Census Records: Search Example

This example involves my third great-grandparents George Cummins and Sarah Ann Hall. They married in 1838. 1850 was the first census available that listed the names of both George and Sarah along with the six children they had at the time. Here is the 1850 census records for Meigs County, Ohio.

1850 census

I looked and looked, but could not find this family in the 1860 census. So, I asked another researcher more familiar with this part of the country to help me. She found the family in Jackson County, Virginia (now West Virginia) across the Ohio River from Meigs County, Ohio. The head of household is now "S. A. Cummons." This is Sarah Ann Cummins. The oldest child is "Del Cummons." This is Delilah Cummins, who happens to be my second great-grandmother. Delilah is identified by the arrow in both censuses. Note the challenging handwriting in the 1860 census.

1860 census

Apparently, something happened to George between 1850 and 1860. This allowed me to search for a death record for George in Jackson County since I could specify that he died between 1850 and 1860. My guess was correct. He died in 1858. Also, it appears that Sarah Ann was pregnant at the time and that she named that daughter Georgia after her late husband.

1850 census

This search example is from my genealogical research in the 1990s. The search capabilities have improved since then. To test the improvemen, I recently tried searching for the 1860 census record for Sarah Ann Cummins and family without specifying Virginia (or West Virginia) on Ancestry.com. The 1860 census record shown above was the ninth suggestion. I also tried a similar search on FamilySearch.org and it listed the 1860 census record shown above as first in the search results. In both case, I searched for Sarah instead of her husband George. Other than that, today's online searching is so much easier than it was in the 1990s.

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If you are not sure that searching for a census record is the next best option for your research, consider using the advice feature of this site. This will help you pick your next best steps in your research. Go to Genealogy Search Advice.