Don’t Assume. . . and Check Other Records!
Do not assume that all the youngsters listed in a pre-1880 U.S. census record are the children of both the man and the woman named in the record, even though all the parties were enumerated with the same surname. A case in point: In the 1870 census of Fayette, Kennebec County, Maine, the following household members are all listed with the surname “Neal:” George, 37; Mary, 48; Charles, 16; Frank, 10; and Herbert, 8. However, none of the three boys appears in any other census, at least not as “Neals.” Probate records for Mary reveal that the surname of these three young men was actually “Merrill.” (A land record names George W. Merrill as her first husband.) Mary’s maiden name (Dexter) is given in an article on the Merrill family in a history of the town of Livermore, which reveals that she had six older children and confirms that George Neal was her second husband.
Another case (also from 1870): The following were all enumerated with the surname “Hubbard” in a household in the Town of Hull, Portage County, Wisconsin: Daniel, 55; Jane, 50; Eliza, 18; and Frank, 9. There is no other record of this Frank “Hubbard,” but that is because he was actually their grandson, Frank Target, the orphaned son of their oldest daughter.
Edward G. Hubbard
More on Preserving Albums
Recently advice was given about how to maintain old photo albums intact (http://www.ancestry.com/s23557/t12606/rd.ashx). I have a different experience. My old albums were falling apart since scrapbooks and photo albums seemed to have been made from the poorest paper available. Then my mother had removed some pictures and put newer ones in their places so there was no good arrangement of the photos. After taking digital images of the original pages (they were too big for a scanner) it was easy for me to remove pictures since my mother was sparing of glue and a paper knife used carefully did not hurt the pictures. The bonus benefit was that the backs of two photos revealed information that I have found nowhere else.
My mother’s family helped settle and then lived for the most part in the same town for generations. While looking for obituaries, I learned a nearby university had microfilm copies of the town newspaper since its beginnings.
Several years ago I made a list of my direct ancestors and their brothers and sisters, and in-laws by name (with maiden names in parentheses), along with dates of birth and death. I sorted them chronologically by death date with the earliest first. I had a cousin who taught at the university–which was very convenient! I sent the list to him with a request that he inquire from his students if anyone would be willing to find the obituaries of these people in the microfilms for a fee.
I roughly calculated how long it would take me to do each search, if I were there, and offered a minimum wage price for the total. It cost me just over $100 (today it would probably be more) and I now have printed copies of sixteen (out of the eighteen requested) obituaries. The student was terrific! She made two copies of eachâ€”one with a fuller view of the page.
If you have a suggestion you would like to share with other researchers, send it to: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org . Thanks to all of this week’s contributors!
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