Sticky Notes
powered by
Recent Your Stories Ask Ancestry Anne Interesting Finds Juliana's Corner

Ask Ancestry Anne: Who were Silas Allington’s parents?

Question: I have connected with several other members of to try and find more about my husband’s great great-grandfather, Silas Allington. We all have the date of his birth, January 26, 1850 (we think in New York), and the date of his death, March 15, 1897, in Chillicothe, Illinois. We all agree that he was married to Emeline Potter. This is all documented on his grave stone. The problem is that we all have differing or no information as to who his parents were and beyond. We have all hit a roadblock. Can you help us go further?

Answer: I think I have found a path that you can follow.

Let’s start with what you know and work back.  Silas’ tombstone, in Chillicothe City Cemetery in Peoria County, Illinois, states that he was born Jan 26, 1850 and he died March 15, 1897.  He has a wife, Emma that was born October 20, 1852 and who died May 10, 1923.

So where to begin?

  • Silas should be in the 1850–1880 censuses.
  • Emma is most likely in the 1880 through 1920 census with her married name.  Maybe 1870 census.
  • Given Emma’s death date, we can look her up in a death index for Illinois.

Let’s start with 1880, where we find them in Chillicothe, Peoria, Illinois:


  • Silas was born about 1851 in New York, and his parents were born in New Jersey.
  • Emma was born about 1853 in New York, her parents were born in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
  • Willie was born about 1875 in New York as were his parents.
  • Freddie was born about 1878 in New York as were his parents.
  • It is possible that Silas and Emma were married in New York about 1873 or 1874; we can make that guess because Willie was born in 1875.
  • They moved to Illinois sometime between 1878 and 1880.
  •  I found no other Allingtons are in Peoria or surrounding counties in 1880.

Next I look for the death record for Emma.                  

She is in the Illinois, Deaths and Stillbirths Index, 1916 -1947:


The birth and death information match the tombstone.  The index states her father’s name was Potter and her mother’s name was Amelia.  I suggest you find the actual record from Peoria County, Illinois.  There may be more clues on the actual death certificate.

Our best guess at the moment is they were married in New York, around 1873.  We are not likely to find them in the 1870 census living together.

I have yet to find a Silas in the 1870 census in New York, but I have found a really good candidate in 1850 and 1860.

According to his tombstone, Silas was born in January 1850 in New York, prior to the census in 1850, so he should be in there.  I found only one candidate, a 1 year old Silas in Elmira, Chemung, New York:


In 1850, Jonathan is listed as being born in New York; in 1860 he is listed as being born in New Jersey.  Is Jonathan the father of Silas?  Is this the right Silas?

Jonathan dies in 1869.  Here is a snippet of the will that I locate in a tree on that lists his next of kin:


In 1869, Jonathan leaves his estate to his one son, his five daughters whom he does name directly and his grandson Samuel Maxwell.  In the will he does not mention his wife.  In the paperwork, her name is left blank, so I suspect that Abigail has died sometime between 1860 and 1869.

The previous page on the will, lists Silas Allington, Caroline Davis, Samuel Maxwell all of Elmira, New York; Eliza Hill of Van Etten, New York; and Harriet Ving or King and James Bennett of Illinois.  The surrogate for the Will states that he doesn’t know where Harriet or James live in Illinois.  This doesn’t add up to 5 daughters, but there are enough names in here to associate it to what we see in the 1850 and 1860 census.


I’ve also found Emma Potter, very close to Elmira in 1860 in Horseheads, Chemung, New York.  She is living most likely her parents, Morris and Amelia Potter, which matches the Illinois death record:


I find an Emeline Potter in Horsehead in 1870 working for a Smith family:


Is this your Emmeline?  Possibly. I could not find Silas in 1870.  And I could not find any marriage records online for New York.  If he is still in Elmira, it is very close to Horseheads and so we have them possibly geographically close to each other.  They had to meet somewhere!

So I believe that Jonathan and Abigail Allington are excellent candidates for Silas’ parents.  I would try and find the following:

  • A marriage record for Silas and Emma/Emeline
  • Birth records for the children born in New York
  • Obituaries for any Allington you are researching here
  • A death record for Silas

I would also track the other children of Jonathan and Abigail as well as the people in Jonathan’s will.  They may have left you a clue which will prove or disprove this theory. 

Happy Searching!

— Ancestry Anne

Ask Ancestry Anne: Where is The Source Citation Information?

On a few of our census records, the source citation information was inadvertently turned on the “record page.”  We are in the process of getting those back on the record page.

In the meantime, you can find the information on the image page, on the source panel.  To see the source panel, first go to the image, and open the panel by click on the grey arrow on the right hand side.

Once the panel is open, you will see the information you see for the source citation.

We are currently updating all the UK and the US 1800 and 1790 census.  If you see something else, please feel free to leave me a comment.

Ask Ancestry Anne: What Should I Do With A Census Image?

Question: I found my family in the 1940 Census, but I’m not sure what to do now. Is there something else I should be looking for?

— Jo Anna Worthington

Answer:  Finding the record is only part of the game. The next step is to figure out how to use the information in it. I’ll use George J. Hickman’s family from the 1940 census as our example.


Step 1.  Learn everything you can from the record.

The 1940 census has a lot of information.  For now, we’ll look at

  1.   Names, ages, birthplaces, and relationships
  2. Residence in 1940 and 1935
  3. Occupation

Get started by selecting “View image.”


Names, ages, birthplaces and relationships.

The image shows that George is living with his wife, Edna; four daughters, Doris, Deloris, Frances, and Betty Joyce; his son, George; and his Uncle William.  Everyone was born in Virginia except Edna, who was born in West Virginia.

Doris and Deloris are both 8.  Twins?

Uncle William is listed as single. He was likely never married; otherwise, he would probably be listed as divorced or widowed.

Where they lived in 1940 and 1935.

The Hickmans lived on Road #685 in Natural Bridge, Rockbridge County, Virginia.


Street names and addresses, when available, are listed vertically in column 1.


If the family lived in the same house in 1935, you’ll see “Same House” in column 17, or if they lived in the same town but a different house, you’ll see “Same Place.” The Hickmans have an “R” in column 17.  This R means rural and tells us they lived in another town with a population under 2,500.


What they did for a living.

Columns 28 and 29 tell us George was a tinner in the building industry, and Uncle William was a section hand for the railroad.


Step 2.  Write down what you learn.

Don’t tell yourself, “Oh, I’ll remember this.”  You won’t.  Save the record to your family tree. If you don’t already have an family tree, you’ll have the option to create one using this record.


Also, take notes about what you find on a record – even consider creating a notebook with a page or tab for everyone in the family. That way you’ll know where you found that key birth date or maiden name and you won’t have to dig through all of the records you’ve discovered to find that information again.

Step 3. Ask new questions.

Every time you learn something new about your ancestors, chances are you’ll end up with a few more questions, too. Here are some things we don’t know about the Hickmans:

  1. Where exactly did they live in 1935?  Why did they move?
  2. When did George and Edna marry?
  3. When did Edna move to Virginia?
  4. Why was Uncle William living with the family
  5. Were Doris and Deloris twins?
  6. What is a tinner? What did a section hand do? 
  7. Who were their neighbors?  Did any other Hickmans live in the area?

Each of these questions are linked to another record collection.

Question 1 – where they lived in 1935 – may be answered by a city directory, which may also tell you George’s occupation. If it changed between 1935 and 1940, that may mean George took a new job with a new employer, which triggered the family’s move.

Question 2 could be answered by a marriage record.

Question 3 will require Edna’s maiden name, which can be found on that marriage record, which can then be used to find Edna with her parents in earlier census records, and so on.

Familiarizing yourself with all of the records available on and the type of details contained in each will make your search for more answers simpler.


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:


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



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.



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

And now for 1860:



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



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. :-)