Casefile Clues

10 April 2013

There Are More Fountains than I Thought

Sometimes perspective helps.

A relative for whom I was searching was enumerated as Fountain in the 1850 U.S. Census. His place of birth was born in Germany.

To give myself a little perspective, I performed a few searches in the 1860 U. S. Census at Ancestry.com. I really should have searched the 1850, but the commentary is still valid and I gained the perspective I wanted about how common the name was--or wasn't.

It is easy to see from the number of individuals with various first names, that Fountain was fairly unusual in 1860.  I was fairly certain the name was not all that common, but sometimes analysis shows that assumptions are incorrect.The first names chosen for this informal analysis were done at random. There was no statistical method to this little exercise.


First name
Matches in 1860 US Census Ancestry.com database
John
1,523,058
Mary
1,905,790
Thomas
343,857
George
519, 179
Samuel
209,527
Elizabeth
593, 181
Sarah
803,097
William
820,962
Hannah
158,625
Anna
189,644
Fountain
752

In 1860, there were only two Fountains born in Germany. Based upon that, I concluded that "Fountain" was a very rare German first name or could have been an Anglicization, a spelling error, or a transcription error. Based upon this brief analysis, I concluded that the 1850 census reference to a German native named "Fountain" was probably incorrect. 

There may be more clues in  Ancestry.com than just first and last names.