Does your ancestor have a common name like George Washington? Searching for a common or famous name will result in thousands of “hits” that can take weeks or months to sift through. Instead try searching sideways. Searching for an in-law or spouse can significantly cut down the time in your research for a common or famous name. In addition, it can provide leads where a brick wall lies. So the next time youâ€™re stuck, try searching sideways.
J.B. or Jabe
Thank you for the timely article, “Why can’t I find them in the census.” I had given up on one of my New York ancestors, my great-great-great-grandfather, who disappeared between 1850 and 1860 (despite trying all the tips you suggested). My ancestors were New York farmers with roots in Massachusetts, and were of the opinion those darn census takers didn’t need to know anything about them. Add to that the fact that they didn’t go to church much, or participate in town activities.
My bizarre find, while searching for my ancestor J.B. (or James), was that the census taker in 1850 wrote down his name as Jabe. Yep, I guess Gramps said “J.B.” and the census taker wrote it like he heard it. Anyway, funnily enough, both his grandson, and my father, named James B., also preferred J.B. to James. Unfortunately my dad passed away before I could give him a chuckle with the “Jabe.” It’s good to know I’m not the only one out there with disappearing ancestors.
Christine Chapin Reusser
Missing AncestorsÂ After the Civil War
There is one other problem that prevents one from finding many families in the census. Following the Civil War, Iâ€™ve found many families were not listed in the 1870 census, but some are found in the same place in the 1880 census. Yet others moved to other states and a few left the U.S.
Thanks for your most informative articles.
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