Raitt families in 1880


In Illinois, it came as no surprise that in the 1880 census there were only four Scottish-born Raitts - namely John Raitt, born 1837 in Arbroath, Angus and his son John, born 1863 in Glasgow, Lanarkshire; and his brother James Raitt, born in 1840 in Arbroath, and his son John Dorward, born in Arbroath in 1870. John and James are the brothers of my great grandfather, David Dorward Raitt.

At Eppards Point, Livingston, Illinois in John Raitt’s household are:

John Raitt, aged 41, born Scotland, farmer; wife Cecilia, aged 42, born Scotland, keeping house; sons John, aged 17, born Scotland, farm labourer; Archibald, 18, farm labourer; James, 15, farm labourer; daughters Margaret, 9; Jane, 7; Emma, 3; and Matilda, 1. All the children apart from John were born in Illinois and all parents were born in Scotland. (Of two other older children born in Scotland, the eldest Elizabeth was already married (Alexander Barnwell Taylor) and the other Cecilia had died a couple of years after the family emigrated to America.

In Washington, Tazewell, Illinois in James Raitt’s household are:

James Raitt, aged 39, born Scotland, farmer; wife Elizabeth, 36, born Scotland, keeps house; and children John, aged 9, born Scotland; Lily, 8; James, 6; Matilda, 5; Elizabeth, 4; Sarah B., 3, and Colin, 1. All the children apart from John were born in Illinois Also in the household is Bridget Mottley, mother-in-law, aged 68, born Scotland. All parents were born in Scotland


In Iowa in the 1880 census there are seven Scottish-born Raites – all from the same family; and one Scottish-born Rait.

In What Cheer, Keokuk, Iowa in the household of John Raite are:

John Raitt, aged 44, coal miner; wife Margaret, aged 41, house keeper; and children William, 18, coal miner; Robert, 15, coal miner; John, 13, coal miner; Daniel, 7, attends school; Margaret, 6; and Jenny, 3. Everyone was born in Scotland, as were their parents.

In Morrison, Grundy, Iowa is Alexander Rait, aged 30, born Scotland (as were both parents) who’s occupation is given as grain and lumber. Alexander may be the son of James Rait in Pennsylvania in 1880, who subsequently moved to Iowa.


In Danvers, Essex, Massachusetts there is James Rhett, aged 29, born in Scotland, occupation cooper. His parent’s birthplaces are not recorded, but I assume they are both Scotland.     


In District 16, Calhoun, Mississippi is the household of Thomas Rate:

Thomas Rate, age 35, farmer, born Scotland (as were both parents); wife Martha, 24, keeping house, born Mississipi (father born South Carolina, mother Alabama); and children Mary, 5; and Thomas, 2 – both born Mississippi.

This may well be the Thomas Raitt, 19, born Scotland living in South Ward, Petersburg, Virginia in the 1860 US census.

New York

In the State of New York in the 1880 census there are several individuals who are Scottish-born with the surname Rait and Raitt and one with the surname Raite.

In Knapps Creek, Cattaraugus, New York, there is the household of James Raite comprising:

James Raite, aged 27, born Scotland (as were both parents), occupation labourer; wife Lizzie, aged 31, born New Jersey (both parents born Ireland), keeping house; and children Charles, 5, born Pennsylvania; James, 4, born Pennsylvania; and Alexander, 2, born New York. James Snr and his wife clearly lived in Pennsylvania in the mid-1870s and it will be worth checking where exactly to see if the family is related somehow to the other James Rait family there.

In Unadilla, Otsego, New York there is the household of Helen Rait, a widow – thus not a true Scottish-born Raitt, although certainly her husband was. In the household are:

Helen D. Rait, aged 76, widow, born Scotland (as were both parents), keeping house; and daughters Helen A., 29; Catherine, 27; and Jenette G., 25 – all born in New York of Scottish parents and all at home.

In an effort to find out who Helen Rait’s husband was, I looked up Jenette as the most unusual name and found the family in the 1850 census for New York living at Franklin (Meredith), Delaware, NY. The husband and father’s name is George Rait, aged 59, born in Scotland and a farmer of 7 acres. Wife Helen B. is 43; and the children, all born New York are: Jane, 21; George M., 17, farmer; Lillas E.,  15; Helen, 10; Catharine A., 7; and Jennette G, 5.

Living in Delaware, New York in the 1860 census is John Raitt, age 71, born Scotland; and presumably his son Joseph S., 35 and his wife Mary, 34; and their children John S., 8; William, F., 6; Thomas W., 4 and Walter S., 1 – presumably the children were all born in NY. A search in the 1880 US census shows that Joseph S. Raitt, aged 54, is a farmer in Hamden, Delaware, New York and that he was born in New York, as was his wife Mary F. – though both sets of parents were born in Scotland. Three sons are working on the farm: Wilson T., 23; Henry, 19; and George, 16 – all were born in NY.

In Kings, Brooklyn, New York City-Greater New York there are three families with the surname Rait, the heads of which were Scottish-born.

In one household is David Rait, 54, no occupation (out of work?), born in Scotland (as were both parents); wife Mary, 50, keeping house, born New York (as were both parents); Margaret Rait, sister to David, 50, born New Brunswick (though both parents born Scotland); and sons David, 19, clerk, born NY; and Walter S., 17, clerk, born NY. (A David Rait married a Mary Clementine in New York on 13 June 1851. A David Rait was naturalized in New York in 1867.)

In another household is John Rait, 32, carpenter, born Scotland (as were both parents)’ wife Ann, 28, keeping house, born England (as were both parents); and children James, 6; Elizabeth, 3; and John W., 1 – all born NY.

Then there is Mary Rait, aged 75, a widow, keeping house, born Scotland (as were both parents) in the household of John Norwood, 42, machinist, born England (as were both parents); wife Mary, 40, keeping house, born Scotland (as were both parents); and children Mary W., 14, at school; Alfred R., 12; J. Elizabeth, 5; and Ida May, 4 – all born NY. I assume that wife Mary Norwood as born Mary Rait in Scotland and that the Mary Rait in the household is her mother. It is possible that she is also the mother of David and John Rait in the other two households.

A check in the 1860 census for the 1st District of 20th Ward, New York reveals John Rait, age 54; Mary Rait, 54; and Mary Rait, 20 – all born Scotland. This is clearly the two Mary’s in the Norwood household – with John Rait being the husband and father.

Also in the 1860 census:

In the 4th District 21st Ward, New York is James Rait, 36; wife Agnes, 30; son John, 11 – all born Scotland; and other children Agnes, 8; and James, 5 - both born NY.

In the 6th Division 18th Ward, New York is Robert Rait, 50, born Scotland. A Robert Rait was naturalized in New York in 1850, having immigrated in 1833.

In Bovina, Delaware, New York is the household of Thomas Raitt, 63, born Scotland; and presumably his children Joseph, 33; Mary, 30; Robert, 22; Elisabeth, 19; and Jane E. – all born New York.


There were four native-born Scottish Raits in Pennsylvania in 1880 in two families – probably related.

In Eldred, Mckean, Pennsylvania in the household of James Rait are:

James Rait, aged 51, born Scotland (as were both parents), foreman in rail road; wife Euphemia, 53, born Scotland (as were both parents), keeping house; daughter Eliza, 27, born Scotland, at home; grandson George, 8, born Canada (father born Canada, mother Scotland), at school.

Also in Eldred, Mckean, Pennsylvania in the household of Kass Kaufman are:

Kass Kaufman, aged 27, born Ohio (father born Pennsylvania, mother Canada), carpenter; wife Emma, 25, born Scotland (as were both parents), keeping house; and William Rait, brother-in-law, 19, born Scotland (as were both parents), rail road breakman.

I assume that Emma and William are the daughter and son of James and Euphemia Rait who lived nearby. Grandson George may be the son of daughter Eliza, though she is single. In the US 1900 census there is a George W. Rait, born in Canada in October 1873 with mother born Scotland and father born Canada living in Perry city, Dallas, Iowa. He immigrated from Canada to the USA in 1875 and was employed as a locomotive fireman. In fact, in the 1885 census for Morrison, Washington, Grundy, Iowa we find the above James Rait, 55; wife Euphemia, 60; Elizabeth, 29; Geo B., 27; and George, 13. It appears that George W. Rait, aged 28, supposedly born in Pennsylvania, married Je..Le Welsh (b 1876 in New York) on 15 Oct 1901 in Perry city, Dallas, Iowa. His parents are given as George Rait and Eliza Rait. There is clearly more to this than meets the eye and I will see if I can follow it up. It looks as though, in addition, James Rait may be the father of the Alexander Rait in Iowa (see above).


In Wisconsin in 1880 there is one native-born Scottish Rait


In Lanark, Portage, Wisconsin in the household of Alexander C. Rait are:


Alexander C. Rait, aged 55, born Scotland (as were both parents), farmer; wife Frelove B., aged 46, born Vermont (as were both parents), keeps house; children Annie, 24, born New York (though both parents born Scotland), teacher; Agnes J., 14, born Wisconsin (though both parents born Scotland); William, 10, born Wisconsin (father born Scotland, mother Vermont); and Ralf, 3 (father born Scotland, mother Vermont).

I assume that Alexander and his first wife started off in New York and then moved to Wisconsin before 1866. Presumably after that his wife must have died or they got divorced, because Alexander subsequently married Freelove Underhill on 5 July 1869 in Waupaca, Waupaca, Wisconsin. I can’t find yet the dates of marriage between Alexander and his first wife (who was called Elizabeth it seems) or the births of the children. However, an Annie Rait was born in New York in 1857 and married John J. Tardiff (1858-1937) in 1881. She died on 30 March 1934 in Yamhill County, Oregon. In fact, she is in the 1860 census for Lanark (as Ann), aged 4; and in the 1870 census for Lanark (as Anna, aged 14) with the whole family, including Frelove and other children also born in New York, including Mary (born New York in 1851) who married Silas Bradford Crocker on 27 Nov1878 in Brodhed, Green, Wisconsin. Alexander died in Waupaca, Waupaca, Wisconsin on 12 May 1907 (born 4 Aug 1825 to James and Elizabeth Rait).

In an effort to eventually try and track down the Scottish ancestors of Raitt emigrants to America, I thought it might be useful to search the 1880 US census for families with the surname Raitt (and variations). Although there were Raitts in America from the earliest colonial times (e.g. John Raitt in Maryland; the Raitts of Old Kittery, Maine; and William Rhett of South Carolina), I felt it would be easier to trace the ancestors of more recent arrivals. Consequently, I restricted my search in the 1880 census to Raitts that had actually been born in Scotland. There are not too many – especially if one discounts the wives and daughters who married.

I have not, at this point, tried to find the Scottish forebears of all those listed below (except (as already done) for the Illinois Raitts), nor have I yet done any deep research into the families themselves. But I will work on this! I have also included some details from earlier censuses to verify families found in 1880 and I will go back and look more thoroughly at these older censuses for Scottish-born Raitts as well as more recent ones.

Although I found the surnames Raitt, Rait, Raite, Rate and Rhett in the 1880 census, I did not come across either Reat or Rhet who were born in Scotland. At the bottom of this page I have given the number of people in the various states with a “Raitt” name (for good measure I also include Raith). There are only 469 - at a time when there were around 10.263.875 people recorded in the 1880 census.

Who was where in the 1880 US census

Below are the the number of people in the various states in the 1880 census with the name Raitt or a variation of it (including Raith) regardless whether they were born in Scotland or not. There are only 469 individuals in around 100 or so households.

Some (as shown above) were born in Scotland, many others were born in the state, some bearing the name (e.g. Reat, Rait, Raite and especially Raith) turn out to be born in Germany or Prussia and are in all likelihood nothing to do with the Raitts at all (however, for the moment they are still included below). The vast majority of Rhetts are from South Carolina with parents also born there. They clearly don’t move away too much. Interestingly, quite a few of them are black or mulatto - and may thus be descended from liaisons by immigrants with the locals. While some individuals ventured quite far afield (though few had reached California at this time), it looks as though many families stayed in the same neighbourhood and thus some degree of kinship between the similarly-named families could perhaps be assumed. And where, in a given state, the birth is shown in another (e.g. Maryland) then one could again assume some relationship between those who stayed and those who moved. The evidence though is that gradually the old Eastern states families were pushing West - probably as land and opportunities became available. On a separate page I have given the occupations in 1880 of all these “Raitts”.

120 individuals named Raitt in

Illinois (23) - Iowa (15) - Kentucky (7) - Maine (26) - Maryland (14) - Massachusetts (2) -  Missouri (3) - Nevada (1) - New Hampshire (15) - New York (11) - Ohio (2) - Pennsylvania (1)

41 individuals named Rait in

Iowa (8) - Massachusetts (3) - Minnesota (1) - Missouri (1) - New York (16) - Pennsylvania (5) -  Wisconsin (7)

17 individuals named Raite in

Florida (4) - Iowa (8) - New York (5)

2 individuals named Raitte in

Massachusetts (2)

62 individuals named Reat in

Connecticut (2) - Illinois (23) - Indiana (17) - Mississippi (10) - New York (4) -

North Carolina  (1) - Ohio (1) - Texas (4)

84 individuals named Rate in

Illinois (2) - Indiana (4) - Iowa (22) - Kansas (2) - Maryland (1) - Michigan (3) - Mississippi (4) - New York (17) - Ohio (9) - Pennsylvania (11) - Tennessee (1) - Texas (6) - Virginia (1)

174 individuals named Rhett in

Alabama (6) - Arkansas (5) - Dakota Territory (3) - Georgia (11) - Kansas (2) - Louisiana (7) - Maryland (15) - Massachussetts (1) - Nevada (1) - New York (1) - Rhode Island (4) -

South Carolina (114) - Tennessee (2) - Virginia (2)

1 individual named Rhet in

Georgia (1)

68 individuals named Raith in

California (1) - Illinois (11) - Indiana (1) - Kentucky (1) - Maryland (12) - Missouri (4)  -

New Hampshire (2) - New Jersey (7) - New York (10) - Pennsylvania (14) - Virginia (3) -Wisconsin (2)

I hope to eventually get around to providing further details on most of these families.