As the 1910 census was underway, citizens of Minot tried to make sure everyone was counted, in order to demonstrate their growth and prosperity in numbers.
On this date, the Ward County Independent ran a notice about the two census enumerators in Minot. William F. Gull and Mrs. William Phelps were both working hard to count every citizen. However, Minot, which had estimated its population to be as great as eight or nine thousand, did not think that two census takers were enough to get the job done, and were looking to add more enumerators. In fact, a third came on board by May 5, and a fourth was being sought through Fred Brewster, the Superintendent of the Census, although the work needed to be complete by May 15.
Some newspapers reported that Mrs. Phelps was possibly the only female census taker in the state, but her role came with some issues. Reportedly, when she showed up to count individuals at the homes in her districts, carrying her large census schedule book, many people thought she was a female book agent, and wouldn't answer the door. As a result, she often had to phone the homes she was visiting, to let them know why she was there, so she could enter the homes and get the job done.
That wasn't the only trouble. Many people were only home at night, and tracking down traveling men headquartered in Minot was also troublesome. One suggestion was to have "a citizen visit every vaudeville show for a time and secure a list of those who had not been enumerated, reporting the same to the census enumerators." The Ward County Independent suggested that Minot "undoubtedly will soon have a census day when all the bells will be rung and the whistles blown. Every citizen is asked to appoint himself a committee of one to ask his neighbors if they have been counted. Minoters must help in the taking of this census. If you have not been counted, phone to the Secretary of the Commercial club, Mr. H.C. Ellis, who will report you to the enumerator.” The article went on to explain that Minot originally had but one enumerator assigned, based on past voting turnouts, but to do the job right, four were needed.
Once the count was finished, Minot anxiously awaited the results. Tune in tomorrow to hear what happened!
Dakota Datebook written by Sarah Walker