1900 Census lists as son, but is this a daughter instead?

+4 votes

So in the 1900 Census of Jacob Harley Williams, it has his wife Ida, 4 sons, and 1 daughter listed.  My question is for the 3rd son listed.  I have found no other records for him (Name is Primas Williams-b. 1891)  Now I have found another daughter of theirs named Pearline Williams Ayer (she happens to be my husbands great-grandmother) her birth year is 1890 so my understanding of things she should be listed on this census also, but is not.  So although it clearly states Primas as a son, could it possibly be Pearline and should be daughter?  I have had this problem before with one of my own ancestors but would love to have a second opinion before I source this census to Pearline's profile!

Thanks! Liz Parker

Here is a link to the census in question! 


WikiTree profile: Pearline Ayer
asked in The Tree House by Liz Parker G2G6 Mach 1 (18.9k points)
I would agree it's her.  The month of birth is right, the mother is noted as only having 5 children of which all are listed in that census.  And if you ask me it may be Princess instead of Primas.  It's not rare to call a young girl that while Primas as a name only exists twice out of all the millions of profiles on Wikitree.  From what I've seen it also seems enumerators added family relationships (son, daughter, etc.) after the fact and maybe he read it as Primas as well.
I've seen it happen... my great great uncle Jesse was listed as Jessie and female in one census.  Then the indexer also mistranscribed his sister Bessie as Jessie, so on FamilySearch it looks like the family had two girls named Jessie.  I've got another case where a nonexistent daughter Harriet is listed in just one census, but documented son Henry is missing from that census.
I've had this happen on U.S. Census records too.  My great great grandfather was named Francis Marion Bear.  He was marked as female in one of the censuses.

3 Answers

+5 votes
I'd keep them separate people until proven otherwise. It's more likely that the Census taker asked the father, who forgot one of his children and the years the others were born.
answered by Anne Tichborne G2G6 Mach 3 (33.3k points)
That might be true if this were a UK census, but many US census takers seem to have been rather careless about details like gender.
+4 votes
Liz, I too agree that it may well be her.  I have come across the problem of the wrong male/female listing a couple of times over the years, so yes, it happens.  Also have found a couple of instances of black/white transpositions.  And unusual spellings that could be slightly illegible handwriting, a censustaker trying to spell an unfamiliar name phonetically, or just simply had their minds preoccupied with too much info and wrote down the wrong thing.  I've come across all these in checking census listings for ancestors.

That being said, I would recommend going ahead and listing the two seperately as there is no way at present to be entirely sure.  Detail the question of identity in a Research Notes section in both profiles. I have one now I'm working on where the 1850 and 1860 censuses each appear to have a daughter under totally different names but the same birth year.  I believe they are the same daughter but will do two profiles with notes about the possibility of them being the same.  It will keep it in mind for future researchers who may find a hidden source.

Just my two cents.  Good luck!
answered by Art Black G2G6 Mach 1 (17k points)
+3 votes
I have seen this twice so far in my family tree. I had ancestors who were recorded in one census with a different name and gender, but under their proper name and gender in every other census. I would say if the age of a "problem child" matches age-wise and the name is close, then it is obviously a mistake. I would create one profile, but record the discrepancy in a Research Note in the profile.
answered by Stanley Elswick G2G Crew (740 points)

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