If you've listened to Genealogy Gems Podcast episode number 70, you've heard a little about my successes with searching in the 1930 US census this month. The images of the census enumeration pages were made available for free for this month only at Footnote.com, so I figured I had nothing to lose except the time I used in searching for them. I was looking at the page listing my great great grandfather, Jonathan Rice when I made this discovery. By 1930, Jonathan was 73 years old and living alone in Linden, Indiana. When I went to build the citation information to include in my database, the enumerator's signature (pictured) caught my eye. A quick search of my database showed Everett Josiah Beach was my great granduncle. Everett's brother Emerson married Jonathan's daughter Grace Rice to connect the two families on 17 Nov 1904. So, knowing that Everett was in one of the families that I was researching, and knowing that he was an enumerator for the 1930 census, he must have been enumerated himself, right? Almost -- I fell victim to one of my biggest frustrations with research done by computer.
My first search for him by name turned up no hits. I set this task aside for a moment while I continued searching for other family members, but then thought of another way to search. I tried expanding my search of the census index by removing the first name field from my search criteria, but adding "Indiana" to the state field in my search. This gave me a list of 515 names on 183 census images to examine. While I could look at each of these in turn, I didn't relish the thought of scrutinizing that many pages to find this one relative. The next search criterion is the one that got me there. I added "Montgomery" in the county field, which narrowed the search to 14 names on 2 census images. The first image showed Emerson's household, while the second showed the household of "Eanstt J. Beach." I thought that spelling was a little odd, and looking at the image, it was actually Everett's household, and he signed the sheet as enumerator as I had guessed he would. The problem was that whoever read the page to create the index that Footnote was using misinterpreted Everett's handwriting and typed Eanstt instead.
The thing is, if I hadn't expanded and then narrowed my search on a different set of criteria, I wouldn't have found the indexing error. That's what I dislike most about computerized indexes; they are exact to a fault in that if it's misspelled in the index, you've got to know the exact misspelling to find it. Yes, I sent a note to the staff at Footnote to let them know of the error, and they did send me a note thanking me for the correction and soon had the entry updated to reflect Everett's name correctly.