Tag: Census

A Life in Census (Almost)

Charles William Montgomery, my great-grandfather, was born January 17, 1861 in Lynchburg, Ohio, the son of John and Belinda (Simmons) Montgomery.  By 1870 his family had moved to Denver Township, Richland County, Illinois, where they were enumerated that year in June.  In the household that year are John, age 40; Belinda, age 31; Hattie, age 10; Charles, age 8; Franklin, age 7; Thomas, age 6; Harry, age 4; and Edward, age 2. John’s birthplace is listed as New Jersey, Belinda’s and the first three children’s as Ohio, and the youngest three children’s as Illinois.

In 1880, Charles, age 19, is still living at home with his parents in Richland County, but more children have been added to the family.  It now consists of John, age 50; Belinda, age 42; Hattie F., age 20; Chas W., age 19; Samuel F., age 18; Thos. M., age 16; Silas H., age 14; James E., age 12; Joseph T., age 8; John W., age 6; and Emma L., age 4.  The five oldest boys are all listed as “working on farm.”

Most of the 1890 census was destroyed by fire, so the next time we find Charles is in the 1900 census. By this time Charles has been married to Laura Maud Walker for 17 years and has moved to Holdrege, Nebraska.  Charles and Laura are the parents of six children; their youngest, my grandfather Lawrence, will be born the following year.  The household consists of Charles W., born January 1861; Laura, born July 1862; Myrtle P., born February 1884; Mamie E., born October 1886; Bessie B., born December 1888; Alta G., born August 1889; Walter D., born March 1898; and John W., born October 1899. Charles’s occupation is listed as butcher.

There is another 20-year gap in the census records before we find Charles again. Several of his children appear in various locations in the 1910 census, but to date I have yet to locate either Charles or Lawrence.  Between 1900 and 1920 the family underwent a number of changes. In December 1904 Charles’s wife, Laura, entered the Pueblo State Hospital in Colorado, where she remained for the rest of her life.  Myrtle, Mamie, Bessie, and Elta/Alta all married before 1910.  According to Grandpa (Lawrence), his father spent some of the intervening years “riding the range with Buffalo Bill.”  I have yet to determine what kernel of truth (if any) is to be found in that story!

In 1920 Charles finally reappears, now living in Fort Collins, Colorado.  He is one of many “roomers” living at 224 Linden Street, his family now dispersed.  He is listed as C. W. Montgomery, age 57, with “farm laborer” his occupation. It appears that this residence was known as Antler’s Hotel and still stands in Fort Collins.

By April 1930, Charles is still living in Fort Collins but has moved about two blocks away, to 326 Walnut Street.  He is now a lodger in the home of Charles and Minnie Reingold, Russian immigrants and proprietors of a junk store.  Charles is listed as age 69, paying $10 a month in rent.  He is employed as watchman at the G. W. (Great Western) Sugar Factory.

Charles’s wife Laura died in the Pueblo State Hospital in 1933.  Seven years later Charles has returned to Linden Street, though his street number is now 222. He is paying $10 rent again and is now listed as age 72 and unable to work.  Details provided by Charles indicate the highest educational level he completed was the eighth grade. The proprietors of Antler’s Hotel are Charles and Mary Bohnke.

About a year after this final census, Charles married a woman named Lyle who was born about 1884. In January 1942, Charles died at age 80 of a coronary occlusion.  He was buried on January 16 in Grandview Cemetery in Fort Collins.

The Murder of Blanche Hendricks

Usually genealogy research is pretty tame – people are born, get married, have kids, and die in peaceful old age. Every once in a while, though, you stumble across events in family history that are dramatic by anyone’s definition.  I was examining records for a fifth cousin twice removed, Blanche (Phillips) Hendricks, a descendant of our Sweeney line and a fifth cousin of Grandma Blanche (Wilson) Montgomery when I made one such discovery.  Blanche Phillips was born 26 October 1903 in Anderson County, Kentucky, the daughter of William Henry and Amer Belle (Carter) Phillips.  She appears with her parents in the 1910 census and now in the recently-released 1940 census.  I also noticed that Ancestry.com had a copy of her death certificate, so naturally I took a look.

I started reviewing the data on the death certificate – died Lexington, Kentucky (462 Angliana Avenue) on 23 November, 1950, aged 47.  She was a practical nurse by occupation.  Then I noticed the cause of death:  “Pistol shot wound in left temple immerging [sic] from right side and about 2″ above right ear. (Homicide).”


This was definitely something new!  I attempted to find more information online about the incident but wasn’t having any luck, so the next time we headed from Virginia to Illinois to visit family, we stopped in Lexington and headed to the library.  There it was easy to locate the newspaper records on microfilm as well as the story of what happened to poor Cousin Blanche.

It seems that Blanche, in spite of expecting her fiance to arrive in town the following day, had been seeing another man and was sitting in a car with him at 462 Angliana Street on Thanksgiving morning 1950.  The article didn’t elaborate, but one wonders if Blanche was attempting to prepare for her fiance’s arrival by breaking things off with the other man.  Whatever the cause, gunfire erupted and Blanche was killed.  She is now buried at Lexington’s Hillcrest Memorial Park beside her husband, William Elmer, who had died three years before her murder.

I’d like to find out more about what happened to the murderer.  Was he convicted?  What punishment did he receive?  And what happened to Blanche’s poor fiance when he arrived to find Blanche had been killed?  Maybe we’ll have to make another visit to the Lexington library….

Influenza Strikes Fairbury

Mary (Wagler) Nicholas was one Fairbury, Illinois, resident who fell victim to the 1918 flu epidemic.  She may also have been my first cousin three times removed; I’m still trying to iron out some confusion over my Slagel line.  Her obituary, as found in Derrick Babbs’s Ninety-One Years of the Fairbury, Illinois Apostolic Christian Church, is particularly sad.

Mary Nicholas

After caring for children through a siege of influenza, Mrs. Mike Nicholas was herself taken ill with the disease last Thursday, pneumonia developed and she grew steadily worse, until she passed away Wednesday morning. The case is a particularly sad one as she leaves a family of teen children, the oldest being under 16 years of age.

Mary Wagler was born in Pulaski, Iowa, forty-one years ago. She was united in marriage to Mike Nicholas in 1902, and has made this city her home ever since.

Besides her immediate family she is survived by her father, Rev. Chris Wagler, of Pulaski, Iowa, and eight brothers and one sister.

The funeral services will be held from the home this afternoon at three o’clock.

I located Mary and her family in Fairbury in the 1910 census, living on Walnut Street. Mike is listed as 37 years old, Mary 32.  They have been married for 8 years and Mary has given birth to 6 children, all of whom are still living:  Ezra, 7; Alvin, 5; Ester, 4; Paul, 3; William, 2; and an as-yet-unnamed son, 7 months. Also living with them is a roomer, Thomas A. Smith.  Mike’s occupation is listed as department store merchant.


Nicholas Family 1910

Albert Carl Swing – Census Records

Albert Carl Swing was born April 11, 1889 in Cissna Park, Illinois, to Albert and Catherine Marie (Hoffmann) Swing. He can be found in four censuses to date; the 1940 census will be released April 2, 2012.

June 23 1900 Ash Grove Iroquois Illinois
Schwing Albert Head [of household] W[hite] M[ale] Oct 1859 40 M[arried] 16 [# of years married] Ohio [birthplace] Germany [father’s birthplace] Germany [mother’s birthplace] Farmer [occupation]
—Kathrine Wife W F Feb 1862 38 M 16 10 [# of children born] 10 [# of children still living] Franz Germany Germany
—Martha Dauther W F Nov 1884 15 S Illinois Ohio Franz
—Charles Son W M Feb 1886 14 S Illinois Ohio Franz At School
—Lena Dauther W F July 1887 12 S Illinois Ohio Franz At School
—Albert C Son W M Apr 1889 11 S Illinois Ohio Franz At School
—Soloma Dauther W F Oct 1890 9 S Illinois Ohio Franz At School
—Joseph Son W M Nov 1892 7 S Illinois Ohio Franz At School
—Katey Dauther W F Mch 1894 6 S Illinois Ohio Franz
—Anna Dauther W F July 1896 3 S Illinois Ohio Franz
—Harry Son W M Mch 1898 2 S Illinois Ohio Franz
—Paul Son W M Feb 1900 3/12 S Illinois Ohio Franz

Salem Twp., Pulaski, Indiana April 26, 1910
Swing Albert Head M W 50 M1 27 Ohio Ger-German Switz-German English [language spoken] Farmer
—Kathryn Wife F W 48 M1 27 13 13 Fr. German Ger-German Ger-German 1886 [year of emigration] English
—Martha Daughter F W 26 S Illinois Ohio Fr-German English Servant At Home
—Charles Son M W 24 S Illinois Ohio Fr-German English Farmhand Home farm
—Lena Daughter F W 22 S Illinois Ohio Fr-German English At Home
—Albert Son M W 20 S Illinois Ohio Fr-German English Home farm
—May Daughter F W 18 S Illinois Ohio Fr-German English At Home
—Joseph Son M W 16 S Illinois Ohio Fr-German English
—Katie Daughter F W 14 S Illinois Ohio Fr-German English
—Annie Daughter F W 12 S Illinois Ohio Fr-German English
—Harry Son M W 10 S Illinois Ohio Fr-German English
—Paul Son M W 8 S Illinois Ohio Fr-German
—Esther Daughter F W 7 S Illinois Ohio Fr-German
—Neoma Daughter F W 5 S Illinois Ohio Fr-German
—George Son M W 3 S Illinois Ohio Fr-German

Salem Twp., Knox, Illinois [unlisted month] 14-15, 1920
Swing Albert C Head R[enting Home] M W 30 M Illinois Ohio France French yes Farmer General Farm
—Roy A. Son M W 5 S Indiana Illinois Illinois none
—Velma M. Daughter F W 2 S Indiana Illinois Illinois none

Illinois, Livingston, Pleasant Ridge Township, May 19, 1930
Swing, Albert C. Head O[wns home] 800 [amount of real estate owned] R [owns radio set] M W 41 M 24 Illinois Ohio France Highway Commission Township Highway
—Lena A. Wife F W 37 M 20 no yes Illinois Switzerland Switzerland none
—Roy A. Son M W 15 S yes yes Indiana Illinois Illinois none
—Velma M. Daughter F W 13 S yes yes Indiana Illinois Illinois none
—Swing, Marilyn M. Daughter F W 7 S yes Illinois Illinois Illinois none

Captain Montgomery

One of the most interesting discoveries I have made recently is finding information regarding the 48th Ohio Veteran Volunteer Infantry, which fought in the Civil War and included a Montgomery cousin, Thomas Montgomery, and his brother-in-law John A. Bering (Thomas’s sister Susan was John’s first wife). The 48th Ohio fought at the battles of Shiloh and Vicksburg, among others. Following their war experiences, the two men collaborated on a memoir which was published in 1880 and is now available online.

Thomas Montgomery, 1905

Thomas Montgomery was born in New Jersey in 1837, the fourth son of William and Mary Ann (Extell) Montgomery. His eldest brother John was our direct ancestor. By 1850 the family was living in Clinton County, Ohio, where, 10 years later, Thomas was listed in the census as a schoolteacher. Thomas’s military career covered the four years of the Civil War, after which he appears to have settled down in Highland County, Ohio. His wife, Elizabeth, was born between 1844 and 1845 in Ohio, and their first child, Stella May, was born between 1866 and 1867. Based on a photo of the Montgomery family, 5 more children followed, though I only have details on 4:  Walter T. (b. November 1870), Maud (b. 1872-1873), Harley H. (b. March 1876), and Milton Clark (b. 1878-1879). In 1870 the census listed Thomas as a livery stable keeper, and in 1880 as a U. S. Storekeeper. Thomas died 13 July 1907 and was buried in the Masonic Cemetery in Lynchburg, Highland County, Ohio.

Thanks to the 48th OVVI website for many of these details.

The Two Mrs. Wilsons

Yes, it has been a very long time since I’ve written here, and I hope to start writing more regularly going forward! I am continuing with my never-ending “Family Census Project” – tracing each family in each census from 1850-1930. I always enjoy jumping ahead 10 years to find new children born to a family, or to discover a that widowed sister-in-law or mother has now taken up residence with a young family.

Having come from a long line of Lutheran (and, further back, Seventh-Day Baptist or Apostolic Christian) stock, however, it took me a little while to catch on to what I was seeing with my 4th cousin five times removed, John Gill Wilson, in the 1860 census. John’s great-great-grandfather, Joseph Willson, was the brother of our director ancestor, Samuel Willson, and I had been placidly tracing his descendants through the Ancestry.com census records. John was born 14 August 1829 in Green Township, Richland, Ohio, and in 1850 was still living at home with his parents in Decatur, Iowa. Tracing John forward to 1860, however, I found him in Ogden, Utah, 35 years old and farming, with a number of small children, but also with Lucy, age 30, born in Indiana, and Polly, age 21, born in Missouri.

It didn’t take much searching to locate a number of LDS family history sites, including The Life, Times & Family of Orson Pratt Brown, which confirmed that both Lucy and Polly were the wives of our relative John Gill Wilson.  In 1860 the census taker listed all the children in order by age, but in 1870 each group of children is listed separately with their mother, making it easier to determine each child’s parentage.  By 1880, the Wilson household consisted of 17 individuals.  This is the sort of discovery that certainly adds a little color to census research!

June 5 1880 Hyrum Precinct Cache Utah Page 18 Enum 10
152 153 Wilson John W M 50 x [married] Farmer Ohio Vermont Penn
—Lucy W F 49 wife keeping house Ind. New York New York
—Elvira W F 39 wife keeping house Mo. New York New York
—Orson W M 21 Son x [single] Works on farm x [school] Utah New York Ind.
—Alma W M 21 Son x Works on farm Utah New York Mo.
—Ezra W M 19 Son x Works on farm Utah New York Ind.
—George W M 19 Son x Works on farm Utah New York Mo.
—Beletta W F 17 Daughter x At home Utah New York Ind.
—Emma W F 17 Daughter x At home Utah New York Mo.
—Charles W M 15 Son x Works on farm x Utah new York Ind.
—Adeline W F 14 Daughter x At home x Utah New York Mo.
—C. WIlliam W M 12 Son x At School x Utah New York Ind.
—Frank W M 12 Son x At School x Utah New York Mo.
—Joseph W M 9 Son x x Utah New York Mo.
—Alice W F 6 Daughter x Utah New York Mo.
—Lycurgus W M 3 Son x Utah New York Mo.
—Isaac W M 7/12 Oct Son x Utah New York Mo.


I’m still intending to post here more often but was in Vancouver for work for a week. I’m back now, though, and intend to get back on track (eventually!). Before I left, I discovered some new databases posted on the Norwegian site, Digitalarkivet. This site contains thousands of digitized Norwegian records covering census data, births, marriages, confirmations, emigrations, tax lists, and more. I’ve visited this site in the past, but the “digitised parish records” feature was recently added, and this has provided a wealth of new primary records on our Norwegian ancestors. The records are sorted by county and then parish, so it is fairly easy to look through the images for Sogn og Fjordane County, Innvik Parish, and locate many of our Roberg/Aaland relatives. You can now find a number of these records for Anders Roberg, Svend Roberg, and others posted in my genealogy database.


I’ve come to the conclusion that I am not writing as many posts as I ought to! Since my goal here is to keep everyone up to speed on all my genealogy and family history discoveries, I plan to write more often about my research progress even if I haven’t received any earth-shattering revelations. So what am I up to now? My major addiction is my current “Census Project”–using the census images at www.ancestry.com to trace all our family branches from 1850 (the first year that every individual in a household was listed by name) to 1930 (the most recent census available). I am working my way very slowly through the Davises right now, many of them located in Doddridge County, West Virginia. My target family today was Anderson G. Davis and his wife Millie (or Mollie) Dotson. All the West Virginia research is made easier by the fact that one of the Ancestry.com databases contains information on West Virginia marriages prior to 1900–this really simplifies the process of tracing an individual from their childhood home to their own home and family after marriage. This particular branch of the Davis family also contains quite a few unusual names–among the siblings of Anderson Davis were Zacharias, Elvira, Donmanuel, Elijah, Elkana, Sylvanus, Penelope, and Vandelee. All the unusual names help with the tracking process–especially with a common surname like Davis. Sometimes I wonder if I will ever see the end of the Census Project–and then I realize I don’t really want to!

Keepers of the Light

In the summer of 2005, Mom and I took a trip to Michigan. I had never been there before, and we wanted to check out the many lighthouses on the Great Lakes. One of our favorite stops was the Little Sable Light, situated on an isolated sandy beach near Mears. The lighthouse is made of reddish brick and stands 107 feet tall on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan. As always, I was interested both in the light itself and in imagining what life for the lighthouse keepers was like, but had no reason to suspect I would one day find a personal connection.

Several years later, researching census records of our Wilson ancestors, I made an unexpected discovery. Hiram James Willson, born in Massena, New York, between 1836 and 1837, was the first cousin twice removed of Carl Ozro Wilson. Sometime between 1850 and 1867 Hiram moved from New York to Michigan, as did a number of Willson relatives. In the 1850 census Hiram can still be found in Louisville, New York, but in 1867 his daughter Gertrude was born in Michigan.

By 1900 Hiram had died, and Gertrude was not found in the census record of her widowed mother, Jennie (Vernon) Willson. Searching more widely, however, I was able to locate her; though Gertrude had married and therefore changed her last name, her birth year and birthdate were correct, as were the birthplaces of her parents. Once Gertrude had been identified, further details became evident. She had married Joseph Arthur Hunter (born March 1857) about 1887, and had given birth to Herbert H. in June 1888 and Pearl G. in July 1890.  Joseph’s occupation in the census record is shown as “lighthouse keeper,” with the family living in Golden Township, Oceana County. A quick Internet search determined that the lighthouse in Oceana County is in fact the Little Sable Light, and further research revealed a listing of the keepers of Little Sable, which includes not only Joseph Hunter but, for a few shorts weeks in 1910, “Mrs. H. G. [Gertrude Helen] Hunter.”

All in all, it appears that the Hunters were involved with the Little Sable light from 1890-1922, when Joseph retired.  Joseph’s journals from 1916-1922 have been published as well, so (as soon as my copy arrives!) I may have an even fuller understanding of what life at Little Sable was like.