April 08, 2020

Some ancestors appear to have eluded the census

When the 1880 census became available – indexed for the whole country – I was sure all my long-lost forebears would be found. First I bought the CDs, then I searched again when the census arrived online at www.familysearch.org – a tremendous resource.

But when it comes to some of our ancestors, there are no easy answers. Maybe Harrison Moore just didn’t answer the door on enumeration day, or he offered a different name (I tried more than one).

More likely, the person transcribing or indexing the pertinent locale for this massive project, which took the LDS Church many years, couldn’t read the penmanship in this case. Or the census taker just got it wrong. You pick.

So is it worth checking and rechecking a source? Sometimes it is, because we don’t always “see” everything the first time.

After years of using FamilySearch online, I found Harrison Moore under his first name, Galen, rather than the middle name he usually used, in the city of Grand Rapids, Mich. He turned up not in the census, but in one of the vital records the LDS Church had extracted from local records. There he was, remarrying in 1882. (My guess is that the more recent descendants in this line, Gayland Moore Sr. and Jr., were named for Harrison’s son rather than for him.)

I still can’t find Galen Harrison in the 1880 census, anywhere, and I’ve also been looking at online resources identified through Cyndi’s List at www.cyndislist.com. Scroll down to the United States and click on the state you’re interested in. In some cases, you might prefer to go directly to GenWeb at www.usgenweb.org

Click on Michigan, then Michigan Cemeteries, then look up the county – in this case Kent County. Click on Grand Rapids and you’ll find information on dozens of its cemeteries.

It turns out that some 59 cemeteries in Grand Rapids were first copied – “cemetery visited and headstones transcribed” – by the Daughters of the American Revolution between 1925 and 1933.

Many states now have organizations such as the Maine Old Cemetery Association, which does such a great job gathering cemetery transcriptions. MOCA began in 1969, and many of us have used cassette recorders to “take down” transcriptions orally to prepare them for MOCA records, for example, or the Genealogical Records Committee of the DAR.

The DAR has been copying genealogical records of many kinds since long before recorders were available. Maine GRC books can be found at Maine State Library in Augusta, Maine Historical Society in Portland, Bangor Public Library (partial set), and National DAR Library in Washington.

But how do we know what’s available? GRC books are being indexed, with the index information put online at www.dar.org.

Click on Genealogy, then on GRC National Index. Pick a state and a surname, and a first name if you wish. Suppose the name you’re seeking comes up, with reference to a volume of the GRC books, but you wonder whether this person really could be “yours.”

Click on “More Information” on the right, then click on the book title when it comes up again to see the “subjects” included in the particular volume. For example, a name I looked up in Maine turned up in a volume which had as its subjects the towns of North Newport, Houlton, Dedham and Fairfield, plus the Webber family in Maine. That listing might tell me whether I’m on the right track.

Keep in mind that the series and volume numbers on the Web site are those cataloged in Washington, not at other libraries. To locate a specific book in one of the Maine libraries mentioned, note the year it was published.

Not all the GRC books have been indexed yet. Daughters from around the country – including Maine – are doing that work right now.

I did look up Harrison through the GRC Database and came up empty, but I’ll keep looking. I’ve also perused the card catalog of the DAR Library on www.dar.org.

There, I entered “Grand Rapids” and found a number of sources I can check at the library in Washington, as well as references to the GRC cemetery transcriptions I’d accessed through GenWeb.

The National DAR Library does have search and photocopying services if the material you want is available only in Washington.

Phyllis M. Phillips is hoping to get a reunion going for the Phillips-Hammond-Clark-Mansell family, including descendants of John Mansell and Joseph Hammond, from the Brewer, Hermon, Levant and Bangor areas. She will need some committees. You may contact her at (352) 307-5244 or phyllism@pobox.com

Send genealogy queries to Family Ties, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor, ME 04402; or familyti@bangordailynews.net.

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