Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Musings on a Frustration

OK, so I haven't posted as frequently as I promised. I need to stop worrying about whether I have clever graphics, important messages, etc.

Today I am going to just go off on a rant about something that keeps popping up in my research - I need to coin a term for this. (I actually have things like this is in my family tree, and in my wife's.)

Genealogists frequently look at U.S. Census records, which will list the family members in age order.
So we will see something like this:

1900  Hootsmythe, Zebediah     33
          Hootsmythe, Truly           28
          Child A                               6
          Child B                              3
          Child D                              6 mo.

So then I will look at the next census:

1910  Hootsmythe, Zeb      43
          Hootsmythe, Tru      38
          Child A                     16
          Child B                     13
          Child C                     11
          Child D                      9
          Child E                      4

And then at the next one:

1920  Hootsmythe, Zebediah W    53
          Hootsmythe, Truly C           47 (women seem to get 9 years older every decade in the census!)
          Child B                                 23
          Child D                                19
          Child E                                 14

OK. So Child A grew up and moved out.

But what about Child C?

This raises all sorts of possibilities.

Could these be different families? No, the names are unique enough (there are no other Zebediah and Truly Hootsmythes around), and the ages line up otherwise. They live in the same location. You're pretty sure that it is them.

Child C is older than Child D, so should have been in the 1900 U.S. Census. They would have been about a year old - too young to be off doing something elsewhere.

Maybe they got left off the list somehow. Stuff happens.

So who is Child C?

There is a good chance they are the niece or nephew of one of the couple, likely the wife. So you look for unwed sisters of the parents.

No luck there...Zebediah has only brothers, and Truly is truly a mystery.

Now what?

Where do you add them to your tree?

What about on Ancestry.com?

You can't ignore them - they are right there on the U.S. Census. And you don't want to forget about them.

Do you just have them as unattached people? But what if they really are good ole Zeb's and Tru's kid?

OK, I think that the Genealogical Proof Standard would require that I leave Child C off pending a reasonably exhaustive search, but note this somehow in any research reports.

That just doesn't work well in cousin-baiting.