Census Records Provide More Great Clues

30 Jan

A few days after I created this blog; just about 3 weeks ago; I wrote about a great find I had made; all because of clues from a census record. This morning; I made another great find; that started all because of a clue in an 1880 census record.

The subject here was a woman by the name of Minerva Lichty (also found as Lighty). We knew that she was the mother of Roscoe Spotts; who was born in Wayne Co., IN, in 1887. Roscoe was found in the household of his father, Charles Spotts/Spatz, on the 1900 census of Wayne Co., IN. Charles was a widower by that time. Charles’s mother, Adeline; and a couple of sisters of Charles, were living with him. There is little doubt that Adeline and the sisters of Charles must have played a very large part in raising Roscoe.

Charles “Spatz” had married Minerva Lichty, in Wayne County, IN; 14 Dec. 1886. Since Roscoe was born in 1887, he was no doubt the first child. Roscoe was 12 years old at the time of the 1900 census; and was the only child in the household. So… one must wonder if Minerva had died soon after the birth of Roscoe; he apparently having been the only child.

In attempting to locate the parents of Minerva; I first searched the 1880 Wayne County census. Minerva Lichty was found in the household of Ephraim and Eliza Wolfgang. She was 15 years old; and was listed as a “niece”. This was the first clue. Because she was listed as a niece of Ephraim; I knew that either Ephraim was a brother to Minerva’s mother; or; his wife Eliza, was a sister of Minerva’s father.

Since I now knew that Minerva must have been born about 1865; I moved on to the 1870 census; expecting to find Minerva with her parents; and knowing she would be about 5 years old. The search was not going well. I could not find a Minerva Lichty/Lighty on the 1870 census of Wayne County. After spending some time, trying various spellings; trying all of the tricks I know; and still unable to find her; I finally decided to try searching for her only by her first name and her approximate birth year. So…. I put “Manerva” in the first name field; and nothing in the field for the last name. I put “1865” in for the birth; with a plus or minus of 5 years. None of those results matched. I then tried again, using “Minerva”. Again; I did not put a last name. I did put the birth year of 1865 (plus or minus 5 years) and “Wayne County, Indiana” in the place field. To my surprise, I found a Minerva in the household of Ephraim Wolfgang. She was 6 years old. Apparently, the census taker must have assumed Minerva’s last name was also Wolfgang. Of course I already knew that was not the case. But…. I had found her.

I knew this family had lived in near or in the town of Cambridge City, IN (Wayne County); and also knew that (A subscription based site) had some old Cambridge City newspapers on their website. Since I knew there wouldn’t be many Wolfgang’s listed; I decided to search those Cambridge City newspapers for Wolfgang. I found the obituary of “Susan” Wolfgang; who was the wife of Ephraim. Of course the 1880 census gave her name as Eliza. But…. that wasn’t really an issue. Eliza may have been her middle name. At any rate, the obituary of Susan Wolfgang; stated that she was the wife of Ephraim Wolfgang. But… it did a lot more than that. It also provided me with her maiden name; which was “Lighty”; and gave her parents names.

Since I now knew that the “Eliza” Wolfgang whom Minerva was living with in 1870 and 1880 was a apparently a sister of Minerva’s mother; and then knew to look at the household of Susan (Eliza’s) father in earlier census records. I was then able to easily find Susan’s parents on the 1850 Wayne County census. Long story short; this census shows that Susan had 5 brothers. They were John, Daniel, Henry, James and George.

So…. this puzzle isn’t completely solved. However; I now know that George Lichty/Lighty (mother of Susan and the boys I just mentioned) was the grandfather of Minerva; and that one of his son’s was apparently the father of Minerva. So… the search for Minerva’s parents has certainly been narrowed down. And… all because I found her listed as a “niece” on that 1880 census; in the household of Ephraim and Eliza Wolfgang.

I cannot emphasize how important it is to carefully read and analyze all of the information on those census records. They often times hold great clues. It’s not just the names and dates were want to look at.

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Posted by on January 30, 2012 in Census


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