Friday, April 5, 2013

Early MI Census Surprises

I just checked back at Seeking Michigan to see if they had added any more early Michigan Census images to their site since my previous and they had. I searched for “Smith” in the collection and found a few surprises. But wait. . . before you start doing your happy dance, like I did, let me temper your enthusiasm. In many cases you will not be able to compare the people in your family tree with a bunch of age check marks. Although the forms used in many cases were the lovely census forms I described in my previous post (More MI Census) the enumerators ignored all of those columns and simply listed the names (it appears) of men over 21. Some of the records for Washtenaw county are poor (the right portion of the image is very dark so you may not be able to find your people even if they are there). Most other images I looked at were fairly good, however.

These records come from the holdings of both the Library of Michigan, and the Archives of Michigan.

Here are the records that have been added since I posted about this earlier in the week and the type of information you can expect to find. If I don't include a note after the record available it means that the census form was used as intended. It is possible that more counties and years are represented in this database, but this is what I found in my search for “Smith.” I'm not sure how common this name was throughout the state, but there were a lot of Smiths in Eaton county. As of April 4, here are all of the early census records available at Seeking Michigan.

Branch, 1854, 1874 (Industry schedule that lists names and occupations of men over 21)

Clinton, 1864

Eaton, 1845, 1854, 1874 (Heads of households or men over 21 [not sure which] & occupations)

Houghton, 1864, 1874 (Heads of households or men over 21 [not sure which] & occupations)

Kalamazoo, 1874 (Heads of households or men over 21 [not sure which] & occupations)

Lenawee, 1845

Sanilac, 1864

St. Joseph, 1845

Washtenaw, 1827 (in some, but not all, cases the column headings were missing, so look for images from the same year), 1845 (Names of white males over 21), 1854 (Names of males over 21)

It looks like some of these records, 1874 for at least some counties and perhaps other years as well, may have been transcribed from another record or list. While examining an 1874 record for Houghton county I noticed that each name was numbered, but the first name on the page was not number one. Then mid-way down the page I saw “P16” and the numbers started from one. I can't think of a simpler explanation than that this list was compiled from another record, though don't quote me on that.

When you begin looking for your kin, remember that Seeking Michigan does not do fuzzy searches. Only exact matches will turn up. So, be prepared to search by first name and county if at first you don't find what you are expecting. That's what I had to do, but it paid off. Now, if only I could go back in time to give those enumerators a piece of my mind.

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