Kinsearching May 23, 2010




Marleta Childs
P. O. Box 6825
LUBBOCK, TX 79493-6825

     Since 2010 is the year for taking another federal count of the nation’s people, the census is often in the news. Beginning with the first enumeration in 1790, the schedules have been and will continue to be an important source of data for researchers in a wide variety of fields, including genealogy and history. As current information is gathered and new technologies like digitization emerge, researchers can only hope that the material will be preserved in ways that future generations can access it.

     Loss of these important historical records is the topic of Robert L. Dorman’s article, “The Creation and Destruction of the 1890 Federal Census,” which appears in the Fall/Winter 2008 (Vol. 71, No. 2) issue of The American Archivist. As stated in the article’s abstract, Dorman discusses how poor recordkeeping in a time of fiscal cutbacks and the government’s overconfidence in the utilization of new machines set up circumstances that led to the catastrophe caused by fire in 1921.


     Without complete census returns, genealogists would find it difficult to discover where their ancestors resided and essential details about individuals in bygone eras. The following query serves as an example of the importance of the population schedules:
     Charles N. Ferguson, 811 South Market, Shawnee, OK 74801 would appreciate more information on these persons who lived in Ardmore, OK, and appear on the 1900 census:

HARRIS, Abijah, b. June 1858 in TX;
HARRIS, Martha C., b. December 1865 in TX;
HARRIS, Callie J., b. March 1888 in I. T.;
HARRIS, Alice M., b. Oct. 1889 in I. T.;
HARRIS, Johnnie, b. Aug. 1892 in I. T.;
HARRIS, Eugene, b. May 1895 in I. T.;
HARRIS, William E., b. Jan 1898 in I. T.

     (Editor’s note: I. T. stands for Indian Territory, which later became the state of Oklahoma.)

     Abijah HARRIS died on 10 Sept 1918 in Ennis, TX. His wife, Martha, whose maiden name was MCCRACKEN, died between 1910 and 1920 in Johnston Co., OK. Their daughter, Alice M., died on 17 Feb 1974 in Tishomingo, OK.


     A recent article that furnishes a different perspective on the decennial enumerations is “A Lot of Work for Two Cents” by David A. Norris. Published in the April 2010 (Vol. 57, No. 4) of True West, it focuses on conditions faced by census takers in the Old West, various occupations listed for cowboys, and some of the legendary lawmen and outlaws of the nineteenth century. Among the famous people located on various censuses are Frank and Jesse JAMES, the Sundance Kid (Harry LONGABAUGH), Bat MASTERSON, the EARP brothers, Doc HOLLIDAY, and the CLANTON and MCLAURY families involved in the O. K. Corral gunfight.

     Whether or not you believe in “witching” (also known as “divining”), you may enjoy reading Mary L. Heeren’s article, “Alhambra Area Resident Locates Graves by Dowsing.” Printed in the Spring/Summer 2010 (Vol. 50, No. 2-3) issue of the American Dowser, it tells about a man who, using the ancient technique for finding water, has discovered several hundred unmarked graves in the area of Alhambra, Madison County, Illinois.

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