John Charles Slowey – Wisconsin to South Dakota – Part 5

I thought I would try to dig up some more information on my great great grandfather.  Since I don’t have a primary source for his birth, I thought I’d try to find a birth record of some sort.  According to all the documentation I have, he was born in Wisconsin.  The 1870 federal census puts the John living with his parents in the town of Kendall, Lafayette County, Wisconsin. 

I consulted my Resource Book for Genealogists and discovered that pre-1907 birth records are indexed and available through the Wisconsin Historical Society.  Luckily, the WHS has a website!  (

Lots of Sloweys … not the one I need.  It’s entirely possible that because John was born in 1861, his birth was simply not recorded.

Just to be on the safe side, I did a search on to see if maybe I could find his family in Kendall or Lafayette County.  I even looked for Darlington, which is now the county seat of Lafayette County.  Nothing.  If anyone has a link to a website that has city directories for Wisconsin indexed, please let me know!

Since I seem to be striking out on the birth record, I guess I’ll search for the record of John’s marriage to Theresa Burns.  Remember the South Dakota state census said that they were married in 1886, but we don’t know when.  I headed over to GenWed ( to see if they had any records for Yankton County, South Dakota.  Nada.  Well, I’m just not getting anywhere today.  Looks like I’m going old school.  Snail mail.

I did a search for the Register of Deeds for Yankton County, and I will give them a call on Monday and find out their fees, etc. and send a letter.  While I’m waiting for that information to arrive, I’ll try to solve another mystery: where is John buried?

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Are My Roots Showing?

John Charles Slowey – Wisconsin to South Dakota – Part 4

Now that I have tracked great great grandpa John back to his childhood with federal census records, I can see if any state census records are available.  I went to ( and found three South Dakota state census records for him, 1925, 1915, and 1905.  The writing is a bit faded on the 1925 enumeration sheet:

But I can make out that he was 64 years old, lived in Mayfield township, Yankton County.  His occupation was “agriculture.”  I guess he got fancy in his old age.  His parents were both born in Ireland, and his wife’s maiden name is Theresa Burns.  That will come in handy later.  It shows that they were married in 1886.  Well, that narrows down my search for their marriage certificate … and shortens the time that they were married before Katie was born in November 1886.  It also tells me that he is Catholic.  Perhaps church records can tell me about their marriage if I can’t find it at the county level, since South Dakota didn’t start keeping marriage records as a state until 1905.

On the 1915 enumeration sheet, we find even more information:

We see that yes, John is a farmer and he owns his farm. We also see that he was born inWisconsin (which we already knew from the federal census, but always good to confirm).  We also know now that John was never in the military.  Down in the lower left corner, it shows that he has lived his entire 54 years in the U.S., but only 43 years in South Dakota.  Aha!  We now know that he arrived in South Dakota at age 11! 

The 1905 enumeration sheet confirms the information from the other two years:

John is living in Mayfield township, Yankton County, is married, can read and write, was born in Wisconsin, and has lived in South Dakota for 33 years.

I know that South Dakota conducted a state cenuses in 1895 and a special Dakota Territory census was conducted 1885 (thanks to a handy-dandy little book called The Family Tree Resource Book for Genealogists which can be found at Family Tree Magazine’s store:, but I haven’t had any luck finding either.  It appears that the 1895 census only included 6 counties, not Yankton.  The 1885 census appears to not include most of the southern part of the territory (which, of course, includes Yankton County).  Looks like I’m going to have to find another way.

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Are My Roots Showing?

John Charles Slowey – Wisconsin to South Dakota – part 3

The 1900 federal census is probably my favorite.  It includes a plethora (don’t you just love that word?) of information such as the month and year of birth, along with the age.  Sometimes it’s a good idea to check the math of the census taker.  It tells you how many years of marriage, as well as how many children the females have borne, and how many are still living.  This will help determine if there have been any stillbirths, or deaths in infancy/childhood.
So now we have our happy couple … with fewer children.  But wait!  Who is this Trasey person showing up as John’s wife?  Was he married to someone else?!  Probably not.  Trasey … Theresa … it’s more likely that (1) the enumerator was a terrible speller, or (2) Trasey was a nickname.  If you look down the list, you’ll notice that the children are the same … and there’s another Trasey.  See?  A nickname. 
The census tells us that Theresa has given birth to 8 children, and 8 are still living.  Hmmm.  There are only 7 listed on this census.  We’ll definitely have to investigate that further.  I’ll put that on my list. 
We have an additional child, Katie, who appears to be the oldest now, at age 13.  We can see that John and Theresa have been married 14 years.  We can deduce that they were probably married in 1886.  Also notice that Katie was born in November 1886.  Shotgun wedding?  The census was taken on June 15, 1900, so John and Theresa would have had to marry before June 15 in 1886, but after June 15, 1885.  Obviously, another fact we will need to corroborate, especially with the missing 8th child.  I love a good scandal!
I found John on the 1880 federal census, living with his parents Patrick and Katherine, in Yankton County in the Dakota Territory (South Dakota didn’t become a state until 1889).
You’re probably thinking … “Wait just a minute!  You skipped 20 years there!  What about 1890?”  Well, the 1980 federal census was destroyed by a fire at the Commerce Department in Washington, DC in 1921.  Of the roughly 62 million people enumerated in 1890, only about 6,000 records survived.  The Veterans and Widows census scheduled survived, and can sometimes be used as a substitute for the lost records.
Ok, back to our census record.  John is a 21-year-old living with his parents and siblings.  You will also notice an odd name at the bottom … Georg Meter, age 3, listed as “adopted son.”  I wonder where he came from.  He was born in Dakota, but his parents are from Prussia.  Something else to put on my list of facts to check.  That list just keeps getting longer and longer …
The last census record John will appear on is the 1870 census.  Apparently, they weren’t real big on getting a lot of information in 1870.

The family lived in the town of Kendall, Lafayette Co., Wisconsin.  So now we know that at some point between 1870 and 1880, the family moved from Wisconsin to South Dakota.  I will have to try to find some state census records in either Wisconsin or South Dakota to try to narrow down the time frame.

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John Charles Slowey – Wisconsin to South Dakota – Part 2

The federal census has been taken every 10 years since 1790, and is very helpful in genealogical research.  (Although sometimes they create more questions than they answer!)  Probably the easiest place to search census records online is or (both paid services), but you can also search for free the non-digitized census microfilms at the National Archives in Washington, DC or one of the regional facilities, or at the State Archives.  The LDS Family History Centers around the country can obtain the rolls via interlibrary loan from the National Archives as well.  Your local library may be able to get them too.  You may also find the records you are looking for as part of the USGenWeb Census Project:

So I managed to locate several federal census records for my great great grandfather.  The 1920 census shows John Slowey and wife Theresa, ages 58 and 54 respectively, still living with two sons, Clarence and Clement (ages 17 and 15 respectively) in Mayfield Township, Yankton Co., South Dakota as of January 10, 11, and 12, 1920.  It shows that John is a grain farmer and son Clarence is a farm laborer (likely working for dad).  John was born in Wisconsin and Theresa was born in Missouri (aha! more info on Theresa!).  Both boys were born in South Dakota.  We also know from this census that John’s and Theresa’s parents were born in Ireland.  Another clue!

The 1910 (May 4, 1910) federal census for Mayfield Township, Yankton Co., South Dakota shows our beloved John and wife Theresa, but with many more children! 
Peter, Mary E., Theresa, Ellen, Thomas P., John E., Clarence, and Clement – ranging in age from 5 to 21.  Obviously, six of the children flew the coop over the next 10 years.  We’ll have to find them on their own census records.  We can tell from this census that both parents and all the children can read and write, and that John owns his home (with a mortgage).  We can also see that John is not a survivor of the Union or Confederate Army or Navy (obviously because he was only a toddler during the Civil War).
You’ll notice that the actual census forms are fairly difficult to read, so it’s hard to determine what each of those columns identify. has some handy-dandy census extraction forms that help determine what each column is for, and you can use them to transcribe the information you find (very helpful when you don’t have the option to print or save to your computer/laptop right away).  They can be found (for free) at:

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John Charles Slowey – Wisconsin to South Dakota

John Charles Slowey is my 2nd great grandfather.  He was born February 24, 1861 in Wisconsin.  I believe this to be true – not because his death certificate shows his date of birth (oh no, that would be too easy) – but because his death certificate DOES give me his exact age of 67 years, 2 months, and 0 days.  John died on April 26, 1928.  I simply did the math.

It turns out that death certificates are chock full of information!  John died on April 26, 1928, in Yankton Township, Yankton County, South Dakota at Sacred Heart Hospital at 2:15 a.m.  He was the husband of Theresa Slowey and was a farmer.  His father was Patrick Slowey, born in Ireland, and his mother was Catherine McCabe, also born in Ireland.  He was sick from March 29, 1928 until April 26 when he died.  It looks like his cause of death was “multiple abscess of the lung” as a result of pneumonia that he contracted while in Irene, South Dakota.  He was buried on April 28, 1928 in Catholic Cemetery in Mayfield, South Dakota.  The undertaker, Joseph Frick, signed the certificate.  I wish I could read his doctor’s name.  The “informant” for the certificate is listed as “Mrs. John Nooney.”  I wonder how she fits into this puzzle …

Whew!  All that from one piece of paper (which, it turns out, I have had in my possession since January 2000).

Obviously, I have some serious digging to do in order to discover more information about my great great grandfather.  Next stop … census records!

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Are My Roots Showing?