Sunday, August 23, 2009

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Great-Greats in the Census

Randy Seaver’s recent SNGFs over at Genea-Musings have had an eerie relevance to my genealogy research of late, particularly the listing of the 16 great-great grandparents, the ultimate genealogy goals, and now the census search for great-great grandparents.

Here are the guidelines for the Scavenger Hunt:

1) Is there someone on your list of 16-great-great-grandparents that you don't have a census record for, and for which one should be available? If you have all of your great-great-grands (or they are not on the census records), what about your great-grands, your grands, or your parents? What about siblings of your great-grands? What about your spouse's family lines? Go find at least one!

2) Tell us about it in your blog, comments to this post, or comments in Facebook. While you're at it, give us a source citation for your census finding too.

After spending my first year in genealogy, during which I just tried to establish what was “out there” on my family lines (though I did make a few new discoveries that I did not see elsewhere), I set out the method that I would use for genealogy research. It is recommended that a researcher stick with a particular family and not hop around from line to line, but I have adopted a generational approach: my parents and siblings, my grandparents and all their children and descendants, my great-grandparents with children and descendants, and so forth. I am now at the great-great grandparent level and am still more or less pursuing an “all known descendants approach”; for the ggg-grandparent level and beyond, I will only use that approach very selectively, although I will still research the siblings of my ancestors and their immediate families (useful for the “cluster” approach). I like the generational approach, because while I do end up “hopping” from family to family, the types of documents, resources, and information available tend to be similar due to the similar time frames.

I am also viewing my research at this point as the “first round” – I am doing the basics and a little more to get the main outlines of these families plus as many details as I can through online resources and resources for which I can send out (state archive and NARA materials, obituaries, books through library loan or at the Library of Congress, microfilm through the Family History Center, etc.). It’s not that I don’t plan on doing any onsite research, it’s just that onsite research probably has to wait until my daughters are both in college and my husband and I have the time and means to take these trips. By that time I hope to be equipped with as much information as I can obtain by other means so that I can devote all my “field” time to finding what I would not be able to find otherwise.

One of the first things I do for each new family in this “first round” of research is to look them up in the census, so I already have that information on most of my great-great-grandparents. I am now on my next-to-last set of great-great-grandparents, Joseph Madison Carroll Norman and Rebecca Monk (not counting the Smiths, because I do not know who they are). The only remaining family is that of Hiram Brinlee Sr. and Betsy Ann McKinney, so I will look them up in the census today to see what I can find. In addition, after I do that, I will take stock of which censuses are missing for my various great-great-grandparents and great-grandparents, give it another try, and list the results. I will also list the gaps that remain, and if any kind soul out there wants to take a stab at those, I will crown you King or Queen of Census Research.

Hiram Carroll Brinlee Sr. and Elizabeth Ann “Betsy” McKinney in the US Federal Census

1850 US Federal Census
, Collin County, Texas, pp. 4-5 of 44, 13 Nov 1850

Line 39 28 28

Hiram Brindlee 45 M Farmer $1836 Tennessee
E. A. Brindlee 37 F KY Over 20 cannot read or write
M. L. Brindlee 16 F TX Attended school
R. M. Brindlee 14 M TX Attended school
Geo. R. Brindlee 12 M TX Attended school
Sarah E. Brindlee 10 F TX Attended school
H.C. Brindlee 8 M TX Attended school
Davis F. Brindlee 6 M TX

[Source: 1850 United States Federal Census, Texas, Collin County, Hiram Brindlee family, dwelling number 28, family number 28, viewed 23 August 2009.]

1860 US Federal Census, Precinct No. 2 – Highland P.O., Collin County, Texas, 26 July 1860, p. 155

Line 9 972 1023

Hiram Brinley 52 M Farmer $10,000 $8000 KY
Betsy A. Brinley 45 F KY
George R. Brinley 20 M Farmer TX Attended school
Sarah B. Brinley 18 F TX Attended school
Hiram C. 16 M TX Attended school
David C. 12 M TX Attended school
William H. 10 M TX

[Source: 1860 United States Federal Census, Texas, Collin County, Precinct No. 2 – Highland P.O., p. 155, Hiram Brinley family, dwelling number 972, family number 1023, NARA roll M653_1291, page 46, image 97, online database, viewed 23 August 2009.]

1870 US Federal Census, Precinct No. 3 – Highland P.O., Collin County, Texas, p. 2, 25 July 1870

Line 2 6 6

Brinlee, Hiram 63 M W Farmer $4500 $1500 KY Male US citizen over 21
Brinlee, Ann 57 F W Keeping house KY Cannot write

[Source: 1870 United States Federal Census, Texas, Collin County, Precinct No. 3 – Highland P.O., p. 2, 25 July 1870, NARA Roll M593_1579, page 417, image 227, online database, viewed 23 August 2009.]

1880 US Federal Census, Justice Precinct No. 3, Collin County, Texas, p. 7, 3 June 1880

Line 42 44 53

Brinlee, S. H. W M 72 Married Farmer KY VA VA
Brinlee, Betsy A. W F 67 Wife Married Keeping house KY VA VA

[Source: 1880 United States Federal Census, Texas, Collin County Justice Precinct 3, p. 7, 3 June 1880, NARA Roll T9_1296, online database, viewed 23 August 2009.]

Great-grandparents and great-great grandparents still missing in action on some censuses (did not have time today to “give it another try,” but will attempt to do so this week and report the results):

Great-grandmother Susan Elizabeth Smith (Bonner Brinlee): all censuses from 1870 through 1900 – she should have appeared with husband Hiram C. Brinlee, Jr. on the 1900 census in Britton Township, Oklahoma County, Oklahoma Territory; I have not been able to find her listed separately and believe that Hiram may have just not provided any information other than whoever was outside working at the time (himself, his youngest son by his first wife, and a hired hand). I have not found her before 1900 because I do not know who her parents were.

Great-grandparents William Henry “Jack” Norman and Sara Jane Sisson (Norman) – 1910 and 1920 censuses; on the 1900 census they were in Grayson County, Texas and on the 1930 census they were in Fannin County, Texas.

Great-grandmother Angeline Elizabeth Matlock (Floyd) on the 1870 census – she should be shown with her husband Charles Augustus Floyd because they married in 1867; however, Charles is listed as living in the household of Angeline’s sister Martha and Martha’s husband Emory Gracy. Angeline is not listed in her parents’ household for that census.

And Randy, an extra big thanks to you – you have inspired me to formulate and put down in writing an outline of my research strategy for the coming years!


  1. I wish you the best of luck in your census searches for your missing greats! I found this research tool you might like for differences in surnames to help you in your wildcard search:

    Put in your name (like "NORMAN") and see what happens. Good luck!

  2. Thanks, Patti - That's a cool tool; I bookmarked it. I don't think I'll be able to find Lizzie or Angeline, but I still have hopes for the Normans; they just have to be on at least one of those two censuses.