Saturday, September 15, 2012


I spent a lot of time in April, when the 1940 census was released, searching for my father, Thomas A Dowd. I could not find him even when I went page by page.  I knew he had lived on Electric Avenue, East Pittsburgh PA.

Yesterday I was searching for Allegheny County Marriage Records (Family Search) and decided to do a blanket search for my grandmother, Gertrude Graham.  POOF, she was where I had been searching.  What was I missing, it was a transcription error of the first letter of her last name from a G to a B.   So it was indexed as Braham and my father was there also but he was also listed as Braham and not Dowd. 

My grandmother has remarried to Peter Graham after the death of her first husband Thomas Dowd.   It also had listed William Zentner as her son (really nephew, son of Gertrude’s sister Ann who died in 1937.)   Also was listed was Clara Graham, as daughter, who was really the daughter of her now deceased second husband Peter.

Moral of the story is not to give up and the information is only as good as the information was given and recorded.  The enumerator probably asked about children and not the names or biological relationships.
I did write a correction to Ancestry, so if anyone else searches years from now, the correction will be documented.

1 comment:

  1. My dad was enumerated in the 1940 census in Massachusetts with his step-father's surname, wrong age, and wrong birthplace. I was able to find the family because I knew the address, but there were a lot of errors. It turns out that my grandmother and step-grandfather were visiting California (and enumerated there) so someone else reported the family's information to the census taker. See my blog post at for the details. Needless to say, when the index came out, I made the necessary corrections to the index for future researchers.