By Joan Fudala
As Scottsdalians and all Americans fill out their U.S. Census forms this month—some via the internet for the first time—we’re focused on the future. We’ve been told our collective responses will have an impact on federal funding, U.S. Congressional districts and city service delivery. But what do past U.S. Census forms reveal about Scottsdale history? Take a look at the who’s who of who was, and what they did for a living:
The U.S. Constitution, Article One, Section Two, mandates that a national census be taken to count the population every 10 years. Response is also required by law. The federal government began census-taking in 1790.
U.S. Census records are held confidential for 72 years, thus the most recent data available to the general public is the 1940 census.
Early censuses were taken by hand by enumeration districts—defined as the area a single enumerator could cover in a prescribed period.
Because Scottsdale was not officially named/settled until the 1890s (Winfield and Helen Scott filed homestead documents in 1888), no meaningful census data is available until 1900. The 1900 census of the Arizona Territory, taken in June and July, shows that the Scotts (Winfield, Helen and daughter Minnie Albright) were spending the summer in Prescott in a rented house, and he listed his occupation as retired Army chaplain and minister. Questions on the 1900 form included whether individuals could read, write, speak English and what their immigration and/or naturalization years were.
In 1900, Scottsdale’s enumeration district was No. 26, but the settlement was not listed as “Scottsdale,” rather by its location in the Arizona Territory: Township 2N/Range 4E. Among the residents and their listed occupations were: Wilford (farmer) and Mittie Hayden and six children; George (school teacher) and Alza Blount and three children, Verner Vanderhoof (school teacher), the Rev. Judson Elliott (preacher) and Minnie and three children; Howard (farmer) and Ida Underhill and two children; James L. (grocer) and Elizabeth Davis, two children and two boarders. Most residents listed their occupation as farmer or farm laborer; others included lawyer, schoolteacher, boarding housekeeper, bookkeeper, seamstress, horticulturalist and lumber merchant.
In 1910, the U.S. Census Day was April 15. Scottsdale was Enumeration District 75 in the Arizona Territory, and John Townsend was the census enumerator. On his handwritten enumeration sheets, the name “Scottsdale” was amended to read “Scottsville.” It was the last year that Winfield and Helen Scott would be listed, as Chaplain Scott died in October 1910, and Helen moved to San Diego to live with her daughter and son-in-law.
Among the recognizable names and then-occupations in 1910 Scottsdale: E.O. Brown (merchant) and Jane and children; Walter (farmer) and Helen Smith; Ed and Mary Graves (who, at about that time, opened Graves Guest Ranch); Emma, Richard and Marjorie (artist) Thomas; Charles and Ella Miller; Sarah Coldwell Thomas (postmistress) and her children Grace, Stanley and George; George and Mary Cavalliere (blacksmiths); and Wilford Hayden and Mittie and family (farmers). Scottsdale was a farming community; however, other occupations listed on the forms included house painter, waitress, cook, laborer, machinist, public school teacher, servant, stage route, electrical engineer, minister, missionary and “none,” which usually meant either homemaker or student. Almost an entire page of the Scottsdale district listed farm laborers recently immigrated from Mexico.
The 1920 U.S. Census Day was January 1, and Scottsdale was listed in precincts 10 and 17. Population of the enumeration district was 1,047. Handwritten enumeration forms show many immigrants from Mexico working as farm laborers and cotton pickers, and the generation population as farmers. Forms listed boarders at the Ingleside Inn and other resorts and guest ranches.
Among the well-remembered Scottsdale residents from the 1920 census forms and their occupations: Jacob (farmer) and Lorene Steiner and their daughters Thelma and Labeula, who lived on McDowell Road; George and Mary Cavalliere and three children (blacksmiths); E.O. and Mary Brown and their three children and nephew George Thomas plus eight boarders; Dr. T. Bishop (doctor of medicine); Robert Chesnutt and family; Walter Donn and Harriett and children; Joseph and Lottie Sidell (school janitress); Ramona Demarbiex and family; Tomas and Cecelia Corral and children. Other occupations beyond farming and ranching included: auto mechanic, mail carrier, grocery clerk, minister, telephone clerk, dressmaker, carpenter, stockbroker, hotel dishwasher, powerhouse electrician, barber and stockman.
By the 1930 census, Scottsdale’s enumeration district (No. 0117) had grown to 2,761 people; Census Day was April 1. Among the families and individuals whose names are prominent in Scottsdale history: George/Mary Cavalliere (blacksmith), Lorene Steiner (midwife), Tomas/Cecelia Corral (farm laborer), Jasper Tamm (grocer), Charles/Clara Coldwell (farmer), Miguel Dominguez (farmer), Thomas Bishop (horticulturalist), Louis (farmer) and Garnet D. Grosse (artist), Jeffrey Conrad (postmaster), Mort Kimsey (service station) and many more. Gertrude Webster and Gustav Starck, prominent in the establishment of the Desert Botanical Garden, were listed as living here. Jessie Benton Evans, Marjorie Thomas and Marguerite Wheeler, artists, as well as Garland White, Scottsdale school superintendent, lived here.
In 1930, occupations listed besides farming/ranching included: disabled veteran, grocery store clerk, construction lather, nurseryman, invalid, butler in a private home, bank cashier, superintendent of irrigation project, cotton gin bookkeeper, ice plant engineer, auto mechanic, school bus driver, school lunch cook, stenographer, plumber, cobbler, musician, druggist, zanjero, hotel chauffer, wood peddler, tea room waiter and pool hall manager.
The 1940 U.S. Census is the last we have access to, due to privacy laws. Its data is fascinating as well as heartbreaking. Census Day was April 1, Scottsdale was in Enumeration District ED7-133 and the area population was estimated at 1,890. Young men, who just a few years later would be killed in action in World War II, were listed on the forms; for example, Travis Sipe, age 21, a clerical worker at a tax assessing office; and Stanley Crews, age 20, a cowboy on a cattle ranch. In addition to farmers and homemakers, there were numerous teachers and boarders/lodgers listed. Among the familiar names in Scottsdale on the forms: Dr. Spenser Whiting (physician) and his wife Anna (nurse); Earl and Idalee Shipp and children (grocers); Jew She Song and family (grocers); George and Vada Thomas (rancher); Fred Mathis (minister); Grace Crews (teacher); Malcolm and Marie White (then a state highway patrolman, Malcolm would become a WWII pilot training instructor at Thunderbird II Airfield, and, in 1951, Scottsdale’s first mayor); Mort and Clarice Kimsey (he ran the power company and a filling station, and would become Scottsdale’s second mayor in 1958), Bernabe Herrera (tinsmith who crafted fixtures for the Old Mission Church), Warren L. Max (school superintendent) and many more.
Among the listed occupations on Scottsdale’s 1940 U.S. Census forms: grade school teacher, well driller, copper mine worker, dry goods store owner, saleslady, cattle grower, dude wrangler at guest ranch, meat cutter at grocery, citrus ranch worker, NYA Project clerk (part of the New Deal), guest lodge chef, newspaper delivery, boarding house proprietress, high school librarian, date packer, beauty shop operator, adobe maker, Graves Guest Ranch proprietor, private secretary, carpenter, electric generating plant operator and many homemakers.
Looking at more recent population figures for Scottsdale, there were 2,032 residents in 1950 on one-half square mile; 10,026 in 1960 on 4.9 square miles; 67,823 in 1970 on 62.20 square miles; and 88,622 in 1980 on 88.60 square miles. Perhaps the biggest change came between the 1990 and 2000 censuses, when the population increased from 130,075 to 202,705 with no change in the geographical size of the city of 184.5 square miles. The population was 217,365 in 2010; the 2020 estimate, pending confirmation by the census, is about 255,000 residents.
Happy U.S. Census Day; be sure to be counted!