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Census Records for Freedom Township

 
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roger.pape
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Location: Liverpool, NY

PostPosted: Mon May 11, 2009 6:08 pm    Post subject: Census Records for Freedom Township Reply with quote

A CD containing files of all federal census records for Freedom Township, Lafayette Co., MO for the years 1840 to 1930 is now available at the Concordia Library. The files are scans of the microfilm records, i.e. in the census takerís handwriting. They are saved in Adobe Acrobat PDF format. Because they are page images, they cannot be searched with the usual search tools but must be read page by page. The files are organized by the order in which the records were microfilmed. Therefore, some of the sections may not be organized in strict geographical order.

As a bonus, two different plat maps for the Freedom Township area are also included. The 1877 map was scanned from pages in Loberta Runge's "Frerking Family History"; while the 1930 map was downloaded from the University of Missouri Digital Library. Several file formats are provided to support various imaging programs. (Note. These are the same maps that are displayed as overlays on the Maps page of this website.)

General Comments About Using Census Records -

The lists start in 1840, i.e. the first census after Concordia was initially settled. These are images of the original handwritten records, so searching through them can be time-consuming. Not only is the handwriting often difficult to read, but there are also frequent misspellings of names.

The Census Bureau website http://www.census.gov/prod/2000pubs/cff-2.pdf includes a summary of what was included in each census. The very early records only include the names of the head of a household and counts of people in the household by age group, sex, race, and free vs. slaves. Over the years, more information was added. By 1850 the name, age, and birthplace of every individual in the household was included, along with occupational information. In 1880, the records began including the birthplace of the parents. The 1900 census included several additional pieces of information, namely the month/year of birth and the year of immigration (if foreign born). Various years contained other bits of information that may or may not be found in other years. It seems to depend on what was considered important at that time. For example, the 1930 census indicates whether the house had a radio.

Because the headings on the various listings may be difficult to read, check the templates.pdf file (courtesy of ancestry.com) for a more legible listing.

By law, the census information is confidential for 72 years (the average lifespan when the law was enacted). So the latest records available to the public are from the 1930 census. Also, virtually all of the 1890 records were destroyed by fire. Unfortunately, this is a critical period when I have searched for information about some of my ancestors.

The original records were microfilmed and made available in that form. To make it easier to locate the film on which a given name can be found, the names in the entries were coded in a Soundex system. This encoding technique made it possible to find variations in spellings, but can result in some unrelated matches. The microfilm rolls can be rented or purchased from the government. They are also available in many libraries. However, in this age of computers, people have transcribed the film records and made them available in digital form. Various websites such as ancestry.com and HeritageQuest provide the facility to search for a particular name; but to access and view the records, a subscription is normally required. Furthermore, the transcription of the original records is incomplete; so you may not find some names you might expect.

One of the problems with computer access is that the names in the handwritten records had to be transcribed into computer files. When you look at some of the records, you will see that some of them are illegible or difficult to interpret. There are spelling errors due either to what the census taker (sometimes unfamiliar with German names) wrote down or because the transcriber had trouble interpreting the handwriting of the census taker. While doing computer searches, I have found that many of the people I am looking for are not listed for certain years. This is why it is necessary in some cases to look at the original handwritten records. By looking at the originals, one can also determine family/household relationships. One can often determine who were neighbors. While addresses may not be included, one might assume that in most cases the census taker interviewed homes in order.

Another common problem is interchanging first and middle names. As has been noted earlier, many people would switch the order of their given names for various reasons, either to avoid confusion with others who had similar names or simply because they preferred one name over the other. I have seen cases where the same person is listed with the given names in a different order from one census to another. So, first names or initials in these listings can vary between the various census years.

A word of caution about using these records for determining date of birth, particularly for the earlier years. They depend on what a person told the census taker. I have seen age variations of several years from one census to another. At least they are in the ballpark. Similarly, the year of immigration may also vary from one census to another.
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roger.pape
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Joined: 17 Mar 2009
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Location: Liverpool, NY

PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2009 4:15 pm    Post subject: Census records for Davis and Middleton Township Reply with quote

Because many of the people in the Concordia area lived north of Freedom township, another CD of federal census records has been added to the Concordia Library files. This CD contains most of Davis and Middleton Townships (including Alma) for the years 1840 to 1930. The files are in the same format as on the Freedom Township CD, i.e. page images of the microfilm copies of the census takers' handwritten records.
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roger.pape
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 21, 2009 10:31 am    Post subject: Census records for Saline County Reply with quote

More census records have been added to the Concordia Library files, namely for Salt Pond and Elmwood Townships in western Saline County. These records include Emma, Sweet Springs, and Blackburn.
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