Researching your family on the Internet can be very helpful — but there’s so much more in most cases.
For instance, let’s look at the 1880 United States Census on www.familysearch.org, the site maintained by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
This is a wonderful asset, but do make it just a starting place for your research.
As an example, we find the three-generation Tarbox family in the Aroostook County town of Perham, all members listed as born in Maine:
Almer I. Tarbox, 30. (Also listed as Elmer and Almon in other sources)
Lucinda Tarbox, wife, 26.
Augustus L. Tarbox, son, 9.
Ellora L. Tarbox, daughter, 8.
Winfield E. Tarbox, son, 6.
Rosie I. Tarbox, daughter, 3.
Leslie Tarbox, son, 1M.
Ivory Tarbox, father, 76.
Susanah Tarbox, mother, 75.
Solomon Chase, nephew, 20.
Berthera W. Chase, sister-in-law, 22.
If you knew that the 1880 census was enumerated in
early June, you might estimate that baby Leslie was born in May, or maybe April.
But if you looked at the census record on microfilm, you would see that there actually was a category that year, “If born within the census year, give month.”
And indeed, the census taker for Perham did mark “May” for Leslie Tarbox.
Also in Perham, Hadley E. Stubbs, son of Trueworthy and Annie E. Stubbs, was born in February 1880.
In the Piscataquis County town of Abbot, Alfred P. Race, 41, and Mary E. Race, 38, were the parents of Anna S. Race, listed as born in November, which would be 1879.
Maine census records are available on microfilm at the University of Maine’s Fogler Library in Orono, Maine State Archives in Augusta and Maine Historical Society in Portland.
Many researchers find Fogler Library convenient to use for census records because it has evening and weekend hours. The recording for library hours is available at 581-1664.
Bangor Public Library has Penobscot County census records on microfilm.
Keep in mind that U.S. census records list every person in the household by name for 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920 and 1930.
Only the head of household is listed by name for 1790-1840.
There’s another very useful category of the 1880 census that isn’t on the LDS Web site, but is on the microfilm: “Is the person [on the day of the enumerator’s visit] sick or temporarily disabled, so as to be temporarily unable to attend to ordinary business or duties? If so, what is the illness or disability?”
In the town of Perham, farmer Greene Evans, 78, was listed as having heart disease.
In Abbot, Martha Small had rheumatism.
Over the past 30 years, I’ve spent lots of time looking at census records on microfilm.
The images of the 1790-1930 censuses for the U.S. are also available on paid sites such as www.ancestry.com, and there are libraries which subscribe in order that their patrons can use the service free. These include Bangor Public Library, Ellsworth Public Library and Oakland Public Library.
Consider that in order for us to look at typed census records or use an index online, original records had to be transcribed, copied over. That leaves room for human error in reading or typing.
And we know that some census enumerators didn’t have the best handwriting — or spelling, for that matter.
S.S. Cole, who enumerated Abbot, listed residents such as Elexandre Weymouth, possibly should have been Alexander; and Washington Delnoe, which actually was Delano.
Cole did list Katie E. Berton, 13, as “adap daughter,” which probably means adopted. She was born in Canada, and the census taker said her parents were, too. Yet the adults in her household were Albert P. Berton, 35, born in “Engerland,” and Amanda M. Berton, 27, born in Massachusetts.
The Eddington Historical Society will meet at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, April 9, in the conference room of the F.A. Wood Municipal Building. The summer meeting schedule is now in effect. For information, contact Richard Bowden, 989-5792.
Send genealogy queries to Family Ties, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor, ME 04402; or e-mail queries to firstname.lastname@example.org.