Penmanship. Do you remember how to write the "Z" character?
Not many apparently can read it on an 1850 census of St. Augustine FL.
So my grandmother's grandmother has been listed as a Tylstra. And since the man actually doing the census taking was Geroge J. Zehnbauer, from Germany, and signed his name at the top of each sheet...it's clear his last name doesn't begin with a "T"...thus demonstrating his "Z" prowess.
He lists his occupation as Deputy, US Marshall, though he was taking the census on October 14, 1850. So my ancestors have been listed as Tylstra all this time. And that elusive "Z" is what they've missed.
Anna Zylstra Swasey was my great great grandmother and not much is known about her life.
Anna's brother Peter C. Zylstra was the Post Master of St. Austine, FL (since 1840). He and his wife were born in South Carolina, and they list 3 children on the 1850 census.
Next door is his mother, Charlotta (or Charlotte) Zylstra, age 58, with her daughter Anna J. Sweesy (32) and her children, Elisabetha D. Sweesy (10), Anna M. (7) and Caroline C (4) and Miriam (1). My granmother's grandfather Alexander John Swasey wouldn't be born until 1853 in Charlotte, SC.
No husband is listed with Anna J. Sweesy, but we already know that Alexander Swasey, Jr was Captain of various ships... so might be living aboard his ship most of the time (I think). Or maybe his wife was in St. Augustine for another reason. He could well still have had his home in Charlotte, SC. He did however have 4 children to support in St. Augustine, I would think.
Does this have anything to do with the impending Civil War? I really don't know. However, before Captain Alexander Swasey became a blockade runner for the Confederacy, he transported slaves from one port to another on his ships. There are slave manifests that he signed as records for 8 slaves transported from Charleston to New Orleans in 1843. Another person was the owner of these people, according to these records.
Now go back a few years to consider Florida history. Peter Zylstra (postmaster, remember, 1840-50 at least) had fought 3 months in the Florida Indian Wars, 1836-37, in Weedon's Company B. I've seen the records of this. Florida was a US territory as of 1819, and Andrew Jackson wanted the Seminole Indians relocated out west (along with all the southeastern tribes). The Seminoles had also previously harbored runaway slaves.
I don't know where Peter Zylstra actually fought the Indians, but as of 1838 Oseola had been captured and died...a well known Seminole chief.
Floridians wrote their constitution in 1839, but didn't gain congressional approval because it was wanting to be a slave state. By the time Iowa wanted to be a free state, both Florida and Iowa were admitted as states in 1845, thus keeping a balance of power in the legislature.
So the census of 1850 in St. Augustine was the first time Florida participated as a state.
Now the T vs Z problem actually continued in my own family records. There's a copy of Alexander John Swasey's death certificate from 1913 with data given by his nephew, Chauncey Sweet. And Mr. Swasey's mother is listed as "Female Tilstra" but it's a bit confusing because it's spelled Famile Tilstra, supposedly born in Tallahassee FL. (I still only have the 1850 census from St. Augustine to rely upon for South Carolina as being her birthplace around 1815). I don't know when or where Mrs. Alexander John Swasey died yet.
But I've made so much progress this evening I can go to my bedtime book with a sense of satisfaction.
I've got Zylstra blood in my veins! Ah ha!
Where might it hail from originally? There are a lot of Zylstra's from Holland that settled later in Michigan. Maybe Dutch?
Oh, another fun fact, Peter C. Zylstra left being postmaster and returned to Charlotte where he became a "pattern maker." I thought of tailors and seamstresses. But I have no idea if that was his profession. However, either he had a son he named the same, or he lived over 100 years, according to the city directories that he is listed in.