One of the things I’ve been trying to do with my Genealogy Do-Over is to fill in blanks I missed before. One of those big blanks is the state census records. For my Mom’s side, I’m not even sure if there were state censuses taken in Rural Kentucky or Virginia. I’m going to look and be sure though. My Dad’s side is much easier because I know New York and New Jersey had state censuses. This week I’m going to highlight what I would have missed if I didn’t look at the 1905 New Jersey State Census.
We have to start in 1900
The above screenshot shows the Parkin family in the 1900 United States Census. Your eyes don’t deceive you, the census shows them as the John Walter household. This is the family though, and it took me years to find them under John’s middle name instead of his surname. Here you can see all 4 children with their parents. We have Anna who is the oldest, Hazel and Jennie who are close in age and the youngest Walter who is just under a year old.
The family is living in Newark, New Jersey at the time of the census. John’s family is living nearby in East Orange, New Jersey. Jennie’s family is unknown to me at the time. In the 1880 Census the family was living in Baltimore, Maryland but I have found no sign of them after that.
The 1905 Census
I first started looking for the Parkin family in 1905 by searching for them by name. This family is filled with very common names, except for one. That one unique name is Hazel. Hazel is the reason for most of my finds in this family. If it wasn’t for Hazel, I might not have looked twice at the following record.
Notice my caption says alleged. I can’t be sure that these are my Parkin children. First off, I’m not looking at the actual record, just a transcription. Second, the ages are a bit off. I don’t have a place of birth and there are no relationship indicators. This is probably one of the most sparse records I’ve ever looked at.
I was curious on how to figure out what was happening here, but I didn’t know where to start. Like anything else you do, you have to start with what you have in front of you.
I took the name at the top of the household and tried to search for it in both 1900 and 1910 to see if Sarah and Henry were at the same place. My thinking was that if they were running a children’s home, they might have been listed as doing it in another census. I couldn’t find them in either census year by using the index search and I didn’t know where to start on a page by page search.
My next step was to see if I could find them listed in the city directories for 1905 because that would give me an address. That was the one place I was positive they were. The transcription gives no other information but I had another option. Using the information in the citation, I did a catalog search for the film number on FamilySearch to see what else I could find out.
Thank You FamilySearch for your Catalog
FamilySearch’s catalog is one of my favorite resources. You can drill down exactly where every piece of information you are looking at came from. You might not always like it or understand it, but the information is there. I might have had to search all the city directories before hitting the right town if I just looked at what I saw in the transcription. It was great to see that only a few towns were listed for this film number and one jumped out at me. I knew that John’s family lived in East Orange and so I thought that would be a perfect starting point. Truthfully, I was glad not to see Newark listed. Newark is a big city and I wasn’t looking forward to looking for a needle in that haystack!
Looking at the city directory, I was able to see a Mrs. S. T. Horton was a matron at 197 Harrison, East Orange. There was also a Henry B. Horton who was an attendant at 197 Harrison. Yes! More information, but I still don’t know what this place was. The first thing I like to do when I reach the end of where my known information drops off is turn to my friend Google. Lucky for me, I found out that at one time 197 Harrison Street was the Orange Orphan Home. This information was found on numerous Message Boards on Ancestry.com’s forums. There was lots of talk from people whose relatives had worked there and others who lived there.
Google Books even has a 1921 copy of the American Medical Directory. There I found an entry for the Orange Orphan Home, which was established in 1854. None of this tells me why the Parkin children were living at the home in 1905, especially given their father was alive and living with his mother in 1910. Their mother doesn’t appear with the family again in census records, so I assume she must have passed away between 1900 and 1905. Also, the oldest child Anna Parkin was last spotted on that 1900 US Census also, so I fear that something happened to her also.
Conclusion and Plans
This information would be unknown to me if I hadn’t looked at the 1905 State Census. In 1910 the children were living with family members. Jane and Walter were living with their grandmother and Hazel was living with an Aunt. In 1920, Hazel was married and her brother and sister were living with her. Jane/Jennie married my Great-Grandfather Clifford Redford in 1923 and I’m still looking for what happened with Walter. I have no record of him after the 1930 US Census.
My plans are to find the death records for John Walter Parkin and his wife. Without a clearer date for their death, it might take a few tries to get them. I’m hoping that the more I work the Genealogy Do-Over on this family, maybe I’ll pick up some more information to help me out. My current strategy of starting from me and working backwards means that I still have plenty of family members that Anna might have been living with.
I’ll be sure to keep you informed!