Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Nonexistent Information in Genealogy ---- Missing Children

Missing Children

When I first became interested in genealogy, I asked my older family members about our heritage. Members of my maternal family line provided a good source of information. My father raised as an only child with no living siblings was dead for years prior to my interest in genealogy. My paternal ancestry source consisted of meager reminiscences of my mother and my adolescent memory.  I soon realized that only 2 generations earlier consisted of nuclear families which had many children.  I wanted to go back and beyond slavery. I wanted to know if I had native  American and European ancestry which is a prevalent perception in my family.
In my early attempts at genealogy research, one of the first documents I looked at was the publicly available United States federal census records.  At that time, only the 1920 census was the most recent census available.  My first goal was to identify individual families’ parents and children. I have tried to research not only a my direct lineage but associated family members. I reviewed the census from the known to the unknown or reverse chronological order.  The federal 1870 and earlier census records did not identify family relationships.  The grouping of individuals however suggested probable familiar relationships.  It was in the 1880 federal census, the head of the family was identified and relationships to the head was enumerated. The head of the household was in most cases was identified as a man.

   After multiple times, I recently reviewed the federal census for clues.  I found an attempt to identify the maternal lineage.   The 1890, 1900 and 1910 federal census had 2 questions that was specific to women 1) Mother of how many children? 2) Number of these children living?  I think these are very interesting questions which lead to a genealogy conundrum. The names of children were could be listed with the present enumerated family. A different number of children could be listed with the mother of the family.  

The possibly answers could be:
  •  A mother may have given birth to a child who was not identified with the present family in the census
  • A mother may have had a stillborn or a newborn who died prior to 1880 
  • A mother may have had a child after 1880 and died before 1900
  • An adult child not previously enumerated with the mother in 1900
  • The mother may have died prior to 1880 and a living child may therefore was not associated with a mother
  • The head of household surname may be different from the mother’s surname and child’s surname
  • A child could have been born after 1900 and died prior to 1910 
  • A child associated with a mother and father may became  an orphan 
  • A child may have guardian or adopted 
I am now looking for the all children and determine if this information can be ever be found.

------The Tree Gardener

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