Charles Selefsky & Family in the 1900 Census

Dion-Spry Project

Census Sunday
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.Sometimes when you at a census closely, you realize something in there is just not possible. Such is the case of Charles Selensky (aka Selefsky, Selefske, & Seleske) as he appears in the 1900 Census. His step-children just aren’t right.

1900 Census – Michigan, Wayne, Detroit – Charles Lelensky [Selefsky]


Selensky, Charles      Head       May 1855          45         Married for 10 years.

___, Hattie                Wife        June 1857         42         Married for 10 years 3 Children, 3 Living

___, Otto                   Son         Jul 1880            19

___, Adelia                Dau.        Dec 1883          16

___, Albert                Son         Mar 1886           14

Sauli, Anna                Step-Dau Jan 1887           13

___, Walter                Step-Son Mar 1888           11

___, Hugo                 Step-Son Nov 1897            2       

Salensky Louise        Mother    June 1818         82         Wid 4 Children, 4 Living.

At first glance, it appears that Hattie had three children with a previous husband, and unknown Sauli (or Sante) There are three children with another surname and she had had three children, all of whom were living. Then I noticed that Hugo was only two years old but Charles and Hattie had been married for 10 years. Even though Hugo is identified as a Sauli, and is identified as a step-son, I’m confident that Hugo must be the child of Charles and Hattie and that the enumerator made a mistake.

So, I’m tentatively putting Hugo’s parents as Charles and Hattie and the other three children, Otto, Adelia (Ottilia), and Albert as the children of Charles and Unknown.

If you can think of another scenario that makes sense of this Census Record, I’d love to hear it.

The 1820 Census and Robert Maben

Census Sunday
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.Following families through the pre-1850 Census is always a challenge. I was researching my 4th great-grandmother, Deborah Buel Maben. She married in 1824 and I’ve been able to follow her through her husband in the census records during her married life. I began working to find evidence of her in the 1820 Census. I knew she was married in Greene County, New York and I quickly found what appeared to be her father, Robert Maben (Mabin in the census Record).

Next, I mapped the family out with what I believed I knew about the family. Do the children I know about fit the Census record?

1820 Census – Robert Mabin [Maben]

Robert Mabin   2 1 1 1 1 – 2 2 – 1 –

<  10               = 2      Presumed to be Addison T,. Age 3
Presumed to be John, Age 9
10-16             = 1      Unknown Child –
16-18             = 1      Presumed to be James, Age 17
16-26             = 1      Duplicate of above person (James)
26-45             = 1      Presumed to be Robert Maben, Age 39
Over 45 –

<  10               = 2      Presumed to include Mary E. Maben, Age 5
Presumed to include Electa Maben, Age 2 months.
10-16             = 2      Presumed to Include Deborah Buel Maben, Age 15
Presumed to Include Sarah, Age 13
16-26 –
26-45             = 1      Presumed to be Electa, Age 38
Over 45 –

In this case, every child I know about appears to be enumerated along with Robert Maben and his wife, Electa, fit the age ranges given in the census. Now, I’m confident that the Maben family was in Lexington, Green County, New York in 1820.

And what so often happens with records, there are new questions. Who is the unknown male child from 10 to 16 years of age? I know of no child in the Maben family who fits that criteria. Could this be a cousin, an adoptee, or a child of Robert and Electa? I don’t know yet, but it will definitely cause me to keep an eye out for other records that suggest another child.

A child between 10 and 16 in 1820 had to have been born between 1803 and 1810.

  • James was born in 1803
  • Deborah in 1805
  • Sarah in 1807 and
  • John in 1811.

The only gap in that series is 1809. So, I suspect this unknown boy living in the household of Robert Maben is a heretofore unknown son. I’ve added him to my tree as a hypothesis with the above information. It is certainly possible that this person is possibly some other and I will keep that possibility in mind.

So many possibilities exist. Another one revolves around Robert & Electa’s eighth known child, Charles B. Maben.  It is possible I have his birthdate wrong and he was really born much earlier than the 1824 date, I have for his birth.

On to the 1810 Census….


The Three Missing Children of Anson Bickford.

Census Sunday
By Don Taylor

Sometimes it is an odd little note that can send you off researching an entirely new aspect of a person’s life. While I was researching my sister-in-law’s great-grandfather, Anson Bickford, I ran into an odd entry in the 1910 Census.

1910 Census showing children of Anson Bickford

What made it odd is the Instructions for the 1910 Census told the enumerators that the question about the number of children born “applies to women who are now married, or who are widowed, or divorced.” I wondered, why did the census taker include information about the children of a man, Anson Bickford? Also, it indicated that he had 11 children, eight of whom were living. The 1900 Census had a similar question and his wife reported having had 8 children, 8 of whom were living. The question arose in my mind, who were the other three children?

1900 Census showing children of Jean Bickford

The eight living children were easy. The 1880 Census and the 1900 Census provided the names for all eight children living in 1900. Jennette, Ralph, Edwin, Matilda, Everett, Estella, Maude, and Erna. Jennette and Ralph were born in California, so I looked for Anson in California and found him and Jean living in San Francisco during the 1880 Census. Then I found Anson married before he married Jean. There were newspaper articles and death records that spoke of sadness in 1866. In 1865 he and his wife Henrietta had twins, a girl and a boy—A.W. and Nettie. They were born in October 1865.  Seven months and 28 days later, on 28 May 1866, both Henrietta and their youngest son died. Henrietta died of “Consumption” and I can’t quite read exactly what A.W. died from. Nine days later his daughter Nettie also died. Again, I can’t quite read exactly what from.

Cause of Death – A. W Bickford. Cause of Death – Nettie Bickford

[Can anyone who can help me decipher the cause? If so, please leave comments below.]

I searched at length for other information regarding a third child for Anson and Henrietta in California and was not successful. I returned to looking at Maine records and found where Anson and his second wife, Jean, had a heretofore unknown 9th child.  On 10 November 1880, Anson and Jean had a daughter, Mertie Alice, who died five days later. That accounts for the 11 children suggested in the 1910 Census.


The death records for Henrietta, A. W. [Anson Wayne, Jr.??], and Nettie indicate that all three were buried in Lone Mountain Cemetery. Lone Mountain is no more. It opened in 1858 but changed its name to Laurel Hill Cemetery in 1867. With San Francisco real estate at such a premium,Laurel Hill Cemetery was relocated. People that didn’t pay extra for a private reburial were buried in a common grave in what is called the Laurel Hill Mound in Cypress Lawn Cemetery. Likewise, if the tombstones weren’t paid to be moved, they ended up with Public works and were repurposed for a seawall at Aquatic Park, a breakwater, rain gutters, and erosion control.[i]

There are still a few frayed ends to this story.

Frayed Rope – Photo by Tom Bech (CC BY 2.0)

I wonder why Jane failed to report her dead child, Mertie Alice, during the 1800 Census.

The newspaper article of Henrietta and A. W.’s death mentioned A. W. was their youngest son. Is there another child I can’t find any references to?  I don’t think so, but it still a frayed end.



  • California, County Birth, Marriage, and Death Records, 1849-1980 (California Department of Public Health), com, Death – Henrietta Bickford & A W Bickford – 29 May 1866. California, County Birth, Marriage, and Death Records, 1849-1980 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2017. Original data: California, County Birth, Marriage, and Death Records, 1830-1980. California Department of Public Health, courtesy of Digital Images.
  • California, County Birth, Marriage, and Death Records, 1849-1980 (California Department of Public Health), com, Page 329 – Bickford, A.. W., Page 329 – Bickford, Henrietta. California Department of Public Health, courtesy of Digital Images.
  • Weekly Alta, San Francisco, California, (via 2 June 1866, Page 8 – 5th column, “Died” – 12th paragraph – Henrietta & A W Bickford.


[i]  Internet: Curbed San Francisco – Article “Hidden Histories: Laurel Hill Cemetery by” By Alex Bevk – Posted Jul 2, 2012, 11:00am PDT – Accessed 24 May 2018.


Chester Parsons and the 1820 Census

Census Sunday
Brown/Sanford/Parsons Line
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.Following ancestors through all the census records is often difficult, particularly in census records before 1850, when only the head of household was named. Tracing my 4th great-grandfather, Chester Parsons was straight-forward from the 1880 census back to the 1850 census, even on to the 1830 Census, while Chester was in Saline, Michigan. Before that, he was a young man in someone else’s household not in Michigan. The path to understanding is to take what you know, hypothesize what should be, then see if research fits.

What I think I know.

  • Chester was born on 1 December 1799 in Sandisfield, Berkshire, Massachusetts.
  • Chester married his first wife in Greene County, New York in 1824.
  • In May 1826, Chester and his young family moved from New York to Saline, Washtenaw County, Michigan Territory.
  • He and his family appear in 1830, 1840, 1850, 1860, 1870, and 1880 censuses. The family seems to have been very stable living in Saline, Michigan, for over 60 years.
  • Chester’s father, John Parsons, died in 1813 in Greene County, New York.
  • In 1820 Chester would have been 20 years old.

My Speculation.

Because Chester probably lived with his father when his father died in 1813 and Chester probably resided in Greene County when he married in 1824, I presume the 20-year-old Chester also was living in Greene County during the 1820 Census. If so, who was he living with?

Search & Results

A quick search on Family Search of all families with the Parsons surname living in Greene County, New York in 1820 yielded four candidates, Samuel, Orrin, Albert, and Stephen. I’m looking for any of those people that might have Chester living with him.

Samuel Parsons – This Windham household consists of 1 Male (Age 26-45) and no other males. Chester’s oldest brother was named Samuel and would have been 33-years-old. This Samual is possibly, even likely, Chester’s brother.

Orrin and Samuel were enumerated next to each other in the 1820 Census.

Orrin Parsons – This Windham household consists of two males (one 16 to 26 and one under 10. There is also a female 16 to 26 in the household. Chester’s 2nd oldest brother was named Orrin and was 25 at the time. It is likely this was him with his wife, and first, previously unknown, son.

Albert Parsons – This Windham household consisted of five individuals, apparently Albert age 16-26, male 10-16, and male under 10 and two females, one, an apparent wife 16 to 26 and another age 10 to 16. There is no known Albert Parsons in my research before this. I will probably need to do more research to determine this Albert’s place in the family or determine he isn’t related. In any event, Chester is not in that household either.


Chester’s father John died in 1814. It appears that Samuel and Orrin each married and established households of their own. Chester, his brother John, and their mother were probably either missed in the 1820 Census or were living in the household of someone without the surname Parsons in Greene County, New York.

Further Research

  • It is possible that Chester and family lived with sister Mary/Polly in 1820. Research Mary/Polly Parsons’ life.
  • It is possible that Chester and family lived with a female sibling of John Parsons, Jr. Research the lives of the other Parsons of Sandisfield, Massachusetts that located to Windham, Greene County, New York between 1800 and 1820.

Ezra Sanford and the 1840 Census

Census Sunday
Don Taylor

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:

Ezra Sanford in 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 ( : 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 ( : 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.