Thursday, February 21, 2019

Census Enumerators Make Mistakes Sometimes

At the CVGS DNA Interest Group yesterday, one of my colleagues asked for help finding the names of the parents of his grandfather, Nicholas Reiss, who was born in 1915 in Chicago, Illinois.  The earliest record my colleague had is the 1920 United States Census record in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois.

Searching for Nicholas Reiss born in 1915 easily found him in the 1920 census, listed as a "Son" in line 3 on page 2A of ED 204 in Chicago 4th Ward

Note that there is also a "Daughter" Loretta Reiss listed just above him on line 2 on the page.

So we went to the previous page (1B) to see the rest of the family:

The head of household in this family is Vito Rizzo, with wife Elvira, daughter Fannie, and Michael Lopresta, a brother-in-law.  

Rizzo?  Not Reiss?  Huh?  Is this a second marriage for Vito Rizzo?  Is the wife Elvira Rizzo the mother of the two Reiss children?  They are listed as "Daughter" and "Son" and not as step-daughter and step-son, nor as niece and nephew, nor as boarders.

On the first screen above - page 2A - magnifying the names of Nicholas and his sister, you can see what happened:

In the left-hand margin is the note "See 1A" next to line 2.

In the "house number" column, the number is "452" and not "462" next to Loretta Reiss.

In the "number of dwelling house in order of visitation" column, the number is "9" and not '14."

In the number of family in order of visitation" column,  the number is "14" and not "26.

This means that we have to go to page 1A and look at house number 452 for dwelling house 9 and family number 14.

Here is the page 1A of this census enumeration district:

Down at the bottom of the page is the family residing at 452 West 28th Place, house number 9, family number 14:

There is a Reiss family starting line 46:

*  Otto Reiss, head of household, age 39, married.
*  Rose Reiss, wife, age 39, married.
*  William Reiss, son, age 17, single.
*  John Reiss, son, age 12, single.
*  Helen Reiss, daughter, age 9, single.

So it appears that the census enumerator made a mistake as he wrote information on the census forms that we have at the National Archives.  The two children, Loretta and Nicholas Reiss, were near the top of the third sheet (page 2A) of the enumeration district, and they should have been at the top of the second sheet of the enumeration district.

The enumerator wrote a note on the record and added the correct numbers for the correct family on the form in the line when he found he had made the error.

My colleague was ecstatic to find the names of his great-grandparents, and also his four great aunts and uncles.  

Do you have ancestors or relatives that appear in a family when they logically should not appear?  Perhaps it is an error like this one.  You may find the correct family one or more pages before the listing of the indexed person.

The lesson learned here is:  Only be reading a record with a critical eye, and transcribing or extracting the information on the record, can a researcher find correct information and interpret it.  


Copyright (c) 2019, Randall J. Seaver

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