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.
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?
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.
I recently posted about a little-used resource for researchers who had LDS church members in their family 1914-1960. This is the collection of LDS Church Censuses on microfilm. The FamilySearch Wiki lists the contents of the censuses for each year. Each family in the worldwide church was counted beginning 1914, continuing every 5 years after 1920. 1945 there was no census taken because of the war.
I had known about this collection but never accessed it until this week. Here are images of the Franklin Thomas Pomeroy family in the 1914, 1925, and 1935 LDS Censuses.
There are columns for age, gender, priesthood office, marital status, and church record number. There is a category for “where born” with columns for Utah, Arizona, Europe, Asia, Islands of Pacific, and Unclassified. The Ward and Stake is also identified, which can lead one to other LDS church membership records, such as records of ordinances, minutes of meetings, and genealogical surveys.
Since U.S. federal censuses were taken every 10 years–1910, 1920, 1930, 1940–the LDS Censuses falling in-between those years are nice to have. Here is the 1925 census:
Notice that Sarah Matilda Pomeroy is enumerated with the family—she is Franklin’s mother—and the additional detail for “when born.” We also now have evidence of Sophia Isadora’s maiden name—Morris.
Here is the 1935 LDS Census:
Included in this census is the city or town of birth, and a street address. You might consider marking a map in Google Earth to show all the places where a family is known to have lived. Also, use the street view to take a walk around their neighborhood! It may have changed, but then again it may not have. At the bottom of each census for every year is, “checked with ward record by [signature].”
I am pretty enthused about this record group and plan to use them to launch into ward minutes and membership records next time I am in Salt Lake City at the library. I expect to find details of my ancestors’ lives, such as service in callings and various ordinances received. If you have any LDS ancestry these church censuses might lead you down some interesting trails!
I ran across a 1900 U.S. Census record for my husband’s ancestor, Fergus Coalter, living in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah at the time, and several entries caught my eye because I knew they would lead me to other sources. That’s the great thing about a census record – one thing leads to another:
Year of immigration (1874), years in the U.S. (26), citizenship (“Na” or naturalized), occupation (Music Dealer), education (can read, write, and speak English), and home ownership (“O” owns a home, “F” free of mortgage).
These are all things worth following up on, and I accessed a number of sources you may not know exist. Of course the easiest thing to try first is a Google search, and this got me started on the thing I was most curious about initially – no, not the immigration/citizenship columns – but “Music Dealer.” That is something you don’t often see on a census record.
A search for “Fergus Coalter music” led me to the website for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir historical roster. If you access the MTC website, there does not appear to be a link for the roster page, so I would have never found this entry for “Fergus Coulter” without Google:
So Fergus Coulter/Coalter sang Bass with the MTC for 17 years!
Now that I knew about the Fergus Coalter Music Company, I wanted to check city directories for Salt Lake City, which list addresses for businesses and individuals much like a phone book would in later years, plus sometimes some extra helpful facts. UTGenweb has a list of SLC directories with links to online images and/or Family History Library microfilm call numbers. Additionally, www.uscitydirectories.com lists directories by year, and some libraries where they can be found.
The 1897 Polk directory showed “Daynes and Coalter” under Fergus Coalter’s name and a residential address of 749 2nd East:
State Genweb projects, hosted by Rootsweb, are excellent sources for free online images and databases posted by volunteers.
Other online city directories revealed Fergus Coalter had also been in business as Coalter and Snelgrove, Daynes and Coalter, and Fergus Coalter Music Co. His death record showed him working as a clerk at Beesley Music Co. at age 71. I can do a more thorough search of directories at the Utah Research Center and Family History Library when I am there.
Newspapers can be an excellent source when the subject was a business owner, because of all the ads they placed. Here are a few unusual publications:
This is from the Young Woman’s Journal, Feb 1902, v 13, p 344. Here is an excerpt from something titled, “Mormon Magazine Miscellany” with the heading, “The Leading Industries of the West,” p 66, also on Google Books. It is a fascinating peek inside the music store, and we also learn that Fergus’ partner was the Tabernacle organist:
Finally, another unique source is a file from the National Register of Historic Places. The nomination form for the Capitol Hill Historic District of Salt Lake City, submitted by the Utah State Historical Society, has been digitized and is available online. It provides photos and descriptions of buildings in that district, including the Fergus Coalter home at 314 Center St., constructed abt 1880:
What is remarkable about this source is the personal info it provides and additional documentation that leads to additional sources, including plat maps Sanborn insurance maps, directories, newspapers, and biographical sources:
There is one last resource I want to mention here, because I know the “immigration” and “citizenship” columns on the census must have made you curious, too. Did you know about the Mormon Migration website at BYU? They are abstracting records for 19th and 20th century LDS immigrants, including first-person accounts of voyages. This is different than the Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel database which documents pioneer wagon companies. For starters, the Pioneer Overland Travel database ends at 1868—the official end of the “pioneer” era—and only covers the immigrants’ journey after they arrived in the United States. The Mormon Migration site is a ships passenger list database that extends beyond 1868 and documents the journey from an immigrant’s homeland. The first-person accounts can describe the entire journey by ship and wagon.
Here is the entry for Fergus Coulter:
A click on his name will bring up a link to first-person accounts by other passengers and also a list of other passengers.
Of course, these records are just the beginning – there are so many more record groups that come to mind: church, vital records, probate, cemetery, county history, naturalization, etc., but hopefully you now know about a few unique records for the Salt Lake City area and can start down your own trail. So Happy Trails!
Here is an excerpt from the FamilySearch Wiki regarding a source that is not widely known about—LDS Church Censuses. If you are researching anyone who was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who lived anywhere in the world between 1914-1960, you will want to access these records by renting the microfilm at your local LDS Family History Center. Clicking on Church Census Records, 1914–1960 will take you to a list of 651 microfilms. Search alphabetically within certain years. I have ordered the film for “Pomeroy” 1914-1935 and will let you know what I find. I am excited to see entries for my mom, grandparents, and great-grandparents.
This article is copied from the FamilySearch Wiki LDS Census page:
A census is a count and description of a population. A well-indexed census is one of the easiest ways to locate where ancestors lived and to identify the dates when they lived there so that you can search other records. Church census records give the name of the ward or branch where a family’s Church records or civil records may be found.
Church Censuses (1914–1960)
The Church took censuses to track members and Church growth throughout the world. The first Church wide census was taken in 1914. Beginning in 1920, the Church took a census every five years until 1960, except 1945. These census records were compiled in:
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Church Census Records, 1914–1960. Salt Lake City: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1962. (On 651 Family History Library films starting with 025708). Arranged alphabetically by the name of the head of the household. The five censuses for 1914 to 1935 were combined and microfilmed. There is a supplement for cards sent in late. The 1940 census was filmed separately with two supplemental films. The 1950, 1955, and 1960 censuses were filmed together.
Information in Church censuses consists of a card with information about each family in a ward or branch. Each person in the household is listed on the family card with their gender, age, priesthood office, and marital status. Each time the census was taken, additional information was included:
1914 This census shows the geographical regions that were marked to show where each person was born; the family’s address; the name of the ward or branch, stake, or mission the person attended; and date of the census.
1920 This census added the maiden name of married women, year of birth of each person, and the Church auxiliaries each person attended.
1925 The complete birth date is included. The columns for auxiliaries are deleted.
1930 This census adds the exact place of birth. Cards for the Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and parts of Maryland also provide the baptism date, the name of the person who performed the baptism, and place of baptism.
1935 This census adds the previous ward or branch the family attended.
1940 This census adds the family’s previous street address, and the date when the family moved to their present address.
1945 No Church census was taken because of World War II.
1950, 1955, and 1960 These censuses show the same information as the 1940 census.
If you cannot find a family on a Church census try these strategies: