In a previous article, 1518 Wilson Avenue, I wrote that the 1940 census recorded Lawson Scott living as a border with William and Louise Watts in an apartment in Chicago. To quote myself:
William and Lawson were both employed as “wreckers” in the “building wrecker” industry, with Lawson apparently having left behind his wife to find work (Where was Birley in 1940?).
I have now answered that parenthetical question. While doing research for an upcoming article on someone else, I stumbled upon Lawson Scott’s wife, Birley Bohannon Scott, and their family in the 1940 census.
Birley and her children were living on a rented farm in Red River Township, Searcy County, Arkansas. Though Lawson was recorded as the head of the household, he wasn’t actually living in Arkansas at this time, as he had gone to Chicago to find work. The encircled X beside Berlie’s name indicates that she was the one who provided the enumerator with the requested census information. Berlie naturally named Lawson as the head of the household because he was providing for the family even though he was actually over 600 miles away. Indeed, Lawson’s occupation on the Red River census is given as “wrecking” in the “building” industry, same as on the 1940 Chicago census.
The title of this article comes from the alleged meaning of the surname Birley, “the bur in the leah of the forest,” which is a close approximation of where Birley Scott was in 1940.
Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census. Place: Red River, Searcy, Arkansas; Roll: T627_173; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 65-13. Retrieved 16 February 2013.
The Internet Surname Database. Last name: “Birley.” Retrieved 16 February 2013.