A Genealogist’s Nightmare or a Census Taker’s Confusion?

Four Mary Stoeger’s in the 1900 Census.

It was hard for me to tell if I was looking at an ‘80s sitcom or if the 1900 Census was true. I kept thinking, “Hi, I’m John Stoeger, and this is my wife Mary, and this is my daughter Mary, and this is my other daughter, Mary. Oh, by the way, this is my other daughter, Mary.  Yes, the 1900 Census shows that John’s wife and three of his daughters are all named “Mary.” Either the census taker got it all mixed up or there are several stories to uncover suggested by this census record. I needed to figure out which.

John Stoeger is my wife’s half-aunt’s grandfather.  Not a direct ancestor to my wife, but still a person of interest.  I wanted to see if I John really had three daughters named Mary.

Other records indicate that John’s children immigrated about 1885, so they aren’t going to be in the 1880 Census (and they weren’t).  The Minnesota 1895 census does show John, but that census shows no information about his children.  I couldn’t find in him the 1910 Census so, I thought that I might be at a wall of some sort.  Then I found him, Johann Stoeger in a 1908 wills and probate records on Ancestry. Sure enough, this Johan had a daughter Hattie Drexel (Hedwig Drexl) and the ages of the other children all fit my 1900 John Stoeger family.

The first “Mary” was Barbara.

The second “Mary” was Marie.

The third “Mary” is still unknown but appears to have died between 1900 and 1908.  That is because in 1900 Mary, the mother, had eleven children, six of whom were living. The 1908 probate records show five of the six children living.

I was a little but surprised to see that John (Johann) and three of his children had all moved to Stillwater. So, I wondered if I had the wrong John Stoeger; however, I became certain that It was the right John Stoeger when I saw that the estate included property on Water Street in Saint Paul, where he lived during the 1900 Census and one of his daughters was Hattie Drexl. Everything fit into place.

Finally, that third Mary child, I suspect was actually John Stoeger, Jr.  I haven’t proven it to my satisfaction, yet, but I’m pretty sure I am right. I need to do a little more research on John Jr. to prove it. I think the Census taker was a bit confused.


Sources:

  • 1900 Census (A), John Hoeger [Stoeger] – Saint Paul, Ramsey, Minnesota, Ward 6, ED 0105, Page 15B.
  • Minnesota, Wills and Probate Records, 1801-1925, Ancestry.com, Johann (John) Stoeger – Page 1517

 

 

 

 

 

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