Enumerated in the Census Twice?

Moving around census time, working away from home, and being at school are just a few of the reasons someone can be listed in a census more than once. Be open to the possibility that your relative could have been counted twice and don’t assume that person with the same name is a different person.

But…don’t just assume they are the same person if the names match–find a reason. My grandmother was “working out” in 1930 and was enumerated with her parents and in the household where she was employed.

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Sometimes pencil and paper helps when analyzing as well.

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Contemporary Maps

Your genealogy map collection needs to contain not only modern maps, but also maps contemporary to the time period being researched. Jurisdictional lines lines change, names of streets change, names of political entities change, new counties are formed, etc.

It also never hurts to remind yourself of the distance scale–so you know how far apart two places really were. That’s especially important in a time when travel was not via motorized vehicle.

Tract, Lot, or Parcel Indexes

Some US county recorders of deeds in states that are federal land states have tract, lot, or parcel indexes to land records that index land deeds based upon where the property is located. For rural areas these indexes usually are as specific as the quartersection. In towns they usually are for the specific lot. There can be exceptions. These indexes require the precise location of the property be known. They can be helpful finding transactions that slip through other indexes or don’t include all family names.

The deeds for the Trautvetter family in the illustration will be indexed in two different sections of the tract index:

  • some will be in the southeast quarter of section 3
  • others will be in the southwest quarter of section 3

Did They Die In a “Secret” Place?

My grandmother and her mother took care of my grandmother’s father at their home near Loraine, Adams County, Illinois, for the last two years of his life after he had a debilitating stroke. By the summer of 1934 his condition had deteriorated to where they could no longer handle him at home.

He was sent to a state hospital where he died in August of 1934.

His obituary stated that he died at his home. Family tradition always indicated he died at home. The death certificate says otherwise.

There was a sense of shame that he had to be sent somewhere and so it was never mentioned.

If you can’t find your relative’s death certificate in “the right place,” try looking for a death in a nearby hospital or state facility. Sometimes families don’t like to mention these things.

FindAGrave Suggestion–Perspective

FindAGrave is a neat site and makes it easier for genealogists to locate burial information.

One suggestion if you are taking pictures for a memorial on FindaGrave:

Get some perspective

Include an image or two showing the relative position of nearby stones. Consider labeling who those stones are in the photograph and indicating which stone in the picture is actually for the deceased person in whose memorial you posted it

The relative position of stones can be helpful in determining who may be related.

Not every adjacent burial is a relative, but sometimes they are.

1880 US Agricultural Census Land Ownership Clues

The 1880 US agricultural census asked the farmer about his land tenure–indicating whether the farmer:

  • owned the land–there may have been a mortgage–“free” or “encumbered” was not asked.
  • rented for “fixed money rent”–cash rent in today’s jargon.
  • rented for “shares of product”

Could be a clue as to whether land records need to be searched.


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United States Agricultural Censuses

US agricultural census records won’t give you family relationships, but they provide you with details about your relative’s farm operation and allow you to compare its size to others in the same area. Details about the number of livestock, acres planted in various crops, amount of items sold, and other operational information is often included. Most agricultural censuses in the US were taken in the mid-to-late 19th century. They are available on microfilm and digital format. More information on these non-population schedules is available on the National Archives website.

Ancestral Signatures

I don’t have pictures of too many ancestors. Signatures can be a good replacement. Trying to find them can be an “outside the box” problem-solving approach. Remember that record copies of deeds, wills, and some other records do not contain the actual signature. You need the original document or a reproduction of it–not a transcription.