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Documenting Your Ancestor After 1940

Robin Foster
by Robin Foster

It is so important to document your ancestor using the most recent records first because you can learn so much about them enabling you to locate them on earlier records. For most researchers, the latest historical record where they have found their ancestor is the 1940 Census. Perhaps you have yet to discover records that were generated later than 1940. It is highly likely that ancestors born before 1900 appear on these records.

Let’s follow our journey to document Clarence Chick where you can learn about records generated after 1940 and what you can glean about your ancestor using those records.

Clarence Chick was born to Anderson and Elenia Chick in 1896 in Carlisle, Union, South Carolina. Oral history places him in Fayetteville, North Carolina later in his life.  We did not know his date of death. We began by searching for Clarence in Fayetteville, North Carolina on FamilySearch.org.  We discovered an index of Clarence’s memorial on Find A Grave:

According to the memorial on Find A Grave, Clarence passed away on 18 Jan 1966 and is buried in Rockfish Memorial Park in Fayetteville, Cumberland, North Carolina. His headstone reveals that he served in the US Army, World War I. This was a great clue which we used to locate his death record:

Clarence Chick FindAGrave

“Find A Grave Index,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QVG1-D71Q : 13 December 2015), Clarence Adam Chick, 1966; Burial, Fayetteville, Cumberland, North Carolina, United States of America, Rockfish Memorial Park; citing record ID 130826346, Find a Grave, http://www.findagrave.com.

 

From the death certificate, we learned the name of Clarence’s wife, Helen T. Chick along with his exact death date, and address.  He died after 20 days in the VA hospital, and Rodgers Funeral Home in Fayetteville handled his arrangements.

He occupation is listed as school teacher, and we could have taken that as face value, however, a search of school yearbooks on Ancestry.com led us to several Fayetteville State University yearbooks. The caption under his 1962 yearbook states that he had a M. A. from Columbia University:

Clarence Adam Chick Death Certificate

Ancestry.com. North Carolina, Death Certificates, 1909-1976 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007. Original data: North Carolina State Board of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics. North Carolina Death Certificates. Microfilm S.123. Rolls 19-242, 280, 313-682, 1040-1297. North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, North Carolina.

Since we knew Clarence settled in Fayetteville, North Carolina and that he served in the US Army, we search for a military record for him in the U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947 collection on Ancestry.com:

Clarence A. Chick

Ancestry.com. U.S., School Yearbooks, 1880-2012 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Original data: Various school yearbooks from across the United States.

We learned that Fayetteville State was a teacher’s college, and we learned of his son, Clarence A. Chick, Jr. One common conflict happens to be the date of birth (15 March 1902) which is different than the date on all other documents, 15 March 1896. The month and the date are the same.

One great way to trace your ancestor after 1940 is through city directories.  If you do not know an ancestor’s death date, try to trace them in the city directory. This can also help you identify spouses and extended family. Here is the 1957 city directory identifying Clarence living in Fayette, North Carolina with his wife, Helen:

Chick in City Directory

Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Original data: Original sources vary according to directory. The title of the specific directory being viewed is listed at the top of the image viewer page. Check the directory title page image for full title and publication information.

Hopefully, this exercise helps you identify a few records that may help you identify your ancestor after 1940.

Sharpen the Saw

Choose one of the records above to document your ancestor after 1940.  Let us know which record you found on the Facebook post for this article.

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