I am attempting to:
a) locate my Great Grandfather in census records prior to 1900, in the hopes of finding:
b) where he was from,
c) who his siblings are and
d) what plantation he may have come from...
Unless he was free in 1860, he would not appear by name in the Census schedules for that decade (Free Population only).
---: In 1870, he could be as old as 15 (always add/substract 5 years to compensate for "estimates"). That is old enough to be 'hired out' (outside of the family unit).
You COULD look at every 10-15 year old, but he could be anywhere and have any surname OR given name or spelling.
---: In 1880, he could be as old as 25 and married or still 'hired out'. You MAY not find him with his family unit. Again, many changes could have occurred between birth and 25.
A better strategy would be to concentrate on deduction from the information you already have, or could find, based on available records.
Start with later records. Make a timeline (Death, ... Marriage, ... Birth).
1. Mine the Death Record:
Even IF you feel there is no information on it, look at it CLOSELY.
- Who was the 'informant'? Relative? Follow him/her...
- Where was he buried? Family cemetery? Are there other Workman's buried there?
- What was the name of the Funeral Home? Is it still in existence?
A Reuben Workman died in NC.
The informant was a Jessie Quick(sp?). How would this Jessie Q. know the names of Reuben's parents? Could this have been a relative? If so, then you now have another name to research, especially if she is connected to the Workmans.
Where was Jessie Workman, the daughter?
2. Review Census records for clues, starting with the LATEST (1930)
a) In 1930, a Ruben and Florence Workman were in Robeson county, SC. He was born in SC, she was born in NC, as were their parents. Simple, but what other information can you get from this census?
b) Age at first marriage: Ruben married at 19, so he has been married for 44 years, based on his estimated age. Florence married at 26, so she has only been married for 7 years.
Is there a marriage record in North or South Carolina?
Looking further - his marriage at age 19 would probably be his first marriage, so that would have been between 1876 and 1879, give or take five years.
----------------- VITAL RECORDS
South Carolina required State marriage records from 1911, and state birth and death records from about 1915.
At least ONE of his marriages should have been recorded after 1911.
Now, you should probably determine what information is on S.C. marriage records. IF the parents' names were required, then by all means, get a copy of each available marriage record. If not, as is the case in some states, then the witnesses MAY provide some clue to Reubens' or his Wife's life in North/South Carolina.
No one lives in a vacuum.