One good rule of thumb when an ancestor “disappears” at an older age is to look and see if they are living near any children who might have moved a distance away from the family home. One of my ancestors “disappeared” after her husband died in Indiana in 1861. The end result was that she moved further west, into Iowa to live with one of her children. As a matter of course, I always check near all the adult children of an ancestor to see if Grandma or Grandpa went to live with them as they got older.
But once in a while youâ€™ll find one who moves back to where they used to live, even if they have no family left there.
Louis Demar came to Chicago, Illinois, from Clinton County, New York ca. 1905, probably looking for work. He seemed to evaporate after the 1920 census and could not be located in city directories or other records after the mid-1920s. Where was he? He had moved back to Clinton County, New York. There he was enumerated in the 1930 census and that is where he died a few years later in the mid-1930s.
George Trautvetter and family immigrated to the United States in 1853, settling in Illinois. In 1869, at the age of seventy-one years, he returned to Germany, leaving his family behind in America. The pastor writes in his burial entry in the church register that George returned “to live as a retiree.” He was not just making a short visit back home to see family.
Not everyone was happy in their new home, and sometimes instead of moving further west into new territory, they simply moved back to where they were from, where they possibly felt more comfortable.
So if someone disappears, consider the possibility that they went home, rather than seeking newer pastures somewhere else.