Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Friday, October 19, 2012

Stepping off into the past -- working your way to the unknown

Too many researchers decide on an objective and then dive off into the deep end of the research by trying to find information about the subject. I want to resolve the Springthorpe issue, so of course, I begin with the first person in that line I am confident we have identified correctly. In my case, I begin my investigation of the Springthorpes by working with Francis Ann Thomas (b. 1864, d. 1950). Even though I am quite sure that her mother is Adeline Springthorpe, I find that my source records are not very substantial, so I begin with the daughter.

What do I consider to be the basic records for an individual? Well, that varies, to some extent, with the time depth of the person I am researching. In the case of an individual who lived a substantial portion of their life in the 20th Century in the United States, those records would commonly include U.S. Federal and State Census records for the applicable years, vital records (if they exist in the time period in question), Social Security Death Index, surname books, photos and personal journals, biographies, obituaries, cemetery records, newspaper articles and other similar records.

All the time I am looking for information that will carry me back one more generation. These would be the minimum types of records I would like to have about an individual before I begin research back to the next generation. I am somewhat assured that among those records will be at least one and maybe more, that give the person's parentage. So, beginning with Francis Ann Thomas (b. 1864, d. 1950) here is what I identified as records in my first sweep concentrating on the U.S. Census:

1870; Census Place: Kanosh, Millard, Utah Territory; Roll: M593_1611; Page: 351A; Image: 49; Family History Library Film: 553110. 1870 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2009. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.

1880; Census Place: Kingston, Piute, Utah; Roll: 1336; Family History Film: 1255336; Page: 530C; Enumeration District: 036; and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2010. 1880 U.S. Census Index provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints © Copyright 1999 Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved. All use is subject to the limited use license and other terms and conditions applicable to this site. Tenth Census of the United States, 1880. (NARA microfilm publication T9, 1,454 rolls). Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29. National Archives, Washington, D.C.

[Note the claim to a copyright on the 1880 U.S. Census records. Interesting but not possible.]

"United States Census, 1900," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 19 Oct 2012), Marvin Christensen, ED 2 St. Johns Precinct, Apache, Arizona Territory, United States; citing sheet 5B, family 103, NARA microfilm publication T623, FHL microfilm 1240045.

"United States Census, 1910," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 17 Oct 2012), Francis L Christensen in household of Marinus Christensen, St Johns, Apache, Arizona; citing sheet 49A, family 269, NARA microfilm publication T624, FHL microfilm 1374051.

1920; Census Place: St Johns, Apache, Arizona; Roll: T625_46; Page: 2B; Enumeration District: 5; Image: 59. 1920 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2010. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.  

"United States Census, 1930," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 19 Oct 2012), Frances Christensen, St John's, Apache, Arizona; citing enumeration district (ED) 0018, sheet 5B, family 79, NARA microfilm publication T626, roll 55.

1940; Census Place: , Apache, Arizona; Roll: T627_099; Page: 6B; Enumeration District: 1940 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2012. Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1940. T627, 4,643 rolls.

Looks pretty complete for U.S. Census records. It also looks like she lived her life in Utah. So I check the CensusFinder to see if there might be a Utah state census I have missed.  Not that I am aware of. So now I am ready to look at each record and see what I can learn about both Frances Ann Thomas and her parents and family. I am also double checking to see that I have the family members and approximate birth dates complete, at least from the U.S. Census. 

I find that all of these records give me corroborative evidence about her birth and two of the records, for 1870 and 1880 give me further information about her family and her parents. Once I have examined all of these records carefully I am ready to move on to other records. You might note that all of these records came either from or I did this because of the convenience in finding the records online. 

If you were to redo my research, you might notice that the indexes for the 1880 U.S. Census had the Thomas family entirely confused and had the father's given name as the surname. So Frances Ann Thomas appears as Francis A. Davids. That was only a very minor issue however and easily resolved because they came from such a small place, I could have reviewed the entire town to find their record. But that was not necessary because someone had corrected the record in

No comments:

Post a Comment