22 December 2012

Finding Elford and Eucha Alburst in 1860

Researching non-English names in United States records is occasionally a challenge. The 1860 census enumeration for Ulfert and Antje Albers is a case in point. 

It easy to understand how the census taker could have mangled the names. The problem is in trying to locate them 150 years later. This was one of those families that was not easily located. This image is what I believe to be Ulfert and Antje. Without giving a complete analysis, the:
  • Names (at least phonetically) are correct.
  • The Ages are correct.
  • The location is correct.
  • The occupation is correct.
  • The place of birth (not shown in the screen shot) is correct.

1860 U. S. Census, Illinois, Adams County, Northeast Township, page 925 [handwritten, upper left] dwelling 2734, family 2752, Elfort Alburst--obtained digitally on Ancestry.com.
 Ancestry.com's transcription of the names in the household is fairly accurate. After all, they don't know what the name is "supposed' to be and they are not familiar with low-German names. The record shown below is for the female, "Eucha," but Elford is indicated as the head of the household in the "Household Members" section of the record.

My guess is that the first names are spelled the way they sounded to the census taker. Ulfert could have sounded like "Elford." Antje could have sounded like "Encha." I think the transcriber misread the "n" in the female household member's name as a "u."

I've submitted the alternate name to Ancestry.com.  It is worth noting that Ancestry.com's  transcription of the names are not wrong--except for the "n" in "Encha" and maybe the "d" at the "Elford" which I think should be transcribed as "Elfort."

Even "knowing" what the names are, I would have transcribed them as:

  • Elfort, Alburst
  • Encha
The transcriber is not to correct--they are to transcribe. Annotations are where additional comments and a discussion of what the names "really" are should go. "Really" is used in quotes here because there's always the chance that we "really" are not right. 

Several issues worked together to make the family difficult to find. Just a few things to think about.