Friday, June 29, 2012

Found Myself in the 1940 CENSUS

I was born 4 January 1940 so anticipated finding my little baby self in the 1940 census.  I had an address from my birth certificate in Nashville, Tennessee.  I used that address and Steve Morse's wonderful website and found the Enumeration District some weeks before the Census we released. I was already an indexer for FamilySearch so I thought I was good to go.

I manged to get on one of the websites late evening of April 2nd and went straight to that ED in Nashville - I found the address and it was obviously an apartment house.  Alas and alack!  My parents and I were not to be found. I could only conclude that perhaps they moved into a larger place to accommodate me.  Hoping it was nearby, I viewed every page of that ED, and the one before, and the one after it.  Nada, nothing.  Would have to wait for an index.

I have indexed some 8500 persons in the 1940 census to date.  Most of those in the state of Tennessee, but never did I download a page for Davidson County, or any part of Nashville.  I watched for any of the sites to post Tennessee with an index - I read several Blogs that follow the progress.  Somehow I missed the first announcement when posted Tennessee.  I was away most of May and didn't read the Blogs too closely during that time.  However, this morning in a recap of what sites had what states posted, I realized that Tennessee was indeed available on Ancestry.

I FOUND IT.   Apparently nowhere near the first apartment, but living in a three-family dwelling was my little family.  The circled x revealed that neither my father nor mother had given the information; two other ladies in the building had, so perhaps one of them "filled in the blanks".  Almost every entry had an error - but of course I know we hadn't been in that place long so possibly they just didn't know us very well.  But one wonders why they would presume so much.  They did spell the last name correctly - Adamson.

This is such a good example of why any researcher must use multiple sources for their information.  There are so many things I could have interpreted so wrong from this census.

Here are the errors:
     My father's given names were Weymouth Donald, but he was called "Ernie" [no, I've no idea why - my mother left him within a year or so].  His given names are listed as Wm. F.  Not even close.  Yes - I have his birth and death certificates - and other census and voter's records from California.  I know his name.
     My mother's name was JoEllen - they do have her as Joe Ellen.  In indexing, I've discovered that many people spelled the feminine Jo the same as the masculine Joe.  Her name was actually Josie Ellen, named for her two grandmothers - my maternal grandmother, who named her, told me.  I was lucky enough to have this grandmother until I was age 33.  And, yes, I've found her in 1940 - living in the very house I expected to find her in, along with my granddad, and three of my mother's brothers.
     My name is Karen Kay and my mother always called me by both names until after she married my stepfather.  Some of my older relatives called me Karen Kay their whole lives.  My birth certificate plainly says Karen Kay. On this census, I am "Kay B."  For "baby"?  Who knows?
     My father is listed as age 23 - he was 25.  Mother is listed as 22 - she was 24.  I am 3 months which is about right, since the enumerator was there on April 3rd.  Again, I know these facts from other records.
     My father is shown with 2 years of high school - no, he graduated - he played basketball in high school.  My mother's brothers knew him and told me this.  Mother is shown with 1 year of high school, but she had gone to college three years, long enough to get her teacher's certificate and had taught for a year before she married.  Yes, I have corroborative information.   Interesting that everyone else in the household, including the two ladies who had given the information, had only an 8th grade education.  Maybe they just couldn't conceive higher education.
     We are all given the birthplace of Tennessee - but I'm the only one who was born there.  Both of my parents were born in Crawford County, Arkansas - as were all their parents, and some of their grandparents before them.
     My parents are said to have been living in the "same place" in 1935. No, they weren't even married until 1939.  My mom was likely in college at Arkansas State, Russellville, Arkansas in 1935.  My father was living with his married sister in Chester, Crawford County, Arkansas - his mother has died and his father gone to California.
I did get something new from this census.  They were paying $10 a month rent.  My father is listed as working as a clerk in a dry goods store - I had never known this.  He later moved back to Chester and worked for many years as a concrete finisher.  Mother had worked for 16 weeks as a restaurant waitress - she worked while she was pregnant with me.  She had told me that herself.  It has been a horrible experience as my mother was painfully shy at that time in her life, but they needed the money.  No pregnant teacher was allowed in a classroom back then - and not in Arkansas even when I was in school in the late 1940's and 1950's.

And, would you believe I was one of the two selected - on line 66 - for additonal information.  But there was nothing else to say about a three-month-old!