Question: While researching my family at the turn of the century, I’ve come across an interesting discrepancy. I’ve found my great-great-grandparents in both the 1900 and 1910 censuses, but the 1910 census includes three teenage sons who were not included on the 1900 census. I can think of several theories as to why this might be—they might be orphaned nephews taken in by their aunt and uncle, for example, or the young boys were living with a nearby relative in 1900 for some reason—but I’m at a loss as to how to begin working through this problem. How should I approach this mystery?
Answer: I’ve run across a few census records like this, and they do present some interesting problems, don’t they?
Does the 1910 record list them as “sons” or is it some other relationship?
Here are some ideas for what to do next:
- In the 1910 census, in columns 10 and 11, it lists the number of children the woman in the household has had and how many are living. Does it add up to include these children?
- The 1900 census lists the same thing in columns 11 and 12. Do these numbers match what they should in 1910? Do the numbers match the 1910?
- Can you find birth, marriage or death records for these new children? Some vital records will list the parents. However, remember the further away a record is from the actual event, the less accurate the information may be.
- Check the brothers and sisters of the parents in this family; specifically in 1900 census. Do you see names that might match these children? Did the brother/sister die in the period between 1900/1910. If you get desperate, you might try cousins as well. Neighbors in 1900 might be another way to go.
- Are there adoption records for that area in that time period?
- Try searching the 1900 census in that specific town or county with the age of the child and just the first name entered. Do you find anyone that might be the right person? (It’s a long shot.)
- Look at the WWII draft registration cards; they might mention a parent.
- Search for obituaries and or wills for the parents. Are the children listed? Maybe their status is referenced.
- Are any of these children living with these parents in the 1920 census? What is the relationship to the head of the household?
This is a tough one; but somewhere the answer is out there.