Posted in Census, Research tips

“Baby Mohamed” Clendenen: A lesson in creative indexing

Today, I share a humorous reminder of why we always check the original source whenever possible, and always look at indexes and abstracts with a healthy dose of “hmmmm…what does it really say?” Last week, whilst searching for Thomas Clendennen [Clendenen] in the 1910 U.S. Census index, I was surprised to find a newborn, little “Baby Mohamed,” enumerated with the family.

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Could the Clendennens have been that rare Muslim family in the Bible Belt of central Texas in 1910? That would certainly be a noteworthy entry in the family history. (But…Hmmm, what does it really say, came that little voice inside me.)

And so here it is—the actual entry in the census record. What do you think it says?

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Yes, little “Baby Mohamed” is actually little “Baby Not Named”, but it is easy to see how a casual glance at the handwriting could lead an indexer to mistake a wee yet-to-be named Baptist for the namesake of an Islamic Prophet.

So folks, let’s make a New Year’s resolution to be thorough in our research—don’t be satisfied with information obtained from indexes or abstracts. Dig a little deeper into original sources—you may solve a mystery or two.

Author:

I am an Accredited Genealogist® professional living in California. I have been researching and teaching since 1988.

15 thoughts on ““Baby Mohamed” Clendenen: A lesson in creative indexing

  1. That was funny! Thanks for sharing, I’ve noticed that happen a few times with my own research and was pleased to find after checking it actually was person I was looking for! Not as funny as your find though!

  2. That was funny! Thanks for sharing, I’ve noticed that happen a few times with my own research and was pleased to find after checking it actually was person I was looking for! Not as funny as your find though!

    1. Yes, we have to match wits with the indexers, for sure. After trying to do some indexing on Familysearch myself I did gain new respect for them, though. I’m not so hot at transcribing old handwriting, it turns out. Haha!

      1. I have definitely performed “ninja genealogy” more than once. My maiden name is Swiss German and I don’t think I have ever seen it properly spelled on a census record although maybe perhaps in 1940….

  3. I love it! Funny – I just finished an email to a friend from a different Owen family – a friend from back when we were still trying so sort out the too many Owens – in which we were talking about how inaccuracies creep into genealogies. Perfect! I’m now going to forward this one to Jody,

    Margaret

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