Confluence Chronicles – Where City & County Meet 5-16-11 |

Confluence Chronicles – Where City & County Meet 5-16-11

While researching and fact checking an article written by my great-grandmother I came to have a deeper respect for those who work with genealogy. They have to recognize when names are spelled differently, such as Van Nice and Van Nuys, that it is the same family. In our lineage the name Tilston became Tilottson before it was the currently used spelling of Tillotson. I haven’t had to do this tracing family members have done it and passed on the records. When I read through them I can’t help but wonder how the writers of our family tree could discern the credibility of this lineage. I imagine cross checking is the byword of such studies, yet could you ever be sure of your conclusions?

Genealogists quickly learn that census records are not infallible, sometimes due to mistakes by the enumerator and other times because of the difficulty of reading the enumerator’s handwriting. Naturally everything was handwritten, the original listings and the copies required census offices and some years for counties also.

I found a great aunt who was listed as 8-years-old in the 1880 census, though we know she wasn’t born until 1882. Considering that the 1880 census started on June 1, 1880 and just 30 days was allowed for completion in rural areas and two weeks for communities with over 10,000 people, it’s no wonder that mistakes happened. For the most part the census lists so much that is correct and certainly gives leads – and brings up questions.

In our family we know that my great-grandparents emigrated here from Story County, Iowa, in 1882. The confusion comes because the 1880 census lists them in a county in Nebraska, not Iowa. The entry threw me off but I’ve been told people were counted where they were on the day that household was counted. I hope the genealogists out there will let me know if they concur. From that tidbit, it is apparent that the great-grandparents were visiting in Nebraska as they were recorded in that Nebraska county, not in Iowa.

It is not only surnames that are confusing. We have duplicate names throughout the family tree, and it is likely you do too. This week I received an email from a distant cousin regarding genealogy. I happen to have the paperwork that was passed down to me, yet I am not the family genealogist. It is when these sort of questions come up that the duplicate names bewilder me.

My great-grandfather was Ira. One of his son’s was Ira Claude and he was known as Claude. This week I learned he was going by the name Thomas Claude at the time of his death. The next generation had a Claude also. To give the correct information out, one needs to know which generation is being examined. I am still not sure about which Claude my cousin was inquiring and I’ll need more information before I can tell.


Peggy Sanders writes from the ranch in southwestern South Dakota and would appreciate comments, particularly from genealogists. Her internet latchstring is out at

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