Thursday, November 1, 2012

Census Tips - Reading Before and After

We can learn a lot about an individual by reading everything recorded on his census line.  We might also learn more by glancing at the rest of the names recorded on the census page listing your relative.  As your list of family names grows, you may find names of children listed near GreatGrandfather Jones as they married and started their own families or adult childen who began farming on part of the family land. 

In some of the research I've done, I discovered that a widow lived with a different family member as each census year came around.  And be sure to check the previous or following page of census records if your ancestor's record is at the beginning or end of a census page.  You might just find more family members on these pages.

While you are at it, browse through a few pages before and after your ancestor's census listing.  You may find other family members living in the area.  Doing this helped us learn a lot about my husband's Grandfather Padgett.  In the space of four census pages covering 35 families in the late 1800s, I found his teenage grandfather living with his widowed mother and the names of his brother and sisters, his first wife-to-be living with her family, his second and third wives-to-be (sisters) living with their parents, and the future first husband of his third wife.  All of this was before the days of texting, facebook, and the Internet, so your neighbors were your primary social circle.  When deaths occurred, as happened in the grandfather's life, his personal support was living close by.  Without looking at some extra census pages, we might not have had the same insight into the Padgett branch of the family tree.

1 comment:

  1. I'm so glad you're writing about this! Can't wait for Katie Pearl (and me) to be the beneficiary of all you've learned about the family. I read somewhere that did a survey which showed 50% of Americans know the name of only one or none of their great-grandparents. I'm happy to be in the other half!