Tag Archives: census

1840. Census records

How exciting it was after all these years of research to discover there were three murders in the family tree. Goodness! It had been staring Desirée in the face all this time.

Great grandfather Freddie was married to Irene and they had eleven children under the age of fifteen. During the census of 1918 Irene and her sister and mother were at an address at Brighton clearly having a break at the beach resort. The nanny looked after the children – according to the census records. Freddie wasn’t there. The address the census gave him was miles away from where he lived.

Irene, her sister, and her mother never returned from that beach address. They all died in the same weekend. A month later, Freddie remarried; to a widow called Fifi who lived at the address that Freddie had been visiting during the census.

Murder! It was so obvious. The death certificates of the three murdered women stated that they died of influenza. Yeah right! There was no inquest because every second person in that year died of the Spanish Flu. But clearly Freddie had poisoned them in order to marry the flirtatious Fifi.

Fifi was French. At least, the name looked French, which sent Desirée the researcher into a spin. She apparently was descended from the liaison between Freddie and Fifi. Not only murders in the family, but French blood! Let those who are not impressed eat cake.

Desirée shared her findings with her close relatives. How wonderful it was to be descended from a murderer with French connections.

And then something even more exciting happened. Desirée began to suspect the children’s nanny was doing a little more than cleaning up after the children. Desirée put her findings online.

History is so absorbing when people share the facts they find. The internet is riddled with such facts.

270. Makes no census


Wilbur marked a big black X in the box on the census form. It was the box marked “OTHER”. The question was to do with Ethnic Origin. Was he black, turquoise, white, green, pink, yellow, fuchsia, purple… ? Actually, the census form never asked that. It asked if he was European? Or Native American and if so was he Haudenosaunee or what? Or was he a …?

Wilbur was irritated. His maternal grandmother’s ancestors emigrated from The Netherlands eleven generations back, before The Netherlands was even a country. He didn’t regard himself as a European. His maternal grandfather’s ancestors crossed the Bering Strait (apparently) in the last ice age.

His paternal grandmother was born in Nukuʻalofa in Tonga. He didn’t have a clue about his paternal grandfather’s side. But he knew he was born in New York of American parents.

Wilbur was now infuriated. He put a cross next to “OTHER” for the ethnic question and then scribbled notes of annoyance all over the page. I don’t know. I don’t care. It’s none of your business. Why do you want to know? He had to get a new clean census form after that and start again, lest he got thrown in prison for defacing the official document. The British census equivalent didn’t ask if the ancestors came from the Norman or Viking invasion.

He finally put himself down as an American American. He still got an eventual letter from the census people pointing out his flippancy in a serious matter. He was asked to redo the form or face a fine. He put himself down as African. All humans, after all, had originated in Africa.