Sunday, December 13, 2009

The 1900 US Census

The US Census is such a valuable tool when doing genealogical research. The first time I saw my father listed on one as a toddler (2 years old), was truly exciting. These ledgers were handwritten by the Census takers. I am actually at a loss for words to express the feeling of seeing that.

On the other hand, not all Census takers were good spellers or very literate, nor were people at the time. Thus, information must be closely examined. Some people didn't seem to know their birth years and in many cases, last names were spelled wrong. You find that you must kick into detective mode occasionally, but when you can "connect the dots", it is just fascinating, and in some cases, quite sad.

When I first began the search, I started with the US Census and chose 1900. I found Lola in Joliet Township, Will, Illinois. She was apparently born there in October of 1894 and she was listed as being 5 years old. That made sense as the Census was usually taken in January or February. I discovered her father was George and her mother was Effie. George was born in Germany and Effie in Illinois. I also learned that Lola had siblings. She had a sister, Bessie who was 6 years old, a brother Munroe who was 4 years old, and a brother George who was 1 year old.

My dad did tell me that Lola's father was from Germany and that was really all I knew about her family. I did not know names nor did I know she had siblings. Siblings that were my father's aunt and uncles. He never mentioned them. I feel he must have known they existed, but then, who really knows. Those times were different. Maybe young girls married and went wherever their husbands could find work. Their ties may have been severed from their kin, leaving offspring clueless and completely out of touch with their families. This may have been the case with my father, but now that he is deceased and never did talk about this while he was alive, I may never know.

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