Everyone, well let’s just say genealogists anyway, have been all in a dither about finding families in the 1950’s census that was just released earlier this month on April 1 st. I know there are a few out there that have other things on their minds. So let me tell you a little more. Here in the states our federal census are released after 72 years, where as in England, for example, they are not released until 100 years after they are collected. What do I mean, “released”? Once the census is taken the government uses all the statistical data collected and utilizes the data for government purposes, then the raw information is archived by the government. For privacy reasons the raw information is kept private for 72 years, after which, the government (NARA) allows public access to this raw information.
The United States conducts a federal census of every inhabitant in the country every 10 years. They started doing this way back in 1790. At that time they where mostly just counting people and not really identifying individuals. In 1850 the government started identifying every individual by name. So the last US census that was available to the public was conducted in 1940 prior to World War II. The war years brought a lot of changes to our country and those changes can be seen in the results of the Mid – century census of 1950.
This month we had planned a quick trip to Sturgis South Dakota for my husband’s mother’s 99 birthday. That was just prior to the April 15 release date. So I had other things on my mind. Well what happened in Sturgis is another story, just let me say it was not a quick trip. nothing to do with mom, she is still hail and hardy, and was happy that we were delayed until yesterday, so we had more time with her on this trip. That was the good thing that came about.
Yesterday was the first time since the release of the 1950 census that I had the opportunity while traveling to browse the “new census.” You see this census, while available on line, is so new there is no indexing and one has to look at each page one by one looking for the family name you are hoping to find. Just like in the days before computers. First you can pull up the state the family lived in, then find the county, then the city and then the Enumeration District (ed). That last step is the tricky one. In smaller communities it’s easier to find your family, but in cities after the war the cities were growing and there were more ed’s, the numbering was changed to reflect that growth.
Looking for me and my family was more fun then I had anticipated. Seeing all those familiar names from my very early years in Visalia, California was literally a walk down “Memory Lane”. When I saw the Khachigians on Caldwell Blvd. I knew I was getting close to home.
Then on the next page I found Felix Mattos and family. I can remember crossing the fields and the irrigation ditch to get to their house. “Oh look there’s Aunt Babe and Uncle Ralph”, interesting Uncle Ralph does not have an occupation. I thought he was considered a contractor. They lived closer to the highway. “Wow look, there’s my Grandpa Francis (my great grandfather) living with Gay” (my grandmother, Etta Putnam). Her husband, grandpa Ike, had died just two years earlier.” That whole section had originally belonged to my great grandfather Joseph Fletcher Putnam who divided it between his last three children, Lena, Ike, and Blanche. Aunt Blanche was living in Los Angles and the Mattos’ were living on the Farm and working for Aunt Blanche. I thought they had a lot of dairy cows, but I could be wrong.
At the end of the page is my dad, mother, and my sister Barb.
Bringing up the next page we find my brother, then Madeleine and me. I see Marcia and her mother Myrtle. They lived over by the gun club. I did not realize that she did not have a father living with them. Um-mm , I don’t know if I ever knew her last name, Polloni, doesn’t sound familiar. Next comes Aunt Lena, you may remember her from the Dance Hall Queen blog. Seeing the name frank Easley, jogs my memory, that was Aunt Lena’s farm hand. I’m not sure about the boarder bit, I think my older sister would have said, “maybe he was a farm hand with benefits”? Aunt Lena’s house was a duplex, living in the other half of the duplex was ”Sleepy” Walker. I see here his name was Warren. He sang on the radio every week and worked at a furniture store in Tulare. His daughter Marsha was a little younger then me. We often played together with my sister and her brother.
There are more of my childhood friends from that time period I would like to find. By the next census, if I’m still around, our family will no longer be in Visalia, we moved away in the summer of 1956 to Placerville. I was not happy at the time about that move. Visalia was for me a wonderful place.
What do you remember about your neighborhood when you were very young? Leave a comment, and share.
Til next time,