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Monday, July 18, 2016

Getting from 1880 to 1900 without the Female's Surname

South Carolina, Death Records, 1821-1955 , ( : accessed 25 Oct 2012), Minnie Smith, 02 Nov 1949.

Have you ever found a female family member on the 1880 Census and wanted to trace them forward to learn more? There is a challenge between 1880 and 1900 because the 1890 US Census was almost completely destroyed leaving a 20 year gap between 1880 and the next complete census in 1900; the challenge is greater if you do not know the married name.

Most of the time you will be researching the most previous generations first, but you will want to trace the new people you discover forward in time to see what else you can learn about your family. Sometimes this may link you to living descendants who can share stories and photos.

If you have been following this series of articles, hopefully you have learned a few tips for finding your family again in 1900. In “How do you get past the 1880-1900 census gap,” andGenealogy: A bridge from 1880 to the children in 1900,” all of the Vance children were identified except Lee and Minnie Vance.

In search of Minnie
A search for Minnie Vance in Greenwood County, South Carolina on the 1900 US Census did not yield any close results. It is possible she was married, but there were no known descendants to query at the time. When all you have is the female at home with her parents in 1880, you need to use other strategies for finding her.

It is obvious that not knowing the married name is a huge challenge, but using the parents’ names, perhaps you can locate a death certificate. A search for Minnie’s death certificate using the following search criteria yielded no results.
  • Name: Minnie
  • Death: South Carolina
  • Father’s last name: Vance
  • Mother’s last name: Dunlap
Sometimes, you can limit results by putting in too much information. Many times the mother’s maiden name is left blank on a death certificate. Searching again without Matilda’s maiden name produces the following result:
  • Minnie Smith (South Carolina Deaths, 1944-1955)
  • death: 2 Nov, 1949
  • place: Due West, Abbeville, South Carolina
  • parents: Beb Vance, Matilda
The spelling of her father’s name on the index is incorrect (Beb). You can tell the correct spelling is Bev (short for Beverly) by looking at the actual death certificate. Also, unlike her other siblings who lived in Greenwood County, Minnie remained in Abbeville, the county of her birth.

Take stock in oral history
Knowing that Minnie married a Smith should make it possible to find her on the 1900 US Census, but she was not to be found under the surname Smith. During the same time frame that her death certificate was discovered, a collateral line descendant who knew one of Minnie’s children recalled her child Viola’s maiden name (Hawthorne). Sure enough, a search of the 1900 US Census revealed the family group of Minnie Vance Hawthorne.

Some of the children listed belonged to Tully from a previous marriage. Family oral history was useful in determining which children belonged to Minnie, and each child was traced forward on the census filling her descendants out to current generations of living family members.

Even though the norm is to start with yourself and work back on your family tree, sometimes it can seem like you are racing up and down the tree as you fill out the family groups in your quest to find living people who can share clues to help you move past the gaps in your research. Lee Vance was the most challenging of all the siblings to find. 


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