Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Cicero's Census

I've read that your brian is so pworeufl, taht it can raed scnetnees wtih mxied up wrods as lnog as the frsit and lsat ltetres are in the rghit palce.  Reading very poor handwriting is a challenge big enough for the Great and Powerful Wizard of Oz.  The numerous possibilities of finding a very poorly misspelled name can be a daunting task.  Huge black ink smears and torn holes in an original document cannot be fixed to create a microfilm copy.  The names that appear and disappear each decade create more questions for us.  Who hasn't had these kinds of problems with census records?

My luck with finding census records really has been pretty good.  The Edith Abbott Memorial Library here in Grand Island has them from 1860 (territorial) to 1930 on microfilm for the entire state of Nebraska.  Two branches of my family had moved here by 1880, all but one by 1900.  I was able to get all of my direct ancestors Nebraska enumerations searching microfilm before they were online anywhere.  Other states took a little cash.  Through both the library and GI's Family History Center, I ordered in some census records from Kentucky and Illinois.  And most of the rest of the census records for my direct ancestors, at least back to 1850, I have found online.

In my BELL line I'm missing a couple records.  My great-grandfather, Cicero BELL, was born in 1869.  The 1870 Wayne County, Kentucky census shows him with his mother, Martha BELL (who was never married) and her parents.  Martha was the daughter of John Silas BELL and Ruth SIMPSON.  

I'm glad I didn't have to rely on Ancestry for this one, they have the name there indexed as "Simon C".  Will you all believe along with me that the name is written S.I.S.E.R.O.W. C.???

By 1880, Martha had had 2 more children, John William and Laura.  John Silas died in 1878.  I still have not been able to find Ruth, Martha or her children anywhere, not even with Martha's siblings.  I have searched the whole county page by page and even used the Soundex.  The 1880 soundex indexed only the households with children 10 years of age or younger.  I searched it for B400 in Kentucky and still didn't find Cicero, who would have been 11, or John William who would have been about 6 and Laura just 1.  Did they not get counted?  Did you see the movie "O Brother, Where Art Thou?"?  Did you hear the kid with the shotgun say "I nicked the census taker"?  Seriously, I think maybe a household with an unmarried woman with 3 children may have evaded the census taker... somehow.

In 1930, my problem is with the information provided - or the lack of.  The closest person I can find that could be my Grandpa James Stanley BELL is one in Joliet, Illinois - listed as James S. Bell, age unknown, birth place unknown, birth place of parents unknown.  This guy didn't even have an occupation.  He was a Lodger listed with William Gladders' family, I don't know of any connection to this man or his family.  I tried to contact someone who had this family in a Rootsweb World Connect Tree, but got no response.  My mom knew that before he married, Grandpa moved around and did odd jobs, but she didn't think he was ever as far from Nebraska as Illinois.  Just how would I go about finding more information about this person with so little to go on?  If he didn't get arrested, I think I'm out of luck!  

What I have found writing this blog is that it gets me doing research on these people again.  I read through my old information again and search for names I haven't in a while.  Maybe something will come up this time!  How badly misspelled do you think Cicero can get?

No comments:

Post a Comment