Saturday, December 21, 2013

FINDING A NEEDLE IN A HAYSTACK: CENSUS RECORDS










have a love/hate relationship with Census records.  They can provide wonderful information about your ancestors IF you can find your ancestors among the misspellings by enumerators and the incorrect transcriptions. Over the last few weeks I have been trying to find every possible Census record (federal and state) for many of my ancestors.  Here are some of the challenges I have faced:
  • Stephen SPAULDING was my third great grandfather. In the 1850 U.S. Census, I finally found him under the name Stephen Stalder.  (1)
  • Millard TAYLOR was my grandfather. In the 1925 New York State Census, I found him under Millar M. Fraylor.  My father was Stewart TAYLOR; his name is listed as Steran Fraylor in this household. (2)
  • My 4th great grandmother was Welthy MYERS, who married Samuel ROBERTS, my 4th great grandfather. I found Welthy in the 1820 U.S. Census with the name Weltley Roberts. (3)
  • My grand aunt was Winifred WILLIAMS. I found her on the 1915 New York Census bearing the name Winipel Williams. (4)
  • Hazel Cutler was my grand aunt. I found her in the 1915 U.S. Census with the name Harrel Culter. (5)
  • Daniel Deloss Cutler was my great grandfather. He is listed as Deloss Cutter in the 1870 U.S. Census.  (6)
  • My great grandmother was Jane OWEN WILLIAMS.  I found her with the name Janarez Williams in the 1900 U.S. Census. (7)


As you can see, finding your ancestors on Census records can be a struggle.  Don’t throw up your hands and say that your ancestor was not enumerated. You have to be creative to find them!  Here are some of the tactics I used:
  • I played around with my searches. I’d put in all the information I know about an ancestor and, if that did not work, then I would delete part of the information and try again and again and again.
  • I used wild cards. Databases differ in what wild cards they accept, so check the rules first.
  • Remember to try nicknames. Many people disliked their names and were known as another name. Sometimes people were given a nickname and it became the normal way that people referred to them. My 2nd great grandfather’s name was Michael, but he liked to go by the name “Mickey.”
  • People often went by their initials, especially in the South. My 2nd great grandfather, Thomas Magruder BRASHEAR, liked to go by T.M. Brashear.  That is how I found him on most of the Census records.
  • Try a different database. If you don’t find someone on Ancestry.com, try Family Search or Heritage Quest or numerous other sources for Census information.
  • Experiment with key words. Add an occupation, for example. That narrows the field.
  • Remember that many similar sounding names are spelled differently, such as Dixon/Dickson or Stuart/Stewart. 
  • Switch some letters around. For “Michael” try “Micheal.”
  • Remember to look in places where you don’t expect your ancestor to be living. Perhaps the person left his hometown and went out West during the Gold Rush.  
  • If you can’t find an ancestor, look for his sibling, child, spouse or parent instead.
  • If all else fails, read the enumerations one by one in a specific locale. This, of course, is easier if your ancestor lived in a small town.

Although my illustrations are from the Census records on Ancestry.com, the errors exist on all the databases. Good luck!



ILLUSTRATIONS BY:

Dover Publications, Inc., Mineola, New York, Electronic Clip Art, "1200 Ornamental Letters,"2007.

Dover Publications, Inc., Mineola, New York, Electronic Clip Art, Elegant Floral Designs, 2003.

Dover Publications, Inc., Mineola, New York, Electronic Clip Art, "1100 Pictorial Symbols," 2007.

SOURCE CITATIONS:

(1) 1850 United States Census, Columbus, Chenango, New York; Roll: M432_488; Page: 272B; Image: 22; Ancestry.com [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009. Images reproduced by FamilySearch; Original data: Seventh Census of the United States, 1850; (National Archives Microfilm Publication M432, 1009 rolls); Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29; National Archives, Washington, D.C.

(2) 1925 New York, State Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012; Election District: 01; Assembly District: 02; City: Westmoreland; County: Oneida; Page: 5; Original data: State population census schedules, 1925. Albany, New York: New York State Archives.

(3) 1820 United States Census, Columbus, Chenango, New York; Page: 306; NARA Roll: M33_66; Image: 174; Ancestry.com. 1820 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Images reproduced by FamilySearch; Original data: Fourth Census of the United States, 1820. (NARA microfilm publication M33, 142 rolls). Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29. National Archives, Washington, D.C.

(4) 1915 New York, State Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012; Election District: 01; Assembly District: 02; City: Utica Ward 12; County: Oneida; Page: 03; Original data: State population census schedules, 1915. Albany, New York: New York State Archives.

(5) 1915 New York, State Census  [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012; Election District: 01; Assembly District: 01; City: Utica Ward 13; County: Oneida; Page: 29; Original data: State population census schedules, 1915. Albany, New York: New York State Archives.

(6) 1870 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009; Columbus, Chenango, New York; Roll: M593_916; Page: 65A; Image: 135; Family History Library Film: 552415; Images reproduced by FamilySearch; Original data: 1870 U.S. census, population schedules. NARA microfilm publication M593, 1,761 rolls. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration.


(7) 1900 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004; Utica Ward 12, Oneida, New York; Roll: 1133; Page: 6B; Enumeration District: 0078; FHL microfilm: 1241133; Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1900. T623, 1854 rolls.

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