Sunday, September 02, 2007

Dodging the Census

An interesting thread has emerged at Ol' Myrt’s message board. From the use of exclamation points, it would appear the original researcher is nearly at the end of her rope. Let’s see if we can help Elizabeth out.
From: EAKaspar
Surnames: Kaspar, Reichert, Duerner, Dopfel, Warttig
In no census have I been able to find my grandparents, Karl Julius Kaspar and family! Could people hide from the census taker?

My grandparents Kaspar and Reichert came from Germany abt. 1890 and were married in NYC in 1892. Their first three children were born there. (I have found the birth certificates.) Their next two, twins, were born in Oswego, New York. Then abt. 1907, they moved to Ashland, Kentucky. From there they moved to Louisville, Kentucky where they lived the remainder of their lives. I have checked for them in every census in New York and in Kentucky up to 1930 -- nothing! I want to find info regarding their dates of arrival, their possible naturalization, etc.
From: LindysFlyGirl
Is it possible their names were
spelled wrong or changed? I just spent weeks looking for my great grandfather's
emigration records and it turns out his name was spelled wrong by ONE

So, DeaREADERS, what do you think?It IS possible that Elizabeth's ancestors happened to be moving on exactly the day the enumerator came to the old neighborhood? Possibly. Also at certain times it wasn't popular to be German in the United States. However, I've seen multiple census entries in various states (i.e. for my paternal great-grandmother Eliza (Wasden) Weiser) more frequently than totally skipped individuals.

I think LindysFlyGirl is on the right track – spelling is most likely the culprit. Let me suggest:

The bane of our existence – spelling! Remember that names weren’t set in stone until the advent of the Social Security Administration, and more particularly when the IRS required us to use our Social Security Number to be posted with our income tax returns, and for each of our allowable human deductions. THAT has happened in your lifetime, DearREADERS. For more information see FamilySearch’s Name Variations in United States Indexes and Records where there are examples of initials & abbreviations, double letters, transposed letters, misread letters, phonetic substitutes, and the practical use of a middle name instead of the first given name.

If you rely solely on one website for indexing, that can be a problem. There is much to be said for the reliability of outsourcing to non-native English speaking indexers. Compound the problem by throwing in an enumerator’s cryptic handwriting, and you are heading for a disasterous index. Ol' Myrt found things in’s census indexes that were not found in Heritage Quest’s version of the same census index – AND VICE VERSA. For more ideas about seemingly irrational spelling errors see FamilySearch’s Commonly Misread Letters Table.

Look for at least 20 different ways to spell each of Karl’s names, something along these lines: Karl Julius Kaspar
KJ Kaspar
K Kaspar
Carl J Kaspar
Carl J Caspar
Carl J Casper
J Kaspar
Julius C Kaspar
J C Casper

For more information see FamilySearch’s United States Naturalizations Before 1906 and United States Naturalizations 1906 and After.

It is true that you’d need to know the year of naturalization (if post Sept 1906) to communicate with the US Citizenship & Immigration Services, formerly known as the INS Immigration & Naturalization Service, but perhaps you’ll find your elusive ancestor in a naturalization index.

The National Archives holds the copies of 1906+ Naturalization Records, and provides information to genealogists about how to access these. For earlier records, the National Archives suggests contacting the appropriate state archives. There is also an excellent article in Prologue, the National Archives magazine, titled Women and Naturalization, ca. 1802-1940. has some databases that might lead you to the records you seek, if you are thinking the naturalization took place after 5 years of residency, then try New York, otherwise look in the Kentucky records.
  • New York Petitions for Naturalization (2,104,200 names) “Original data: Soundex Index to Petitions for Naturalization filed in Federal, State, and Local Courts located in New York City, 1792-1906. New York, NY, USA: National Archives and Records Administration, Northeast Region.”
  • Index to Declaration of Intent for Naturalization: New York County, 1907-1924 (674,538 names) “Original data: New York State Supreme Court. Declarations of Intention filed in New York County, 1907-1924.. County Clerk's Office, New York County, New York.”
  • New York County Supreme Court Naturalization Petition Index, 1907-24 (203,786 names) “Where to go from here: The data in this collection was gathered from the New York County Clerk's Office. The original records connected to this index may contain valuable additional facts like birth date and location, occupation, immigration data, marital status and spouse information, witnesses' names and addresses, declarations of intent, and more. For information on obtaining copies of individual records or files, send a specific research request to: New York County Clerk, Room 161, 60 Centre St., New York, NY 10007-1402.”

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
Your friend in genealogy.

(c) 2007 Pat Richley All Rights Reserved.

No comments:

Post a Comment