I wrote a few months ago about some family silver with unexplained initials. At the time, I knew that RWG stood for Renssellaer Watson Gage (1804-1860), my gr-gr-gr-grandfather, but "ER" was a mystery. His first wife, Mary Ann McElwaine, died in 1845, but the initials on the fork are ER to RWG. I suspected that this might have been a gift from a subsequent spouse, and I now have evidence that strongly suggests that to be the case.
The genealogy data I needed turned up a photocopy of a page from the 1850 census in Livingston County, NY, that I knew I had made but only rediscovered misfiled in my archives today. On October 16, 1850 in the town of Nunda in western New York, the family of Renssellaer Watson Gage was enumerated for the census. The head of the household was 45 years old and his occupation was "lumber". The 1850 census was the first national census in America to list the names of minor children along with their ages and genders, and here I find my gr-great grandmother, Sarah A Gage, shown here at left. At the time of the census she was aged 9, with three older brothers and sisters also listed but not Julia, the youngest, who was born the year their mother died in 1845.
But there is also a woman of 29 years listed right after Renssellaer W. Gage and her name is Ellen. The "E" in my "ER" mystery is revealed.