Sunday, May 6, 2012

Mysteries of the 1850 Census

Some of the best genealogy research advice I've ever received is to go back and take a fresh look at records you already have.  I think this advice is especially important for people like me who do genealogy here and there as time permits.  Sometimes my research has to take a back burner to other things going on and when I'm able to get back to it I have to almost start all over.  Sound familiar?  Another piece of advice that's been helpful is to try and find information from different angles.  This advice has really applied to some research surrounding the 1850 census.  

For a long time I was not able to find an 1850 census record for Richard Redden.  I came to find it when I was trying to find more information on Richard's first wife Elizan.  I know Elizan's maiden name was King from her marriage record.  While trying to find census records for "Elizan King" I came across an. 1850 record for Amanda King who was residing in the same household as Richard and "Eliza Redding" in New Albany, Indiana.  Also residing in this household is James, born about 1835 in Kentucky, and William, Robert, and Nancy E. "Redding."  Bingo!  Much of the record makes sense, such as the location.  It's reasonable that Elizan would be listed as "Eliza."  We know that Richard and Elizan had sons named William and Robert, and their birth years listed on the 1850 census are accurate (although Richard's is off  by about 3 years).  However, who are James Redding, Nancy Redding, and Amanda King?   In the 1850 census, the family is listed in a specific order.  First is the head of the household, usually the father/husband, and next is the wife.  I know from later census records and obituaries that William and Robert are sons of Richard and Elizan.  It is reasonable to assume that Nancy is a daughter of Richard and Elizan based on her age and other records that suggest Richard and Elizan had children who did not live to adulthood.  But who is James?  Richard and Elizan were married in 1842 in Indiana, so we can be pretty sure that James, who was born in approximately 1835 in Kentucky, is not Elizan's son.  Although we cannot assume the ages listed in the census are 100% correct, Elizan appears to be only about 14 years older than James.  Could James be Robert's brother,  or possibly a nephew?  Probably not, since he is listed just after Richard and Elizan which  strongly suggests he is a child of the head of the household.  Now there's a new mystery -- could Richard have been married before?  Amanda King is likely Elizan's sister, or perhaps a niece.  Hers is the last name for the household which, in addition to the King surname, supports that she is not a member of the immediate family.  Although mysteries now, these individuals are also clues and possible pathways to learning more about Richard and Elizan's parents and siblings.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Conference Bound

I'm excited to announce that next week I'll be attending the annual conference of the National Genealogical Society in Cincinnati, Ohio.  I've also been given permission to share blog posts about the various exhibits and educational sessions I'll attend.  Hopefully, I'll learn some new research techniques that will help me break through some brick walls and learn more about our family history.  I also hope that my conference blogs will be interesting and informative to you.