. . . census records!
As you should know by know, Census Records are a bit iffy in nature. Why? Two words: transcription errors.
So, keeping in mind that Census Records are iffy, they still help out in confirming basic information: spouse, children, etc. This basic information has helped confirm more than one family connection as I've been dancing with the ancestors.
The reason I'm posting about local versus Federal Census records, is because of my trip to the State Archives yesterday. I spent part of that visit going through the local Census Records for Warren County, Tennessee where a bunch of my paternal ancestors settled, and where some distant cousins probably still live.
Anyhow, I was attempting to find more information about my great-grandfather. So far, he appears parentless, dropped on the Earth by aliens. Go figure. That'd sure explain a lot about my family. Ha!
So, starting with 1900, I worked my way back through 1870, looking up all the Mitchells and all the Tates. Why the Tates? I'm glad you thought that question. Ha! My grandfather married a Tate, so it seemed obvious - at least to me - that there was some connection between the Mitchell and Tate families. So, after writing down every page number connected to the Mitchell family, then the Tate family, I looked for page numbers in common, or one page apart.
In the 1880 Warren County Census I found that there was a Mitchell family that lived just down the road from my Tate family. Woo-hoo! And, lo and behold, one of the children could well have been my great-grandfather - double Woo-woo-hoo-hoo - which made the connection between the two families a bit more than a coincidence. Also, according to that Census, my great-great grandfather Tate was a farmer, as was my great-grandfather. Yes, another coincidence, and connection.
So, with the basic information from the 1880 Census readily available, I went to the 1870 Warren County Census. Paydirt, people, paydirt. I found the Mitchell family again, and this time, instead of initials, actual names and - BAM - there was great-grandpa Mitchell, and the year of birth matched!
Can I have an AMEN??
Yes, I know, it's all coincidence, and no verifiable proof . . . at this point. Still, too many coincidences for my liking. I seriously believe I have found my great-grandfather's family, and made the Warren County connection. I'm hoping, through further digging, to somehow prove the connection. Still, too much information matches what I know, so, at this point, I'm adding this family to the family tree.
But, I do want to mention that, on the 1880 Federal Census, the transcriber added 10 years to my great-great grandmother's age. On the 1880 Warren County Census her age is listed as 58; however, on the Federal Census it is listed as 68. Yeah, I can picture someone interpreting a 5 as a 6, especially if someone's penmanship wasn't the best in the world.
So, when looking at Census Records, do not let age discrepancies stop you. Find other Census records for the same person. Sooner or later, you'll find enough evidence to get a general age for your ancestors.