When dancing with the ancestors, sometimes you can't find your ancestors on a particular census record. It's frustrating and . . . there are many reasons this might happen:
- your ancestors weren't home when the census taker came a knockin'
- the census taker transcribed the surname horribly wrong
- the transcriber transcribed the surname horribly wrong
- the census page has not been indexed yet (yes, this still happens)
- the census taker used your ancestors initials rather than full names
- and other reasons
An example from my own research: 3 x Great Grandpa James Matthew Johnson
First - with common surnames, trying to narrow it down is sometimes impossible. In this instance, I had Census Records for the following years: 1850, 1860, 1880, and 1900. I was obviously missing 1870. I did the normal Ancestry search from within James Matthew Johnson and his wife Charlotte (Ballard) Johnson.
Did I mention nothing?
Okay, there were some 2,000 records scattered throughout Kentucky.
I then narrowed the search to Nelson County, Kentucky!
I was frustrated and then, as happens from time to time with me, I thought . . . why not try searching each of the known children.
Child by child I searched specifically for the 1870 Nelson County Census and . . . voila. I found it! Woo-hoo!
First - James Matthew was listed as J. M. Johnson. Note the usage of initials versus his full name. Second - the person who indexed the record transcribed Lottie as Sallie. It was an easy mistake, but also a mistake that made finding this record quite difficult.
So, when dancing with the ancestors and missing a census record or two . . .
- Search for the children
- Change the search to initials versus full name
- Keep trying!!