Facts you should know about the early census records - All census records [1790 – 1840] prior to the 1850 census ONLY listed the head of household; whether male or female.
NO specific age was stated for any family member NO place of birth was stated – city, state, or country NO city, town, or village is stated – only the county; however some census takers listed the township NO street address was stated NO marital status was stated – single, married, widowed, or divorced NO family relationship was stated – brother, sister, cousin, son, daughter, wife, inlaw, etc… NO occupation was stated NO parental birthplaces are stated NO race was stated [but assume “white”]
1850, 1860 & 1870 census records do not show family relationships, marital status or parental birthplaces.
Step children are not enumerated as “step” children Adopted children are not enumerated as “adopted” Grand children are not enumerated as “grand children” Orphaned children were not enumerated as "orphan"
1850 is the 1st census that shows all family members
1880 is the 1st census that shows parental birthplaces and family relationships +++
1850 - Name: Nathan Cotton Age: 21 Birth Year: abt 1829 Birthplace: North Carolina Home in 1850: Neuse (south side), Wayne, North Carolina Gender: Male
Nathan Cotton 21, Sampson county Mariah Cotton 25, NC
1860 - Name: Nathan Cotton Age in 1860: 33 Birth Year: abt 1827 Home in 1860: Westbrooks, Sampson, North Carolina Gender: Male Post Office: Newton Grove
Nathan Cotton 33, NC - turpentine distiller Nancy M Cotton 39, NC Lewis B Cotton 9, NC Clarisa Cotton 7, NC
Nathan H. Cotton Birth abt 1827 in North Carolina Death - unknown he married - Nancy M Cotton [maiden name - unknown] Birth abt 1821 Death - unknown
You will not be able to locate him in the 1840 census and prior years because ONLY the head of the house was listed on those census'.In 1840 Nathan would only be abt 11 yrs old.