Sponsored By GenealogyBank

10 November 2011

Have You Looked at All Those Boarders?

If your ancestor has a boarder, hired man, or anyone else living in the household who is not a member of the immediate family, have you researched that person thoroughly? They may be related to the family even if the relationship is not specifically stated.

My ancestor Barbara Haase and her husband Conrad have a fellow German living with them in the 1860 census. I discovered this years ago and really had not thought about it since. I now know Barbara's maiden name which is somewhat close to the last name of this unknown individual living with them in 1860.

Researching this man further may be worth my time. He may be totally unrelated to Barbara and Conrad or there may be a connection.


  1. I have found future spouses, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and cousins by further investigating "boarders". Well worth the research!

  2. I have done that a few times when it was obvious it was a relative, but I have never done it for anyone with a different surname. This is a wonderful piece of advice and I intend on going back and doing the research. This might be the key to some of the missing pieces to the puzzle.

  3. In the 1910 census, a woman listed as a boarder was in fact the grandmothr of the woman of the house. Her last name was different because she had remarried and was widowed for the 2nd time.

    I knew who the woman was when I saw her on the census. She was my grandfather's grandmother and he had told me about her. However, I wouldn't have made the connection otherwise.

  4. Sometimes you can find missing relatives as boarders or servants in with other families, by working in reverse. I've often found young unmarried sisters and neices this way. And yes, sometimes they were with family, but sometimes not.

  5. I found my 2nd great grandmother listed as a servant but it wasn't until many years later (when I received her parents marriage certificate) that I discovered she was the niece of the head of household.