Surprises from the 1950 Census

Delving into some more records from the 1950 census, I began to explore Richland.

The first surprise was the total population: 514

That couldn’t be right. That would mean that Richland more than doubled in population size between 1950 and 1960. My guess is that this is due to people not being at home when the census taker came calling and presumably the missing people were then counted later on.

I then followed the records in order as the census taker began on Chestnut Street and found the Weigley and the Blouch households pretty much just as I remembered them. Several houses later there was the Sheetz household where my aunt Joan had grown up, but she was no longer living there although her 18 year old brother Russell was.

There were some households missing that I might have expected to find, but 1950 was seven years before I had moved to town. When the census taker got to Main Street, there was the Eck household. Lee Eck was the principal at Richland school, later at Elco, and I didn’t realize it but in 1950, his father was still alive and was listed as the head of their household.

Moving on down Main Street there were some more names, both familiar and unfamiliar, until I came to the Geiss household. Yes, there were Roy (the barber), his wife Olive, and their daughter Sally Ann. They would be our next door neighbors when we moved there in 1957. Next to them was “No one at home” and next to them was a real surprise.

It was Harry Pennypacker and his family. I had never realized that they had ever lived on Main Street. I only knew them when they lived on Linden Street.

Harry Pennypacker was our scout master when I was in the Boy Scouts several years later, which is when I got to know him pretty well. He’s listed in the census with his wife Lucetta, his son Harry (or Buddy as we all called him), and daughter Suzanne. His occupation is Gas station operator. Really? When I knew him he was an insurance salesman. I wonder which gas station? Richland had two. An Esso station owned and operated by my great uncle Leo Blecker, and an Atlantic station owned and operated by Red Engle who lived just a couple houses further down the block on Main Street. The two stations were at opposite ends of the borough.

Then there is the question of exactly where the Pennypackers were living. Richland had no street address in those days and the census wouldn’t have included them anyway. The order of the Pennypackers on the form seems to indicate the next house down from the Geiss’s (they lived in a duplex), which when we moved in a few years later was occupied by the Gass family.

But then the following entry is for Harry Kapp, the school janitor, and he actually lived in an apartment that was offset behind Main Street, accessed by an unnamed driveway. There were a couple apartments back there, so I can’t tell if the Pennypackers lived in a house or an apartment. I’m guessing a house as they were a four person family.

The next page of the census records is no help as it skips to Race Street.

I wonder if anybody would know? Probably Buddy, if he’s still around.

There will probably be more surprises as I keep searching through the records.

1950 census Richland Main st

Leave a Reply