Sunday, November 3, 2013

Census Sunday - Finding a Nun in the Census Records

In the 1860 census for Patrick Creedan's family, there was an 18 year old female named Julia Creedan living in Clinton County, Ohio. I wondered if she was the daughter of Patrick and possibly the older sister of my 2x great-grandfather Timothy. Julia didn't appear with the family or anywhere in Clinton County, Ohio after 1860, so I didn't know what happened to her.


I finally had a breakthrough when I found Patrick's will from 1883. It stated that Julia was a "religious" in the Sisters of Charity. I contacted the Sisters of Charity in Cincinnati and discovered that Julia had taken the name Sister Mary Felix when she took her vows. They also said that she had worked as a nurse in Colorado and New Mexico. With that information, I had some success locating her in the census and also located her death certificate which said she died in 1918.

In 1870, she was at the Sisters of Charity Motherhouse in Dephi Township, Hamilton County, Ohio. Her name was listed as Creeden Felix.


In 1900, she was working as a nurse at St. Mary's Hospital in Pueblo, Colorado.  I think Julia's birth date was July 1, 1842, while this says Feb 1843. The name, location, and occupation are correct for her, but the year of immigration says 1873 and it says that she had been in the US for 27 years. Timothy's daughter Julia settled in Pueblo and I wonder if her Aunt Julia had any influence on that.


In 1910, she was working as a sewing teacher at a parochial school in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This census gave her year of immigration as unknown. She was 67 by then, so I'm guessing maybe nursing had become too strenuous. As far as I know, she is the first career woman in my Creeden family. Her grand-niece Mary Mae Creeden McNamee was a devout Catholic and a nurse, but may not have even known about Julia.


There were some curious codes in the last column of the 1910 census which made no sense. The last columns are for Farm Schedule, Survivor of the Civil War, blind, and deaf and dumb.


I found an explanation for the codes on Steve Morse's site. It turns out that the last columns were often used for occupation codes and the ones for Julia matched the occupation for a teacher.


I still haven't found Julia in the 1880 census. In some census records, I found that they only listed the first names for the nuns, so there are lots of entries for Sister Mary! Knowing Julia's religious name was key to finding her in the other census records.

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