley's few surviving old-time settlers. Since she would not appear in the 1870 census, logic dictates that she most likely died before 1870.

Joseph Boorem and his family (line 36) are again living on farm across the creek on the old Dornblazer homestead, next to the new Evangelical Church, today known as Keokee Chapel. Over in Luzerne County (Providence Township near Scranton) we find daughter Sarah Boorem living with her husband Samuel Robbins and family.

1870 Census - Barrett Township, Monroe County, Pennsylvania

By 1870 the Boorem family and the country had undergone some dramatic changes. By then all of the surviving children of John and Elizabeth Boorem were grown and busy raising their own families, and the country had been through a bloody civil war. John Boorem III took part in the Civil War, enlisting in Philadelphia in 1861, and was discharged from the army after the Battle of Antietam in late 1862. Family tradition says that after the war John Boorem learned the lumber trade before returning to Monroe County. He did not, however, return to his home in Paradise Valley, but rather he settled in the newly-formed community of Mountainhome in nearby Barrett township.

Sometime around 1866 he married Sarah Jane, daughter of Mary Van Horn Starner, settled down on a farm and began raising a family. The 1870 census (line 3) shows John Boorem, age 38, as a laborer residing on his modest farm valued at $450.00. Sarah Jane's age is given as 28, and daughters Susan, age 8, Addie, age 3, and Agnes, age 2, completed the family. Daughter Addie (who is called Ida in some documents) would die before the next set of returns in 1880. Tragically, Jane Boorem would also die shortly after giving birth to their last child, Laura, in 1874.

Back in Paradise Valley we find the families of brothers Joseph (line 38) and Frank Boorem (line 14), as well as their mother Elizabeth Boorem (line 37), listed as a 71 year old widow. The returns show that Elizabeth was living by herself on the old family homestead that was now valued at $1,000.00. Living across the creek are son Joseph and his family, while Frank Boorem and his family are shown living on a farm nearby valued at $1,200.00.

By 1870 Lydia Boorem had married Sanford Robbins, the brother of her sister Sarah's husband Samuel Robbins. The census shows that the families of Samuel and Sarah Robbins and Sanford and Lydia Robbins were living together in Blakely Township (near Scranton) in Luzerne County. By then Samuel and Sarah's last child William had been born, while Sanford and Lydia Robbins are shown as the parents of 2-year-old Clara. Samuel Robbins is listed as the head of the household, owning his home which was valued at $1,000.00. This was quite an improvement from 1860, and might be partially explained by Samuel inheriting some of his father Caleb's estate. Both Samuel and Sanford are listed as plasterers.

I have yet to find Samuel Boorem in the 1870 census, however the returns reveal that by 1870 brother Jacob Boorem had moved to Iowa! The 1870 census reveals that Jacob was living and working with the family of Samuel Bowman in Mallory Township, Clayton County, Iowa. The returns show that about half of the people in the township, like Jacob, were born in Pennsylvania.

1880 Census - Barrett Township, Monroe County, Pennsylvania

By 1880 the village of Mountainhome in Barrett township had been established, and it is here that we find John Boorem III and his family in the 1880 census. John and Jane Boorem's only son and our next ancestor, Joseph Hooker Boorem, was born in 1872, followed by Laura in 1874. Unfortunately Jane died from complications following the birth of Laura and, according to family tradition, was one of the first people buried at the newly-formed Methodist church in Mountainhome, a church her husband had helped build.

Family tradition says that following Jane's death, oldest sister Susie assumed much of the burden of raising her younger siblings, however by 1880 John had remarried his near neighbor, the aforementioned Emma Bond. There are rumors concerning the circumstances of John's marriage to Emma, which probably took place in 1879/80; what we do know is at the time of their marriage John was 47, while Emma was 17 or 18.

In the 1880 census we see John and Emma along with John's children Agnes and Hooker. Daughter Susie is absent, as is youngest daughter Laura. We find Susie Boorem living nearby with the family of Joseph and Emeline Carlton. Joseph's occupation is "carpenter" and 17 year old Susie's occupation is listed as "works in shoe peg fac(tory)". In a few years she would marry William Surplus, and Irish immigrant and begin her own family.

Family tradition says that following the death of her mother Jane, Laura Boorem was sent by her father to be raised with the family of her uncle Joseph Starner, her mother's half-brother. The 1880 census confirms this as we find Joseph Starner, his wife Jane (Reinhart) and Laura (with the last name Starner) living in the city of Chicago on W. 12th Street.

In 1880 we again find "Jake Borem" living in Mallory township, this time with the family of farmer Mart(in) Smith. Jake's occupation in 1880 is listed cryptically as "sharing hoofs," which is perhaps "shearing hoofs," something related to farm animals.

Back in Paradise Valley we find the families of Joseph and Frank Boorem. By 1880 their mother Elizabeth (age 81) had moved from Paradise Valley to Scranton, and was living with the family of her daughter Elizabeth Polhamus. The Polhamus family included Elizabeth's widowed daughter Lydia who's husband Sanford Robbins had disappeared in 1874. The returns also show that son Samuel Boorem was living in Scranton in 1880, working as a conductor for the railroad. That puts Elizabeth and three of her children in Scranton in 1880. This would be Elizabeth's last census return, although I have yet to discover the place and date of her death. Sarah Boorem Robbins died in 1880 before the returns were taken, and was buried first in a private cemetery in Dickson City, near Scranton, but was moved (along with the entire Robbins family plot), to her permanent resting place in Forest Hill cemetery in Dunmore in 1881.

1900 Census - Barrett Township, Monroe County, Pennsylvania

In the 1900 census we find the family of John and Emma Boorem living in Mountainhome, Barrett Township. In 1892 John Boorem purchased a new farm in Mountainhome, property that remains in the family today. The returns for the family list John, age 67, his wife Emma, age 40, sons Alex, age 18, and Ord, age 14, and daughter Maud, age 9. By 1900 John and Emma's oldest daughter Mabel had married Allen Price and had settled nearby, while son Sedgwick was living in Kushequa, McKean Co., Pa. with his half brother Hooker Boorem and family. In 1900 John's children from his first wife Jane were living in different parts of Pennsylvania. Agnes had married David John and was living in Scranton, Susie had married William Surplus and settled in Gouldsboro, Wayne Co., Pa., Hooker had married Celeste Christman and settled in Kushequa, McKean Co., Pa., while Laura had married William Doebele and settled in Scranton.

Back in Paradise Valley we find two of John Boorem's brothers still living on or near the old Boorem family homestead. Oldest brother Joseph Boorem died in 1893 and was buried at Keokee Chapel next to his farm. The returns show that his widow Elizabeth Dornblazer, age 75, was living with the family of her daughter and son-in-law Edward & Rose Bellis. Close by is the family of Frank (Francis) Boorem, age 64. Frank's wife Elizabeth Koerner died unexpectedly in 1890. By 1900 older brother Jake Boorem had returned from Iowa and was living with Frank and his family. Samuel and Lydia Boorem were still living in Scranton in 1900. Samuel Boorem was still working for the railroad, while by 1900 Lydia was divorced from her second husband Joseph Hedden.

1910 Census - Barrett Township, Monroe County, Pennsylvania

In 1910 we find the family of John & Emma Boorem on the family farm in Mountainhome. John is listed as a 77-year-old farmer, and his wife Emma's age is given as 51. The family also included son Alex, age 25, his wife Altie, age 26, and John ans Emma's daughter Maud, age 19. The returns indicate that Alex was helping his aging father run the farm. This would be John Boorem's last set of returns. He died in 1916 and his farm passed to his daughter and son-on-law Maud and Harry Pace. Their children still own the property today. With this passing, three generations of John Boorems were finally at rest.

In 1910 John's daughter Susie was still living with her husband William Surplus and family in Gouldsboro, Agnes was still living with David John in Scranton, while Hooker and his family had moved to Scranton by 1910, where Hooker got a job working for the DL&W Railroad. By 1910 Laura had divorced William Doebele, remarried Ulreh Vogt, and moved to Chicago.

Jacob Boorem died in 1901, so the only surviving 3rd generation Boorem family member still living in Paradise Valley in 1910 was old Francis Boorem. Lydia Boorem Robbins was still living in Scranton in 1910, as was her brother Samuel. Samuel Boorem died in 1913 and was buried in a single unmarked grave in Forest Hill Cemetery in nearby Dunmore.

1920 Census - Paradise Township, Monroe County, Pennsylvania

In 1920 we see that old Francis Boorem (age 84, widowed) living with his son-in-law and daughter Clinton & Bertha Boorem Learn on his farm in Paradise Valley. Francis Boorem would die in 1927. He was the next to last 3rd generation Boorem to die, and his passing would close a chapter in the history of the Boorem family's 100 year old association with Paradise Valley.

In 1920 John Boorem's widow Emma was still living in Mountainhome. By then she had sold the John Boorem farm to her son-in-law and daughter Harry and Maud Pace. Daughter Mabel Price and her family were living nearby in the village of Canadensis. In 1920 John's children form his first wife Jane were dispersed as follows: Susie was still living in Gouldsboro, Hooker and his family and Agnes and her husband were still living in Scranton, while Laura had died in Tobyhanna Mills in 1912 and was buried in Gouldsboro. Susie Boorem Surplus died in 1926 and was also buried in Gouldsboro.

1930 Census - Springfield, Hampden Co., Massachusetts

In the 1930 census youngest daughter Lydia was living in Springfield Massachusetts with the family of her son Wilbur Hedden, a family that included Lydia's daughter Clara Robbins. Lydia was the last surviving 3rd generation Boorem family member to pass away. Although I am not certain of the date of her death, family tradition claims that she died in 1935. With her passing, all of the children of John and Elizabeth Nauman Boorem were finally at rest.


Return to the main page at the Boorem Family Web Site

Text and photographs copyright 2003 by Jeffrey L. Thomas, with all rights reserved
e-mail: jltbalt1@verizon.net