Wednesday, October 19, 2011


                                                                    ~  1930  ~

     Is this the year of the disappearing ancestors?  Maybe the name of today's blog post should be 'Absent Ancestors'.

     The first person I ever looked up in the 1930 U.S. Federal Census was my maternal grandmother, Eleanor.  My grandmother's year of birth is listed as 1920 on her death certificate.  I searched and searched but could not find MaMa in the 1930 census.  I did find another Eleanor Davis on the list with a birth year of 1918 and relation to head of household being granddaughter.  I clicked on the 'other' Eleanor out of curiosity and to my surprise found that she was actually my grandmother.  If I had looked up my great-great-grandmother's name I would not have found her because it is spelled incorrectly.  The last name is spelled 'Dupes' instead of 'Duper'.  Even though MaMa's year of birth is listed as 1918 and her grandmother's last name is wrong, I know this is my family.  MaMa's grandmother's first name was Teresa and her uncles (in this census) were Steven and Gerald.  This is indeed my family because the first names, dates of birth, and relationships are correct.
     When I first saw my grandmother's date of birth in the 1930 census listed as 1918 and her age as 12 years I thought her grandmother had been mistaken.  MaMa should be 10 years old in 1930.  When I looked at the 1930 U.S. Census I was not yet a subscriber of but was able to view it for free because the census had just been released to the public and offered it for free for the weekend.  After I became a subscriber I checked the 1920 U.S. Census for MaMa's parents Samuel and Josephine Davis.  My g-great-grandmother, Teresa provided the census taker with the correct information regarding her granddaughter.  MaMa was born June 3rd in 1918 and not 1920.
     Why was my grandmother living with her maternal grandmother, Teresa Duper in 1930?  Where were her parents and three younger brothers?  Since viewing that census I had discovered that my grandmother's younger sister died at the age of 3 in 1927 and her baby brother William was born the very next day.  If MaMa was living with her grandmother because her own mother was under stress then where were her brothers?  I checked all their names and haven't found any of the boys in the 1930 census.  That remains a mystery.
     In the 1930 census, I found two of MaMa's uncles living with their mother, Teresa in Brooklyn,NY.  Uncle Gerald was 19 years old and single.  Uncle Steven was 32 years and married.  His wife is not listed in this census; well, not in 'this' household.  Uncle Steve was married to Mary and is listed with his wife in the 1920 census.  Where was Aunt Mary in 1930?  Why wasn't she with her husband?  I know she was alive in 1930 because I remember her spending the holidays with my grandmother.  Aunt Mary didn't die until 1986.  She was predeceased by Uncle Steve who died February 23, 1969.  Maybe she had her own apartment in Manhattan?  That's where she and her husband lived in 1920.
     I always thought my g-great-grandmother, Teresa was a widow in 1930 even though the census states that she was married and she was listed with her husband in the 1920 census.  I stumbled across an obituary in the Brooklyn Eagle newspaper for my g-great-grandfather, Stephen Duper.  The obituary stated that he was the loving husband of Teresa duper and that he died at their home.  He died July 16, 1931 so where was he the year before when he was still alive?
     I guess I'll try the city directories next.  I don't know why I haven't checked those yet.  Anybody who might have known my missing ancestors whereabouts in 1930 is already dead so it looks like I'm on my own.


  1. Reading your post, I felt like I was reading my own experiences with disappearing ancestors. It certainly doesn't help that Ancestry's indexers sometimes couldn't read the census taker's handwriting causing your name not to show up in a search. The other problem with my ancestors is they used first name one time and middle name another time. I FINALLY found Nicholas E. Breeden listed as Eliza N -- his name was Elijah. Have you tried searching by middle names?

  2. 1930 was the first full year of the Great Depression, as my grandmother referred to it. It wasn't uncommon for family members to be scattered across other families as people tried to make ends meet.

    Hope you locate all of them.

  3. Thank you Wendy and dee for the tips. I haven't tried searching under middle names because I don't know the middle names of my missing ancestors if they even had one. I didn't think about the Great Depression and my ancestors off somewhere trying to make a living. Thanks again.