Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Whole Truth and Nothing But

It was a rude awakening for me to discover that the information on the census is not necessarily true. The birth date often changes. I don't know if this is due to memory or vanity. Some of my female ancestors do seem to get younger on each census.

The same happens to the location of their birth. It can be different on each census but I am inclined to believe earlier census may be more accurate than later ones.

Some of the mistakes are made by the census takers. For example, on the 1880 census Solomon's birthplace is listed as South Carolina and his wife Cherry as Tennessee. However his children's father's (Solomon) birthplace is listed as South Carolina for the older children and Tennessee for the younger children. The census taker didn't catch the discrepancy.

To make matters more confusing, his birthplace was listed as Tennessee on the 1870 census. This is different from the oral history. Did he misunderstand the census taker's question?

It has made me realize that being factual was not as high a priority in other centuries as is it is now. It makes the genealogist job that much harder.

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