February 3, 2017

Family in the 1940 Census

(This post appeared originally on my previous blog, A Face to the Sun, on September 3, 2012.)

Recently, the 1940 census came online and is now searchable by name.  I helped with the indexing, along with thousands of others, and it was finished in a record 124 days!
Last night I decided to search for my parents - their location and status in April, 1940.  They were not yet married; both were living at home with their parents.
Dad's family was living in Freedom Township, Henry County, Ohio, and it was Albert who reported that day to the census enumerator.  (When asked a question about where he lived on April 1st, 1935, he responded, Napoleon, but in 1940, the family lived in the country.) 

Grandpa Albert Elling was 52 and Grandma Ida was 50 at the time, and both noted that they had only completed grade 2 in school. That means that they were probably only 7 or 8 when they left school to work at home.  Albert was working as a farmer, and he said that he had worked 60 hours during the last week of March.  They were renting a house for $8.00 a month.  Ida did not work outside the home, and was labeled a housewife.  

Rudy Elling, my dad, was the only son at home and, at 17 and done with 8th grade, he was also working on the farm, but as an unpaid family worker.  (Dad had always told us that he finished 7th grade, and quit to work during his 8th grade year.)  Sisters Lorna,(14), Eleanore, (12), and Louise, (10), were also at home. Lorna had finished 7th grade, Eleanore completed 6th grade, and Louise was done with 4th grade. 

So, where were the other siblings? The oldest brother at 25, Paul was already married to Hildegarde, 19, and living in Harrison Township in Henry County. Paul's occupation was given as Farm Manager, a wage earner who made $600 in 1939.  He and Hildegarde were renting a home for $25.00 a month.  His brother, Alfred, 19, was living with the couple and working as a farm laborer.  He reported earning $450 in 1939. Paul, Alfred and Hildegarde all said they had completed eighth grade.

In the 1940 census, the 4th and 40th person listed on a page were asked additional questions by the enumerator.  Alfred was the 40th person, so we have the additional information that he spoke German in his home and he did not have a Social Security number.  Other questions were coded solely for the census bureau's information.

Still missing was the oldest daughter, Alma Elling.  She was not living at home and was not yet married.  She said she was working in the Zellers home at that time as domestic help.  Unfortunately, the Zellers didn't mention her to the enumerator as they probably thought her family would claim her.  But Grandpa didn't mention her because she was not actually living at their house at the time, so she was missed completely.

My mom's family owned a home worth $1260.00 in the village of Malinta, Henry County.  Father F. D. (Fred) Ordway was 39, mother, Dorothy E, was 40, and their only child, my mom, Donna A. was 14.  Fred had finished 4 years of high school, but Dorothy had only finished one.  She gave the information to the enumerator.  Donna Ordway, my mom, had finished eighth grade at the time.  Fred was a storekeeper of a retail grocery, working on his own account, meaning he owned at least a portion of the business, so his earnings were not recorded. Fred reported he worked 74 hours during the last week of March, 1940. Dorothy was a housewife and Donna was at school. 

The 1940 census was a snapshot in time for April 1940. 
Have some fun and start searching for your family!

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