Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Things I keep learning about my grandfather

As I sit here, writing this post, I am astounded by the information available in the United States Census.

A reader might remember that I have changed how I do my own family tree searching. Instead of climbing up the tree and just adding older and older names, I have decided to focus on learning more about individuals, starting with my most recent ancestors. This day, I am looking at my maternal grandfather, JOHN FRANCIS BURKE in the most recent U.S. census report available, 1940. He was 48. My mother, his oldest daughter of two, was 11. I would be born nine years later; I will appear for the first time in the 1950 Census when it comes out in a couple of years.

As I have written, he is one ancestor about whom I have learned a lot and have had some of what I thought I knew as a child corrected by my discoveries. Today is one of those days.

I thought my Grampy John, as he was called, was a mill worker at one of the plants owned and operated by Samuel Abbott, a very rich industrialist in New Hampshire. My childhood memories are that all four of my grandparents worked for Sam Abbott in one or another of his places, but I have, once again, learned those memories are wrong.

From the 1940 Census, a copy of which I cannot add for some reason (it is probably a Blogger issue), I learned that my maternal grandfather identified himself as a "trucking company owner," not a textile or mill worker!

Having spent the past 8 years as a commercial truck driver myself, there is some satisfaction knowing that my grandfather did it, too.

What amazing information can be learned by digging into the census reports. The next one, the 1950 Census, will be released to the public in a couple of years. That will be the first one to include me! I cannot wait to see what my life was like in Wilton, New Hampshire, as a 1-year old. What do I think I know that will not be true? Time will tell.

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