John Luther Jones Sr from New Hampshire

I'm trying to get the correct father for John Luther Jones Sr . b 14 Aug 1874 in Hot Springs, Arkansas.  All my research says his Father was Nathan Jones, b. May 1855 in hot Springs, Arkansas, and his mother was Tabitha Lacey, b. 1855 in Tennessee.  All records like Census says Nathan Jones was black. 

The 1900 census says they (the whole family) are all black.

the 1910 census says the they (the whole family) are all mulato.

Other records say they're both.

But his parents, grand parents, gg grandparents and their spouses were all white.  so if they were all white, how is it that Nathan Jones is black?  unless I have the wrong Nathan jones, or it was put in the census' like that...  any help or suggestions will be, of course, appreciated.

John Paul Jones

  •  ,

    Thank you for posting on History Hub!

    Instructions given to the census enumerators in 1900 included that "Column 5. Color or race. Write ‘‘W’’ for white; ‘‘B’’ for black (negro or negro descent); ‘‘Ch’’ for Chinese; ‘‘Jp’’ for Japanese, and ‘‘In’’ for Indian, as the case may be." 

    Instructions for enumerators in 1910 included: 

    "108. Column 6. Color or race.—Write ‘‘W’’ for white; ‘‘B’’ for black; ‘‘Mu’’ for mulatto; ‘ ‘Ch’’ for Chinese; ‘‘Jp’’ for Japanese; ‘‘In’’ for Indian. For all persons not falling within one of these classes, write ‘‘Ot’’ (for other), and write on the left-hand margin of the schedule the race of the person so indicated.

    109. For census purposes, the term ‘‘black’’ (B) includes all persons who are evidently fullblooded negroes, while the term ‘‘mulatto’’ (Mu) includes all other persons having some proportion or perceptible trace of negro blood."

    Keep in mind that individual census enumerators may or may not have followed instructions, and they may have made personal assumptions rather than inquiries of those being enumerated. Additionally, the racial identification a person or family used may have changed over time, a concept known as "Passing."

    Whether you have found the correct person in the census or not may require additional research using other sources to help determine if more than one person with the same name lived in the same area and timeframe.

    Hopefully other community members may have additional suggestions.

    We hope this is helpful. Best of luck with your research!

  • Thank you for that info.  I did not realize about the enumerators.