Wednesday, August 29, 2012

1940 US Census ~ Great Grandmother Hunter

Of my eight great-grandparents, only two great-grandparents were still living in 1940: my father's maternal grandmother, Mary Bowman Ashby Adsit, and my mother's maternal grandmother, Marguerite Lysle Hunter.


I found Marguerite L. Hunter soon after the release of the 1940 US Census on April 1, because I knew she was in Hampton Township, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, so I didn't need the index to find her.

1940 U.S. Census, Hampton, Allegheny, Pennsylvania, Roll T627_3404, E.D. 2-209,
page 12B, lines 49-52, household of Marguerite L. Hunter.

Living on Route 8 (no house number), Marguerite L. Hunter is the 63-year-old widowed head of household. Living with her are daughters Margaret (age 34 and single) and Mary Gerkan (age 36 and divorced) and a servant, Anna Zoeller. Five years before, Marguerite and Margaret lived in the same house and Mary lived in Pittsburgh. (That marriage and divorce is another story.)

Marguerite owns the house, it is valued at $25,000, and No, it is not a farm (although my mother always referred to the home as her grandmother's farm). [January 4, 2014 update: My mother re-read this post and told me that the "farm" was separate from this house, a couple of miles down the road. There was a tenant farmer who raised chickens and pigs and grew vegetables and hay.]

1940 US Census, column 33
None of them are listed with an occupation or salary/wages, (except for the servant, making $416 in 1939), but Marguerite, Margaret and Mary all indicate "Yes" they received income of $50 or more from sources other than money wages or salary.

Before great-grandfather Percy Hunter died in 1937, sometime between 1930 and 1935, Percy and Marguerite built their "house in the country" in Hampton Township, shown below, which my mother fondly remembers from her childhood. (See the 1930 census record of Percy and Marguerite still living in Pittsburgh.)

Home of Percy and Marguerite Hunter in Hampton Township, Pennsylvania

My mother's grandmother died in 1967 at age 91, so I will be looking for her in the 1950 and 1960 US Censuses.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun ~ Ancestral Name Number

Last week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun from Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings was something I had wanted to do since I saw Crista Cowan's post mentioned in #1 below. However, I was on vacation, so I'm late, but my mathematical mind was interested in doing this.

1)  Determine how complete your genealogy research is.  For background, read Crista Cowan's post Family History All Done? What’s Your Number?  For comparison purposes, keep the list to 10 generations with you as the first person.

2)  Create a table similar to Crista's second table, and fill it in however you can (you could create an Ahnentafel (Ancestor Name) list and count the number in each generation, or use some other method).  Tell us how you calculated the numbers.

3)  Show us your table, and calculate your "Ancestral Name Number" - what is your percentage of known names to possible names (1,023 for 10 generations).


I created an Ahnentafel report in Family Tree Maker and counted the names in each generation and came up with the following totals.

For ten generations (including me), my Ancestral Name Number (my percentage of known names to possible names) is 42%. I do think it's pretty cool that I can name all my third great grandparents.

I included names in each generation even if I didn't know the last name (or in one case a first name). For example, once you get back to the 17th or 18th century, sometimes all you get is "Susanna, wife of John Griswold" or perhaps "daughter of Benjamin Mathis, born in 1684" married Mr. Franklin.

I will also note that in many cases, I am relying on secondary, not primary, sources, but I try to evaluate them to determine if they are relatively reliable. (An online family tree is not reliable, but can be a "hint" to look for particular primary source records to confirm relationships.) One of my ongoing projects is to ensure I have accurate source citations to know where I found someone's name.

Interestingly, I have just a few more paternal ancestral names than maternal ancestral names. When I get back to the 9th and 10th generations, I find many of my dad's ancestors in Connecticut and Virginia. For my mother, I find ancestors in the 9th and 10th generations in Massachusetts and Connecticut. These states have pretty good records.

For some specifics, see a previous Saturday Night Genealogy Fun post that lists my sixteen second great-grandparents as well as noting each set of my thirty-two third great-grandparents.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tuesday's Tip ~ Pennsylvania Death Records and Percy Hunter's Death Certificate

From the Pennsylvania Department of Health website:
On December 15, 2011, Governor Tom Corbett approved Senate Bill 361.
This bill amends the Act of June 29, 1953 (P.L. 304, No. 66), known as the Vital Statistics Law of 1953, to provide for public access to certain birth and death certificates after a fixed amount of time has passed. This legislation provides that such documents become public records 105 years after the date of birth or 50 years after the date of death.
In February, the indices were made available at the above website. Because the state of Pennsylvania only required state registration starting in 1906, the only year of birth records available right now is for 1906. (Next year, I'll be able to look for the birth certificate for my maternal grandmother, who was born in February 1907!)

However, death records are available for the years 1906-1961, and with so many of my mother's extended family living in the Allegheny County area for decades, I knew I'd be able to find lots of family names in the indices.

The great thing about the state of Pennsylvania Vital Records request is that each non-certified death certificate costs only $3. Now, you may have to wait four months to get your request back, but wow, the information I got for almost 20 extended family members was great! (And I'm sure if I continued to look, I'd find even more extended family members.)

I'll show you how I went through this process to obtain the death certificate for my great grandfather, Percy E. Hunter, who died in May 1937.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Another 1940 Census Find - Edgar Rust in California

As noted in my previous post, indexes for the 1940 census are being made available at both and at When I noticed last week that Massachusetts was available at, I made a point to search for Edgar Rust, born about 1882 in Massachusetts, in order to provide corrections in the index for just about everyone in the household due to the errors, not in the indexing, but in the enumeration. See here for my analysis of that household.

In recreating the search today, this is what I see:

I won't detail the corrections I had to make for the Rust family in Newton, but you can see that one correction I made was to Edgar's name which was indexed as Edna!

Last week, before I made that correction, it was the Edgar C. Rust in Monterey, California, which appeared as the top result.

1940 U.S. Census, Monterey, Monterey, California, Roll T627_268,
E. D. 27-34, page 83A, lines 9-10, record for Edgar C. Rust and Elizabeth Rust

The detail shows much more accurate information than what I found at their home in Massachusetts, which now I'm sure was reported by a neighbor because they were in California, where I understand they spent several months each year.

Friday, August 3, 2012

A 1940 Census Find - Grandfather Pyle has today announced that the complete 1940 US Census is indexed and available for searching. I knew that I'd have to use an index to find my paternal grandfather, Charles McAlpin Pyle (1893 - 1966) in the 1940 US Census, and as Washington, D.C., then New Jersey, then New York became available, I looked for him, with no luck, which narrowed down the possibility to Maryland. Sure enough, he was living in Ellicott City, Maryland, where I had previously discovered he lived in 1942 (WWII Draft Registration card).

1940 U.S. Census, Ellicott City, Howard, Maryland, Roll T627_1552,
E. D. 14-4, Page 1B, lines 47-48, household of Charles M. Pyle

The census reports that Charles M. Pyle was the 12th household visited, that he owned his home, though the value of the home is not reported. "Yes" indicates that he lives on a farm. He is listed as 48 years old, and born in Maryland, though I know he was 46 in April 1940 and born in New Jersey, not Maryland. He lived in the same place in 1935. This also notes that he is married and the "7" next to the "M" is the notation that was made for married people who did not live with their spouses.

The blank between "no" representing that he did not attend school and "Maryland" for place of birth is for highest grade of school completed. Although I'm not sure, I think he completed four years of college, but it would have been interesting to confirm.

Also in the household is Walter Rouse (indexed as Kouse?), who is indexed as his brother, but if you read the word, it is his Butler! He is a 32-year-old Negro, married, and born in Maryland. He also lived in the same place in 1935.

Important to note here is that there is no circled "x" which was used in this census to record who in a household reported the information. Therefore, Charles did not report his own details, and whatever neighbor provided information to the enumerator didn't know details such as exactly how old he was, where he was born, how much schooling he had, and the value of his home.

The remaining columns of information note that both men were at work for pay during the week of March 24-30, and that Charles worked 70 hours and Walter worked 60 hours during the previous week. Charles' occupation is Operator on a Farm, and Walter's occupation is "Butler + handy man." To the right of the codes, the census tells us that they both worked 52 weeks in 1939, Charles earning $0 and Walter earning $1,040 in salary or wages. Note that the last column "Yes" represents that Charles received "income of $50 or more from sources other than money wages or salary." Because of the way their income was reported, workers "working on own account" (OA) usually didn't report salaries or wages. Any money grandfather Pyle made on the farm or from other sources falls into this category. (His butler has the code "PW" which means he was a wage or salary worker in private work.)

So this begs the question, where was his wife?