By Peter W. Bond and first published in MISSING LINKS: A Weekly Newsletter for Genealogists, Vol. 3, No. 33, 14 August 1998; Copyright (©) 1996-98 Julia M. Case and Myra Vanderpool Gormley. Reprinted with permission.

I bought an old book dated 1888 by Artemus Ward. It was about his great adventurist journey across the United States with his travelling show. One chapter is regarding the Census. Read on.

“The Sences taker in our town bein taken sick he deppertised me to go out for him one day, and as he was too ill to giv me informashun how to perceed, I was consekently compelled to go it blind. Sittin down by the road side I drawd up the follerin list of questions which I proposed to ax the peple I visited:

  • Wat’s your age?
  • Whar was you born?
  • Air you marrid, and if so how do you like it?
  • How many children hav you, and do they sufficiently resemble you as to proclood the possibility of their belongin to any of your nabers?
  • Did you ever hav the measels, and if so how many?
  • Hav you a twin brother several years older than yourself?
  • How many parents have you?
  • Do you read Watt’s Hims regler?
  • Do you use boughten tobacker?
  • Wat’s your fitin wate?
  • Air you trubeld with biles?
  • How does your meresham culler?
  • State whether you air blind, deaf, idiotic or got the heaves.
  • Do you know any Opry singers, and if so how much do they owe you?
  • What’s the average of virtoo on the Ery Canawl?
  • If 4 barrils of Emptins pored onto a barn floor will kiver it how many plase can Dion Boureicault write in a year?
  • Is Beans a regler article of diet in your family?
  • How many chickins hav you, on foot and in shell?
  • Air you aware that Injianny whisky is used in New York shootin galrys instid of pistils, and that it shoots furthest?
  • Was you ever at Niagry Falls?
  • Was you ever in the Penitentiary?
  • State how much pork, impendin crysis, Dutch cheeze, popler suvrinty, standard poetry, childrens’ strainers, slave code, catnip, red flannel, ancient histry, pickled tomaters, old junk, perfoomery, coal ile, liberty, hoop skirt, &c., you av on hand.

But it didn’t work. I got into a row at the fust house I stopt to with some old maids. Disbeliven the answers they giv in regard to their ages I endevered to open their mouths and look at their teeth, same as they do with hosses, but they floo into a vilent rage and tackled me with brooms and sich. Takin the senses requires experiunse, like any other bizniss.”