We have been studying the migrations of the descendants of nine men who came to Massachusetts before 1650 and have compiled a computerized database that includes all the people born before 1860 in the patrilines. Thus we have what the nine genealogists who studied these families thought was close to a complete list of family members alive in 1850. Here we focus on our attempts to find these individuals on the 1850 federal census.
To facilitate our task, we made up a search list that contained all males alive in 1850, but we omitted females known to have married by 1850. The search list included both the last known place in each individual’s record before 1850 and the next known place after 1850. The list was deliberately over-inclusive. In the 30% or so of the cases in which we did not have death dates for individuals, we carried them on the list until they were 100 years old. Again, the census is supposed to have been taken as of 1 June, but we included anyone who was born or died in 1850, whether it was before or after that date. All told, we searched for 7,627 individuals, about two-thirds men and one-third unmarried women.