My sister’s and I inherited several boxes when my mother past away full of family goodies from the mid 1800 to 2001. But one funeral card we found in one of the boxes had an unfamiliar name. We searched looking for a connection, thinking and brain storming who could it be. Finally looking through the 1940 census, the man on the funeral card was my grandfather’s next door neighbor. He passed away one week after the 1940 census was taken. One mystery solved many, many more to conquer.
I discovered one of my aunts, her husband and three children at the start of a census district I thought my grandparents would be in. (I haven’t been able to find them yet.) After searching through the E.D., I went back and started at the beginning again. When I did, I noticed that the listed enumerator was Clara B. McCord, my aunt and one of my mother’s older sisters. This was a lovely surprise, and on reflection, I remembered that Aunt Clara was the town clerk for many years, so I presume that she was a natural for the chore. From what I can see on the pages, she recorded the 680 inhabitants of her small rural town in southern Kansas, starting on April 2nd. They all lived on “unnamed streets of Elk City.” Though I haven’t seen it in years, her neat, vertical handwriting is familiar. I can remember seeing it on letters and cards from her to my family.
June Baker Higgins
Like many other family genealogists, I anxiously awaited the arrival of the 1940 US Federal Census. It was going to answer so much about not only my family, but my husband’s family as well.
The Guam census was one of the first to be downloaded and as soon as all districts were in, I began combing through every last page beginning with district one, page one. I already knew that the family name was rare, so any and all Chamorrans with the surname were my relatives.
There was one person in-particular that I was desperate to find. My grandfather. I never got to meet him, but I knew that one of my aunts was born in this year. It took me two hours, but I found him, my grandmother and my aunt’s half-sister in Agana. The census was taken just nine days before my aunt’s birth. He was a carpenter and they owned their home in the city. This was news to me and my aunt whom lives near me.
I learned a lot from the 1940 census. It’s amazing the stories that pop into your mind when you see something you hadn’t expected at all. Another example: I did not know that my grandfather had actually taken his step-father’s name and was using it at the time.
You see, 1940 was the last census to be taken before the Japanese invaded and took over Guam, killing and enslaving many on the island. The name my grandfather had used in 1940 was Japanese. According to historical records, whether he was born in Japan or not, he could have been considered a traitor. He could be imprisoned, swear allegiance to Japan and become a soldier, or face death by execution.
According to family stories, they ran and hid away in caves. It’s frightening to even think of how they escaped and what they had to do to survive. But survive they did. Now I must wait for the 1950 census.
In February of 1940, my father walked out on his wife and eight-month old son in California, never to be heard from again by them or anyone in his family. He re-surfaced six months later in New Jersey using a different last name, and shortly thereafter met my mother. They dated, married, and raised my brother and me. It wasn’t until 37 years after his death that I discovered this on Ancestry.com, and then found my half-brother, who Dad deserted, now living in Texas. We may never know why he left his family as he did, but I’m hoping the 1940 census will give us some information on where he was that year, before he appeared in New Jersey, and what he was doing. So many questions…
Early in their marriage my grandparents lived in Washington, D.C., having moved there from Philadelphia as newlyweds. Growing up in nearby Maryland, I remember listening to stories of their time in the capital. They both had fond memories of going to the National Zoo, and poignant recollections of being at stadium watching the Redskins play the Eagles at Griffiths Stadium on Pearl Harbor Day.
When my husband and I moved to Washington as newlyweds, we tried to locate my grandparents’ former residence. My grandfather had passed away by that time and all my grandmother could tell us was that she lived in a townhouse on Irving Street near 16th Street.
Today, I found them on the 1940 Census. With their address, I was able to locate the house they lived in-still standing and about 15 minutes from my own home. I can now compare it to photos I have of them sitting on the same front porch more than 70 years ago.
On the census record is also the name of the family from whom my grandparents rented their apartment. One of these is a two-year-old girl called Diane, whom my nineteen-year-old grandmother was so taken with that, six years later she named her own daughter-my mother-after her.
Finding my grandparents on the census brought treasured family stories to life and makes me feel even closer to the grandparents I have loved and lost.
Most of my relatives lived in San Francisco in 1940. While looking for a particular address in an ED I scan every name on every page hoping to find someone who’s address is unknown. So far I’ve found three maternal and two paternal families living near each other. Mine eyes have seen the glory!