Subdivision 11

Unlike Area 51 or District 9, Subdivision 11 in Sussex County, Delaware, has no known association with aliens or UFOs.  It does, however, contain a large number of my relatives in the 1850 US census.

In the 1840 census in Sussex County, enumeration was by hundred.  In the 1860 census, enumeration was by hundred.  But in the 1850 census, enumeration was by hundred and by a geographic area referred to as the 11th Subdivision.  What was this exactly and why was it created for this one census? Google search and a review of 1850 census turned up nothing useful.  There is plenty of speculation about Subdivision 11 in the genealogy forums, but nothing concrete.  Being someone who likes to trace the movement of my ancestors over time, I find Subdivision 11  a bit irritating.

Comparing the 1850 census geography to a list of the hundreds in Sussex County and their year of establishment does provided a partial answer to this mystery.  The table below shows this comparison.

1850 Hundreds

The ‘1850 Census’ column identifies those hundreds enumerated in the census and we see that six of the hundreds are unaccounted for.  However, three of these were not established until after 1850. We can infer that the remaining three – Broad Creek, Little Creek and Northwest Fork – made up the 11th Subdivision in 1850. This makes sense to me.  My 3rd Great Grandfather appears in Broad Creek in 1840 and 1860 so it stands to reason that he would have lived in the Broad Creek portion of the 11th Subdivision in 1850.

That answers the ‘what’ but not the ‘why’ of this subdivision.  As part of my day job, I’ve worked with census data quite a bit over the years, and I know that census boundaries are adjusted from time to time in an attempt to even out the population included within the areas.  Areas with a lot of population growth are sometimes split and areas with low growth sometimes combined.  Looking at the map of the hundreds in Sussex County*, we see that these three hundreds were in the western and least populated portion of the county.  That’s my best guess as to why the 11th Subdivision was created – to make the enumeration workload more comparable to that of the more heavily populated eastern hundreds in the county.

Sussex Hundreds

If anyone reading this has more information or a better theory, I’d love to hear from you.

*This map fragment is courtesy of the David Rumsey Map Collection that I wrote about in an earlier article.

13 thoughts on “Subdivision 11”

  1. I have run into the same problem. I have family members listed as living in Northwest Fork and then Subdivision 11. Family name Wright.
    Would appreciate any further information help.

    Thank you,

    1. Hi Chris!

      I have several Wrights in my family tree, although I’m not directly descended from any of them. Who are you looking for? Around what years?

      – Reese

      1. Hi Rhys,

        On my father’s side I have a hard time going past my Great Great Grandfather Perry F Wright. I have found his name on an 1860 census at about the right age with parenst named, William and Pricillia Wright. But beyond that, nothing. I do know they lived in the area, Federalsburg, Hurlock, etc. Mostly places connected with the river as they worked on it some.
        Also, my Great Grandmother, Maggie Ricords. I know where she is buried, but I cannot find any record of her family.

        Starting with my father: Maxwell Wright, then Ernest and Catherine Wright, then William Grayson and Maggie Wright, then Perry F. and Elizabeth Wright, and (?) William and Priscillia Wright.

        I think they are connected with the Wrights of Oak Grove in what is now Reliance, De/Md. My Grandfather had mentioned that his Aunts lived there when he went to the funeral of the last one. He said he was not related to John and Thomas Wright who owned the tomato cannery across the road.

        I have not been able to find a connection with the Oak Grove Wrights.

        Thank you for any help you may have.

        1. I forgot to put my Grandfather’s name. It is Ernest E. Wright, married to Catherine Elizabeth (Hastings). They did live on Thomas Wright’s land and he did work for Thomas, but said they were not related. My Grandfather passed in 1982, so the aunt would have passed before that year. Also, he mentioned she had a sister and they never married.

  2. I too have family, ie Isaacs, Conaway (also spelled Connaway) and Truitt that lived in the Broak Creek & Nanticoke Hundreds….. But I can not get passed my 2x Grt Grandfather, Willard A. isaacs born in 1850’s… Then it just gets jumbled up between possible fathers (Joseph or John)…. But I keep running into a brick wall. No surviving relatives have any info to add. I do know that the Isaacs, Truitt and Conaway families intermarried a whole bunch. Any help you can give would be SOOOOOOO Appreciated.

    1. Kristen,

      Nice to hear from a potential cousin! I haven’t researched this deeply, but I believe that Willard A Isaacs is a 1st cousin of mine, 4 times removed. I have him born 5 Dec 1853 in Delaware and died 8 Jun 1949. His parents were Joseph Isaacs and Margaret Conaway. Joseph’s parents were Owen Isaacs (my 4th great grandfather) and Betsy Conaway. It appears the Isaacs boys liked marrying the Conaway girls! Joseph’s brother was Noah (my 3rd great grandfather), also married a Conaway. Does any of this sound right to you?

      1. Thank you for responding so quickly!! YES!! That answers one of my questions.. So Owen IS Joseph’s Father then?! Do you have birth/death dates for him & Betsy by chance… Then the next big question.. That’s I’ve literally been searching for… For years… Is where the heck did Owen come from? I can Not find anything about his parents etc. so Owen Isaacs is my direct paternal-4th(?) Great Grandfather.. Here’s my line:
        Me: Kristen Marie Isaacs
        My Dad: Willard Franklin Isaacs II
        His Dad: Willard Franklin Isaacs
        His Dad: Willard Peter Isaacs
        His Dad: Willard A. Isaacs
        His Dad: Joseph Isaacs
        His Dad: Owen Isaacs
        Are there any records that include stories about these men/family’s? The land they owned? Etc? And… Nice to meet you, Cousin!! 🙂

        1. Kristen,

          Let me check my research and then get back to you. Owen is a brick wall for me as well, but I may have a few bits of information of interest.

          – Reese

        2. Kristin,

          Looking into Owen reminded me of the record confusion surrounding the Isaacs family in the 1800s! I have his birth year as 1780, based on information found in the American Genealogical-Biographical Index (AGBI). I have his death year as abt. 1855 based on a probate record for Owen Isaacs at Delaware Public Archives for 1855-1856. I haven’t looked at the contents of the probate but it’s now on my list of things to do.

          From what I can find, Owen was married two time and had six children. I know that one of the male children was Noah. I believe that two other children were Joseph and Minos, but do not know that conclusively. Noah, Joseph and Minos all had large families and lived near each other in Nanticoke Hundred. In the census records, I believe that their offspring often showed up in the wrong families and it is very difficult to sort out. They also favored some of the same names for their children.

          I have one historical document that mentions Owen Isaacs. I’m sending that to you via email.

  3. Really loved this explanation and the research you put into this! I’ve seen 11th Subdivision pop up on census records and wondered where it was. Your explanation makes sense, and gives a better understanding of population densities. Thank you!

  4. HI,

    A lot of my relatives popped up in Nanticoke as well; Owens, Griffiths, Isaac(minos), Warren, Wilson, Truit. It feels like if you look at it someone is married to someone in all of these families. I saw subdivision 11 in some of the research but I don’t know what that boils down to exactly. I also could not figure out how Comfort Isaac fits into it,,,??? She is listed in Nanticoke in 1800 census but I did not see any other Isaac. I figured that she was widowed but what is connection to Owen Isaacs? Any idea??

  5. Joanne,

    My family problem is with the Isaacs and the Connaways – they kept marrying each other! But it’s understandable, since the area was quite rural and sparcely populated, and their farms were all within a few miles of each other.

    I’ve spent many hours searching for more about Comfort Isaacs, but have nothing more than speculation. I agree she was likely widowed. She is the only Isaacs in the Sussex County in 1800. Given her age in 1800 and her location in Nanticoke hundred, my feeling is that she was Owen’s mother, but I really don’t have any more information than you.

    – Reese

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