I'm a big fan of statistics. I love graphs and pie charts. I enjoy creating them even more. If I had to do it as my job I'd probably hate it, but as a hobby it's fun for me.

I'm a big fan of statistics. I love graphs and pie charts. I enjoy creating them even more. If I had to do it as my job I'd probably hate it, but as a hobby it's fun for me.
On one of my days off last week, and perhaps needing a good reason to skip out on some chores, I documented where everyone living in Newton County in 1860 was born, per the census. Now, this may sound unimportant, but from a historical standpoint it is actually significant because 1860 was on the eve of the War Between the States. Newton County was divided in sympathies like most of the rest of Missouri, so it's interesting to note where people originally came from, which may have had at least some influence on where they stood in the conflict, although in Missouri everything was one big toss up, really. Take, for instance, Matthew Ritchey, of Newtonia, who was one of the richest men in Newton County in terms of property and capital. He was born in Tennessee and had 12 slaves in 1860, and yet was a staunch Union man. Then you have the Beeman brothers in McDonald County, whose father James was from New York, and yet they both served faithfully in the Confederate army (Beeman Hollow, where I grew up, is named for the aforementioned James Beeman, but I've mentioned that a time or two here before).
Now, to get to the numbers. I counted every man, woman, and child in my little study. The total number of residents living in Newton County in 1860 was 8,895. Of these, 4,035 – or 45.4 percent - were actually born in Missouri. However, this point comes with an asterisk. Most of this number were born after 1840 and, in turn, a majority of these were born after 1850. So, we're mostly talking about children and teenagers here. They wouldn't have really had a lot to say on political matters, much less have any influence, although many of those teenagers later served in one army or another. Still, though, they were by and large the children of the people who made the decisions – and most of those people weren't born in Missouri, though some were.
So where were the rest of the people who called Newton County home in 1860 from? At best, I can at least tell you where they were born. The largest bloc, 1,825 (20.5 percent) were born in Tennessee.
It's actually kind of odd that there isn't more of a gradual stair step down from there, but there isn't, because the next state in line is Kentucky with 529 (5.9 percent) of Newton Countians in 1860 having been born there. So we go from 20.5 percent of the population being been born in Tennessee to only 5.9 percent having been born in the next runner up, Kentucky.
After that, North Carolina and Illinois are tied at 4.4 percent apiece. Then comes Indiana at 3.8 percent, Arkansas at 3.5 percent, Virginia at 2.9 percent, and Ohio at 1.1 percent. The remaining 8.1 percent are made up of all the other states combined, and a few countries, including England, Germany, and Ireland.
And there you have it. It would be a lot cooler if there were some visuals to go along with the black numbers on the white page, but I didn't around to making any charts. I'm thinking of doing McDonald County next to see how it compares with Newton County. Meanwhile, the biggest difference between Newton County and the State of Missouri as a whole is that a majority of residents of Missouri in 1860 were born in Kentucky, with Tennessee taking second place. In Newton County it was reversed, of course.
Incidentally, in the course of this afternoon of census reading, I found out something I didn't know. Moses and Susan Carver, who initially legally owned George Washington Carver on their farm west of present day Diamond, until passage of the 13th Amendment at least, were both from the free state of Ohio. I'm not certain if I've personally seen or heard that mentioned before, though I may have just forgotten. That's always possible.

Wes Franklin writes a column for the Neosho Daily News.