Saturday, February 25, 2012

Anticipation: Waiting for the 1940 U.S. Census The upcoming release of the 1940 U.S Census is the talk of the genealogy community. Everyone is so excited and anxious for April 2nd to get here. I'm excited buy my excitement is a bit reserved. Why? Because, until the index is available, it is unlikely I'll be finding any of my "most wanted" people. After all, they are most wanted because I don't know exactly where they were in 1940.

I know where my four grandparents (and along with them my parents) were in 1940. I know where my four living great-grandparents were. Of course, I want copies of their census records but I'm not expecting to find much there that I don't already know. I want the census records that can fill in some blanks. Here's a few of my most wanted.

Where was my grandmother's brother, Elvie Hankins? After growing up in Hopkins County, Kentucky, Elvie moved around a lot. He was in Reno County, Kansas in 1910. I still haven't found him in 1920 but in 1922 he was living in Nampa, Canyon County, Idaho. By 1930, he was living in Park County, Montana. He was in Spokane, Washington when his mother died in 1944 so maybe he was already there in 1940. Maybe, he was somewhere else. Elvie was married several times. No one in my family seemed to know exactly how many times but I've identified four wives. Is there a fifth one waiting to be found in the 1940 census?

Where was my grandfather's brother, Joseph Frederick Lanier? Fred was in Floyd County, Georgia in 1920 and Marshall County, Alabama in 1930. He eventually lived in South Carolina; at least that's where he died in 1960. He could have been anywhere in 1940.

Where was my grandfather's brother, James Dolphin Lanier? I haven't located James in a single census after 1900 when he was just a kid living with his parents. I know he survived long after that. He married and had children. I've corresponded with one of his grandchildren. He died in 1959 in Mobile, Alabama but why can't I find him in 1910, 1920 or 1930? If he managed to evade all of those censuses, will he show up in 1940?

Where was my grandfather's sister, Lillie Vashti Lanier? I haven't found her in a census after 1910. She was living with her 1st husband, Jesse Walls, in Atlanta at that time. I know from her mother's obituary that she was married to someone named Roberts and living in Atlanta in 1926. Some cousins who knew her say she lived in New Orleans at some point. Part of my problem in locating Lillie in 1920 and 1930 is not knowing what her name was at the time. I know of three husbands, there could have been more. But I know she married James Henry Dixon in 1935 and they were together until he died in 1951 so she should be find-able in 1940.

Where was my grandfather's sister, Louisiana Lanier? (There seems to be a theme developing here. Those Lanier siblings aren't easy.) I have no clue who she married or, really, if she married. She was last seen in the 1900 census with her parents but a 2nd cousin who was close to Aunt Lillie remembers Louisiana was "short and plump with white hair" and called Aunt Lou and Aunt Lula. Maybe she lived somewhere fairly close to Aunt Lillie (back to needing to find Aunt Lillie).

See? I really, really need that index. So, instead of spending hours browsing through those 1940 images, devote some of those hours to indexing. I would seriously appreciate it and, honestly, so would everyone else.


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