Accuracy of US Census Records 19th Century?

+4 votes
I'm wondering about the accuracy of US Census records in the 19th Century. As an example, for the 1880 Census during what year(s) might the data have been collected? I've run into several profiles recently where Census data gives the appearance of being collected a year or two ahead of the date of the Census. Now I have a profile where multiple sources place the man in one place in 1876 yet the US Census still has him in another in 1880. Yes, in this case it is possible he went ahead to his new location ahead of the family...but by four years?

Our subject here is Adolph Gluck, an early mayor of Dodge City, Kansas and an Hungarian Jew.
WikiTree profile: Adolph Gluck
in Genealogy Help by T Stanton G2G6 Pilot (188k points)

4 Answers

+9 votes
Best answer
The 1880 census in St. Louis was disputed so it was re-done.  There are articles in the St. Louis paper.    

by Kathie Forbes G2G6 Pilot (306k points)
selected by T Stanton
Aha! This explains much, since the question is about the census for St. Louis.

Do you know why the original census was disputed?
Apparently the city fathers believed it was off by 20,000 people.

As Kathie indicated, the first (Jun) 1880 St Louis census was rejected and another 1880 census was taken around Nov 1880. Here's an example page from the Jun 1880 census there, with "First Enumeration Rejected" stamped on the page. If found, I still include both enumerations as sources in case additional info can be gleaned from the rejected enumeration.

Thanks, Kathie. And, what I've also learned was that the Census 'window' (as printed on the forms) was actually an entire year so it really is important to check the date of enumeration when things don't line up as expected.
As to our subject, Adolph Gluck, there's a curious article in Western States Jewish History Vol XXIX No. 4, Jul 1997, pp 249-253. The article, absent any footnotes or citations, makes some extraordinary claims including that Adolph was the "kinfolk" of celebrated composer Christoph Willibald Gluck (1714-1787) -- how this is deciphered when the parents of Adolph are unknown is interesting. It also states Adolph went to Dodge City first, "followed later by his timid young wife and three small sons" in 1878. Again, this statement (not to mention the characterization of Sophie) is without citation but perhaps points in the direction that Adolph did precede the rest of the family to Dodge City and lived a dual-residence life for some years.
To conclude the question of when Adolph moved to Dodge City and when the family followed, Adolph's arrival there about 1876 appears roughly accurate, his advertising and some news mentions commence in early 1878. He did go back and forth to St Louis regularly until 1879 when he announced Dodge City would be his permanent home. Sophie and children are seen as resident in St Louis until about 1888 when news reports refer to Dodge as son Monte's home (though he is schooling in St Louis) and Sophie is active in the Ladies Auxillary local activities.

The profile is still being constructed but, to me at least, is worth the read as he is truly a colorful character of the Wild West, built an empire, helped electrify Dodge City, and appears to have had the press wrapped around his finger.
+7 votes
The 1880 census was taken in June of 1880.
by Kathie Forbes G2G6 Pilot (306k points)

The original page of the census states that the record on Adolph and family was taken on 10 November 1880. The page also states the Census Year began 1 Jun 1879 and ran through 13 May 1880.

Thanks for those below who said dates should be found at the top of the page -- did not know that specific information was available.

Interesting note: This intrigued me and I was looking to see if maybe he was also found in Dodge City - what I did find was I believe the same family listed a second time on a page that was enumerated on the 10th of June. Image on Ancestry  

And, Emily, it is a different enumerator on 10 June and 10 November pages so not just a copy made for some clerical reason. Someone double counting parts of the Census for a reason? It is interesting. I'm delving into old newspaper accounts to see if there is mention of Sophie and children staying in St Louis for some years before moving to Dodge City. When Adolph died he was taken back to St Louis for burial.
+6 votes

Here is the relevant page at Don't forget that they can be helpful direcly too.

by Dina Grozev G2G6 Mach 7 (79.1k points)
+5 votes
As a general rule, the Census records are accurate as to where the individual was living on that particular day. Each page of the census usually gives the date the information was gathered. For the 1880 Census note the first column specifies the 1st day of June as the residency date.

I am not 100% positive but I believe it was fairly common for families to stay in the East while husbands travelled West. He may have gone back and forth between Dodge City and St. Louis.
by Emily Holmberg G2G6 Pilot (107k points)
The first time I encountered a person who was enumerated twice in the same census, I thought it was extraordinary. Now I've seen this often enough that I'm not surprised (but I'm still interested in working out why it might have happened).

The corollary of this is the people who get overlooked in a particular census, probably because they lived in more than one place, but they were at Place A on the day when the census taker visited Place B, and they were at Place B when the census taker visited Place A.

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