1900 Census – Searching for misspelled Salefske’s

Census Sunday
Roberts-Dion-Spry-Salefske Project
By Don Taylor

My half-brother’s (Tom) maternal line has been difficult to trace, mostly due to unusual names. His great-grandmother’s name is probably Ottilie Salefske. But in various records, I’ve seen her named Ottlie, Tillie, Lillie, Tily, and even Matilda. Likewise, her surname is spelled a half a dozen ways also, It seems like I need to search using lots of question marks, “S?l??sk?”. As such, neither he nor I were successful in finding Ottilie in the 1900 Census. So, I gave it a try leaving the surname off completely. I searched for her father, “Charles” and his wife “Hattie” with a child “Albert.” Albert is believed to be Ottilie’s next younger brother. They are all names that are common enough to typically be spelled correctly in the Census record and to be interpreted by indexers correctly. It didn’t matter if I searched using Ancestry.Com or Family Search, the correct family was found immediately with a completely different, but understandable, spelling – “Lelensky.” So, if you can’t find someone in a census that you should, be sure to try searching without the surname and enter just the relationships of several first names.

Document Image

Image of the 1900 Census showing Charles Salefsky & family of Detroit, Wayne, MI
1900 Census – Charles Salefsky – Detroit, Wayne, MI.

My Transcription

1900 Census – Michigan, Wayne, Detroit, Ward 14
Enumeration District 156, Sheet 18
Lines 6 through 14 – 246 Lovett

  • Lelensky [Salefske] Charles – Head – May 1855 | 45 – Married 10 years – Born Germany, PR Immigration 1888 in the US for 11 years – Machinist – Owns House.
  •     –    Hattie  – Wife  –  June 1857 | 42  Married 10 years, 3 children born, 3 living  – Born Germany, PR – Immigration 1879, in US 20 years.
  •     –    Otto  –  Son     – July 1880 – Age 19            – Born Germany, Pr – Immigration 1888, in US 11 years. – Brass Finisher
  •     –    Odilia  –  Daughter – Dec 1883 – Age 16     – Born Germany, Pr – Immigration 1888, in US 11 years.
  •     –    Albert  –  Son  – Mar 1886 – Age 14             – Born Germany, Pr – Helper Machinist  – Immigration 1888, in US 11 years.
  • Sauli [Sante?], Anna – S. Daughter  Jan 1887 Age 13 – Michigan At School
  •     –    Walter   –  S. Son   Mar 1888 – Age 11 – Michigan       At School
  •     –    Hugo   –  S. Son – Nov 1891 – Age 2    – Michigan
  • Salensky, Louise – Mother  – Jan 1818 – Age 82, Wd 4 children, 4 living – Germany, Pr. Immigration 1893, 6 yrs in the US

All parents were born in “Germany, Pr.”

Discussion

The great thing about this census record is that it clearly shows that Hattie was in the United States before Otto, Ottilie, and Albert came to the United States.

Also, it shows that Anna, Walter, and Hugo are all stepchildren to Charles.

One obvious mistake is that Hugo, who was born Nov 1891 is identified as only 2-years-old instead of 8 years old.  It does make some dates a little confusing; if Charles and Hattie had been married for 10 years, how did Hugo, age 8, become identified as a step-son? Even if Hattie were pregnant with Hugo when she and Charles married, it would seem incorrect. I need to search further to find Charles and Hattie’s marriage record.

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