Member of the National Genealogical Society 2018
Member of the New Mexico Genealogical Society 2018

Census Records Reveal Children Weren't Exactly Willing Caregivers

The families of the past always took care of their elderly parents, right? No.

I can't recall where I read that children of the past always took care of the elderly parents. Neither can I recall being taught this by my parents as a child. Yet, somewhere in our modern day thinking, we have the belief that when the elders required care in the 18th and 19th centuries, they moved in with their children. And, the children were happy to provide this service.

If this is also a belief you share, I would like to refer to all the family trees I have traced. It has not been the case that children were ready, willing, and able to take on additional family members - even if they were their parents.

Within my own family, my great-grandmother accepted all those elders that needed a home, some moving thousands of miles by train to reach her house. I recall that my mother was the only child out of eight that would take my grandmother in when she was ill.

Today, once again, I am looking at the 1871 England Census, researching the life story of Mary Bent. There is still that belief running through my mind - which child did Mary ultimately move in with after she was widowed?

After her husband passed, we discovered Mary in her mid-fifties, working as a nurse for the Paxton family. Even though she had four grown children, most with families of their own, she accepted employment at a local teacher's home. The employment provided her with a place to live.

I can't tell you how long Mary lived with the Paxton's, but within ten years, she was now in her 60s, and living on her own with one unmarried daughter.

Mary's story is repeated thousands of times throughout the various census records, no matter the country. In some respects, the relationships of the past weren't so different than they are today. Perhaps we just tend to be more open in discussing our lives than our ancestors, whose silence led to the creation of stories that weren't true.

Memes Can Be Powerfully Wrong! The Circulation of Erroneous Memes for Ancestors

Since the birth of social media and the ability to alterate photos, erroneous information has become rampant on the Internet. The sad part about this practice is that so few individuals choose to research the information before passing it forward. Sadder still, so many people want to believe the worse in others and trust these memes blindly.

Thus is the published meme regarding President Trump's mother being circulated online. During the President's stressful solving of illegal immigration, this meme states that President's Trump's mother, Mary Anne MacLeod, immigrated from Scotland in 1930 as an illegal immigrant.This is not true.

Mary Anne MacLeod traveled on the SS Transylvania at the reported age of 18. She left Scotland on 2 May, 1930, and arrived at Ellis Island, New York City, New York on the 11 May, 1930. This is verified by the Liberty Ellis Foundation. (1)

At Ellis Island, she would have been required to experience the rigorous testing every immigrant endured in order to gain admission into the United States. Those who did not pass would be returned to the country they left. Mary Anne MacLeod passed these tests.

Two of the numerous tests required of immigrants is that they would have to show that they had a potential job awaiting them, and a residence. In other words, immigrants had a sponsor that stated, "I will accept responsibility for this individual if they have no monetary support." In the case of Mary Anne MacLeod, she stated that she had a position in "Domestic Shop" and that she would be residing with her sister, Mrs. Catherine Reid, 3520 6th Avenue, Astoria, L.I, N.Y. The Reid family were her sponsors so the government was not responsible for any liability.(2)

The story of Mary Anne MacLeod was that she returned to Scotland for a time, and then ultimately traveled back to the United States on the SS Cameronia in September, 1934. At that point, she remained in the country permanently. (3)

All this information is available for viewing at the Ellis Island Foundation,  and the digital photos provided above were researched and captured by myself.

If you have ancestors who were immigrants to this country, you may be able to view their travels and manifest information today. Take a look and see what you can find.

(1) Patton, Cheryl. “Manifest of the SS Translyvania from the Ellis Island Foundation” 2018. JPEG file.

(2) Patton, Cheryl. "Manifest of the SS Translyvania from the Ellis Island Foundation Showing Occupation/Residence" 2018. JPEG file.

(3) Patton, Cheryl. "Manifest of the SS Cameronia from the Ellis Island Foundation" 2018. JPEG file.

Genealogy - Illiteracy With Schooling

We all say that every region is different, but it really comes home when one cruises through the census records and discovers something unusual.

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of digging into a state I rarely trace and what caught my eye was the repetition of the word "no, no, no" running down the right side of the page.

My experience has been those who report they can read and write and clearly can not. As I "thumbed" through the census pages, over and over I saw the answers, "Yes, I've attended school, but no I can not read or write."

This is an area of specific ethnicities and I wondered if there was a generalized reason for this response. Needless to say, I'll be researching this one and like Sherlock - googling up a storm.

Do you find unusual responses to census questions common to a specific area? Take the opportunity to delve into finding an answer. It will tell you a lot about the family you're tracing and the practice of the times. Not only will it be fascinating to you, but clients may find these tidbits a delight to discover.

What's Love Got To Do With It? Marriage in the 1800s.

To say your ancestor didn't stray far from home to get married is not far fetched. And we can see this repeatedly while searching the Federal Census Records of 1850 and 1860.

The next time you're walking through the 1850-1860 Census Records in search of your ancestors, take a peek at their neighbors. You may discover that your ancestor is surrounded by their parents, in-laws, siblings, brother/sister-in-law, cousins, etc. This makes for an easier gathering of family information.

Family living on the same road, or within walking distance was quite common clear through the 1950s.

The other interesting fact that it brings to light, is just how many of our ancestral grandparents literally married the girl/boy next door. It is as if they looked up and down the street and said, "What's my best choice?" and a family was created.

It is well known that throughout history, love had little to do with marriage.
  • Who was the best homemaker?
  • Who had the best home skills?
  • Who could provide the best living?
  • Who was the heir to a farm?
  • Who would make the best step-mother to raise these babies?
  • Who could keep a roof over my head?

Those questions were far more important than love, which became the number one reason in the 20th century.

With that thought in mind, take a closer look at your ancestors addresses, and how close in proximity they resided before marriage. It may give you a different viewpoint on how they viewed a potential marriage partner.

(Photo: John and Elizabeth Bush Kirkpatrick, Fayette County, Ohio, unknown date, unknown photographer. My 4x great-grandparents).