Thursday, June 21, 2007

Finding Townships and EDs on Ancestry Census Images

I was curious about the number of people enumerated in San Diego County over a period of time, and the names of the townships therein. The city and county have grown in population since the American takeover before 1850. The county and township boundaries have also changed a bit over time - San Diego County initially included what are now Imperial, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

As I tried to find totals for townships, I found that the township names changed. I decided to find out what township names to use in the search box on

By inputting State = California and County = San Diego with no names, I got the total number of people enumerated in the county. By clicking on one of those persons, and then going to the census image, there is a line at the top of the Ancestry web page that says (for 1880):

"You are here: Search > Census > U.S. Census > 1880 United States Federal Census > California > San Diego > San Diego > District 68"

By clicking on the first "San Diego," you can then see a list of townships in the county. By clicking on a township, you can then see what area it covers, and the districts included in the enumeration. You can select a district to search page-by-page if you care to. However, you can't get an enumeration total for the township or the district doing this.

To get enumeration totals for a township, you need to go back to the first search box (with the state and county) and put in the township name.

Here's what I got for San Diego County, San Diego township, National Township, Otay Township and Chula Vista Township (the last 3 are all south of the city of San Diego):

1880 Census
  • SD County = 8,672
  • SD Township = 2,855
  • National township = 139
1900 Census
  • SD County = 36,611
  • SD township = 17,658
  • National township = 2,020
  • Otay township = 736
1910 Census
  • SD County = 61,782
  • SD township = 39,592
  • National township = 2,998
  • Otay township = 1,206

1920 Census

  • SD County = 112,592
  • SD township = 88,604
  • National township = 3,116
  • Otay township = 410
  • San Ysidro township = 54
  • Chula Vista township = 1,720
  • Bonita township = 415

1930 Census

  • SD County = 209.514
  • SD township = 162,556
  • National township = 7,301
  • Chula Vista township = 3,869
  • (no Bonita, Otay or San Ysidro townships listed)
For reference purposes, the approximate 2007 population of these entities are:
  • San Diego County = 3 million
  • San Diego City = 1.3 million
  • National City = 56,000
  • Chula Vista = 240,000
As you can see, in the 50 years between 1880 and 1930, the County population increased 24 times over. Where there once were rolling hills, plateaus, canyons and valleys cut by streams and occasional flowing rivers, there are now houses all over the terrain. The hills, canyons and plateaus are still there, but have been shaped by city planners. The streams have been dammed and are mere trickles, unless it rains.

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