In the census twice

+7 votes
This isn't really a question, just a bizarre encounter.

I've been searching for details of my ancestors John and Anna Engert through Family Search. When looking over census data I saw their son william was listed in the 1870 census as age 18, the expected age according to my mother's research. But in the 1880 census he is listed as a son, age 16. Great anti-aging regimen!

So I searched for William Engert directly. Family Search found him in 1870, 1910, and twice in 1880. The 1910 data is as expected. In the 1880 records one shows him as John's son, age 16. The other shows him as husband and father, age 27, with the same wife and son as in my mother's records. Both entries are in the census book for Fremont, Sandusky, Ohio, the elder William on page 6, the younger William on page 9.

I wonder if John or Anna, in their mid sixties at the time, forgot how old their son was.

Or the 1880 census is screwed up (and I've encountered difficulties with it before).

The two records:
in Genealogy Help by Paul Kinney G2G6 Mach 1 (18.3k points)

3 Answers

+8 votes
Best answer

I would say you are looking at two different William Engert's in the 1880 census.  John and Anna have no children listed on the 1850 census and they are still in Maryland.

It is highly unlikely that John and Anna had the children listed in the 1880 census.  That means Anna would have had her youngest daughter listed, Magdelena, at age 54.  It's more likely that these are children from the same family but either great-niece/nephews or grandchildren.  Mary looks like she's the right age from the 1870 census to be John and Anna's youngest daughter.  I don't find the 1860 census for John and Anna which really might help answer some questions about older children that are not on the 1870 census.  Engert is one of those names that may be frequently mispelled or misheard by the census taker.

I really don't think the census is messed up.  In my ancestor German families (from Ohio), The father is William, his two sons that lived were Charles William and William Charles both of whom named sons after themselves and other children after other members of the family.  It gets really confusing sometimes.

by Kathy Zipperer G2G6 Pilot (485k points)
selected by Paul Kinney
Anna's first child (William) born when she was 37 and last (Magdalena) when she was 54? This doesn't compute.

Good point.

My legacy database flagged Magdalena. Only now did I look at the three things it was telling me.

Thank you. Now back to research.
+5 votes
Know the feeling, Paul. I’ve learned that for any census record, I call for back up... any other documentation. And it may not always be the census takers fault. They must have been very trusting folks.
by Pip Sheppard G2G Astronaut (2.8m points)
+6 votes
Personally, I'm not yet convinced that the two William's are the same person. These two may be from different families. Cousins, perhaps?
by Dennis Wheeler G2G6 Pilot (585k points)
Your answer reminds me I really should consider the possibility that my Mother's records are wrong (just yesterday I found she had her grandfather's death date off by four years).

There may be cousins to William with the Engert last name, but I have no records of father John's siblings or parents.

But it comes to this: In the 1870 census Father John is age 54, mother Anna is 55, and William is 18. In one of the 1880 census records John is 64, Anna is 63 (we'll let her fudge a bit), and William is 16. We know in this record his age is wrong. It doesn't fit with the 1870 census, the second 1880 census, and the 1910 census.

What was bizarre about this, and what prompted this post was seeing the two records in the same census book only three pages apart.

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