I’ll start by saying I don’t mean my example is excellent – but the varied information in this particular record is…

While seeking my wife’s great-grandfather Michael A. Duffy’s family in the 1900 census, I went through several possibilities until I found one that appears to be a pretty good match. It helps that his father had the first name of Anthony which doesn’t appear to be too common. For Duffys in New York anyway.

One thing that is off is Michael’s birth year – but since some of the years listed in my Tierney family’s 1900 record are way off from documented dates, that’s not bothering me too much.

So, I’ll be following these folks around awhile and see where they lead me. But, even if it doesn’t work out between us I will still be glad that I found this record – it is an excellent teaching example! Take a look below…

Census Record Detail , Duffy Family - 1900, NY, NY ED 491

Click the image for a larger view.

What we have here is Anthony & Annie Duffy and six children. But wait! What is going on there in the “Number of years married” column? Looks like Anthony answered “23” then got an elbow in the ribs from Annie and had the enumerator change it to “11” like hers. (See detail blow up on top left of image.)

Hmm… Annie is reported as having had 4 children with all 4 still living. But – there’s 6 kids here!

Ah, sons John & Thomas are quite a bit older than the others. Also notice that John was born in Ireland and Thomas in New Jersey.

Perhaps Anthony was married back in Ireland, emigrated with wife and son, then had another after arriving and some time later lost his wife? If Anthony was first married 23 years ago (as was crossed out), that is a nice fit with son John’s age of 22.

But wait again! The census says that father Anthony emigrated in 1888 but his son emigrated 8 years before that in 1880. And Hey – What is going on here? Son Thomas is listed as being born 6 years before father Anthony emigrated. What a pickle.

So, perhaps they are mother Annie’s boys from a previous marriage? Alas! She is listed as emigrating in 1884, after both John’s emigration and Thomas’ birth as well.

Are those older boys really sons, or maybe some other relations? Is that crossed out 23 a red herring? Well, I certainly don’t know the answers to what is going on here yet – but I’ll be checking into it.

1915 Iowa Census Record - Michael Duffy

Later on for extra credit I’ll by trying to figure out how Michael ends up in Iowa in 1914, where he gets married to Josephine Bernemann, who was from Wisconsin.

1915 Iowa Census Record - Josephine Duffy


  • avatar

    Comment by Anne Tierney — May 20, 2011 @ 8:50 pm

    good times, my friend. Good. times. This little mystery certainly ought to keep you busy for a bit anyway!
    Makes me wonder about the 2010 census last year, where they didn’t even have you list where you were born. How the heck is that going to help future generations researching US???
    Take THAT great great grand kids! Take. that.

  • avatar

    Comment by John — May 20, 2011 @ 9:00 pm

    I guess all of our social media indiscretions will be how our descendants learn about us.

    Uh oh.

    *Erasing Twitter*…. done.
    *Erasing Facebook*…. done.

  • avatar

    Comment by Smallest Leaf — June 3, 2011 @ 7:23 pm

    Interesting questions and analysis, John. I love the way you imagined the “elbow in the ribs from Annie”. I think you’ve probably got that right. 😉

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