Casefile Clues

12 September 2009

Confusing New York and Kentucky


This 1885 census for Davis County, Iowa, contains the entry for Frederick and Lucretia (Sargent) Price. I have been trying to connect Lucretia Sargent to my Ira Sargent (born ca. 1843).
What is interesting about it is that it indicates Lucretia is born in "Ky." All other records indicate she was born in either New York state or Canada. The family has to be hers as all the other details match.
The first letter of her place of birth is clearly not an "N" as there are other "N"s on the page (in the legal description of their farm location). Here is my theory:
The census taker took down notes. He wrote down "Ny" for the place of birth and then, upon writing up his good copy, read it as a "Ky."
That seems pretty reasonable. And I think it explains something else that has never made sense to me.
Ira Sargent (born ca. 1843) had a daughter Ida Sargent Trautvetter. In the 1930 census for Keene Township, Adams County, Illinois, Ida's father and mother are shown with places of birth in "Kentucky." I never understood this at all. While the places of birth for Ida's father were not always consistent, records always provided a place of birth of either New York state or Canada-never near Kentucky.
I am wondering now if she gave "New York" as her father's place of birth and the enumerator in his field notes wrote down "Ny." Did he later interpret that as "Ky" for Kentucky and write that down in the census? I'm not certain. But it makes a little more sense than other scenarios I've been able to come up with.