Ancestry Daily News
Knock, Knock! Where's Enoch?Locating individuals in census indexes is fairly easy when their names are spelled correctly. Generally, all that is necessary is the knowledge of the alphabet (if using a print index) or the ability to type the name correctly into a search box. The difficulty comes when the name is spelled incorrectly, either in the index or on the actual record itself. Additional problems come into play when it is not known exactly where the ancestor lived. In reality, genealogists are constantly confronted with names that are misspelled or that have been misinterpreted.
I knew that my Enoch Tinsley lived in Rush County, Indiana from the 1830s until his death after 1860. I wanted to locate him in the AIS census indexes so I could obtain the actual census image to learn more about him and his family. I had ready access to the indexes via the Internet and did not have ready access to the census images. I wanted to use the AIS census indexes to make the best use of my time with the census when I did get to view the census records.
I typed Enoch Tinsley in the search box for the AIS census indexes, hoping to find entries for 1840 through 1860. Genealogy is so easytype, click, and, viola, instant ancestors.
The search located Enoch Tinsley in the Rush County, Indiana census for 1860. There were no entries for any other year. Enoch should be listed in 1840 and 1850 as well. Could I find him in the indexes?
Try Soundex Options
Enochs in Rush County?
Two out of the three, and I haven't broken a sweat. This census stuff is really easy. I'll try the same "trick" (err . . . technique) for Enoch in 1840. I searched the AIS database again, this time putting in the first name of Enoch for Rush County, Indiana in 1840. No results. Maybe it's not as easy as I thought.
Did They Move Around?
I "knew" Enoch was in Rush County in 1840, and while he might have moved around the county, I hoped he had stayed close to some of his neighbors during any possible move. There was a reasonable chance that some of Enoch's neighbors in 1850 were his neighbors in 1840 as well. I decided to search the 1840 census index for those individuals who were listed on the same page as Enoch in the 1850 census.
Getting Enoch's Neighbors in 1850?
I received 16 matches and had the names of all the heads of household that appeared on page 381 of the Rush County, Indiana census. Enoch Linsley was listed (as he should have been), as was a William Linsley. William was a possible relative, not to mention an example of why I should have viewed the entire page even if I wasn't trying to use it to locate Enoch in 1840.
I then searched for the names from page 381 of the 1850 Rush County, Indiana census in the 1840 census index for Indiana.
Of the sixteen names from the 1850 census page, I located four living in Richland or Anderson townships in Rush County. Two of the individuals were listed on page 157 of Richland Township. This seemed like the page I should try first.
So I conducted a search of the AIS databases using the following search terms:
There were thirty names on that page, one of which was E. B. Teresleya possibility. I still need to read the actual census record in order to view the ages of the children to determine if this individual could be my Enoch.
Another Interesting Note
Indexes Replace the Records?
It has long been suggested that researchers should try searching for their ancestors' neighbors. This technique is still very appropriate. In some cases, technology has made it easier for genealogists to do that.
I've most likely found my Enoch in the census. Now I just need to find his marriage record. If only I knew whose door he "knocked" on to get his marriage license!
Michael John Neill, is the Course I Coordinator at the Genealogical Institute of Mid America (GIMA) held annually in Springfield, Illinois, and is also on the faculty of Carl Sandburg College in Galesburg, Illinois. Michael is the Web columnist for the FGS FORUM and is on the editorial board of the Illinois State Genealogical Society Quarterly. He conducts seminars and lectures on a wide variety of genealogical and computer topics and contributes to several genealogical publications, including Ancestry Magazine and Genealogical Computing. You can e-mail him at email@example.com or visit his Web site.
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Used by the author on his website with permission.
Other genealogy how-to articles by Michael John Neill