Casefile Clues

11 September 2011

Framing the Apgars: How Much Proof?

Framing the Apgars: How Much Proof? 


(this article was originally published in the Ancestry Daily News on 25 Sept 2002). The census entry discussed can be viewed here http://www.rootdig.com/census/louisdemar1910.html.


How can I prove that a reference to William Frame in the 1910 census is actually supposed to be a William Apgar? And just how much information do I need to have to show that two individuals are in fact the same person? It depends.

And that's not meant to be a cop-out answer. There is no hard and fast rule that can be applied to every genealogy problem. Generally speaking, the more information the better. The problem is that not all information coincides and in some cases, very little information is available.

An excellent simplified guideline is to:

  • Locate as many records as possible.
  • Track what you searched and how you searched it.
  • Take accurate notes—not scribbles.
  • Keep your assumptions in check.
  • Delineate in writing your research process.
  • Delineate in writing your record analysis and conclusions.
  • Learn about the general area and records that were created.

    It sounds easy, but sometimes it is not. This week, we'll look at a relatively recent and simple example from a family that has been discussed in earlier columns.

    The Record1910 Census, Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, Enumeration District 1449, 26 April 1910 [extract],

    Demar, Louis, head aged 49, M, born New York, machinist
    ------, Alfreda, wife aged 50, M, born Sweden
    Loll, Fred stepson, aged 21, S, born Denmark, electrician
    Frame, Wm, Roomer, aged 21, M, born Illinois, painter
    -----, Mary, Roomer, aged 17, M, born New York
    -----, Lillian, Roomer, aged 2/12, S, born Illinois

    The SpeculationThe three last individuals in this household are actually William Apgar, Mary Apgar, and Lillian Apgar and not William, Mary and Lillian Frame. William Mary and Lillian are known to have been in the Chicagoland area in 1910 and several details about their life are already known and well-established from a variety of other records. Mary Apgar is known to be the daughter of a Louis Demar from New York State. It is thought that the Louis in the 1910 census is actually Mary's father.

    I decided to take this census entry apart bit by bit as best I could and compare what the census said with other records I had on this family. In this example, in the interest of space, we'll include complete citations for some of the references. Of course in my records, I've got complete citations for every reference.

    Proving My CaseWHY WAS LOUIS IN CHICAGO? Louis gives permission for Mary to marry in 1909 in Chicago. It is assumed that he was actually present at the office when the license was obtained (instead of his daughter bringing in a signed letter of consent). This would put Louis in Chicago in 1909. Research should follow up with appropriate Chicago city directories for the time period to determine if his residence in Chicago was permanent or temporary.

    THE GENERAL RESIDENCE: Louis Demar in 1910 lived at 42 W. 119th St. This is in the Pullman area of Chicago and is in the same general neighborhood where: 
  • Mary Apgar lived when she divorced William Apgar in 1921.
  • Mary Apgar's sister lived in the late 1910s.
  • Mary Apgar lived when she married again in 1922.
  • William Apgar appears in Chicago directories in the late 1910s.
  • William Apgar appears in the World War I Draft Registration.

    The residence appears consistent with other records on the family.

    FRAME NAME: William Frame Apgar and Mary Demar were married in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois in 1909. Louis Demar, father of bride gives his permission. [Source: Apgar-Demar Marriage License, 1909, Cook County, Illinois, Marriage License 525022, Cook County Illinois Vital Records Office]. This seems to be a fairly solid explanation of the reason why William might be listed with the Frame surname instead of the Apgar surname.

    WILLIAM'S OCCUPATION: The 1921 divorce of William and Mary Apgar indicates that William was a painter. [Source: Mary Apgar vs. William Apgar, 1921, Superior Court Records, 21 S 365365, Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois]. While not an overwhelming consistency at least the occupation is not in conflict with other records.

    WILLIAM'S AGE: The World War I draft card of William Apgar indicates he was born in September of 1888. This age matches exactly the age of William Frame in the 1910 census.

    WILLIAM'S PLACE OF BIRTH: The World War I draft card of William Apgar indicates he was born in Illinois. William Frame also indicates he was born in Illinois.

    LILLIAN'S AGE: The Social Security Death index indicates Lillian was born on 2 March 1910. Lillian would have actually been several days shy of being two months old at the time of the census (date of census was 26 April). However, her age is very close and this researcher does not feel it is off far enough to warrant concern. Note: Lillian was located in the Social Security Death Index using her married name (here omitted) and her month and year of death.

    MARY'S AGE: From death records and the 1920 census, Mary was born ca. 1894. The age of Mary Frame in the 1910 census is 17. Mary Apgar's calculated age in 1910 from other records is approximately 16. This does not appear to be a major discrepancy.

    MARY'S PLACE OF BIRTH: From death records and the 1920 census, Mary was born in New York State. This is consistent with Mary Frame in the 1910 census.

    LOUIS' AGE: From christening records, Louis was born in 1854, probably in the month of March. This would make Louis 56 at the time of the 1910 census. This is a seven-year discrepancy from the age of 49 listed in 1910.

    LOUIS' STATE OF BIRTH: Louis' 1870 and 1880 federal census entries and his 1892 New York State Census entry all indicate he was born in the state of New York.

    ALFREDA? Louis's wife and daughter Mary's mother Marie Demare died in upstate New York in 1896. Louis could easily have married again.

    THE RELATIONSHIP? This is perhaps the biggest question of all. Why are William, Mary, and Lillian, not listed as son-in-law, daughter, and granddaughter? I'm not exactly certain.

    Again, a reminder: include the citation with each reference.

    The intent here was to pick apart each aspect of the 1910 census entry and compare it to information obtained on the family from other sources. Some pieces of information fit well, but there are a few which do not make as much sense as I would like (especially the relationship). However, information obtained from different sources will not always fit together into a neat and tidy package. The biggest key to connecting the 1910 census reference to known family members was that William listed Frame as his middle name on his marriage record. Had this original record not been utilized, the case would not have been as strong.

    Benefits?Delineating my case in this manner provided me with several benefits. First of all, it forced me to analyze my research and to consider additional sources that had not been used. Secondly, it helps me to see potential weak holes in my line of reasoning. Finally, if someone asks me "why" I think this census refers to the Apgar family I can provide them with my list of sources and conclusions.

    After performing my analysis, I immediately thought of three records I should also locate.
  • Information on Louis' marriage to Alfreda-probably in Chicago.
  • Chicago City directories for Louis Demar.
  • Birth record for Lillian Apgar-probably in Chicago.
  • Birth record for William Frame Apgar-considering either Frame or Apgar to be his name—probably in Chicago.

    So far, my attempts to locate William Apgar in the 1900 census (hopefully with his parents) have centered on the Apgar surname. Now it looks like my research should also include the Frame surname as well.

    Analyzing this 1910 census entry was relatively straight forward, but it indicates that further research in this family might not be so simple. In future articles, we'll analyze other situations where the analysis is more complex. Keep in mind, if you back up a conclusion with your sources, the information they contain, and your line of reasoning, your genealogical case will be much stronger.