Thursday, February 23, 2012

Locating your immigrant in the census

After locating the Alien File for my immigrant of concern, Joseph Regenye, I next turned to locate him in the United States Federal Census.  He stated that he arrived in the United States in 1901, so I sought him with renewed vigor in the 1910, 1920, and 1930 census.  Using his own last name, Regenye, turns up no good matches.  Immigrant ancestors can be very difficult to locate in a census.  We can imagine that his accent was too thick to be understood fully or that he changed the spelling of his name to reflect his neighborhood influences or many other reasons.  His first child was born around 1908 in New Jersey, so I was really looking for a family.  I managed to locate the growing family for three consecutive census years by searching for a child and a birth year.  The reported age of an adult can vary in the census.  A child's age should be more accurate.  A five year old would not be reported as 17, but a 50 year old man could be listed as 35 or 65.  A precise year of birth for "William" with no last name will limit the number of matches to a more manageable number.  If Joseph is in the 1900 census, it will be difficult to determine an exact match because he would be without his wife and children.
The most recent addresses I had were from the 1940s in Union County, New Jersey, so that is where I started for the 1930 census.  I found the family at the same address that Joseph used on his 1940 Alien Registration Form.  I did not have success locating the family in Union County in 1920 or 1910.  A shaking leaf in my Family Tree Maker alerted me to a christening record for one of the children in Newark in 1909.  So I transferred my census search from Union County over to Essex County and found the family in Newark in 1910 and 1920.

Here is the Regenye family in 1910, 1920, and 1930.


1910 Federal Census
26 Aleya [Alyea] Street, Newark, Essex County, New Jersey
Indexed as Reganr, Regane, and Regans at Ancestry.com


1920 Federal Census
94 Barbara Street, Newark, Essex County, New Jersey
Indexed as Rigner, Rizner, and Bigner at Ancestry.com


1930 Federal Census
2024 Ostwood Terrace, Union, Union County, New Jersey
Indexed as Regney and Regnery at Ancestry.com