Found! – Cornelia McCLELLAN in the 1870 U.S. Federal Census

Perseverance pays off. Sometimes, boredom does, too. Some of you know that I’ve been home all week with a nasty case of laryngitis; since I teach, I’m pretty much useless at work. I’m not feeling too badly; just a little fatigued, and mostly bored. So I’ve spent a lot of time on the computer the last few days.

At loooooooooong last, I’ve found my 3rd-great-grandmother on a census prior to 1880. Cornelia McCLELLAN appears with her parents and two younger brothers in the 1870 U.S. Federal Census in New Haven Village, Armada Township, Macomb County, Michigan. It took some tricky searches to find them, as her father is enumerated as “Levy MACLALLEN.” Cornelia herself was indexed as “Amelia” and her mother as “Charissa.” Thank goodness for Ancestry’s “correct an error” feature for census records! I sent in the correct and alternate spellings for all three.

I still can’t find these people in 1860, although I have done many rigorous searches late last night and early this morning. A search in the 1880 census for the other family members (I already had Cornelia’s enumeration for that one), gave me a possibility for Levi in Detroit, with a possible second wife (Mary C.), new son (Ira, age 10), and step-son (George, age 14). This Levi matches in approximate birth year, birth place, and occupation (carpenter) my Levi of 1870. Clarissa and Edmund (probably both deceased) are nowhere to be found. There are several possibilities for William in the state.

The 1900 census does not enumerate Levi, or at least, I haven’t found him. I did find an Ira whose birth year and birthplace match, residing in Washington Twp., Macomb County. His occupation is a (stove/steve/? joiner). Joiners and carpenters are pretty much the same occupation, and if this Ira is Levi’s son, above, it’s possible he learned the trade from his father.

Any of you who’ve done this for a while understand what I’m talking about when I say there are certain families that you can trace all the way back to the ship, with plenty of supporting documents; and then there are those that make you want to bang your head on the wall (like this family)! However frustrating the latter are, they are the ones I learn from the most. I learn to use alternate spellings, think creatively, analyze, organize my information, and simply to persevere. And these are the ones that make genealogy so interesting and rewarding!

Found! – Cornelia McCLELLAN in the 1870 U.S. Federal Census

Perseverance pays off. Sometimes, boredom does, too. Some of you know that I’ve been home all week with a nasty case of laryngitis; since I teach, I’m pretty much useless at work. I’m not feeling too badly; just a little fatigued, and mostly bored. So I’ve spent a lot of time on the computer the last few days.

At loooooooooong last, I’ve found my 3rd-great-grandmother on a census prior to 1880. Cornelia McCLELLAN appears with her parents and two younger brothers in the 1870 U.S. Federal Census in New Haven Village, Armada Township, Macomb County, Michigan. It took some tricky searches to find them, as her father is enumerated as “Levy MACLALLEN.” Cornelia herself was indexed as “Amelia” and her mother as “Charissa.” Thank goodness for Ancestry’s “correct an error” feature for census records! I sent in the correct and alternate spellings for all three.

I still can’t find these people in 1860, although I have done many rigorous searches late last night and early this morning. A search in the 1880 census for the other family members (I already had Cornelia’s enumeration for that one), gave me a possibility for Levi in Detroit, with a possible second wife (Mary C.), new son (Ira, age 10), and step-son (George, age 14). This Levi matches in approximate birth year, birth place, and occupation (carpenter) my Levi of 1870. Clarissa and Edmund (probably both deceased) are nowhere to be found. There are several possibilities for William in the state.

The 1900 census does not enumerate Levi, or at least, I haven’t found him. I did find an Ira whose birth year and birthplace match, residing in Washington Twp., Macomb County. His occupation is a (stove/steve/? joiner). Joiners and carpenters are pretty much the same occupation, and if this Ira is Levi’s son, above, it’s possible he learned the trade from his father.

Any of you who’ve done this for a while understand what I’m talking about when I say there are certain families that you can trace all the way back to the ship, with plenty of supporting documents; and then there are those that make you want to bang your head on the wall (like this family)! However frustrating the latter are, they are the ones I learn from the most. I learn to use alternate spellings, think creatively, analyze, organize my information, and simply to persevere. And these are the ones that make genealogy so interesting and rewarding!

Online Research Form

As I blogged in my New Year’s Resolutions, I have wanted to keep better track of my online research and search results. When using online databases, it’s so easy to lose track of exactly what you searched for, especially when refining your searches to adjust for name spellings, locations, ages, etc.

I created an Online Research Form to help me document my research a little more carefully and efficiently (hopefully, no more repeating searches with the same parameters). A sample of what I have done is shown below, and you can also view a full-size version of it here (use the magnifying class icon above the image to zoom in).

The purpose of this particular search is to find my 3rd-great-grandmother, Cornelia McCLELLAND on the 1860 U.S. Federal Census. This woman has been extremely troublesome to find in many records. I believe the main reason for this is that she was illiterate – she signed her name with an “X” on all the paperwork in the Widow’s Applications for the pensions of her two Civil War veteran husbands. She may simply have had very little schooling, and by not being able to write down dates, had nothing to rely on except her memory. Every record in which she (or a relative) states her birthdate or her children’s birthdates seems to never coincide with any of the others. The most consistent records indicate she was born in late 1856 or in 1857, in St. Clair, St. Clair Co., Michigan. I finally discovered her parents’ names on one of her marriage records (she was married three times): Levi McCLELLAN and Clarissa CLEVELAND.

Some of the many spelling possibilities I’ve come up with for this family’s surname are: McCLELLAN, McCLELLAND, McCLELAN, McCLELAND, McLELLAN, McLELLAND, McLELAN, and McLELAND. Now change the “Mc” to “Mac” and you have eight more spellings! Another possibility is “M’.” I could also remove the “M’/Mc/Mac” altogether. I could change the letter “a” to any other vowel, including “y,” and still get the same pronunciation. The “e” could also be changed to another vowel.

In addition, CLEVELAND could be spelled with or without the final “D,” with a variety of vowels in the last syllable, and a variety of spellings (CLEAVE- CLEEV-, CLEFE-, etc.) in the first syllable.

Levi can be a mis-transcription of Lewis; Clarissa could be Clara, Clare, or Clair, not to mention Rissa, or LaRissa. Cornelia could be Cordelia, Corrie, Connie, Nell(ie), Delia, or mis-transcribed as a male, Cornelius.

Soundex searches can be extremely valuable, but wouldn’t work in differentiating between McCLELLAN and CLELLAN. I’d have to search both. You can see for all these variations, I definitely need to keep track of what I am searching for! By listing every search I make for this family, I can make sure I’ve covered all the bases. I can also double-check previous searches when I get a brainstorm for a new spelling or nickname…or an idea of a different location they may have resided in.

If you would like a copy of this Online Research Form, drop me an e-mail at kidmiff@gmail.com. I will send it to you in a Word Document. It is set up in landscape view, and you may need to adjust your printer margins for it to print properly. I hope to eventually make this available online using Google Documents or Adobe, but I haven’t figured out how to do that yet!

Online Research Form

As I blogged in my New Year’s Resolutions, I have wanted to keep better track of my online research and search results. When using online databases, it’s so easy to lose track of exactly what you searched for, especially when refining your searches to adjust for name spellings, locations, ages, etc.

I created an Online Research Form to help me document my research a little more carefully and efficiently (hopefully, no more repeating searches with the same parameters). A sample of what I have done is shown below, and you can also view a full-size version of it here (use the magnifying class icon above the image to zoom in).

The purpose of this particular search is to find my 3rd-great-grandmother, Cornelia McCLELLAND on the 1860 U.S. Federal Census. This woman has been extremely troublesome to find in many records. I believe the main reason for this is that she was illiterate – she signed her name with an “X” on all the paperwork in the Widow’s Applications for the pensions of her two Civil War veteran husbands. She may simply have had very little schooling, and by not being able to write down dates, had nothing to rely on except her memory. Every record in which she (or a relative) states her birthdate or her children’s birthdates seems to never coincide with any of the others. The most consistent records indicate she was born in late 1856 or in 1857, in St. Clair, St. Clair Co., Michigan. I finally discovered her parents’ names on one of her marriage records (she was married three times): Levi McCLELLAN and Clarissa CLEVELAND.

Some of the many spelling possibilities I’ve come up with for this family’s surname are: McCLELLAN, McCLELLAND, McCLELAN, McCLELAND, McLELLAN, McLELLAND, McLELAN, and McLELAND. Now change the “Mc” to “Mac” and you have eight more spellings! Another possibility is “M’.” I could also remove the “M’/Mc/Mac” altogether. I could change the letter “a” to any other vowel, including “y,” and still get the same pronunciation. The “e” could also be changed to another vowel.

In addition, CLEVELAND could be spelled with or without the final “D,” with a variety of vowels in the last syllable, and a variety of spellings (CLEAVE- CLEEV-, CLEFE-, etc.) in the first syllable.

Levi can be a mis-transcription of Lewis; Clarissa could be Clara, Clare, or Clair, not to mention Rissa, or LaRissa. Cornelia could be Cordelia, Corrie, Connie, Nell(ie), Delia, or mis-transcribed as a male, Cornelius.

Soundex searches can be extremely valuable, but wouldn’t work in differentiating between McCLELLAN and CLELLAN. I’d have to search both. You can see for all these variations, I definitely need to keep track of what I am searching for! By listing every search I make for this family, I can make sure I’ve covered all the bases. I can also double-check previous searches when I get a brainstorm for a new spelling or nickname…or an idea of a different location they may have resided in.

If you would like a copy of this Online Research Form, drop me an e-mail at kidmiff@gmail.com. I will send it to you in a Word Document. It is set up in landscape view, and you may need to adjust your printer margins for it to print properly. I hope to eventually make this available online using Google Documents or Adobe, but I haven’t figured out how to do that yet!