Have you gathered all the clues that have been given you in the records you already have? Are there some clues in the Census records that will help you discover more about your ancestor that you didn’t even see?
In my own research, I came across an interesting example. Achsa and her husband, John Goodell and child, Ella, who was listed as age eleven, are found in the 1870 census. When I looked for them in the 1860 census, John and Achsa were there, but no one year old Ella was in their family listing – in fact there were no children at all. I thought – why was Ella not listed in the previous census as a one year old? Sure – the census taker could have missed her, but I felt that perhaps she had been adopted! I continued following Achsa, her husband, and their little girl through their lifetime in the records that were available, and I found a will when John died. In John Goodell’s will, he states, “I give to my adopted daughter Ella Churchill Goodell one hundred dollars …” There was the proof to what I suspected!! Ella had been adopted, and I then suspected that Churchill was her original surname! The daughter, Achsa, confirmed it again in her will, “Second, I give and bequeath to Ella Goodell my adopted daughter, one cow, all the household furniture and family supplies for which I shall die possessed and the sum of two hundred dollars to be paid to her by my said executor as soon as shall be reasonably practicale after my decease.”
Another example of using the census to help me with my research dilemmas happened with my Stafford family. I was looking for Doras Stafford in the census. I tried several different ways and never found him. The thought crossed my mind that the Stafford Family Genealogy which stated that he went to Ohio was wrong. I spent some time evaluating what I had found so far, which included the online cemetery transcription, burial cards and the records of the plot purchasers of the East Cleveland Cemetery. I looked at all the plots that Garret Stafford, which I had linked to Benjamin Stafford in New York, had bought. I noticed that Theodore, born in New York, was buried in one of these plots. His dates matched what a brother’s would have been.
The idea came to me that Doras might be a nickname for Theodore. I looked in the census in Ohio, since that is where the Stafford Family Genealogy said he had gone and since that is where he is buried, and found him through the years. I found his death record but it listed no father or mother; only that he was born in New York. I was sure this was the Doras mentioned in the Stafford Family Genealogy. Further investigation of the records indicated that David Stafford, a brother to Garret and Doras, according to the Stafford Family Genealogy. He went to Wisconsin and had a son in the 1850 census in Beekmantown, Clinton County, New York. He was living next to David’s father, Benjamin Stafford. The son was listed with the name Doras. In 1860 census this same son was listed as Theodore. This helped to solidify the theory that the Doras listed in the Stafford Family Genealogy was the Theodore that the census found living in the same county as Garret Stafford and buried in a plot owned by Garret Stafford. I concluded, with the help of the census records, that Doras was a nickname for Theordore!
Census records are one of those records we use that can give us clues to many events in the lives of our ancestors. There is an article in the FamilySearch Research Wiki titled, Using the Census to find other records about ancestors. It points to some additional ways the census can point us to other records.
If you have discovered other principles using the census that you could add to the ones already listed in this Wiki page, add your information to this page. It could be a great help to others! There are articles and mentors to help you get started with being a contributor to the Wiki. Visit the page titled Help: Contributor Help to see some great information on how to get started contributing useful information to the Wiki.
Remember there are many clues given in census records (and other records!) that can help you as you research your family history! Get a Clue from the Census records and then follow them to the answers!