Friday, March 30, 2012

1940 US Census - Who I am looking for ...

Photo courtesy the NARA website.
I have been busy the last week getting ready for the release of the 1940 US Census.  Here is the list of direct ancestors that I plan to look for starting April 2, 2012.

Lucky for me, the majority of my family was living in Harbor Beach, Huron, Michigan ... a small city with a population of just under 2200 within the city limits in 1940.

My maternal grandparents, Fred Aaron Arntz and Elsie Marie (Roberts) Arntz were married with one child and I believe living on Bartlett Street in Harbor Beach.  Living nearby Fred and Elsie were Fred's parents, William Edward Arntz (1882-1943) and Betsy Lurene (French) Arntz (1882-1948), as well as Elsie's parents Alfred C Roberts (1881-1946) and Mabel Ellen (Ogle) Roberts (1884-1958).

My paternal grandparents, Emerson Harley Wood and Ruth M (Volz) Wood were married with one child and I believe living on First or Second Avenue in Harbor Beach.  Living nearby Emerson and Ruth were Em's parents Robert Harold Wood (1893-1961) and Lottie Belle (Minard) Wood (1893-1977). 

Ruth's family came from the Village of Minden, in Sanilac County, Michigan ... which was an even smaller community.  Ruth's parents were William Charles Volz (1881-1966) and Jennie Violet (Clark) Volz (1886-1948).  The Volz family still runs a dairy farm just outside of Minden, and at one time I believe the owned the IGA grocery store in town.

But I think the most fun relatives to search for will be my two oldest living family members.  I had two great great grandmothers still living on April 1, 1940, Elizabeth (Binder) Volz who was born in 1853 and Caroline Elizabeth (Sterling) Wood who was born in 1868.

And of course I can't forget to look for my "bonus" (aka step) grandfather, B. Blake Soule (1915-1995).  Blake and Elsie were married in 1973, and I was fortunate to spend time at their home in Ubly during several summer vacation trips to Michigan when I was young.  In 1940 Blake was married to Olive Pearl Stoken and living somewhere in either Sanilac or Huron county.  I don't believe I ever met her or her children but I know they had a couple children, so this part of their story will be new to me.  :) B. Blake Soule was a retired Huron County Magistrate and I remember he liked to listen to the police scanner.  I thought that was really cool. :)

If you are interested in finding out how to access the 1940 US Census for your family, be sure to visit Stephen Morse's One Step website at  Don't let the word "quiz" confuse you, the website functions more like a tutorial helping you narrow down which "tool" to use to find the enumeration district your family is likely to be found in.

If you are researching Harbor Beach, Huron, Michigan you will want to start from this One Step page ...

If you are researching in the Village of Minden City, Sanilac, Michigan you can start from this One Step page ...

I can't believe we are down to three days. :)  I'm ready, are you???

Love & Aloha,
~Cuzn Amy

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Jane Thrower French

This weeks family history project is to find out as much as I can about Jane Thrower, the second wife of my great great grandfather Aaron French.

What I currently know:

Jane Thrower was born in August of 1870 in Canada.  She married Aaron French in 1896, and they had several children.  My notes indicate they had three children, but my current family group sheet lists five sons (Charles E, Thomas J, Edward, Aaron Dewey, and Lawrence).  They lived in Sanilac county, Michigan.  I don't know when she died or where she is buried. Additionally, I think I may have some photographs of her in my French family file that I need to go through.

My research goals are as follows:

1. Find out were in Canada Jane Thrower was born. 
2. Find out who Jane Thrower's parents were.
3. Find out when in 1896 that Jane Thrower and Aaron French were married.
4. Find out when and where Jane Thrower French died.
5. Find out where Jane Thrower French is buried.
6. Locate any photographs of Jane Thrower French that I can.

Some resources I will check out:

1. - marriage records for Michigan, and any census records.
2. - public family trees and census records for 1880 and 1900 to start with.
3. - any death certificates for Thrower or French in Sanilac County.
4. My personal French family file in my Footsteps in Time binder.
5. - for any French family buried in Sanilac County, Michigan.

Wish me luck.

Love and Aloha,
~Cuzn Amy

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Tuesday's Tip - Helpful Research Websites for Northern New York Counties

While helping a friend of mine do some research on her family lines from Franklin County, New York, I came across a wonderful FREE resource of historical newspapers.  We found a motherlode of information, and I thought I better share this website with anyone else who might be doing research in the northern counties of New York  (specifically Essex, Clinton, Franklin, St. Lawrence, Lewis, Jefferson and Oswego counties).

The Northern New York Historical Newspapers can be found at  The website contains more than 2,284,000 pages from fifty-two newspapers from the region.  They were scanned, processed by an optical character recognition program (OCR) and then converted to PDF files.  The PDF files were then indexed and uploaded to the website, so you can search through the images.

Once you find an image, you can then quickly search inside the image by right clicking on the image and selecting FIND or by using the search shortcut feature Ctrl+F.

In addition to this website which contain only newspaper images, there are additional historical photos and other materials from various archives and special collections for several of these counties at the New York Heritage website. 

Here's hoping you find that missing piece in your research soon. 

Love and Aloha,
Cuzn Amy

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Murray City, Utah Prepares For The 1940 US Census

The Census is coming!! The Census is coming!! Only 26 days left before the 1940 US Census images are released to the public for viewing.  Are you ready??

Photo:  Process 1940, US Census Bureau

I don’t know much about the 1940s except what I learned in school, which was mostly centered on the effects of the Great Depression and World War II.  Neither of my parents was born before the 1940s census, but their parents were.  Emerson and Ruth (Volz) Wood and Fred and Elsie (Roberts) Arntz were newly married and raising their young families in Harbor Beach, Michigan in the 1940s.  Neither of my grandfathers served in World War II, and we never really talked about the effects of the Great Depression on them personally in much detail.  Since they have all passed away, I am hoping that the 1940 US Census will give me a better snapshot of their earlier lives that I no longer can ask them about.
I have been enumerated in five censuses myself.  Though I don’t remember much about them, I do know there was a lot of hoopla surrounding each event, to get everyone educated and excited to participate in the process.  So I decided to do some research on my own in my local newspapers, to see how they presented the 1940s census to the population.  I wish Michigan newspapers were available online, but so far I've had very little luck finding a good FREE resource, so for this article I've used the GREAT collection of Utah newspapers gathered by the University of Utah (Go Utes!!)
The University of Utah has an amazing collection of digitized newspapers, holding over 1,000,000 pages of historic Utah newspapers.  The Utah Digital Newspapers (UDN) collection can be found at There are 12 newspapers at the Utah Digital Newspapers Collection that cover the 1940s: Park Record, Vernal Express, Davis County Clipper, Manti Messenger, Times Independent, Eureka Reporter, Morgan County News, Garfield County News, San Juan Record, Piute County News, Murray Eagle, and the Kane County Standard.  There are also eight newspapers that carry editions from various dates in the 1940s, such as: Rich County News, Richfield Reaper, Roosevelt Standard, Millard County Chronicle, Parowan Times, Iron County Record, Topaz Times and the Tooele County Chronicle.
My husband's family have been long time residents of Murray City, Utah.  The Murray Eagle images covers the time period 1927 to 1960.  If you have ancestors who were living in Murray City during this time period, this is a wonderful FREE resource of local history. 
In an effort to get the local populace ready for the 1940s census enumerators, the Murray Eagle ran several articles about various aspects of the census including a historical piece, editorial commentary about various questions, and instructions on how to prepare in advance for the farm schedules. 
Photo: 1940 US Census Part A, US Census Bureau
The first article that I found was written by Elmo Scott Watson and released by the Western Newspaper Union entitled “Uncle Sam Prepares to Count His Children – and How His Family Has Grown Since First Census in 1790!” on December 21, 1939.
The article was well written with a history of how the census came to be, the population predictions of President John Adams and President John Tyler, and a fear among the deeply religious early settlers that the 1790 census would bring about a destruction, similar to the time in the Bible when David numbered Israel and the Lord sent pestilence to smote them.
“Officials of the census bureau regard the 1940 US Census as probably the most important and far reaching since that first one 150 years ago. For this one will be much more than a mere counting of noses.”   In addition to the usual questions of population, industry, and farming and manufacturing production … the census will also focus on the “new social and economic situations which have arisen in the last few years, bringing with them problems that are yet unsolved”.   The 1940 US Census included questions about unemployment and migration from one state to another.  And the health questions were intended to help the government anticipate how many men would be incapacitated for military service.
On February 1, 1940 there was an article on Page 2 entitled “Range of Family” explaining how “family” and “dwelling” would be defined in the 1940 US Census. 
On March 14, 1940 there was an article in the Farm News on Page 7 entitled “U.S. Bureau of Census Requests Cooperation in 1940 Inquiry” informing farmers that they can help increase the speed and accuracy of the Census by filling out a sample farm census schedule created by the US Department of Commerce.
On March 21, 1940 there was an Editorial about two questions objected to by many.  Question 33 asks about income over $50 from sources other than wages or salary.  Question 48 asks if a person has been married more than once.    
By August 1, 1940 the Murray Eagle headlines declared “Census Shows 468 Population Gain. Murray Falls Short of Fifth Largest City By Three Babies  With 5,640 Tally”. Would be interesting to see if we could find out who the next three babies born after April 1st in Murray were? ;o)  Bet their mother's would have been glad to deliver early, especially if they were at that horrible last month waiting stage.

If you are looking for some additional help to get you prepared to research the 1940 Census, be sure to stop by the Legacy Family Tree website.  They hosted a free webinar today with over 1,000 attendees called “Navigating the 1940 US Census”.  Luckily the webinar was recorded, and you can access the recording for free ... but only until March 19, 2012.  So don't procrastinate.
If you are fortunate enough to have someone in your life who remembers the 1940s, be sure to interview them.  The Unpuzzling Your Past Workbook by Emily Anne Croom has some wonderful interview questions related to the 1940s and WWII that can help you get started.  You should be able to find her workbook at most public libraries, or purchase your own copy through Amazon

And don't forget, there is still time to register to help index the 1940 US Census.  Just go to the 1940 US Census Community Project and download the indexing software (found under Downloads in the Quick Links section).  
Let the countdown continue ... :)
Love and Aloha,
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...