Genealogy census tip: When questions arise in the census

questions 2By Barry J. Ewell
When things are not clear and you are having difficulty finding your family in a census, expand the search by creating a picture of the community.  Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who were the neighbors?
  • Were there others with the same surname in the community?
  • Compare family naming practices. Are there unique middle names that are actually related surnames?
  • Who was named in whose will?
  • If the court house burned, maybe the newspaper didn’t
  • Check the records of the county institutions, poor farm, orphanage, jail, prison and hospital
  • Finding and reading local histories are always helpful
  • Not all of these histories are academically correct but they can provide clues about a community’s problems, its churches and politics
  • Build a checklist for each generation by looking for records that include
    • Census
    • Military
    • Military pension
    • Vital records
    • All forms of court records
    • Land records
    • Newspapers

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