Back on Sunday, I mentioned that I had found my 3rd Great Grandfather in the 1860 U.S. Census under a wild variation on his last name and even first name that I never would have thought to look for. Well let me tell you…finding him under that name taught me a very valuable lesson and is what prompts today’s “tip” – use the whole family when searching for someone!
Let me explain what happened…
When I had started my genealogy research several years back, I did some basic searching on the major surnames within the family that I knew at the time, just looking for census records to give me basic starting points. Doing that, I was able to track most families back to about 1850 or at a minimum to 1860. The one exception was the Hablawetz family (my grandmother’s family on my father’s side). Her grandfather was a first generation immigrant from Austria or Germany, and while I had been able to find his obituary which gave me great clues about when he came to the country (1859) and where he first settled before coming to Indiana, I could not for the life of me find any trace of him outside of Indiana! After 1870, Anton Hablawetz and family just seemed to vanish.
Now, you can imagine, with a surname like Hablawetz there have been an amazing number of variations on the spelling….Habliwetz, Hoblewetz, Hablewetz, Hoblewitz, and the list goes on. But no matter what “logical” variation I used, I simply could not find the family by doing simple searches. This weekend, I decided to revisit that “mystery” that I had abandoned several years back.
This weekend, after doing another quick basic search, I decided to not look for Anton and family, but rather look for his son, William. William was supposedly born in Ohio in the late 1800’s, so I thought I might have a better chance of finding clues. My trail twisted, but boy, did it ever pay off!
What I found was a marriage record for William that indicated his birthplace was Plymouth, Ohio in 1869. So, I did direct searches on the town of Plymouth, Ohio with absolutely NO results. Then I pulled up that obituary for Anton to see where it indicated he had lived in Ohio. The obit said he had lived in Richland County, Ohio. Hmmm…Plymouth is not in Richland (a county or two over, but definitely not the same county). So I did a bit of research on Richland County and what I found was that there is a Plymouth township in Richland County.
Okay…time for a census and records search of the township….nope. A big fat zero. By this time, my evidence was not “substantial” but definitely enough to convince me that I was in the right place. What I decided to do was a manual search of all of Plymouth Township’s 1860 census records. After going through 18 pages line by line, on page 19, I ran across Andrew Hobawentz and family. An odd variation, and definitely not the right first name, but it warranted looking at it more. What I found was that every member of Andrew’s family matched exactly the information that I had so far for Anton’s family…. jackpot!!!
Now….I just have to employ the same tactics on finding their immigration information. That, and keep an eye out for all kinds of name variations that I may not even be able to fathom!
So, in the end, what I found was what so many other genealogists before me have found….Census enumerators were very prone to butchering names of immigrants (and others) on early censuses, and, more importantly, it is essential to look at and search for an entire family to accurately trace your ancestors!