Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Census and the Cemetery or There's More Than One Way to Skin a Census Taker

     Hello all!  It's been some time since I posted anything here.  My dear mother's illness and recent passing have kept me occupied.  I'm slowly getting back to my research which often means trips to various cemeteries, which is where I learned the tip I'd like to share today.  Awhile ago I was having difficulty reading the handwriting of an 1870 census taker; to call it chicken scratching would be an insult to the fowl.  To make matters worse he had thrown in bizarre, never before seen abbreviations for first names and sometimes substituted the word child for names of young family members.

     A few days later I found myself in a cemetery in the very town that maddening enumerator had canvassed.  As I strolled among the graves I noticed some vaguely familiar names and then it hit me!  Those unreadable names in the census were right before me carved in granite.  I added several, correctly spelled I might add, to my tree that day and I've used it successfully in several other instances.  Some of the stones even identified their owner as a child of the person buried nearby.  I've also used old newspapers for hard to decipher names in census records, and even phone books, as families sometimes remain in one location for generations.

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