Given Name(s) Last Name State

From the Ancestry Daily News
  Michael John Neill  4/13/2005

Wacky Well-known Census Enumerations

One of my spare-time activities is locating well-known individuals in United States census records. This week we look at some census entries for notable individuals that are also notable for being somewhat unusual. These enumerations may provide us with some insight into why we cannot find our own less-famous relatives in the census.

Links to images of entries discussed in today's column can be found at

English Name Spelled a German Way
Cowboy actor Roy Rogers was born in Ohio, not in the Wild West as some may imagine. His actual name was Leonard Sly, not Roy Rogers. Interestingly enough he is enumerated in the 1930 census in Cincinnati, Ohio, as Leonard Schlei. Fortunately both Sly and Schlei have the same Soundex code (S400), so a search using the Soundex option would locate this family.

Census takers frequently spelled last names the way they thought it should have been spelled. With United State census records, it usually is a native English speaker writing the names. Occasionally though, the enumerator might be a native German or Swede and spell the names the way he thinks they should be spelled, creating additional confusion.

An Unusual First Name Made Even More So
In 1850, future U.S. president Ulysses Grant is living in St. Louis, Missouri, with his in-laws, Fred and Ellen Dent. His first name on the census looks like Julicious, not Ulysses. Grant was located in 1850 by searching for his wife Julia. Her given name was more common than his and less likely to be spelled incorrectly or misinterpreted by an indexer. It is interesting to note that there are five adult males enumerated in the Fred Dent household, including Grant. Grant is listed as a lieutenant. The other males are listed as gentlemen.

There, But Not Named
Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis is apparently enumerated in the 1930 census in Manhattan, New York, but is not listed with her name. An entry for John Bouvier at 935 Park Avenue appears to be that of her father, based upon information obtained from other sources. A twenty-two-year-old wife and a daughter under the age of one are also listed in the Bouvier household. The information on the wife and child matches what is known about Jacqueline and her mother. For reasons unknown they are not named specifically in this enumeration.

They Weren't Home
The infamous Al Capone apparently was not home when the census taker came knocking at 7244 Prairie Avenue in Chicago in 1930. Several members of his family, including his wife and mother, are enumerated but Al managed to elude census taker Mrs. Margaret Hinkamp when she took the census on 3 April 1930.

What Is Your Name Anyway?
Charles Bronson was not always Charles Bronson. He was born Charles Buchinski. The problem with his 1930 enumeration is that his last name is listed as Bunchinski.

Buchinski and Bunchinski are not Soundex equivalents. Buchinski has a Soundex code of B252. Bunchinski has a Soundex code of B525. A Soundex will not work. A wildcard approach will not be successful either because requires that any wildcard search begin with at least three letters (my ideal search for a last name of Bu* would require more search time and would slow down searches for others using the website). Bronson's father was a Walter Buchinski, a Lithuanian native. I decided that perhaps this was enough of a unique characteristic that I should search for the father in the 1930 index instead of the son. Searches for a child named Charles born in Pennsylvania and living in Pennsylvania in 1930 were bound to result in more hits that I could manage to sift through.

I searched for men named Walter, living in Cambria County, Pennsylvania (which contained Ehrenfeld, Pennsylvania, where Bronson grew up), who were born in Lith*. There were not too many hits and as soon as I saw last name Bunchinski I was hopeful that I had the right one. Sure enough the details contained in the enumeration matched other information known about Bronson's family and included a son Charles the right age.

We Are Not Giving That Information
New York City Street Commissioner "Boss" Tweed refused to provide his age in 1870. In fact the ages of all his family members are omitted from his 1870 enumeration in New York's twenty-first ward. The census taker noted that "many fruitless attempts have been made to ascertain other data concerning family of Wm. M. Tweed."

The Tweed family is not the only well-known person to refuse a census taker. Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, in 1900 refused to provide her month and year of birth when the census taker came knocking to her home at 233 Pleasant Street in Concord, New Hampshire. She appears in the 1900 census index at as being zero years old.

Is That My Initial Or Is It My Name?
Billionaire John Paul Getty was commonly known as J. Paul Getty. The 1900 census taker who came to his home on Hennepin Boulevard in Minneapolis, Minnesota, enumerated him as "Jay P. Getty." After all "J." and "Jay" sound an awful lot alike!

List Me Once, List Me Twice
One should never overlook the possibility that an individual might have been enumerated twice in the same census year. Author Mark Twain (actually Samuel Clemens) is listed twice in 1850 in Hannibal, Missouri. Once with his mother, Jane Clemens, and again with Editor Joseph Ament. Actor Humphrey Bogart is enumerated with his parents once in Manhattan and again at his family's second home in Ontario County, New York.

While most of our ancestors could not afford multiple residences, some were enumerated more than once, usually because they moved. Occasionally, like Twain, they were enumerated once with their family and once in a home where they were working (it happened to my non-famous grandmother in 1930 as well).

What Is That Letter?
To the unaware, Abraham Lincoln's 1860 occupation may look like "Sawyer." However a close reading of the entire census page indicates that there is a difference between the enumerator's "S" and his "L." A few households before the Lincolns is one containing a secretary and two servants. The letters beginning these two words are clearly different than the one that begins Lincoln's occupation. Also it is doubtful that a sawyer has the amount of real and personal property that Lincoln does in 1860.

How Did You Say That?
Charles Walgreen's 1900 enumeration in Chicago certainly looks like Charles Walgram. Fortunately a Soundex search would have located this reference as both surnames are Soundex equivalent. He and two other drugstore clerks were living in the same boarding house and it is possible that the lady of the house answered the questions when the census taker came to the door. As long as Walgreen paid his rent, she might not have been overly concerned about exactly how he spelled his last name!

They Actually Corrected Something!
While it is highly unusual, there is an enumeration where someone from the census department has actually made a correction. John P. Sousa's 1870 enumeration indicates he is forty-four years of age, a year older than his father. Someone has written on the enumeration "should be 14 see 1860." Actually John P. Sousa's 1860 enumeration lists him as five years old. Both the 1860 and 1870 enumerations were done in June, and John P. Sousa was actually born in November of 1854. This would have actually made him five at the time of the 1860 enumeration and fifteen at the time of the 1870 enumeration. The correction is an oddity and one should be glad the corrected age is as close as it is.

If enumerations for the well-known can occasionally be quirky, what is the chance that your ancestor's enumeration might be a little bit off the wall?


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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 currently a member of the board of the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) He conducts seminars and lectures nationally 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 or visit his website at, but he regrets that he is unable to assist with personal research.

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