I can’t believe my ancestors would hide from me on purpose….I want to believe they are just shy…after all, most of them have never even met me. I’ve tried everything. Internet searching…name changing…even yelling “olly olly oxen free”….but still they remain hidden just out of sight. OK…so I’m not really playing a game of Hide and Seek with my ancestors…I’m searching for them in US Census reports. Some days I’d really rather be playing a game of Hide and Seek. At least with the game, everyone comes out at the end. But how do I get my ancestors to come out of their hiding places? The only answer to this one is patience…and lots of time.
I recently went thru my family files and realized that I’m missing quite a few US Census reports on a bunch of my ancestors. Most of the missing Census reports are from the 1920 Census. After I looked at my list I actually wondered if I EVER checked the 1920 Census! There were a LOT of holes in this one….more than a piece of Swiss Cheese! So…off to the computer I went…I had to fix this problem.
Now you know as well as I do…Indexing of Census Records is not all its cracked up to be. You put in the name of your ancestor and most of the time you don’t get what you’re looking for. So what is a genealogist to do? Keep looking is the only answer.
Now, I know that most of my Italian ancestors, in 1920, would’ve been in the Chicago, IL area…the family didn’t move to Southwest Michigan until the mid-1920’s…at least that I know of. I really didn’t want to have to check the 1920 census page by page in an area as large as Chicago. So I headed back to my paper files…I needed some connections to look for to try and find those missing ancestors. My first thought was to gather all the names of the ancestors in 1920 that I HAD found in the census reports. Unfortunately, it wasn’t many….but it might just be enough. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about my relatives, its that they all stuck together. One didn’t move very far from another. So if I could find a common area among the one’s I did have, I might be able to find some more of them. NOTE TO SELF: Remember to ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS check the page before and after the relatives that you find. You never know who might be lurking down the street, or be their backyard neighbor.
So I knew my Great Grandparents were in Chicago…their names were Elia and Giovanna Giudice…Unusual, Yes!…but not the most difficult names in the world. However…if you were a census taker in 1920 Chicago, I’m sure you were extremely frustrated with all the immigrants, their unusual accents, and trying to record all these strange names. I give them a LOT of credit. I’m not sure it’s a job I would want to take on myself! Anyway…I try to find Giovanna…I find absolutely NOTHING…so I try her name as Jennie…I know some of the family referred to them as Leo and Jennie, and I’ve seen those names related to them on other documents. BINGO! I have a hit for Jennie Giudice. Now…this is where the fun starts……….
Jennie Giudice, my great grandmother, is living in Chicago…at 2246 Wentworth Avenue to be exact. She is living with (or at least “in the home” with), her daughter Sarah (actually it was Sadie), son-in-law Tony, and granddaughter Mary. But where is Elia (or maybe his name is Leo now). I know both of them are still living…they died within a few months of each other in 1937 and I’ve visited their graves many times….in Michigan. So…I start checking beyond their address…not a difficult task…right below Jennie is her son, Dominick at a house either next door or across the street. Looking further on Wentworth Avenue I find Joe Giudice, Jennie’s son, at 2216. So this is the right neighborhood…
I take a step back and look at the enumeration district…I’m in Chicago Ward 1, District 34…but I’m on page 22 of 44 pages. So instead of just looking a page ahead and a page behind them I figured what would I lose to look thru all 44 pages of the district. It’s all in the same neighborhood…so I might find other relatives, too. Obviously this is either “Little Italy” or at least an Italian neighborhood…there seems to be a LOT of people who were Italian immigrants listed. So I paged back to Page 1 and started looking at each name. I can feel it…there has to be other relatives here.
And I find them…on page 4 I find one of Leo and Jennie’s daughters…she and her children are recorded with her husbands sister and brother-in-law. But, again this ancestor’s husband is missing….That’s now 2 husbands that have gone AWOL on me! So…back to the computer screen I go…and keep scanning for familiar names. Page 18 give me another hit…a BIG one this time…My Grand Parents! Sam and Frances Giudice have been FOUND! Six months after their marriage in Chicago…and they are found at 230 Alexander Street…obviously an apartment building due to the number of “households” at the same address….and 4 doors down from a Catholic Church! Gotta love those Italians and their love for being near a church!
The last one I found in this “neighborhood”, was Joe…Leo and Jennie’s son. So…that accounts for quite a few of the family members but not nearly close enough for me! I’m still missing a few husbands…some of them are still AWOL. Now if I was a truly suspicious person…and I started thinking about all the possible scenarios, I might be able to add about an hour to the Godfather movies…Italian fathers and sons missing…wives and children residing with relatives…Sounds like a “Protection” from the movies! But…this is not the movies…it’s not “The Godfather”…its just a family with a difficult to spell (and pronounce) name in 1920 Chicago. I still have a ton of pages of the census to look thru. I’m sure they are here somewhere. I better give my brain a rest…stop daydreaming about Al Capone, the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, and relatives that talk like Marlon Brando. I have census documents to look thru.
Check back soon…I still have about 350+ pages of the Chicago City portion of the 1920 US Federal Census to check thru. Keep your fingers crossed that I don’t suffer any permanent eye damage reading thru this one! I sure hope a few more relatives come out of hiding….I’d really like to know where the wives hid these husbands!