Monday, January 8, 2018


US fed census match all

I’ve been researching my Thorp family for the past 15 years.  This is a direct line for me and I want to learn as much as I can about them.  My Dad always talked about his paternal grandparents, William Val Gould and May Thorp Gould.  He called his grandmother Mema (pronounced Mee Ma).

During this research I was able to locate every census for my 3rd great grandparents, Monson Thorp, Sr. and his wife Lany Cooper Thorp…….except the 1870 census.  They married on 12 Apr 1835 in Cato, Cayuga, New York and had 6 children.  I located them in the 1840, 1850, 1860 and 1880 federal census records.   I also have several newspaper articles about Monson Thorp.  I have death certificates and wills for Monson and Lany.  From everything I found about them, they never left New York.
But, that 1870 census eluded me.
Yesterday, I was doing research for an upcoming blog post about their daughter Mary J. Thorp.  In doing so, I went yet again to those census records trying to find Monson and Lany in 1870.  While I was looking at census records for Mary J. Thorp, I decided to try once again to find Monson and Lany in 1870.

I’ve been doing this for over 15 years.  I’ve learned a LOT during that time.  I consider myself to be an experienced researcher, who is still learning every day.  I continue to attend seminars, conferences and classes each year to learn more.  We never stop learning.

I’m certain I have searched the census records using variations of Monson’s first and last name, along with variations for Lany.  Those names are often misspelled or transcribed incorrectly.  So, what was I doing wrong in my searches?

Had I done this exact search before?  Searched ONLY the 1870 census records?  Used this specific criteria?  I may never know, but it worked this time!!!!

I searched All Collections>Census and Voter Lists>US Federal Census Collection>1870 United States Federal Census and entered my criteria.

SPECIAL NOTE:  I kept screenshots after I made this find yesterday.  I just tried to reproduce the search and COULD NOT get it to come up with the result.  WHAT!  WHY?  I’ll tell you why, because up at the top of the search screen, next to the “search” icon is a box that says “Match all terms exactly.”  GUESS WHAT?  That box was checked by default.  Are you kidding me?  Every single time I went to the collections that “match all terms exactly” box is checked.  Yesterday, that box must have been unchecked for some reason. This means I need to go back to a LOT of my prior searches for other ancestors.

Back to my find.  Here’s the screen shot with the “match all terms exactly” unchecked.

THORP_search criteria

And, look what came up from my search.  ONE record and ONLY one.  Notice anything wrong with the surname spelling?  Regardless of that horrible misspelling, I knew this had to be my Munson.

THORP_search results

I selected the record and here is the index and access to the image.  The surname is wrong, (indexed as THERSSE), but all the green stars are correct for my ancestor and his wife Lany.

THORP_search results-2 - Copy

And finally the image.  Here they are at last.  Living right where I suspected they’d be, in Skaneateles, New York.

 Copy of 1870_THORP_Monson & Lany_SkaneatelesNY

My take a way from all of this is that darn check box.  Keep an eye out.  Maybe I’m the only one who didn’t think to look for that default “match all exactly.”  Did you know about it?

US fed census match all

If you have similar stories about having searched for a record for years and then having found it, I’d love to hear about it.


FOLLOWING LEADS ON ANCESTRY– One thing leads to another

OCCUPATION FILES ON ANCESTRY–1600-1995–What are they? Have you seen these?

Happy hunting,

Michigan Girl

Copyright ©  2010-2018   Diane Gould Hall



  1. I have a 1880 census where the names are reversed, too. The head of household was supposed to be Martin Colmann. Instead, he was enumerated as Colman Martin, and all of the rest of the family, too. I always tell people to reserve their names if they can't be found. I found mine by going line by line. I knew their address from a city directory.

    1. Lisa,
      Thanks for the reminder. Sometimes I forget to reverse the names. And, thanks for reading my blog.

  2. Kudos on finally finding the 1870 census listing for your 3rd great-grandparents. I have some who still elude me. But it's not the Match All Terms Exactly box that's causing the problem. At the beginning of your post I thought you would find them in a completely different location. This had me thinking as the ones who've eluded me have been searched for by going through page by page, line by line in the districts they should have been in. When this thought popped up, I wondered if maybe I need to go back and search other locations. I think the enumerator missed that holler (in West Virginia).

    1. Thanks Cathy. How that one eluded me all these years I don't know. I'm generally pretty good at entering all sorts of search criteria and using wildcards. But, we keep digging and are oft times rewarded. Let me know if you turn up any of yours.

  3. This is an excellent post! When I teach research strategies, I tell folks that these are not mortgage applications and that there is no need to fill in every blank. It is best to start small and work your way up. And almost never ask for exact matches for any category until youget no responses. Then remove the filter that caused the failuree. Frankly, I never noticed the "Match all terms exactly" at the top of those pages so it's good of you to point it out.

    1. Exactly Dave. I don't think I'd ever noticed it either. I rarely use "exact" on any search. Like you tell your students, use a broad net first and then narrow it down. You get much better results that way.
      Thanks for stopping by.

  4. You may also know that you can search this way for New York State in 1855, 1865, 1875, 1892 too? You can also do this kind of location specific with checkbox at FamilySearch. Have fun! It's always a thrill when you finally find them!

    1. Thanks for your comment Magda. I'll keep that in mind when searching those NY state census records.

  5. I find the 1870 census to be the most difficult one for whatever reason. If I ever have a family I'm researching in the 1800s, if something is missing, it's from that one. Maybe the country was still recovering from the war, but it just seems like a mess sometimes.



I look forward to reading your comments. If you have any connection to the people mentioned in this blog, please let me know. I write about mine and my husband's ancestors and would welcome new information or meeting a new cousin or two. Thanks for visiting and come back soon.