One of my goals is to follow an ancestor through all of the Census. Because only the head of the household is identified in the 1840 and earlier censuses it can sometimes be difficult to assure the correct family is identified. I love when a census record confirms what I think I know about a family.
Starting with what I think I knew, that Ezra Sanford came to Saline, Washtenaw County Michigan about 1837 and lived there until about 1845. Sure enough, I found him in the 1840 Census.[i]
Then, I associated what I think were family members to individuals in the census record. That can help assure that the family is the correct family. In the case of Ezra Sanford I found the following in the 1840 Census:
The following table shows the age groups of people in the Ezra Sanford household and the number in each group. Comments include the name of the children believed to be Ezra’s children and how they would fit into his 1840 household with their expected ages.
Age Group No. Comments
MALE < 5 2 George (4), Charles (2)
MALE 5-10 2 John (9), Orio (5)
MALE 10-15 1 Amos (13)
MALE 15-20 2 William (17), Henry (16)
MALE 20-30 –
MALE 30-40 –
MALE 40-50 1 Ezra (47)
Female 5-10 1 Ann Maria (10)
Female 30-40 1 Almira (36)
Ezra’s son Ezra was living in a separate household in Woodstock Township, Lenawee County, Michigan during the 1840 Census apparently with his wife and three children.[ii]
I enter the wife and children into my database with a residence the same as the head of the household and a comment. For example, I would enter Amos into my database with a Residence:
Date: 1 Jun 1840
Location: Saline Township, Washtenaw, Michigan
Description (or Comment): Believed to be the male 10-15 in household of Ezra Sanford.
Source (abbreviated): 1840 Census – Ezra Sanford – Saline Township, Washtenaw, Michigan.
When I believe I know the makeup of a family and find the head of household in the 1840 (or earlier) census, I try to identify all the individuals who may be in the household and ascribe them to specific individuals.
[i] “United States Census, 1840,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XHYX-63Z : 15 August 2017), Ezra Sandford, Saline Township, Washtenaw, Michigan, United States; citing p. 140, NARA microfilm publication M704, (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 211; FHL microfilm 14,797.
[ii] “United States Census, 1840,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XHB9-8MK : 15 August 2017), Ezra Sanford, Woodstock Township, Lenawee, Michigan, United States; citing p. 124, NARA microfilm publication M704, (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 207; FHL microfilm 14,796.