What’s in a census

This entry is late because I have been busy with my Veterans of Foreign Wars responsibilities. I rarely go to  Jefferson City and this past week I have been there for four days.

So the topic for last week was our interpretation of the census or how we see the census.

For me, the census is a journey. A journey through my family.

The challenge is tracking the family through the census from birth to death.

I have census records on nearly every line of my family, and every census has revealed a nugget of information.

For example, Louise Brunette Page, is listed on the federal census from 1850 through 1920. She spent the bulk of her life in Wisconsin and Michigan. Then I found her in 1920 in Washington, Lucas, Ohio where she lived with her daughter Alice and her family, so that gives me information on another line.

Then I found Louise in Chicago just before her death in 1926. Her death certificate gave her last known address and her burial place in Chicago.

From the 1910 census I also learned that Louise had 12 children with only 5 living. That gives me additional information to seek, especially church records to determine if children were born and then died or perhaps, she had several miscarriages. I have found nine of the children, so I still have to do some searching. But the census will help me track the children and their locations.

The James Shane’s were another interesting one to pursue using the census. I was lucky as they moved to Illinois in the 1830’s and then moved around Illinois, all documented in the state and federal census records.

I was able to find James in Wayne County Iowa, just before he died in 1874. As I had heard that he died in the 1860’s, finding him in the 1870 census was critical information. He was living with a daughter and her family, he was blind and had been born in Virginia.

I have to wonder what the census records will show about me when the records are opened. I remember in 1990, living in Box Elder, SD, and I was away from home when the census taker asked questions of my now ex-husband.

He didn’t remember my birthdate, wasn’t positive of where I was born and other data they collect. I shook my head as he related this story, knowing I would be the “lost” one in my family’s census collection.

So, I have found census records with misspelled last names, incorrectly transcribed information and I also have found children I didn’t know about, marriage estimates and evidence of second marriages.

The census records are truly a treasure trove!

Happy Hunting!



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