I’m pretty sure…I just want to be really sure…(Dude, your handwriting stinks)

6 Jan

Now I’m not one to talk. My handwriting isn’t very good. If I were walking door to door helping with a federal census, my entries would be unusable. Especially if I were in a hurry. Which I would be. And if I didn’t think anyone would ever look at this info again. Which I’m sure I would assume. I’m just like that.

So I’m sure it is safe to say that there is a chance, an ever-so-slight chance, that a census taker (I’m not sure what the official title was) felt about the way I did, and therefore was hurrying along to get done and may have written things down wrong, or eligibly. Apparently that may have happened in Rhode Island in 1900…

I’ve looked for information on William Ziesel’s second wife, Eveyln, for a couple weeks now. I’m just trying to find her in census records and I thought I found her, along with her parents. I already know her parents’ names, but I’m just trying to find any siblings, etc. Here’s what I know:

Evelyn Irene Lee was born in 1879, in Rhode Island, to Franklin Pierce Lee and Clara Louise Cooke.

In the 1900 US Census, I actually find Evelyn I. Lee as a “student” in Bristol, Massachusetts, at the Wheaton Female Seminary. She is listed as being born in August, 1879. So, I’m sure it is my Evelyn. Plus, as a bonus, on the same 1900 US Census, I find Evelyn listed as a daughter with her parents, but also listed as “at school”. So, double proof. But there was a little problem with this one.

Evelyn and her parents are listed as Frank and Clara See. Not Lee. See. See? See the problem?

Is there a chance that there is a family of similar make-up, living in Rhode Island in 1900, with only the first letter of their last names different? Of course. If there is a chance for my ancestors to mix it up a bit and make themselves hard to pin down, they’ll do it. That’s the genealogy game anyway, right?

Of course, I’m suspicious. Even though there is a chance that the above paragraph applies, it is a small chance. So I applied a little trick (probably a well-known one at that). I made sure that the “S” in “See” wasn’t really a poorly written “L” for Lee. Here’s what we’re looking at:

Screen shot 2012-12-27 at 7.51.31 PM

Pretty clearly “See”, right? Well, not so quick. When I get confusing info like this, I look around for other places where the census taker had to write a capital “L” just to see if there are any similarities. And, on this record, I found one:

Here’s the word “Landlord”

Screen shot 2012-12-27 at 8.05.58 PM

The “L” in Landlord makes the word kind of like “Sandlord”. This person could’ve been a sandlord. I don’t know. I’m not sure what a sandlord is.

Here’s an even better one on the same page:

Screen shot 2012-12-27 at 8.08.25 PM

You can see the “Servant” and “Landlord” both seem to start with the same letters. But, of course, they don’t. This census taker writes his L’s and S’s the same. Or, I mean, the lame. Get it?

I can tell the name of the census taker from the sheet. I’m not going to post it here because a.) I appreciate his efforts, and b.) I don’t want anyone doing a descendants chart and pummeling his great-great-great-grandchild, who probably wrote illegibly, too.

Long story short, this is my Evelyn…

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2 Responses to “I’m pretty sure…I just want to be really sure…(Dude, your handwriting stinks)”

  1. rose2852 January 6, 2013 at 2:03 PM #

    I know the problem well….

  2. M.J. January 7, 2013 at 10:51 PM #

    Good examples for a common problem. Thanks!

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