The Pollock Family, 7 of 14: 1870 Census

“And this young man?” the census taker J.B. McCullough asked. He pointed his pencil at the Indian boy who’d just carried in an armload of firewood.

“His name is John,” Thomas Pollock said. “John Pollock.”


“About twelve.”


There was a pause. Thomas looked at his wife, who stood motionless, holding her mixing bowl. “Navajo Indian Country,” he said reluctantly.

“Can he speak English? Read and write?”

Thomas turned. “John?”

The boy came forward. He looked quietly into McCullough’s eyes. “Mama Pollock is teaching me,” he said.

The man looked at Thomas. “Well, you know what you’re doin’, I guess.” He tucked his pencil into his shirt pocket. “Good luck to you.” He nodded to Sarah. “Ma’am.”

The door closed.

“Bastard,” Thomas muttered.

“It’s all right,” the boy said. “I’m used to it.”

Sarah looked at him, her face stricken. “Oh John,” she said. “I’m so sorry.”

Copyright © 2015 Loretta Miles Tollefson


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