Gathering information from the 1940 census

Earlier this year, the US Census Bureau released the 1940 census for researchers. A couple of months ago, Ancestry.com completed its indexing project on this census. That means that anyone who was alive 72 years ago should be accounted for on this census. Many can find their parents and grandparents with this census release.

My first searches in 1940 census were for my grandparents and great-grandparents. By this time only four of my great-grandparents were known to be alive. (I have a great-grandfather who abandoned the family so his fate and whereabouts in 1940 are unknown).

My paternal grandfather’s father was William Lewis Kemper. He was living in Hanover Township, Shelby County, Indiana. Two other people were in the same household: his daughter Pauline, and her husband, Albert McConnell.

What did I learn about William in this census? He was living in a house valued at $1500, on a farm that he owned. He was 67 years old, white, and male. He was a widower. He had completed school through the fourth year of high school. He had been born in Indiana and had been living in the same house since before Jan 1 1935. He had been gainfully employed the last week of March 1940. He typiclaly worked 72 hours a week as a farmer doing farming on his own account. He worked a full year in 1939. He gained his income from non-wage sources. His farm was #86 on the schedule.

Now, that is a great deal of information that shows something about him and the environment around him.

I have been doing research on William for quite a while now. I knew quite a bit about him before this. What did the 1940 census tell me that I did not already know?

William’s farm had a value of $1500. Looking at his neighborhood, William’s home appears to be worth less than many of his neighbors. That can mean it was on the small size or in need of repair.

William remained a widower in 1940. He had lost his wife, Cora Belle (Cregor) Kemper, in 1915. No marriage records found so far indicate he remarried. This census confirmed his continuing state on non-marriage.

William lived on a working farm. Many of his neighbors were professionals living in non-farming homes.

William went through four years of high school. This is something I did not know. His neighbors had a range of education through high school with some college also. It shows a diverse, but educated, population.

This census record helped to confirm much of what I already knew. But, it added a few nuggets that helped give a wider picture of who William was.

Writing my family history

I have been thinking about writing my family history in some form or fashion. I put down my thoughts on that project on my other blog. Here is a link.

I think I have come to the conclusion that I will be writing multiple items on my family history. I have four grandparents whose lines I want to remember. I also have ancestors in the past who have descendants I want to write down. And I have a few articles I want to write on different ancestors and their situations.

Stay tuned for the fun…

How to Track the Father(s) of Lucinda’s Children

Finding out who the father or fathers were of Lucinda Baker’s children is an ongoing quest of mine. Let’s look at each child to see what they can offer.

  1. Robert Baker was born 13 September 1857 in Knox County, Kentucky. He had no birth certificate nor entry for birth in the county records. His death certificate listed his father as unknown.
  2. Christopher Carson “Kit” Baker was born in February of 1859. His location is unknown in the 1860 census. He has no known death certificate from Oklahoma where he is buried.
  3. Barbara Ann Baker was born 30 July 1862 in Knox County. Her death record lists her father as unknown.
  4. Henry Baker was born 11 May 1871. And like his siblings, his death record also lists his father as unknown.

Marriage records for the children also do not reveal the name of the father. So far, no obvious public records have revealed the father(s) of Lucinda’s children.

Descendants of Lucinda who knew the truth apparently did not speak of it. The knowledge died out as her children and grandchildren passed away.

Is the knowledge gone completely? Maybe. But, there are branches of the family that have not been explored and it may be that someone still alive knows the truth.

More about Lucinda Baker

Last we saw Lucinda, she and her eldest son, Robert, were living in her parents’ household in the 1860 census. Who was Robert’s father though? The answer to that is still not clear. But, there is one person who I know is not his father.

There is a marriage record from 1856 between a man named Joseph Baker and a woman named Lucinda Baker. For many years, it was thought that this was the Lucinda Baker who was mother to Robert. However, some things did not add up.

  1. Lucinda was living in her parents’ home in 1860. Of course, she could have been widowed or abandoned at that time, but it is a telling piece.
  2. In 1870, Lucinda is living with her widowed mother along with Robert and her next two children, Christopher and Barbara.
  3. Also, in 1870, in the same community, a Joseph Baker lived with his wife Lucinda and their children.
  4. In 1880, Lucinda is listed as a widow living with her four children: Robert, Christopher, Barbara, and Henry.

At no point in these census records is Lucinda shown with a husband. It is possible she married three times and was widowed three times and just was not captured in the census records when she was married. But, there are no corresponding marriage records to show multiple marriages.

A Civil War pension record clarified the marriage of Joseph Baker to Lucinda Baker. The Lucinda Baker was actually a divorced woman. Her maiden name was Williamson. She married my Lucinda Baker’s elder brother, Nelson, in 1852. They divorced in 1856, just in time for her marriage to Joseph Baker. The pension record contained copies of her divorce record and detailed the situation.

So, the 1856 marriage record did not belong to my great-great-great-grandmother, Lucinda. What else may tell about her children’s father(s)?

One of my favorite ancestors…Lucinda Baker

When doing family history research, I have found a few individuals who have become my favorites. I would like to introduce one here. Her name is Lucinda Baker.

Lucinda is one of my great-great-great grandmothers. To trace her back to me, you go through her eldest son Robert to his eldest son Addison to Addison’s second daughter, who is my maternal grandmother. (I want to keep my grandparents’ names private since they have children still alive.)

Why does Lucinda fascinate me? Apparently, in the last half of the 1800s, she had four children without a husband and without, apparently, being rejected from her family.

Lucinda was born in Knox County, Kentucky around 1833 to 1835. Her parents were William Baker and Elizabeth Walker (or Wacker) Baker. She was the sixth child of twelve children, and the third daughter. The first mention of her is in the 1850 census where she is living with her parents in Flat Lick, Knox County, Kentucky.

The next mention is in the 1860 census where she is still in her parents’ home. Another member of the household though is her eldest son, Robert (my great-great grandfather). There is no member of that household who could be her spouse. Who could be Robert’s father?

Genealogy writing…

I have been working as a writer for a few years now. Two of my favorite topics on which to write are genealogy and history. The two are intertwined with each other as the individual is part of history and history is made up of individuals.

I have some of my work published on Helium.com. You can see I write on a variety of topics. I write on what topic catches my fancy. But, a good deal of my writing are on my two favorite topics.

I will be adding more to Helium to expand my writing portfolio. Plus, I think I am going to start adding articles about my personal genealogy to this site. Stay tuned.

Jumping right in…

What has always been a challenge for me with blogging is knowing where to start. Genealogy has been part of my life since I was a kid. The resources available back then were limited by my age and lack of funds to get records. Today, I don’t have those tethers.

The biggest obstacle to my genealogy wanderings today is the structure of life. I have to work for a living and I have people and pets that need me present. I spend time with genealogy only a few hours a week. But, it allows me to get back into learning more about my family line.

I view genealogy like a giant jigsaw puzzle. You can have only a few pieces of a puzzle but start getting an idea of what the puzzle picture really is. As you add more pieces to the puzzle, you may find your initial idea was right. Or you may find it is wrong. Each puzzle piece adds something to the picture that is emerging. You may never find all the puzzle pieces. The fun is in the hunt for them.