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Finding Diamonds Among the US Census

Nearly every person researching an ancestor can find diamonds if they look closely at the US Census. You can find your ancestor's occupation, immigration, property owned, and change in number of family members from one decade to another. You can also tell when a family member may have died and whether they remarried and had two separate families in the same household. I have used the census for years when assisting patrons with finding these diamonds. I was reading Finding Your Roots by Jeane Eddy Westin where she explained how the census gives this information on page 106.


Even though this book was published in 1977, I think giving examples of the diamonds you can find in the census will greatly assist those who have just started research. Have you noticed your ancestor's occupation given on the census?

Below is Rev. LaFayette Franklin Vance with his wife Nunia in the 1900 Census with their children. The enumerator put down his shortened name, Frank. The two reasons I was able to determine this was my great grandfather was 1. I recognized the children, and 2. The family was living in a different place, but his occupation was a minister.

His neighbor was Rev. John Douglas and he was also a minister. This is the first time noticing him next door. They were living in Union County, SC, so I should try to find out who Rev. John Douglas was and if there are any records surviving with Rev. Vance in Union County. The newspaper who be a good place to start.

"United States Census, 1900," database with images,FamilySearch( : 5 August 2014), South Carolina > Union > ED 68 Fish Dam Township Carlisle village > image 10 of 45; citing NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).


Was you ancestor born in a different country? John and Elizabeth Crose were immigrants from England with twelve children who were born in Wisconsin. After, becoming aware that they immigrated from England wanted to show where you could look for immigration records: Wisconsin Emigration and Immigration

Also, if they were naturalized and made citizens after they immigrated, then perhaps you would find documents relating to their specific Wisconsin Naturalization and Citizenship.

"United States Census, 1880," database with images,FamilySearch( : 24 December 2015), Wisconsin > Iowa > Linden > ED 153 > image 18 of 47; citing NARA microfilm publication T9, (National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C., n.d.)

Property Owned

I looked back at the 1940 Census were my grandparents were living in downtown Columbia, South Carolina. I looked at the third row were there is a "R" for renting and an "O" for owning. There is an "O". That means he owned that house on 1501 Manning Ave.

That means there should be a property record. I should be able to track who he purchased the property from. They moved to Gadsden a few years later, so I should find who purchased that property.

I thought I had retrieved all the property records for Emory W. Vance, but just looking back to pull this record brings to mind the fact I have not looked at him owning property in 1940 or before that date.

Year:1940;Census Place:Columbia, Richland, South Carolina;Roll:m-t0627-03833;Page:5A;Enumeration District:40-40

Change in Number of Family Members, and Family Member Remarried and Has Separate Family Members

My great grandfather, Rev. Lafayette Franklin Vance was married to my great aunt, Nunia Johnson Vance. They are the parents to the children below:

Year:1900;Census Place:Fishdam, Union, South Carolina;Page:5;Enumeration District:0068;FHL microfilm:1241544

Rev. LaFayette F. Vance, remarried after he lost his first wife, my great aunt, Nunia Johnson Vance. He married her sister, my great grandmother, Lula Johnson Vance. The three children, Emory (Emioly on census), Ulysses (Urices on census), and Virginia (Virgie on census) belonged to Lula.

The other children's mother was Nunia's who was deceased. You can see them on the 1910 Census below:

Year:1910;Census Place:Clinton, Laurens, South Carolina;Roll:T624_1464;Page:15A;Enumeration District:0049;FHL microfilm:1375477

This is the family living on the 1920 Census. The two oldest children belonged to Rev. Vance and Nunia Johnson Vance. The last three belong to Rev, Vance and Lula Johnson Vance.

Year:1920;Census Place:Clinton, Laurens, South Carolina;Roll:T625_1699;Page:18B;Enumeration District:56

My great grandfather, Rev. LaFayette F. Vance, lost his second wife, Lula Johnson Vance. He married again for the third time. Nunia had all the children born before Emory. Lula had the last three children Emory, Ulysses, and Virginia. Martha Gage Vance was the last wife he had. Even though no child was ever treated differently by either wife, it is important to keep the mother straight when looking at the different households each census year.

Year:1930;Census Place:Columbia, Richland, South Carolina;Page:18B;Enumeration District:0028;FHL microfilm:2341944

Family Member May Have Died

In 1900, Anderson Chick was living with his wife, Elena Coleman Chick, and their children. Ten year later the household looked very different.

Year:1900;Census Place:Goshen Hill, Union, South Carolina;Page:2;Enumeration District:0069;FHL microfilm:1241544

Here is the family in 1910. Anderson was not there. It said that Elena was a widow, so Anderson had died. I did not think I would be able to find out any more on Anderson because he died before death certificates were originated.

Year:1910;Census Place:Maybinton, Newberry, South Carolina;Roll:T624_1462;Page:5B;Enumeration District:0106;FHL microfilm:1375475

I was fortunate to travel from Illinois to Maybinton, SC where a cousin took me to Seekwell Baptist Church where Anderson and Elenia Coleman Chick are buried. Anderson died in 1903. It was great to be able to see the church and to physically see my great, great grandparents grave after finding sources such as the census online.


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