Confusing New York and Kentucky

This 1885 census for Davis County, Iowa, contains the entry for Frederick and Lucretia (Sargent) Price. I have been trying to connect Lucretia Sargent to my Ira Sargent (born ca. 1843).


What is interesting about it is that it indicates Lucretia is born in “Ky.” All other records indicate she was born in either New York state or Canada. The family has to be hers as all the other details match.


The first letter of her place of birth is clearly not an “N” as there are other “N”s on the page (in the legal description of their farm location). Here is my theory:


The census taker took down notes. He wrote down “Ny” for the place of birth and then, upon writing up his good copy, read it as a “Ky.”


That seems pretty reasonable. And I think it explains something else that has never made sense to me.


Ira Sargent (born ca. 1843) had a daughter Ida Sargent Trautvetter. In the 1930 census for Keene Township, Adams County, Illinois, Ida’s father and mother are shown with places of birth in “Kentucky.” I never understood this at all. While the places of birth for Ida’s father were not always consistent, records always provided a place of birth of either New York state or Canada-never near Kentucky.


I am wondering now if she gave “New York” as her father’s place of birth and the enumerator in his field notes wrote down “Ny.” Did he later interpret that as “Ky” for Kentucky and write that down in the census? I’m not certain. But it makes a little more sense than other scenarios I’ve been able to come up with.



4 thoughts on “Confusing New York and Kentucky

  1. The light bulb in my head finally went on today about this wrong birth place. In ONE census my ggrandfather is from Ireland along with everyone on that page. I assumed he was bunked with a whole group of Irishmen working on the RR and whoever gave the information just said everyone was from Ireland. It should have said he was from Prince Edward ISLAND. So now I”m wondering how many of those other men were also from PEI. Maybe none. Maybe all of them?

    • Glad the post helped. Sometimes I’ve looked at things upmteen times and finally, for one reason or another, something finally “clicked.” I’ve also wondered how many times an enumerator couldn’t quite read an age in his notes and just guessed at what he originally wrote when he was making the cleaned up copy.

  2. One great grandmother was born in Virginia, and the family moved to Missouri when she was an infant. No one in her family, or the family of her husband, ever lived in North Carolina. However, one U.S. census taken during her adult years clearly gives N C as her place of birth. I have been unable to think of any possible explanation!

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