They Are in the Census Just Keep Searching

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 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.

8 Responses to “They Are in the Census Just Keep Searching”

  • C. Radde:

    I have been looking at the Canadian censuses for the past few weeks as I research my family. I am amazed at the misspellings, both on the censuses and in the transcriptions. For example, I could not find Frank Bolivar Jaques in the 1911 census. I searched first using the full name of him, then his wife Alice Maud, his daughter Ruby Jean and his son Ransom Earl. I finally found them by searching for just Ruby with no last name and for some lucky reason I was able to figure out from the results that I had the correct family. They were transcribed as Olver Frak, Hallice Mal, Rusggesn, and Ramson Esek. Interesting enough, the last name, Jaques, was spelled correctly in every instance. I thought they were pretty clear on the original, but apparently the transcriber didn’t see what I could see. One needs to imagine every possible spelling of a name when searching, even if it’s way out there!

  • richhill:

    Holy cow! Now that is a stretch in spelling for sure. It must become even more of a problem when there are dual languages in a country like Canada. Thanks for telling us your story and it just proves the case, keep looking. All the best. Dick Hillenbrand

  • Stacey Waspe:

    Very true. I’ve had Hebert kin transformed into ‘Abear’ by English enumerators in Canada and Waspes in Bristol transcribed as ‘Warpe’. As you say, it pays to keep looking and to look at the original images if you can. Thanks for sharing! Stacey

  • richhill:

    Pretty strange how some census takers could ever interpret the sounds as the way they sometimes spell the name. Thanks for commenting.

  • Loren Fay:

    Census clerk wrote the wrong nane when recopying the 1830 schedule??? I had a problem in the 1830 census of Paris, NY (near Utica, NY)… My Charles Bartlett family was in that area in 1820, 1825, 1835 and 1840, but not in the 1830 census index… That did not follow logic to me, so I decided to wrestle with it… In the 1825 NY State census of Paris, NY, Charles Bartlett had 100 acres of land, 13 in the household, they had 16 cattle, 4 horses, 1 hog and 57 sheep, and they made 135 yards of cloth in the domestic way in the previous year. In 1835 they are still there, so I could not see why they were not in the 1830 census. First, I rechecked the 1830 index… then, I read the whole town of Paris, name by name in case he was left out of the index… still nothing… I decided to photocopy the whole town listing, so I could study it at home… a few days later, an idea came to me: my family had 13 in it, so I looked at the column with the totals for the families and looked for families with over ten persons in them… that eliminated most families and then I had to look at only about 10 – 15 families in detail… One family stood out as similar to the Charles Bartlett family… and the head had the same first name…. however the last name was written Barnard… I decided to test the info from the 1830 against the family Bible record that was handed down from them… I listed each name and how old they would be in 1830, then compared each census entry, one by one, from parents down to the youngest child… each matched perfectly, except for one daughter who was missing… she was 21 and by then had probably married, and she was accounted for by finding her husband’s name in the 1830 with a wife of the right age. So, I propose that “Charles Barnard” was really Charles Bartlett. If I hadn’t copied the town and took it home to study, I’d probably still be wondering why they weren’t in the 1830 census. Yes, I checked the Barnards… there were some in the area, but not a Charles in 1830, so I expect the clerks handcopying the data got some of the info confused… I also had to work for the 1835 census data… the local indexer had misread the last name, but it was close enough to be suspicious in the index, so I looked it up anyway and discovered their error… a descending g from the line above made the Bartlett name look differently to the indexer, but to me it was clearly Bartlett. Yes, we have fun using indexes, census listings and sometimes we have to become detectives… my Bartletts and relatives have lived in the Paris, NY, area for 200+ years. Happy hunting! Loren Fay Albany, NY.

  • nygenes1:

    Hi Loren, That is an excellent example of stick-to-itiveness, congratulations. The family count was genius and would surly shorten the time. One other thing that I do in cases like this is to record 10 families on each side of the target family on each of the censuses. Then if you compare neighborhoods, so to speak, and if the same or at least some of the same family names are on each different census, you can pretty well conclude you have the right ones. I am curious of your reference to a “census clerk” copying. Do you mean the indexers in later years or do you know of an actual clerk transcribing the original entries? I kind of have this picture in my mind of the enumerator walking from house to house and I can not believe they always carried the original large census books with them. I kind of think they took notes and went home and made the final entry at night by candle light and of course the chance of a couple of hot toddies after supper. Just sayin…

  • Loren Fay:

    I have an amusing comment from census searching in the mid-west states… My Fays “begin” in Ohio, then go to Ontario, then to Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota, and some have gone further west to Washington in more recent years, tho my grandparents came east to NY and CT before settling down in Homer, NY, where my parents met at church and school… In the 1860 – 1900 period, I have fun with indexes for my Fays, because they were Edward, or Edwin, or Edmund, or Edwin William or William Edwin Fay… almost seemed like they had a differnt name in each census, like they were trying to be untraceable. My next generation did similar with James Henry Fay or just plain Henry Fay. and his inlaws did similar with James Edward Campbell…. makes census work even more interesting… sometimes with the modertn computer searches, I just put in Fay or Campbell and click on the county and town that I expect them to be in, or find new places they lived in. Loren Fay Albany, NY

  • lauren w patterson:

    Loren, I have been involved in genealogy for years. Your work in church records is wonderful. I have a client who is looking for the chidren of Roswell Franklin in Aurora ny. Need to prove grandfather of Aaron BUrr Franklin b 1802 ny. I am lost between Roswell and Aaron. Stephan could be the link or William S Franklin of Genoa b1800. The record show one name and no family. thanks for your help. I know you are busy! Lauren

Leave a Reply

Subscribe via RSS
Follow Me On Twitter
Donations Greatly Appreciated:
Pay on WePay
MyHeritage Top 100 Websites
Top genealogy site awards