Monday, June 27, 2011

Grandfather Copeland's family from 1900-1920

My maternal grandfather, Lowell Townsend Copeland, was the son of Lowell Copeland and Ethel May Greeley, both of whom have New England roots that go way back.

In U.S. Federal Census records for 1900, 1910, and 1920, the family is easily found in Winnetka Village, New Trier Township, Cook County, Illinois.

In 1920, they are living at 200 Chestnut Street, with Florence M. Greely as Head of household.

Database online. Year: 1920; Census Place: New Trier, Cook, Illinois; Roll: T625_361; Page: 15A; Enumeration District: 131; Record for Florence Greely.

Lines 28-36 list their household. Although Lowell is listed as brother-in-law, and Ethel M. is listed as sister-in-law, the relationship is a little more complicated. Florence is actually the widow of Ethel's half-brother, Frederick Greeley, who died in 1912. Lowell and Ethel's children are Townsend (age 19), Elizabeth (age 16), and Ruth (age 12). All three children attended school during the previous school year. Lowell's occupation is Manufacturer in the Machinery industry.

In reviewing this record, I notice that the next family, on Birch Street, is Samuel A. Greeley, a civil engineer, with children Sewall and Frederic. A quick check in my tree tells me that Samuel is a son of Florence and Frederick and I have not linked him to this census record, nor entered his wife and children into Family Tree Maker. Better do that now, before I forget...

Lowell was born in Maine and Ethel was born in Illinois.


In 1910, the family is enumerated on Maple Street, next to Morris L. and Anne Greeley. Morris Larned Greeley was a half brother of Ethel May (Greeley) Copeland, born about a dozen years before her. (Their father, Samuel Sewall Greeley, married twice and had several children by each of his wives.)

Database online. Year: 1910; Census Place: New Trier, Cook, Illinois; Roll: T624_239; Page: 8B; Enumeration District: 1582; Record for Lowell Copeland.
Lines 59-67 list the names of the family (including three servants), but the bulk of the rest of the information is blank! Luckily I know this family pretty well. Great grandfather Lowell would have been about age 47, wife Ethel, age about 34, and children, Townsend, age 9, Betty, age 6, and Ruth, age 2. (Townsend was grandfather's middle name, and the name he went by as a young child.) The "boarder" named Samuel S. Greeley, is actually Ethel's father, Samuel Sewall Greeley, who would have been about 85 years old. Assuming the information is correct, this does indicate that Lowell owned his home free of mortgage, and that it was a house, not a farm. I wonder why their information was not provided to the census taker; if they weren't at home, there were plenty of extended family around who could have provided the information.


In 1900, Lowell and Ethel lived with Morris L. Greeley (her half-brother), who was their next-door neighbor in 1910. The street name is not indicated on this census page (nor the pages before this page).

Database online. Year: 1900; Census Place: New Trier, Cook, Illinois; Roll: T623_293; Page: 12A; Enumeration District: 1173; Record for Morris Greeley.
Lines 23-35 list this household, but it is faint and difficult to read. (Hate it when that happens!) Morris L. Greeley and Annie Greeley are the head of household and wife. Living in the house with them are their four children; Morris's maiden aunt (his father's sister), Louisa May Greeley; Annie's mother, Martha Foote; and my great grandparents, Lowell Copeland and Ethel M. Copeland.

1900 is the federal census in which you hope to find your family because not only does it give you the age, but the month and year of birth for each person. Lowell was born October 1862, and Ethel was born December 1875. In the column for number of years married, it shows "0" for both of them, as they were married just five months earlier, on January 1, 1900. (See 6/15/2011 Wedding Wednesday for more on their wedding.) Unfortunately, due to the faintness of the copy, I can't read his occupation. <Illegible> machinery is how I've listed it for his Occupation in the year 1900 in Family Tree Maker. Again, we see that he and his parents were born in Maine. Ethel was born in Illinois and her parents were born in Massachusetts.

I love census research when you can find a family easily from one decade to another and see how that family grows and changes. So often it's a fun puzzle to figure out relationships between all those living in that household and neighboring households.

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