My ancestor lived in Shelby county in 1880.
On the census where he is listed his race is listed as white. For several pages both before and after everyone has their race listed as black.
Any idea's why this would be? I understand census workers went door to door so it stands to reason he was living in a black neighborhood.
I have a couple theories but I do not know enough about Memphis in 1880 to eliminate some as a possibility.
One possible reason is society thought of them as black and made them live in a black neighborhood, but they thought of themselves as white and listed it on the census that way. We have a lot of Choctaw/Creek/Cherokee blood in us. If they were mixed race either Indian/White, Indian/Black, or Black/White, wouldn't they have been listed as Mulatto? Would they have been allowed to specify their race or would the census worker make the call as to their race?
I also understand the Yellow Fever epidemic of 1879 killed a bunch of people. So maybe he was in quarantine? Would they quarantine poor white and poor black folks together?
Another possible reason is prison, internment, missionaries, Union camp, school???
His occupation is listed as a laborer as are everyone's else for several pages.
Thanks for reading!