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30 June 2013

Five Year Gap?

If you have a chronology for an ancestor and, during their adult lifetime, you have five year gaps where you are not certain where the ancestor lived or what they were doing, try and locate a record to provide that information. Answering those questions may help you determine more about where the ancestor was from and what her origins were.

Did they head west?
Were they in an institution?
Did they have a financial setback?
Did they have a "short-term" marriage that did not last?


  1. This is very true. One of my GGFs "disappeared" for a census year and my GGM was living with her parents and daughter. Later on he was back. Where did he go? Apparently he went to Alaska for the gold rush, struck a little rich and returned to his wife and child. He had a gold nugget he made into a ring and gave it to my GGM.

  2. Today's 'Tip' highlights an interesting and important fact about life in the the US during the 19th and early 20th centuries: people moved around a lot more than I (at least) previously recognized. And migration wasn't consistently in a westward direction. If you limit yourself to the 10-year census intervals in tracking your ancestors' residences, you might well overlook some really intriguing aspects of their lives. For instance, my 3-great grandfather was born in eastern Ohio in 1818. The census shows that he made an interim move a few miles west to Coshocton County, Ohio before he and his wife purchased the farm in Licking County (about 30 miles further west) where they raised their 10 children and lived out their lives. For many years I was confident that that progression was the whole story. But last year, with the help of a cousin, we learned almost by accident that our ancestor had made a brief detour through Osage county, Kansas during the late 1840s. The Kansas venture never showed up on the census, and it was startling to us. It raises lots of intriguing questions, and suggests that our ancestor probably had a far greater spirit of adventure than we had previously realized!

  3. Age was no barrier to all this moving around. I have an ancestor who was born in Ohio in 1838, and we found him in the 1900 census ranching in Idaho near Yellowstone! By 1920 he was home for good in Ohio, still farming. This was in addition to marching all over Tennessee and Kentucky during the Civil War. Wonder where I got MY wandering feet?