I’m going to pause between posts this morning to give you some advice about research. I know many of you are either dabbling in genealogy or would like to, or you long ago fell victim to the obsession like I did. Today’s tip about names may be too simple for some of you, but I ask you, as I do my students, to wait patiently for a few minutes while I help others. LOL And if I’m repeating myself from an earlier post, remember I’m old. I forget these things, and you probably do too.
I have been trying to find someone in the 1900 census. Since the research is part of my new book and I don’t want to use it here, at least not yet, I will use another name for this little exercise, but everything about the research is true.
Sarah Jane Jones appears in the 1920 census as S. Joan Jones. I know it is her because the rest of her information matches and the names of other family members are correct. She is listed on the 1910 census as Jane Jones, again with a correct family member and the other information about her is correct. I know where she lived in 1900 because I found an article in the paper about her as Mrs. A. R. Jones (husband’s name). I tried to find her in the 1900 census and could not. Could not find her husband because she was a widow! I tried the online version. I tried a paper copy. Then I happened to get lucky and after looking through some family files at the library for the THIRD time, noticed her father’s name on a piece of paper. It was her funeral record, listing her as S.J. Jones. I went back to Ancestry and searched for S. J. Jones and was rewarded with several Sarah Jones listings. One of them was her, and by the way, it was spelled Sarey. Apparently in 1900 she preferred to use her first name, and spelled it with a “twang”!
I pass this on to you as a reminder that names were misspelled and misused in the census. Ancestry is filled with mistakes in transcription. Women often used nicknames like Mollie or Beth instead of Margaret or Elizabeth. Never let a name keep you from finding someone. Try different versions and spellings- James, Janes, Jim, Jin, J. Try first and last and combinations thereof. Try looking for other known family members. Try looking for children and in-laws. Patience and creativity are usually rewarded. Good luck!