Sunday, February 4, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 5 - In the Census

This week's 52 Ancestors prompt  is "In the Census." What intriguing find have you made in a census? What has a series of census records shown you? Do you have an ancestor who constantly ages only 7 years between censuses? 

The census is usually the first set of records I use when starting research on a surname. Sometimes I easily find a wealth of information on a family and other times it can be confounding due to incorrect information and spellings that aren't even close! Following are a few of my favorite census records. For a complete list of my posts involving the census, you can check out my census link under the Labels on the right side of the blog page.

The most intriguing find I've made in the census was when I found an entry for a Timothy Creeden in the US 1860 census for Clinton County, Ohio.

1860 Census for Patrick Creedan family in Clinton County, Ohio
My family thought our Timothy Creeden was the first in his line to come to America and we assumed he came over as an adult. I knew Timothy was in Clinton County, Ohio by sometime in the 1860s since he was married there in 1868. This census entry raised the possibility that he came over much earlier than we thought and that he had other family members in Ohio. The only problem was his age was wrong and this entry said he was born in Ohio! Every other source I had said Timothy was born in 1846 in Ireland.

I took a look at the same family in the 1870 census and found that Joanette/Joannah was now said to be born in 1851 instead of 1846. Could the census taker have switched the ages for Timothy and Joanette in 1860? Timothy isn't shown in this 1870 entry since he was now married and running his own farm nearby. After much more research, I was able to determine that this was Timothy's family. Several years later I finally found an obituary for Timothy and it confirmed he came over with his sister Julia when he was only 3 years old. The census entries were key in making the connection, although the incorrect information threw me off for a long time.

1870 Census for Patrick Creden family in Clinton County, Ohio
I've found it useful to look at a series of census entries for a given surname in a county. I've found many connections between individual families that way. Sometimes you can recognize a pattern like the same first names being used in different families. A couple of examples of series by county are my posts for Matson Families in Hopewell Township, Mercer County, Ohio and Coakley Families in Clinton County, Ohio.

One of my favorite census entries shows several of my family names in the 1850 census for Queen Anne's County, Maryland. Members of the Godwin, Sparks, Meredith, and Davis families are living in one household. An intriguing thing in this entry is Samuel Godwin's occupation as a sailor. So far, I haven't been able to find any information about his job as a sailor.

1850 Census for Queen Anne's County, MD
The 1880 Agricultural census might not give you new information on family names, but it totally changed my impression of Timothy Creeden's farm. I'd pictured one crop like wheat or corn like the farms I'd seen when traveling through the mid-west.  It turns out Timothy and his wife Mary had a lot going on on their 42 acres! They sold butter, eggs, and livestock in addition to having crops of corn, oats, wheat, apples and even half an acre of Irish potatoes.

Timothy Creeden in the 1880 Agricultural census for Clinton County, OH
When the 1940 census came out, I looked up both of my parents and found that my dad managed to get included in two entries! He was raised by his grandparents Charles and Anna Creeden, but was also listed in the entry for his father Robert Creeden. We'll never know for sure how that happened, but my guess is the census taker asked if they had any children and my dad's stepmother answered yes.

Robert Jr. with his grandparents in the 1940 Mercer County, OH census
Robert Jr. with his father and stepmother in the 1940 Mercer County, OH census
#52Ancestors is a series of weekly family history prompts developed by Amy Johnson Crow.

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