14 December 2009

Does it look like Ehrman to you?

This is part of the 1885 Willow Island Precinct, Dawson County, Nebraska census which Ancestry.com recently released on their website.

I'm 99% certain this head of household is J. T. Ehmen (actually Jurgen Tonjes Ehmen), a distant relative.

Ancestry saw the last name as Ehrman (very reasonable). Problem is that this variant is not caught by a soundex search on Ehmen (because a consonant has been altered in the "first part" of the last name) and it can't be found by a wildcard search on Ancestry.com either because it would require a wildcard search like "Eh*" which is not allowed on Ancestry.com.

How was it found? Luck.

The same census page also contains the 1885 enumeration for Fred Gerdes, my uncle by marriage. I was scanning the entire census page, as I always do, and there was Jurgen Tonjes Ehmen. The Gerdes and Ehmen family have no relationship to each other at all. Fred's sister-in-law married Jurgen's nephew and THAT couple are my great-great-grandparents.

The reminder is that people move in groups and stay within their own ethnic circle. Relationships can be confusing when people are double and triple related, but at least when you find one relative, you've often found more!
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