From the Ancestry Daily News
A Partially Correct Census Index EntryNOTE: Census images discussed in this article can be viewed here.
When last we left William Rhodes, he had been located in three federal censuses with relative certainty: 1870-1900. It was also thought he had been located with his birth family, the Levi M. Rhodes family, in the 1850 Macon County, Missouri census, but follow up work was necessary. One source of frustration was the inability to locate William Rhodes in 1860.
Where is William in 1860?
William Rhodes and Matilda Jones were married in March 1860 in Macon County, Missouri. Our 1860 census search starts there. A search of 1860 census indexes began in that area and expanded in successively larger circles until the entire state of Missouri and part of Illinois were covered. Reasonable spelling and handwriting variants were considered. No entry for our William and his wife could be found. William was not enumerated in the 1860 household of his likely father, Levi Rhodes. I decided to manually search the Macon County 1860 census in an attempt to locate William. Before I did that I thought I would locate William's father-in-law in 1860. The hope was that William and Matilda would be living near one of their parents in 1860.
The father of Matilda Jones Rhodes was clearly established as a Wesley Jones who lived for a time in Macon County, Missouri (Matilda Rhodes, wife of William Rhodes, is named as an heir of Wesley Jones' estate in the 1870s). Perhaps William and Matilda were enumerated with her parents. However, there is a "but" here. If William and Matilda were enumerated in the household of Wesley Jones, William Rhodes should have appeared in the indexes I had already searched. Census indexes typically include heads of household and others living in a household with a surname different from the head of household. Reading the preface or the introduction is the only way to know for certain how the index was compiled. If William Rhodes was enumerated with Wesley Jones, there should have been an index entry for William Rhodes. Since my manual search of the 1860 census was going to start where the couple's parents lived, I located Wesley anyway.
Finding Wesley in 1860
Wesley Jones was not difficult to locate in the 1860 census index. The somewhat uncommon first name of Wesley made this search easier.
An entry in the Missouri 1860 Census Index indicated Wesley Jones was on page 109 of the West Richland Township Census for Macon County, Missouri. It should be no problem to locate this census entry.
Finding Wesley in the actual census was slightly more difficult than I expected. I read every image for West Richland Township. There was no page 109 and there was no Wesley Jones. Before I got mad and threw up my hands, I realized that unless someone had dreamed of Wesley, he must be on a page 109 somewhere. It obviously was not in West Richland Township.
I went back and more closely analyzed the pages for West Richland Township, focusing on the page numbers. There were two-page numbering systems. One set of numbers used the pre-printed "page number ___" and the other set of numbers was written in a different hand with a different type of writing utensil from the actual census entries.
What Page Numbers Were There?
The first image for West Richland Township had two page numbers. In the upper left corner was the page number 81 and in the upper right corner was the page number 83. The last image in West Richland Township had one number in the upper right hand corner: 96. There is an explanation to the apparently confusing sets of numbers.
The Census was Taken in a Book!
To begin with it is important to remember that the census was taken in a book, with left and right hand pages where both sides of each page were used. The census was not taken on one side of loose sheets or paper or on computerized images. Based upon the handwriting, the census taker had put a page number on every page. These numbers were written in the upper right hand corner of the left page and in the upper left hand corner of the right page.
Later, another individual had put additional page numbers on the census pages. Realize there were two sets of page numbers eliminated part of the confusion.
Think About The Images Versus The Pages
Let's look at the first five images of the West Richland Township, Macon County, Missouri 1860 Census. It needs to be made abundantly clear that the census image is not necessarily the same thing as a page of the census. Image numbers do not have to have any correlation with census page numbers.
Image 1: The right-hand page of the census book, with "page 81" written in the upper left hand corner and "83" written in the upper right hand corner. Imagine turning the census book page to get to the next image.
Image 2: The left hand page of the census book, with "page 82" written in the upper right hand corner of the page. To get to the next image, imagine moving your eyes from the left hand page to the right hand page.
Image 3: The right hand page of the census book, with "page 83" written in the upper left hand corner of the page and "85" written in the upper right hand corner. Imagine turning the census book page to get to the next image.
In this case, Image 2 and Image 3 are both visible as the actual book is opened to these pages. They are facing pages.
Image 4: The left hand page of the census book, with "page 84" written in the upper right hand corner of the page. To get to the next image, image moving your eyes from the left hand page to the right hand page.
Image 5: The right hand page of the census book, with "page 85" written in the upper left hand corner of the page and "87" written in the upper right hand corner.
In this case, Image 4 and Image 5 are both visible as the actual book is opened to these pages. They are facing pages.
Having realized there were two numbering systems, I was one step ahead of the game. However, I still had not found Wesley.
I decided that something in Wesley's index entry must be incorrect. As a first step, I assumed everything in his census index was correct, except for the township (after all, I had already read all the pages of West Richland Township and Wesley was not there). My new working premise was that Wesley Jones was on page 109 of the 1860 census for Macon County, Missouri. I went to the main page of the 1860 census images for Macon County, Missouri, on Ancestry.com (the page that listed all the townships individually). I decided I would look at the township whose first or second page had a number relatively close to page 109 (but not higher than 109). I would also keep track of the townships that had been unsuccessfully searched.
After some time, I located page 109. There was an entry for Wesley! His household was actually enumerated in West Chariton Township, Macon County, Missouri. I read the entry.
And then I was a little confused.
Wesley was listed along with Sarilda, his second wife. Several children were then listed in age order from 18 to five months. Then there were two additional names at the end of the Jones household.
Iam Jones, aged 26, born Missouri
Matilda Jones, aged 20, born Missouri
Who Are They?
Who are "Iam and Matilda" Jones? (Did the person tell the census taker "I am Jones" and get enumerated as "Iam Jones?") Next week we'll analyze the entry in more detail and discuss additional difficulties locating Wesley Jones in the 1850 census.
Additional articles that may be helpful:
From Census Index to Image
Ancestry’s 1860 Census Images
(Scroll down to state links and click Missouri)
Ancestry’s 1860 Census Indexes
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 and Genealogical Computing.
You can e-mail him at: email@example.com
or visit his website at: www.rootdig.com/,
but he regrets that he is unable to assist with personal research.
Used by the author on his
website with permission.
Articles in this series:
Articles by Michael John Neill
---type in your surname or county and state in the search box that comes up on the left hand side of your screen. I've found and purchased several books this way!