1940 US Census: Boarders in the Household
Less than two weeks until the release of the 1940 US census! When searching census records, it is easy to just focus on family members and the other people living in a household. After all, boarders were just people passing through, helping pay the mortgage, right?
While in some situations, you will see a boarder in a census one year and never see them in relation to your family again, sometimes boarders will actually be far more important to your research. Here are a few examples from my family tree:
In 1910, my 3rd great grandmother, Sophia (Passel) Gress, had been a widow for 11 years and all of her children were grown and living with their spouses, raising children of their own. Sometime between 1900 and 1910 she had begun taking in boarders, and as of census day she had 6 young men renting space in her home. One of these men, George Eddy, was a 28 year old house painter. I like to picture Sophia telling her granddaughter Elsie about this kind, hard working, handsome young man living there, as by the 1920 census Sophia was living with George and Elsie Eddy and their 3 daughters (as well as a new boarder) as “grandmother-in-law”.
In 1871, Benjamin Hayman was listed as a lodger in the home of my 3rd great-grandparent’s Charles and Mary Ann Whitehead’s home. Further research proved Benjamin to be Mary Ann’s older brother whom she named her firstborn son after. Why was he listed as a lodger and not as brother-in-law? Perhaps the census taken felt that lodger was a more appropriate relationship or he was not told that there was a blood relationship or he just assumed Benjamin was a lodger.
Have you ever researched the boarders listed in your families census records? Did you find they were more than just someone passing through?
1871 census of England, Kent, Halstead civil parish, village of Halstead, folio 132, page 5, Charles Whitehead household; digital images, The Generations Network, Inc., Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 15 Aug 2008); citing PRO RG 10/921.
1910 U.S. census, Erie County, New York, population schedule, Buffalo, enumeration district (ED) 179, sheet 13B, dwelling 219, family 263, Sophia household; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed Aug 2008); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T624, roll 946.
1920 U.S. census, Erie County, New York, population schedule, Buffalo, enumeration district (ED) 201, sheet 15B, dwelling 254, family 346, George Eddy household; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed Aug 2008); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T625, roll 1107.