Sunday, September 4, 2011

Census Searching: Listen to All Family Stories

When I first started searching for family in the U.S. Federal Census, I started with what I knew. That meant talking to family members about what they remembered about their parents, grandparents, and those ancestors' siblings. When there are several people with the same name in a census year, or when people go by different names, as happened with Jewish immigrants who had a Hebrew given name and an Americanized name, sometimes the best way to find a family is not by searching for the name of the head of household, but by searching for a family member.

From family stories, I have some information about my husband's grandmother's grandfather, the father of Golda Segal Levitt (also known as Goldie or Gussie). I was told that he had four children with his first wife (name unknown): Golda, Eddie, Hannah, and Rachel; they all immigrated to America from Russia around 1890. He married again and had three children, two boys and a girl. Based on what I found on her tombstone and what my mother-in-law could tell me, I started looking for Simcha Segal in Cape May County, New Jersey. I found him in the 1895 New Jersey state census in Dennis Township, Cape May County. database online. New Jersey State Census, 1895,
page 43, Family 336, Record for Simka Segal
Members of this household include:
Simka Segal, "male all other nationalities," age between 20 and 60
Rebecca Segal, "female all other nationalities," age between 20 and 60
Isaac Segal, "male all other nationalities," age between 20 and 60
Golda Segal, "female all other nationalities," age between 20 and 60
Lillie Segal, "female all other nationalities," age 5 years and younger
Barnet Napadensky, "male all other nationalities," age between 20 and 60
Hannah Napadensky, "female all other nationalities," age between 20 and 60
Ollie Napadensky, "native born female," age 5 years and younger

Now, I question some of this information, but it gives me a start. Hannah Segal was sister to Golda Segal and she married Barnet Napadensky (later Nappen), so that confirms for me that this is the right family unit. After finding this state census record, I couldn't find any more record of a Simka/Simcha Segal/Siegel in southern New Jersey in the U.S. Federal Census records, so I set this family aside for the time being.

Yesterday, I received an email from a second cousin once removed of my husband. He is descended from the second wife of Simcha Segal. He was able to give me the names of the three children that Simcha fathered with his second wife: Lena, Lewis/Louis, and Israel/Edward. This gave me more names to search in the U.S. Federal Censuses.

I searched for Lewis Segal with an approximate age of 5 (i.e. born in 1905 +/- 5 years) in the 1910 census and found the family with the head of household as Samuel Segal.

1910 U.S. Federal Census, Holly Beach, Cape May County, New Jersey; Roll: T624_870;
Page: 5B; Enumeration District: 90; Record for Samuel Segal.
The federal census tells me so much more - Rebecca is the name of his wife (family, both sides, remembered her name as Blume), and there are the children: Lena (age 19, born in Russia), Louis (age 10, born in New Jersey), and Israel (age 7, born in New Jersey). Also listed is a Benjiman Levin, a brother-in-law. Perhaps Rebecca's maiden name is Levin? There is a lot more digging to do.

There are several places online to find U.S. Federal Census images, some indexed and some not. I've found that names can be indexed differently at different sites, so it's always worth it to try searching for that elusive ancestor at multiple websites, if possible. has just announced that it is providing census images at

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