Friday, June 1, 2007

Finding JRH - into the census records

I am helping my CVGS colleague, Joan, find records about her John Robinson Hall (JRH). The "what we knew" post is here, and the "first steps in our search" post is here.

The next path we chose to follow is to try to find his parents and any siblings in the census records. If we can identify year ranges for when the parents disappear from the census records, we might be able to find a death record or an obituary. If we can identify siblings, then we may be able to trace their families and find living descendants, or find obituaries for them that might tell us if JRH is alive at the time of the sibling's death.

We started with the 1900 census, since JRH was born in March 1886. The marriage record says his parents were John S. Hall (born in Ireland) and Mary Ann McLaughlin (born in PA). We decided to search in Philadelphia County PA first because John Hall is such a common name.

By inputting Given name = John, Last name = Hall, mother's name = Mary, and Birth Year = 1885 +/- 1 year, we found this family (NARA film T623, Roll 1464, ED 505, pg 14A) in Philadelphia Ward 22:

* William Robinson - head, age 37, born May 1862, married 14 years, born Ireland, parents born Ire/Ire.
* Mary Robinson - wife, age 35, born Jul 1864, married 14 years, 9 children born, 6 living, born PA, parents born Ireland/Ireland
* Edward Hall - son, age 16, born Feb 1884, single, born PA, parents born Ireland/PA
* John Hall - son, age 15, born Mar 1885, single, born PA, parents born Ireland/PA
* William Robinson - son, age 11, born Feb 1889, born PA, parents born Ireland/PA
* Martha Robinson - daughter, age 10, born May 1890, etc.
* Florence Robinson - daughter, age 4, born Oct 1895, etc.
* Warren Robinson - son, age 3, born Mar 1897, etc.

The birth year for John Hall is a year off, but everything else is correct, and the thing that makes it almost a 100% cinch is the surname Robinson. If Mary Hall married William Robinson in 1886, then John Hall was raised by William Robinson for almost his entire life - and may have taken his surname as his middle name - John Robinson Hall.

We searched the 1910 census records for John Robinson Hall (and variations including J., R., Hull, Hale, etc) born in PA in 1885 +/- 2 years with no success - in Pennsylvania, California and the entire USA. He may be there, but there are a lot of John Hall's and the only discriminators we have are his age, his birth state and his parents birth places.

The 1910 census for Philadelphia finds the William Robinson family in Ward 22 again (NARA T624, Roll 1396, ED 458, page 5A) - with no Hall's and all the Robinsons 10 years older, and with another daughter, Edith, age 3. Mary Robinson has had 10 children, with 7 living, so that completes the family. She and William have been married for 23 years, and it is Mary's 2nd marriage. We know the names of all 7 children - two Hall sons and 5 Robinson children.

We searched the 1920 census records for John Robinson Hall (and variations including J., R., Hull, Hale, etc) born in PA in 1885 +/- 2 years with no success - in Pennsylvania, California and the entire USA.

The 1920 census for Philadelphia finds William Robinson in Ward 22, but he is a widower (NARA T625, Roll 1624, ED 620, page 6B) living with his Robinson children. Mary may have died between 1910 and 1920.

We looked for William Robinson in the 1930 US census records in Philadelphia, but there were none that matched the age and birthplace with any of the known children. It is possible that William Robinson died between 1920 and 1930.

We have made significant progress in the census records today, even though we can't find John Robinson Hall after 1900 in the census. Because we found his family in the 1900 census, there are some siblings to follow up on in the 1930 census and later records.

The next step in this search is to try to find some of the siblings in the 1930 census records.

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