You’ve heard it all before, can’t see the forest for the trees. Well that is the situation in this example.
I have an ancestor, Abram HODGSON (1804-1877) who had lived in Fabius, then Lysander in Onondaga county, and finally very near by in Ira, Cayuga County, and is buried In the Ira Union Cemetery.
From his parent’s bible I had much about him, and even had been able to document through land records where he had sold land to his son Mahlon HODGSON and Mahlon HUDSON sold the land later which proved what we knew, that most of the kids changed the name to HUDSON.
I had found Abram on all the possible census excepting the 1840 census, and in my mind I always thought that I had at one time gone through the Ira 1840 census page by page on microfilm, but perhaps not.
Yesterday I was determined to locate him in 1840 and it was fairly easy by using Ancestry.com advanced search and just searched on the spelling of the given name as “Abram” anywhere in New York State, and sure enough, found him.
Abram “HADGSON” in Ira, with the right number of other household members, just exactly where he should have been. All these many years I had searched on HODGSON and HUDSON and given name as Abraham as a possibility, but was never able to find him in any printed census index, nor in any online census index.
So my point here is don’t ever give up. Take a step back and look at alternate possibilities when you are not able to locate your ancestor on the census when you think you should.
In this case it was as simple as searching on given name only. Another method is to record say five or ten families on each side of your family on the census that you are able to locate them on. Then when you come to a year that you think they should be in a certain location but not found, then do a search for the neighbors from the adjacent census and see if you can locate them manually as being neighbors on your target census.
It only took me about 25 or 30 years to locate this 1840 listing when it should have been able to be found way back when. Never give up.