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Ancestry Daily News
  Michael John Neill – 4/22/2004

More Frame Framing

Last week's article, “Framing William Frame,” discussed how a tentative connection was made for a man who might have changed his name shortly after his marriage. This week we continue our work in an attempt to locate more about William Frame Apgar and his family before his Chicago, Illinois, marriage in 1909. Our work started with census records, but will not stop with those sources.

While locating the Frame families in various Cook County, Illinois, census records, I reminded myself:

- People should age about ten years between every decennial census. The key word is here is should, not will. Some will appear to have aged more, some less. The older a person is, the more likely their age is to be incorrect.

- Places of birth listed in a census may change from one census enumeration to another. The difference may be significant depending upon who is home to answer the questions. A wife may not know the birthplaces of her own parents, let alone those of her husband.

- When searching for urban ancestors remember that the address of residence may change frequently (especially with families who rent), but the type of neighborhood is less likely to vary from one census to another unless the family's economic situation has changed.

- Be as certain as you can be that you have the same family in the varying census years. Make certain that the names, ages, places of birth, and occupations are as consistent as possible. It is also a good idea to use city directories and other sources contemporary to the census to make certain that families with similar names are not being overlooked. In urban areas there may be several individuals with the same (or similar) names. Residential clues from city directories, tax lists, or voter registration lists may help the researcher separate multiple individuals with the same name.

- Maps of the area will be extremely helpful, both modern and contemporary with the time period the family lived in the area.

- Determine if there were any house re-numberings or street name changes that may have impacted the area of town where your ancestor lived.

I Keep My Eye on The Prize
My goal is to determine what happened to the William Frame that was a member of the Thomas Frame family. It may be necessary to reconstruct a significant part of Thomas' family in order to do this. There are several reasons:

- Obituaries or death notices for any of Thomas' children may mention a brother William.

- Probate settlements for any of Thomas' children who died without children should mention William or William's heirs (if the William son of Thomas is the William who married Marie Demar).

- Descendants of Thomas Frame may also know something about William Frame.

- William Frame may be buried near a family member.

It is not necessary to create a complete biography on each of Thomas' descendants. But in this case, it may be necessary to locate a significant number of Thomas's relatives in order to find out what actually happened to William.

Getting A Start
I used the 1870-1910 census enumerations for the Thomas Frame family in Chicago, Illinois, to create a working rough family group chart for Thomas and his wife Elizabeth. I used pencil for this chart and after every fact listed (name, date of birth, place of birth, and so on), I noted which census enumeration provided that information. Different colored pencils were used to indicate which year (1870, 1880, etc.) provided the information. This way I could see the sources on my sheet and immediately know what year gave me what information. The colors also helped my eyes to distinguish sources from actual data. To give me plenty of room, three 8.5 x 11-inch sheets of paper were used for the parents and the eight children. Those familiar with making tables and charts in word processors or spreadsheet programs could do the same thing using a computer.

Using the years of the census on the chart allowed me to quickly see who was alive as of what census date. This would be important later.

My rough family structure from the census is summarized here:

Thomas Frame, born 1838, England, census: 1880, 1900, and 1910

Elizabeth, born 1845, England, census: 1870, 1880, 1900, and 1910

Ralph W., born ca. 1863, England, census: 1870, 1880, and 1900
Margaret, born ca. 1865, Pennsylvania, census: 1870, 1880 and 1900
Hannah, born Sept 1869, Illinois, census: 1870 and 1880
Lillie, born ca. 1874, census: 1880
Edward, born ca. 1877, census: 1880 and 1900
Frank, born January 1885, census: 1900
Willie, born August 1889, census: 1900
Lottie, born July 1893, census 1900, and 1910
Frank?, age 10 in 1910 [this is a mystery I'm holding off on for right now].

Based upon this listing, Elizabeth easily could have had additional children beyond those enumerated in the extant census records. In addition, it's important to keep in mind that if census or other records indicate some children are significantly younger than others in the family, those children might actually be grandchildren of the couple. That is possible in this case as well, particularly with the Frank enumerated as being ten years old in the 1910 census. Our purposes here are to track down as many descendants of Thomas as possible in an attempt to tie William Frame Apgar to the family of William Frame. Consequently, my main goal is to locate as many family members as I can. If I am able to tie William Frame Apgar into this family, one of my first tasks will be to go back and reanalyze the family structure in more detail.

The Children
How many of Elizabeth's children were living? It depends upon whom you ask.

The 1900 and 1910 census asks women how many children they have had and how many of those children are still living. Elizabeth's enumerations provided the following information:

1900: Elizabeth had had 10 children, 7 living (which means 3 are deceased in 1900)

1910: Elizabeth had had 9 children, 4 living (which means 5 are deceased in 1910)

Just what is correct? It is difficult to say. Part of either entry may be wrong, Elizabeth might have been confused when giving the answers, or the person giving the information for Elizabeth might not have known. If I had to guess which part was most likely to be correct, I would say the number of children living. Deceased children may have been deceased for thirty or more years and other household members (particularly other children) may not have been aware of earlier children who died as infants. While the information on deceased children will not help me locate William, knowing how many children Elizabeth had is something I need to work on.

Who Was Alive in 1900 And 1910?
Census records and the death notices of Ralph and E. R. Frame indicated that the following Frame children were alive in the following census years:

1900: Ralph, Margaret, Hannah, Edward, Frank, Willie, Lottie

1910: Ralph, Margaret, Hannah, Edward, Frank, and maybe Willie.

The 1900 list of children agrees with the census. The 1910 does not, and the age of Frank is off by ten years. But if the age of Frank is correct, he would have been born in 1900 when Elizabeth was 55. While further research needs to be done, I'm tempted to say that the age for Frank in 1910 is simply an error.

Moving On
Now that I have a rough family structure, I must augment my census work with other records. There are several types of records I could use and the records I choose to use will depend upon their availability:

- Vital records. Records of births, deaths, and marriages may be particularly helpful in this case. During the time period of this family, these records may be kept at either the state or local level. I should determine how these records can be accessed.

- Death notices, funeral notices, and obituaries. A death notice or an obituary may provide information on the children or siblings of the deceased. In this case, these records for Thomas, Elizabeth, and their children should be utilized. These newspapers may be available online in some searchable format or I may have to access them on microfilm. If the papers are not searchable online, I will have to at least have the month and year of death to practically search them. After all, a lot of people die every day in Chicago.

- City directories. Tracking family members in these records will allow me to at least approximate a year of death, which will make it easier to search death records.

There are other records I can utilize as well, but these will serve me well to get started.

A Final Note: Watch The Neighbors!
In 1900, one sheet before Thomas Frame's entry was that of his son Ralph W. It always pays to search a few sheets before and after the one that contains your ancestor. One never knows when additional family members will be located in this fashion. Thomas' 1910 entry indicates he and his family are living in the same house as the family of Hannah and Frank Vanderlinden. Hannah's enumeration indicates she is born ca. 1870 in Illinois and that her parents were born in England (Remember that the 1910 census only gives ages, not months and years of birth as does the 1900 census.). This appears to be a good lead on what happened to Thomas and Elizabeth's Frame's daughter Hannah.

You can read more about putting together a family structure from census records in these past Ancestry Daily News columns:

Starting with My Senses

Starting with My Senses, Part 2

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 or visit his website, but he regrets that he is unable to assist with personal research.

Copyright 2004,

Michael's other genealogy articles