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In case you missed it, here are some tips on how to use children’s birth places and dates to unravel where your ancestor’s might have been.

Ask Ancestry Anne: How do I build a Family Census Table

OK, this wasn’t a specific question, but inspired by reading the comments of my previous article: Are These The Same People? In that post, I built what I call a Family Census Table that I used to determine who was in the family and when.


Maybe it will be useful to do a few examples of what you might include, and also talk about what you can do with the information once you’ve collected it.


Let’s do our first example with my great great grandparents Jeremiah and Mary Gillespie.

I’ll build a table in Excel, but you can do it in word, on a piece of paper, or whatever makes sense.  In this first, example I’m going to work through, I’m not going to include place, but we will in later examples:

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Now let’s find the 1880 census and record what we see.

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Harriet was listed as a daughter, and George and Paul as sons.  There are big gaps between the children, so there very well may be other children.


On to 1870.

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OK, there are some serious discrepancies here!  But let’s collect all four and then think about them.

And now for 1860:

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No George.  And this is the first we’ve seen of Sarah. One more, let’s look at 1850:

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OK.  Now what do we do with this somewhat confusing information?  Let’s start with a list of questions that we might have by looking at this family.

  1. Are the Mary in 1880 and the Ann in 1870 the same person as the Mary E in 1860 and 1850?
  2. Why is George listed as a son of Jeremiah in 1880, but not in the household in 1860?  He should have been 4.
  3. What happened to Sarah?  She should have been about 10 in 1870, too young to be married.  Where is she?
  4. Where are James and William in 1880?
  5. Jeremiah and Mary are no where to be found in 1900, did they die between 1880 and 1900?
  6. Can we find Harriet, James, William, George and Paul in 1900?

In the next post, I’ll talk about where you might want to go next with this research and how to get there.


If you put every family you are working on in a table like this, I guarantee that you will look at it and start asking questions. And that is the best way to get answers. :-)

Ask Ancestry Anne: Are These The Same People?

Question: I have built my family tree on ancestry.com and figured out my great great grandfather’s father was John Logan. I found the family on censuses from 1850 through 1880, the last census surviving before John’s death in 1880. All of the censuses list John’s occupation as a farmer. However, I was recently going through my grandfather’s family heirlooms and found an original newspaper from 1895 with John’s obituary. In it, it says he was a judge. At first I thought maybe I had the wrong John Logan on the census as it’s not an uncommon name, nor with the same name, and ten children all who have the same name (the daughters’ married names mentioned in the obituary also match the 1860 census.) Did all of the census takers just get it wrong?

— Stacie

Answer: How lucky you are to find that obituary!  And nice job of knowing you should not ignore conflicting evidence.

(Note: I’ll attach the obituary at the end of the post.)

Let’s start with the family information and a quick timeline from information we can gather from the obituary.

  • 20 Mar 1822 John Logan was born in Connersville, Fayette County, Indiana.
  •  About 1839 he moved to Illinois with his father’s family.  (The obit says country, but I suspect county.)  They lived in Henderson and Warren counties
  • Abt 1842, he was given an 80 acre farm
  • 30 Jan 1844 he married Barbara Davis and the lived on the 80 acre farm for 50 years
  • 1863, he was elected county judge, serving two terms.
  • 1 May 1895 John Logan dies in Lomax, Henderson County, Illinois.

Barbara and John had 10 children: Susan, Alex, Taylor, Mary, Nancy D, Elmira, John W, Will, Annie, and E.L.  Susan and Alex were living with their parents when John died.

He served two terms as a county judge.

Given this information, we would assume we would find the family in Henderson County, Illinois in the 1850 – 1880 census.

General rule of thumb, work backwards. 

We find John and Anne Logan living in Honey Creek, Henderson County, Illinois in 1880 with six children: Ellicks (is this Alex?), Susan, Mira, John, William and Lincoln (E.L?)

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John is 58, born abt 22 in Indiana. His occupation is a Farmer.  Is Anne Logan, his wife, actually Barbara Logan.

Before looking for the next census, I look for a marriage record.  Ancestry.com has an index of Illinois Marriages, 1790 – 1860 that has an entry for a John Logan and a Barbara Ann Davis, married 30 Jan 1844. This sounds like our couple, and explains why John is married to an Anne in 1880.  It also states that there were married in Hancock County.  Henderson and Hancock Counties border each other, so it is not inconceivable that they were married or that they registered their marriage in Hancock County.

I find the 1870 census for John and Ann Logan in Township 8, Range 6, Henderson County, Illinois.

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The people in the household (we don’t know the relationships) are: Susan, Nancy, Almira, John, William, Anna, Lincoln, and Terrell.  Terrell is listed last and is not in chronological order.  This may signify that he is not a child, but a relative.  Or not.

In 1860, we find the family again in Township 8 N, 6 W, Henderson County, Illinois.  John and Barbara A are the correct age and both are born in Indiana.  John again is listed as a farmer. The people in the household are Susan, Albert, Taylor, Mary J, Nancy, Almira, John and William.

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In 1850, they are living in the same place, they are the correct age, and John is a Farmer.  Others in the household are: Susan, Alexander, Taylor and Mary J.  Notice that Susan is 5, born about 1845.  We know her parents were married in 1844.  That fits nicely.

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Let’s build a table of people in the household over the decades:

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The family described in the obituary sure looks like the family we find in Henderson County, Illinois, doesn’t it? 

So why is John always listed as a farmer when the obituary lists him as a Judge?  I suspect that being a County Judge was not a full time job, and we know from his obituary that he served two terms, leading us to suspect that he most probably had another occupation. From A History of the Illinois Judicial System, we learn that the Constitution of 1848 and other legislation “established a county court in each county with one county court judge who had a four year term.”  This leads me to believe that he served from 1863 to 1871.

I suspect that being a farmer is how he supported his family over the decades.  However, once an elected official has served as a President, Governor, Judge, etc, they are usually known by that honorific.

The details in the obituary match up exactly with the information we see in the censuses from 1850 to 1880.  There are no other John Logan’s in Henderson County who are candidates.  We can construct a reasonable argument as to why he was listed as a Farmer in the census records and as a Judge in his obituary.

I do not believe either is wrong.  I believe the two John Logans are the same man, and that he was both a Farmer and a Judge.

Happy Searching!

 — Ancestry Anne


The obituary, in 3 parts:

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Ask Ancestry Anne: Cousin Bait Blogging to Find Your Family

It’s a New Year and I know you may have a genealogy resolution or two on your plate.

Maybe you should consider blogging?  Or restart a blog you’ve let lapse?

Check out my Livestream presentation Cousin Bait: Blogging to Find Your Family or the PDF of the presentation.

My sample blog from the presentation is at cousinbaitforgenealogist.blogspot.com

I will also recommend a couple of blog posts by Amy Coffin on her blog The We Tree Genealogy Blog:

You should also check out the GeneaBloggers site which is run by Thomas MacEntee

The Genealogy Blog Roll might give you some ideas on what you want to name your blog, or blogs you might want to use as inspiration.

Once you’ve started your blog, you can sign up to have your blog listed on Suggest A Blog on GeneaBloggers.

Send me an email Ask Ancestry Anne and let me know what your blog is and I’ll take a look.

Don’t be shy!  If you don’t tell your ancestors stories, who will?

Happy Searching.

— Ancestry Anne

Ask Ancestry Anne: How Do I Decipher Census Columns?

Question: What do the numbers in column 30 in the 1910 census mean?  I have many relatives with different numbers in this column

— Jackie

Answer: Column 30 specifies whether the person owns (O) or rents (R) a home.  But I suspect that you are referring to numbers such as the ones written in on the right hand side. They look as if they are written in a different handwriting than the census itself and they don’t appear in every column.

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A little research led me to Census Tick Marks and Codes – Revisited Yet Again! by Elizabeth Shown Mills where she discusses similar numbers on the 1900 census.  Some analysis led her to the number there, so let’s try it here.

Given that the codes do not appear on lines with no occupations, I hypothesize that they are occupation codes. We can create a chart to compare them easily.

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You’ll notice that both Cooks have the code: 14-0-7-X and that the last three nurses are 1-5-6-X.  However, the first nurse is 9-5-6-X.  Am I wrong or did someone write this down wrong?

If you check other pages and the same occupation/industry pair you see the same codes. 


Now this doesn’t add anything new to your knowledge of your ancestor, but it does give you a place to start if you can’t read the handwriting.  Look for the same code, and maybe you can decipher the occupation that way. And nice job of looking at the columns on the census and every little detail!

While we’re looking at details, you may have also noticed that we have indexed a few more columns on the 1940 census, including marital status, street, occupation, industry, whether the house was owned or rented, and highest grade completed.

If I enter “Lexington, Rockbridge, Virginia” for Lived In and “Houston Street” for Street and mark both exact, I can see everyone who lived on the same street as my great grandparents in 1940. This can help you locate other relatives and who lived around them.

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I know my grandfather was a rug weaver in a carpet mill in 1940. If I put in the exact location and “Weaver” and mark it exact, I get a list of everyone in that town who was a Weaver.  I suspect these are the people he worked with and knew. 

The details are always important!

Happy Searching!

— Ancestry Anne

Ask Ancestry Anne: Copyright Information You Might Find Useful

One issue that plagues those of us who do genealogy whether you started today or you are a seasoned professional, is copyright.  What can you use? How do you attribute it to the creator?  How do you protect your own information?  What can you have a copyright on?

I recently did a Livestream presentation Don’t Get Caught in the Genealogy Cookie Jar about this topic.

Today I read a blog post by Cath Madden Trindle on behalf of the California State Genealogical Alliance. 

She has been presenting on this very topic and has made her presentation, “But It’s My Family…,” available to be viewed and used as needed.

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You can find the materials at the self named Educational Materials on csgacopyright and her blog post on the site as well.

She is making the material available so that others can use it to help others enhance their knowledge of copyright issues for the genealogical community.

Happy Searching!