Saturday, May 28, 2022

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Your 1950 U.S. Census Finds

I visited to find out the theme for today's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun and discovered that meme host Randy Seaver is in the hospital anxiously awaiting open-heart surgery on Monday.  Not only is it a very survivable surgery these days, it was even decades ago, when my maternal grandfather had the procedure.  He had an excellent recovery and lived about another 20+ years after his surgery.  So I have faith that Randy will do the same.  And while he is unable to create new Saturday Night Genealogy Fun posts for us, I will go back and catch up on several that I missed when I was under the weather.  "Your 1950 U.S. Census Finds" is from April 5, 2022.

Your mission, should you decide to accept it (cue the Mission:  Impossible! music here), is:

1.  The 1950 United States census was released by the U.S. National Archives on Friday, 1 April 2022.  

2.  Did you make a list of your census targets and try to find them in the 1950 census?  How did your plans pay off — did you find everyone, or just some of them?

3.  Tell us about it in your own blog post, in a comment to this post, or in a Facebook post.  Be sure to leave a link with your answers in a comment.

Here's mine:

I did make a list of my many 1950 census targets (dozens of people), and I did try to find them within the first couple of days after the census was released online.  I struck out — I didn't find a single person.  I admit that I had not collected addresses, so I was relying on the rudimentary name index that was created by the National Archives.

But that was okay — I didn't expect to find them with the very basic name index, because most of the people I was looking for were in large cities, such as New York City (Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx), Los Angeles, and Chicago.  And even though I had been looking forward to the 1950 census release pretty much since the 1940 census was released, I had decided I wasn't in a hurry.  I waited a couple of weeks to see how the Ancestry AI indexing would go.

Well, actually I waited almost a month and then tried NARA again.  On April 26 I looked for the older sister of a friend of mine — and found her!  Granted, she had an extremely uncommon given name, and I knew she should be in Wyoming (not a lot of people!), so it wasn't as difficult as it could have been.

The next opportunity I had time to sit down and poke around was May 5.  The AI had been going gangbusters apparently, because searching on Ancestry I was able to find my maternal grandparents (with my mother and the older of my two uncles), my paternal grandparents (with my father), my father's paternal half-sisters, my boyfriend's mother and her mother (separate households), the friend herself (from the previous paragraph) in Wyoming, another friend's mother, and one friend himself, all within the space of an hour and a half.

Then I got distracted and didn't search again until May 16, when I found six somewhat distant cousins, siblings from one family.  Why did I look for them next?  I was actually searching for my great-great-grandfather's second wife (he missed the 1950 census by two years, having died in 1948).  His second wife was his niece; I have been told this kind of marraige was not uncommon among Jews in Eastern Europe, when the man was older and needed someone to take care of him.  It was in no way supposed to be a "romantic" marriage; the wife was more like a nurse.  I even have another marriage like that in my family.

Anyway, I remembered that Ethel had died in 1952 and decided I wanted to find her.  I couldn't, but it occurred to me that she might have been living with one of her children, so I started looking for all of them.  I found them — but not Ethel.  So she is missing so far.

Also missing is my (half) first cousin, who was my mother's best friend growing up in Miami.  She is my father's (half) niece, from his oldest half-sister, who was my paternal grandmother's first child.  My cousin was born in 1941, so she absolutely should be in the 1950 census.  I just looked and couldn't find her, her mother, or her stepfather (her mother married her third husband in 1946).  I don't know if this is a failure of the index or if my aunt and cousin were missed in the census.  Guess I need to call my cousin!

These images are my two most important finds in the 1950 census so far.  My father and all of his immediate family were completely missed in the 1940 census, so I really did want to find them in 1950.  I had been hoping to show the census to my father, but he died in 2019.

My mother didn't appear in the 1940 census because she was born in November 1940.  She died in 1995, not even close to the release of the 1950 census.  But because she missed the 1940 census by just a few months, I am glad I found her in 1950.

And you know that age-old discussion of how accurate you should take the information in the census to be?  It's important to remember that it's second-hand information and you should always verify it, not only because the person talking to the census taker might have gotten some of the facts wrong accidentally, but also because sometimes people just didn't tell the truth.  The latter is the case with the reported marital status of my paternal grandparents, listed as Bertram L. and Ann Sellers.  My grandparents were never married, because my grandfather didn't divorce his first wife, whom he married in 1923, until 1952 or so, after he left my grandmother to run off with another woman.  That woman insisted on seeing his divorce papers to make sure she wasn't running around with a married man (as she told me, "I was a good Christian girl").  As far as I know, my grandmother was a good Christian girl also, but I've gotten the impression that my grandfather may have been a smooth talker.  (My grandmother knew she wasn't married to him, because she acknowledged that in a letter to a lawyer several years later.)

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: How Many Find a Grave Entries?

This week it seems that Randy Seaver and I got wildly different results from his Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge.

Your mission, should you decide to accept it (cue the Mission:  Impossible! music here), is:
1.  How many entries are there on Find A Grave for your exact current surname and for the birth surnames of your grandparents?  What about your spouse's grandparents' birth surnames?

2.  Write about it in your own blog post, in a comment to this blog post, in a status or comment on Facebook, or in a Google Plus Stream post.

Okay, here's mine.

I also used the Find a Grave search page.  It isn't true that it shows only exact matches.  It uses what you type as "begins with."  So when I searched for "Sellar", which had 8,173 matching records, and then went to the last page (409), it ended with "Sullivan-Sellars" and "Trosper-Sellards."

I also did the searches that Randy posted.

They're just not quite what you would expect.

So the names I searched for and the results:

Sellers (my current and only surname):  33,656 names
Armstrong (my paternal grandfather's birth surname):  151,133 names
Gauntt (my paternal grandmother's birth surname):  1,107 names
Meckler (my maternal grandfather's birth surname):  413 names
Gordon (my maternal grandmother's birth surname):  139,183 names

And I have no spouse, so no spouse's grandparents' names to search for.

My paternal grandfather's name at birth was Armstrong because my great-grandmother was not married when she had him.  No father was listed on the birth certificate, merely the socially disapproving "OW" for "out of wedlock" on the line where the father's name would have appeared.  She married Mr. Sellers seven months later.  Mr. Sellers informally adopted my grandfather, and Grampa used the name Sellers for the rest of his life.  When my grandfather was 37, his mother had a formal amendment processed for his birth certificate, naming Mr. Sellers as his father.

Even though my maternal grandmother's birth surname was Gordon, that was not her father's birth name.  That was Gorodetsky, originally written in Cyrillic.  That has a grand total of 108 names in the Find a Grave database.

I don't know why Randy's results for Richmond stopped at 10,000.  When I searched, I got 34,347 names.

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: How Many Surnames in Your Family Tree Database?

We're looking at information in our family tree programs this week for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun!

Your mission, should you decide to accept it (cue the Mission:  Impossible! music here) is to:
1.  Go into your genealogy management program (GMP; either software on your computer or an online family tree) and figure out how to count how many surnames you have in your family tree database.

2.  Tell us which GMP you're using and how you did this task.

3.  Tell us how many surnames are in your database and, if possible, which surname has the most entries.  If this excites you, tell us which surnames are in the top 5!  Or 10!!  Or 20!!!

4.  Write about it in your own blog post, in a comment to this blog post, in a status or comment on Facebook, or in a Google Plus Stream post.

NOTE:  If you can't figure out how to do this in your GMP, use the Help button in your program and search for "count surnames", then follow directions.

Let's see how I do.

I am currently using Family Tree Maker 2019.  I couldn't figure out how to find the surnames easily, so I did look under Help.  "Count" got me nowhere.  "Surnames" led me to information about the "Surname Report", which "lists the total number of individuals with a specific surname, the number of males and females with that surname, and the earliest and most recent year a surname appears in your tree."

I remembered that reports are under the "Publish" menu.  It took me a couple of attempts to figure out which submenu the Surname Report fell under — "Person Reports."  I generated a report which was really short and discovered that for some reason the default was for surnames of extended family only.  When I clicked on "All Individuals" it generated a new report that is 51 pages long instead of merely half a page.  I then told it to sort by surname count:  "List the surnames by order of most occurrences in the tree file."

I couln't find how many total surnames are in the report for All Individuals without counting manually, which is kind of annoying.  That doesn't seem to be one of the statistics that FTM provides.  My rough count is 4,868.

I can say that the report shows I have a total of 10,114 individuals in my database, of which 5,144 are male and 4,953 are female.  I added 5,144 and 4,953 and got 10,097, which is a difference of 17 people.  Since one of the variables is to limit the counts only to included individuals ("Only count surnames of individuals who are included in the report."), and that's turned on, I can't explain who these 17 people are.  Maybe they're people for whom I have some sort of information but haven't entered any name?  I would have thought I had way more than 17 people like that in my tree.

Instead of the top 10 or 20, I took a screenshot of my report showing surnames with at least 30 individuals in my database.

One of the names is "Unknown", with 42 occurrences.  I just looked in the database, and yes, I have 42 instances where I have entered "Unknown" as someone's name.

I was not surprised to see that the top three names are Gaunt, Sellers, and Gauntt.  Between them, Gaunt and Gauntt, which are spelling variants of the same name, total 841.  Gantt, much further down the list with 37, is another spelling variation.  That's my paternal grandmother's family, which I've done a fair amount of research on during the past couple of years.  Sellers is 574, not really a close second.

I was kind of surprised to see that the fourth-most common name was Allen, which had 143 individuals.  That's a branch of my Gaunt/Gauntt/Gantt line.

The highest number for a line on my mother's side of the family is Garfinkel, at 45.  That is not an ancestral line but a collateral one.  I have met several cousins from the Garfinkel branch of my family.  The highest number for an ancestral line is Gordon, at 44, but I don't think all of them are from my mother's family.  That family name was originally Gorodetsky, and immigrating family members changed it to Gordon after coming to the United States.  I believe I have some Gordons in my tree who are not connected to the Gorodetskys.

It is amusing to note that several surnames which are extended family have higher counts than the ones from my mother's family.  The most is Fuller, at 104.  The Fullers are one of my aunt's ancestral lines, going back to early upstate New York.

Unlike Randy, I see no need to retype the information that appears quite nicely in my graphic.

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Mother's Day 2022

For Mother's Day this year, here is my maternal line in photographs.  I have five generations.

My mother Myra with her three children:
me, my sister Stacy, and my brother Mark

My mother Myra, her mother Lily (my grandmother),
and *her* mother Sarah (my great-grandmother)

My great-great-grandmother Rose Dorothy on the left

And somewhere I have a photo of my great-great-grandmother with my great-grandmother.  I really need to find that.

Saturday, May 7, 2022

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: What Excites You about Genealogy Research?

Randy Seaver came up with a different approach to genealogy for this week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun.

Your mission, should you decide to accept it (cue the Mission:  Impossible! music here) is:

1.  What excites you about genealogy research?  What part of performing genealogy and family history research really excites you — what keeps you coming back day after day?

2.  Write your own blog post, or add your response as a comment to this blog post or in a Facebook Status post or note.

These are my thoughts.

• I think the puzzle-solving aspect of research is what I enjoy the most.  I like figuring out how one person is related to another, where an immigrant came from, or just when someone was born.  I enjoy hunting for clues that will help give me an answer.  One of the reasons it is so exciting is that every family is unique; although there are many similarities between different families, every family's history is going to be different in some ways, so I am never reading the same story twice.

• I love connecting with relatives, even if they're distant.  It's fun to figure out exactly how I'm related to the cousins I communicate with and which family lines we have in common.  I sometimes have been disappointed when the cousin doesn't feel the same way, but most of the time the enthusiasm is mutual.

• Something else that's fun is finding new kinds of documents to help with family history.  I always tell people that I am obsessive and that I want to find every single piece of information out there, no matter how insignificant someone else might think it is.  Everything adds up to a fuller picture of the person and family I am researching.

I'm glad Randy enjoys writing up documentation, because I sure don't!  It's a necessary evil, but it definitely does not excite me.