If you cannot find your 1850 ancestor in the 1840 census–and you are certain he’s heading his own household–consider searching for his 1850 neighbors in 1840. Then look at their neighbors in 1840. There is a chance your ancestor is near at least one of his 1850 neighbors in 1840. A chance–not a guarantee.



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  1. Great tip! I'm a fan of using every single method for finding someone, no matter how seemingly unusual. Sure it doesn't always pan out, but it's worth it when it does!

  2. I've used this method on any census I'm looking for. Sometimes the names are just plain messed up in the census. It often works.

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