Who Is Absent?

Do you notice who is not listed in records where other family members are? In going through a series of “gossip columns” for a family in the early 20th century, I noticed that one individual’s husband rarely attended anything. I’ve made a notation about his frequent absence in my compilation of the columns.

There are other records where sometimes people who “should be listed” are not. This happens in more than the gossip columns of local newspapers. Are you making a notation of this in your analysis of the record?

Some absences mean more than others. Missing family functions may just mean there’s been some sort of disagreement, that someone is a loner, or needs time away from their spouse. Failing to appear in a city directory may mean a move, failing to appear in personal property tax rolls may mean a change in financial status (or move), etc.

Absences matter and not just when Uncle Herman refuses to attend the annual cookout.

6 thoughts on “Who Is Absent?

  1. Dee Edson

    What about when someone is listed in two census listings (1860 and 1870) with his wife, then in 1880, just the wife is listed, but it says “married,” and family size was 1. I browsed through the rest of the town’s listing (small New England town, fortunately) and there were no others with that last name. I haven’t found anything else about this man, and I’m thoroughly puzzled. I tried to check prison and hospital listings, but couldn’t find him. Any ideas or suggestions? Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Dee Edson

      I should clarify the above–the wife was listed as married, and the box checked was “head of family.”

      Reply
  2. GalacticGal

    I have always found it rather strange that in the 1905 census for Argentine Township in Kansas (taken at the top of March), where my great-grandparents lived, she was listed as Head of Household. He didn’t have his tragic and fatal railroad accident (he was a Section Foreman) until later in that same month. Is puzzlement. There was absolutely nothing in the death notice in the local paper about any kind of rift between them. Just that the couple were well-loved and he would be sorely missed. I’m baffled.

    Reply
    1. michaeljohnneill Post author

      Did they really take it before his accident and is he listed at all? They might have actually taken it afterwards–especially if there were not many enumerators to work through the county. Or they might have written up the enumeration afterwards and wrote it to reflect the household after the accident.

      Reply
  3. Elsie Deatherage

    Dee,
    I ran into the same thing with one of my husband’s ancestors, also in the 1880 census. Their divorce was final in May of 1881, so I think they were still married but living separately at the time of the census.

    Reply

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