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Part 1: Finding Extended Family

Robin Foster
by Robin Foster
10 October 2016

You will probably come across your share of research challenges on the journey to discovering your African American ancestors. As you move back in time, records become scarcer. You can increase the chances of finding more information if you research your ancestor’s descendants to find living family members. You may benefit from what they know. You can use the process outlined in the next few blog posts to find extended family.

Choose an ancestor that you want to learn more about, and trace that person to the most recent census. In this example, we chose Arthol (Arthur) Blake on the 1900 Census living in Christ Church, Charleston County, South Carolina:

Arthur Blake 1900 Census

Household of Arthur Blake, 1900 U.S. Census

“United States Census, 1900,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-266-12068-91004-20?cc=1325221 : accessed 26 February 2016), South Carolina > Charleston > ED 116 Christ Church Township (west part) Mt. Pleasant, Greenwich towns > image 7 of 49; citing NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

Athol is in the household of 29 year old, Sarah Blake, a widow. Victoria (19) and a one year old daughter named Pigeon is also listed. Let’s assume Athol is the only person that you know. It looks like Athol was originally listed as the head of house with Victoria as a wife. As you look at the details closer, it shows Athol and Victoria have been married for the same number of years, and Victoria has one child. Perhaps Pigeon is their child.

Let’s look at the dynamics of Athol’s family in 1910:

Arthur Blake 1910 Census

Household of Arthur Blake, 1910 U.S. Census

“United States Census, 1910,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1951-23810-30001-32?cc=1727033 : accessed 26 February 2016), South Carolina > Charleston > Christ Church > ED 66 > image 65 of 78; citing NARA microfilm publication T624 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

Athol (Arthur) and Victoria are listed as husband and wife (married 13 years) with 4 children: Lottie, Charles, Pigeon, and James. There is some question about Pigeon who is six years old being the same person named Pigeon in 1900 who was five and would be closer to Lottie’s age. According to the 1910 Census, Victoria birthed four children, and four children were living. It is more likely they called Lottie Pigeon, and now are using the same nickname for their 6 year old daughter.

Athol’s (Arthur) sister, Catherine Wilson, and her daughter, Silome Wilson, are also living in the house. By researching the 1910 Census, we now have increased the number of descendants and extended family of the Blakes who may have lived long enough to pass on information.

You can increase the chances of finding more information if you research your ancestor’s descendants to find living family members. You may benefit from what they know. You can use the process outlined in the next few blog posts to find extended family.

Let’s see who is listed on the 1920 Census:

Household of Arthur Blake, 1920 U.S. Census

“United States Census, 1920,” database with images, <i>FamilySearch</i> (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1951-23046-10210-55?cc=1488411 : accessed 26 February 2016), South Carolina &gt; Charleston &gt; Christ Church &gt; ED 77 &gt; image 6 of 76; citing NARA microfilm publication T625 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

Athol’s name has been spelled a couple of different ways. On this census it is Atall. He and Victoria had another child between censuses: Celestine. Sarah (16) may be the child they called Pigeon in 1910, and Lucile (14) should have been listed in 1910, but perhaps she was living in a different household. At any rate, now we have three more Blake descendants that we can research forward.

In the next post, we will list the names of each new person that we find between 1910 and 1940, then we will show you how to determine which of your family members might be available to share information using the Blake descendants as an example. It’s time for you to…

SHARPEN THE SAW:

Search for Arthur (Atall, Arthol, Athol) Blake and his wife on the 1930 and 1940 Censuses. Come back to the Facebook post in our research community, and post the links to the census images (1930 and 1940). Let’s see who will find this family in 1930 and 1940 first!

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