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17 April 2013

Census: Research family relationships, part 3


This series of articles demonstrates how to research family relationships from digital census records. The further back the researcher traces the family, the more difficult it is to verify information. The records for several census years may be necessary to answer basic family questions. Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org offer census indexes.

Research technique: work backwards. The 1910 U.S. population schedule census rephrased the question from age at first marriage to number of years married. Married women were asked the number of children born and how many now living. For the 1900 census, the enumerators asked the birth month and year of each family member as well as the number of children born and living. The 1880 census is the first time the enumerator inquires into the relationship to the head of the house.

Research technique: use collaborating documents. Continuing with the Schuler ancestors, William and Nettie have not been found in the 1910 census. Family documents verify their marriage in Dec 1908. Family legends include his occupation as a boat captain with placement on the Illinois and Michigan Canal in Illinois.
1910 U.S. Census. Illinois, Will, Lockport. John Schuler family
Research technique: Do not read into the record what is not there. In 1910, the only Schuler in Lockport, Illinois is John Schuler. Is there a relationship? The 1900 U.S. population schedule census does enumerate William J. as the son of John Schuler. William’s occupation is boatman. This links William J. to his father, John.
1900 U.S. Census. Illiinois, Will, Lockport, John Schuler family
In the 1880 census, the enumerator inquires as to the relationship of each member to the head of the house. Research technique: connect to the right family. Two families are enumerated; one family is Anna Shuler; the other family is John Schuler. This census identifies John Schuler’s children. Research technique: abstract the information thoroughly and correctly. The abstracted information will reveal family name changes, births or deaths in the family. 
1880 U.S, Census. Illinois, Will, Lockport. John Schuler family
Research technique: do not read into the record what is not there. Wait for future research to connect the families of Anna and John.
Example, the second generation of the Schuler family is John and Lena Schuler, the author’s maternal great-grandparents. The 1910, 1900, and 1880 U.S. population censuses provide family information as follows:
  • John Schuler is the head of the family.
  • Laney, Lena, or Linna M. is his wife.
  • The birth order and names of his five children are:
  • William, William J., or Willie born Aug 1871
  • Clara born about 1873
  • Edward born Sept 1876
  • Harriett M. or Juliana born Feb 1878
  • Nellie born Sept 1891
Note the daughter’s name difference between Juliana in 1880 and Harriett in 1900. The birth dates indicate this is the same person. The daughter’s mother speaks German. Could a misunderstanding of the question account for the name difference?
Future research:
  • As Clara was not enumerated on the 1900 census, look for death information between 1880 and 1900.
  • As Harriet M. was not enumerated on the 1910 census, look for death information between 1900 and 1910.
  • Anna Schuler is a widow in 1880. Who was her husband?
1880 U.S. Census. Illinois, Will, Lockport. Ann Shuler family
Census records offer hints or clues not absolute facts.
For comments and questions, please contact Selma Blackmon.

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