Census Data Once Again Provides Answers

Today was one of those genealogy days where I ended up going down a trail that was not my original destination.  I was on Ancestry.com and got an alert that there was a military record associated with one of the people in my tree.  It was my great grandmother’s first husband, Pleasant Frank Johnson.

I was a few years into my research before I realized that my great grandmother, Sarah Johnson West, had a first husband.  I had information verifying that Sarah Johnson had married my great grandfather Benjamin Franklin West in 1865, at age 22, and they had four children together one of which was my maternal grandfather.

In spite of much searching I could never find any parents for my great grandmother Sarah.  There were several Sarah Johnsons to be found in the census records from the 1800s.  However, something always proved them not to be my Sarah Johnson.  Then one day I saw a record of a Sarah Ferguson marrying a Pleasant Frank Johnson at age 13 in 1856.  He died in 1862.  Looking over census records I found that living in the house with my great grandparents were the children Catherine Johnson and Frank Johnson.  These were the children from my great grandmother’s first marriage and at last I knew I was tracking the correct Sarah Johnson.  It was then easy to find her parents, who were Horatio Ferguson and Sarah Barton.

All of which brings me back to today and finding a military record for Pleasant Frank Johnson.  It got me thinking about not having parents listed for him in my tree. I hadn’t pursued looking for them as he was my great grandmother’s first husband and not related by blood.  However, as long as I was entering info for him I decided to look again.  The military record showed that he was born in Alabama and I went to http://www.familysearch.org to see if I could find census data for his earlier years before he married Sarah.  It is always worth rechecking previous research as new records are being added regularly.  Sure enough I located an 1840 census showing his mother and children on the same census page as Horatio Ferguson and his family.

The 1850 census has Pleasant Frank Johnson (16), his mother Hannah and his brother James (18) living in the same neighborhood as eight year old Sarah Ferguson and her family.  In 1860 Sarah and Frank Johnson are married and living next door to his mother Hannah Johnson and a few houses down from Sarah’s father, Horatio Ferguson, and his family.

I love it when finally all of the data you have triangulates and you are positive beyond doubt that you have connected the right people!  So many people with the same names, so much data, so many doubts as to whether you have made the right connections.  Having it all come together is always rewarding.

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Filed under Family connections, Journal, Research

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