We depend upon records to reveal the “truth” about our pasts. Yet sometimes records have anomalies. Some are amusing or humorous. Some are interesting or weird. Some are peculiar or suspicious. Some are infuriating, even downright laughable.
Reader, Doris Wheeler, has first hand experience. She remembers the visit by the 1940 enumerator.
It was a big deal to have visitors to my grandparents' 3rd floor apartment in Jersey City, where I lived with them. Unfortunately, the poor man had to have been plied with drink by all the families he had visited. His record of my family rendered them unrecognizable. I was replaced by a completely fictitious young man, and my grandparents' names were changed, along with their ages and occupations—all drastically. Only the address was correct. I found them because I remembered a neighbor's name and that person was recorded correctly. I'm sad that future generations will never be able to find me. I did not exist, although I was seven years old and very much alive.
Line # 42: Should be Theodore F. Muller, age 71, b. New York
Line # 43: Should be Mary (or Marie), age 64, b. New York, Housewife
Line # 44: Should be me, Doris J. Muller, age 7, b. New York, female. There is no Howard in this family.
Yikes! That’s a pretty sober reminder that census records should never be trusted in isolation. The genealogical proof standard really is important.
Yes, “Records Say the Darnedest Things!”
(Thank you, Doris, for your contribution.)