Sunday, April 14, 2013

Census Sunday – Makes no Sense


State & National Census Reports are filled with information for genealogists. Both the population & nonpopulation schedules give us insights into the lives of our ancestors. What have you found that is Surprising? Reassuring? Bewildering?


I am helping a good friend trace her family, hopefully across the Atlantic to Ireland & Germany. Naturally, we are starting here, gathering as much information as we can before stepping further back in time.

Fortunately my friend lives in the same county where her family has lived for over 150 years; Rensselaer County, New York. She knows the cemeteries and the stones and has remembered some stories. We wrote down the names & dates she already knew and began to uncover more.

When we looked at her Meissner family we turned to the census records on ancestry.com. Census records are a good place to begin and she knew her family had lived in Troy, New York for generations. However, we could not find them. It makes no sense.

We tried city directories and easily found the Meissner family, beginning 1875 and extending for over fifty years. In 1875 Henry Meissner was a cigar maker. In 1883 Henry Jr. joined him as a clerk. In 1889 there were Meissners as saloon keepers, cigar makers and clerks all in Troy. They were there in 1900 when Theresa, widow of Henry, appears; in 1910 when eight Meissners are listed, including two widows; and in 1919 when only three Meissners are included.


1899    Troy City Directory Page 236


Why, then, aren’t these people in the US Census reports or the New York State Census reports? We did find a 1910 report for Margaret Meissner and her three children. However, there should be reports for every year beginning 1880. Maybe I mentioned this before but it makes no sense.

8 comments:

  1. This is so frustrating- when you know they were there and somehow they just weren't enumerated. The 1870 census is like that for Arkansas- I'm missing about four families from that one!

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    1. Terri, I have a family in Ohio: The Gruissy family where their name is spelled differently in each census report; never the same twice!

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  2. In 1880 he is enumerated as Henry Meissnel. I found the son on 1900 as Henry Meissner. There are several in NY 1915 searching on mei*.

    Hope that helps!

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  3. I often wonder where they had been myself. Some of mine just seemed to disappear for ten years but I know they were there.

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    Replies
    1. Creative spelling may be the answer. Or they just did not want to answer questions for census takers.

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  4. I'd chalk it up to spelling and transcription errors. And there's the chance that they were the family that got skipped. (But every time???)

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    Replies
    1. Yes. Sally discovered the family with the spelling error, or perhaps an earlier version on their name.

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