December 8, 2003

Pages 380
Whole Number 25


In the March, 1959, issue of The North Carolinian appears a fascinating study and compilation by William Perry Johnson entitled 'Was Your Family Surname Rare or Common in the U.S. in 1790?' Mr. Johnson begins his analysis with an account of the first census taken in the United States, pointing out that of the 827,844 square miles constituting the U.S. in 1790, only 29 per cent had been settled. The total U.S. population in 1790 was 3,231,533 (exclusive of 697,681 slaves). Mr. Johnson estimates that there were about 30,000 different surnames to be found in the country in 1790. From a table published in a volume entitled A Century of Population Growth in the United States, 1790-1900, which lists over 4,300 surnames represented by at least 100 white persons in 1790, Mr. Johnson has determined which were the 1000 most common names. It will interest our readers that the name Sparks is among this 1000, tying with eight other names for the 915th place. The names with which 'Sparks' ties are: Bullard, Chadwick, Joiner, Joslin, Kilbourn, Lacy, Sinclair, and Woodman. There were 97 persons named Sparks according to the exiant portions of the 1790 census. The census records of Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, New Jersey, Tennessee, and about half of Virginia were not included in this figure since these records were destroyed many years ago.