As I was traveling down the branches of my family tree looking for a potential post to jump out and bite me, I noticed something about the families of distant cousins. They all remained close together throughout the early part of the twentieth century. While certainly, the ties of family may have been closer in the past, simply out of necessity, I find it interesting that by browsing the pages of census records that list ancestors information, one can also find so much more. And so I wanted to share with you my tip of searching the census record pages for any potential neighboring relatives.
So let me start at the beginning of my family tree. I first began researching my genealogical heritage at the end of the line: me. I entered the information I knew: my own, my parents, my grandparents. I spoke with my parents about information they knew about their grandparents, and I added that to the tree as well. At that point, I was able to use census records to locate my great-grandparents parents and their siblings, as well as find further generations.
My biggest example of this familial closeness is found in my maternal grandmother’s Willert < Green < Elliott < Tuttle line so let’s focus on that.
Joseph Tuttle, along with his children and their families, first began their journey westward in the late 1850s. In the years that followed, they lived in different towns nearby, and bravely crossed the Missouri River countless times in the criss-cross journey: Blair, Washington, Nebraska, Mondamin, Harrison, Iowa, and back again to Washington County, Nebraska. However, by the 1880s, most of the Tuttle’s had found their permanent location in a growing community just north of Omaha, Florence.
Fast forward a few generations, and enter the 1900 federal census, and my original discovery. By searching local marriage records for Robert and Alice Tuttle Elliott, and by searching previous census records (the 1870 and 1880, as the 1890 was sadly destroyed) I know that Robert and Alice’s next door neighbor, William Tuttle, is Alice’s younger brother.
On the next page of the census, Robert and Alice’s oldest daughter, Cora Elliott, has been married to Daniel Green for twelve years. They have five children: Alice, 11; Ida, 9; Jesse, 7; Gordon, 5; and Hazel, 1. And scrolling through the page that shows Daniel and Cora’s neighbors, I find names that I recognize from previous census records and from gathering family information. I’ve highlighted the names below.
(You’ll see that in this record, Daniel and Cora are not listed with their children. Their names actually appear on page 12 just before this and their children’s names were listed on page 13.)
Also on page 13, the following names appear: Potter, Michael & Viola; Kindred, William, Ida, and their children; Tuttle, John, Margaret, and their children; as well as another Kindred family, James and Jennie.
Viola Potter is sister to Cora Elliott Green and daughter to Robert and Alice Elliott. And Ida Kindred and John Tuttle are Alice Elliott’s younger siblings as well. While I haven’t researched the Kindred line except for where it crosses with my own branches, I can assume that James is most likely a brother or cousin to William based on the age of the two men.
Going into the 1910s and 1920s, this trend of close family ties with second and third cousins seems to fade, at least with my tree. While transportation changed, the railroad, and the invention of the car allowed more freedom, it’s still worth a look at census pages, before and after your ancestors entry, to see if any familiar names appear.