It wasn’t easy. But it wasn’t that hard either. There are so many awesome tools out there specifically designed to help you find your ancestors on the 1940 census without an index that using several of these tools and a little common sense allowed me to find all four of my grandparents by the 4th day after the census was released.
I’ll start with my maternal side:
John Joseph Gallagher – He was easy to find, and the first one I found. He is 15 years old, living with his adoptive parents Walter W. and Ruth (Burrows) Gallagher in Ridgefield, Bergen County, New Jersey. He was born in New York and has completed one year of high school. Walter was the Chief of Police in Ridgefield (which made it pretty easy to find the family!). I emailed a copy of the page to my mom when I found it, and she started telling me about how Jimmy Hulbert (line 3) was my Grampa’s best friend, and that Claire Hall (line 5) used to let them play with her old prom dresses when my mom was little – which was a significant period of time after this census. The Zlotnicks (lines 17-20) ended up merging with our family when the daughter, Gloria, married my maternal grandmother’s brother. There’s also a story that Bernard Zlotnick was in the Navy during World War II and was MIA in the Bermuda Triangle. (Obviously, something I need to follow up on!) Incidentally, rumor has it that Bernard’s mother received the money from his life insurance – somewhere in the neighborhood of $30,000 – and never cashed the check because she always thought he was still alive.
Mary Lucile Crowe – She is 14 years old, single (shocker!), living in Indianapolis, Indiana with her parents, Harold John and Lucille (Stiker) Crowe. She has completed 8 years of school. Their address is 2133 Madison Avenue, and they paid $20/month in rent (which equates to around $307 today). Harold is listed as a mechanic in a garage. I suppose I’ll have to do some research on that – I thought he was working as an engine inspector for Allison Division of GM since 1939. I had quite the time finding them because they were renters. The last address I had for them was on S. State Street in 1936. I finally found their 1940 address by looking through the city directories on Ancestry. Charles Crowe (line 6) is the one who married Gloria Zlotnick above.
Here is the house on Madison Avenue. I’m pretty sure it’s changed a little:
Now for my paternal side:
Edward John Lanctot – I found three generations on this page! Ed is 18 years old, living with his widowed mother Alice (Schneider) Lanctot and widowed grandmother Mary Alice (Egan) Schneider at 705 Pine Street in Yankton, South Dakota. He has completed high school and is working as a truck driver for a grocery company. He worked for 20 weeks and made $120 in 1939. He worked 77 hours during the week of March 24-30, 1940 – such a go-getter! His mother worked in a produce house “dressing poultry” for 18 weeks in 1939 and made $191. His sister, however, worked as a stenographer for Production Credit. During 1939, she worked 52 weeks and made $1,080. She worked 54 hours the week of March 24-30.
Clare Maxine Slowey – She was the hardest to find. I
knew thought I knew she lived in Utica Township, Yankton County, South Dakota in 1939 (she won that beauty contest and it was in the paper), and I know that her father lived in Utica in 1941 (it says so on his SS application). So where the heck did they go between 1939 and 1940?? I looked in all the EDs for Utica. I even checked the state hospital for the insane. You know, just in case. Nada. I decided to give my Gramma a call (I’m so totally lucky that I can still do that!). Unfortunately, she couldn’t remember exactly where they lived in 1940, but she was pretty sure it was Utica. So … back to the unindexed records I went. I found an historic map of Yankton County to see the relationship between all the townships. One by one, I downloaded the appropriate EDs for each area, working outward from Utica to the north, east, south, and west. I finally located the family in Central Township (T 95, R 56)!
My grandmother is listed with her parents, Thomas Patrick and Christina Anna (Huber) Slowey, and four siblings. She is shown to be 17 years old and completed 4 years of high school (she graduated in 1939). The family was living on a farm in a rented house, and it looks like they were paying $6/month in rent. This is the only census in which my grandmother’s youngest brother Richard Raymond “Dickie” Slowey would appear. He died from leukemia at the age of 6.
Wait. What’s that? My 21-year-old granduncle, Vernon “Bud” Slowey, is on Line 5 and gets the supplemental questions! FINALLY!! Unfortunately, it really doesn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know. He is not yet a veteran (but will be in a few years), he is a private worker on a farm (his family’s), and he has a social security number.
So far, I’ve managed to locate 22 of the 37 families on my list. Not too bad for less than a weeks’ work. Now that I’ve found my grandparents though, the rest of my day will be spent indexing.
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