Californians Living in Upstate New York in 1850

It took me a while to find the 1850 census for Nazaire Drollette in Clinton County, New York, when using the index for the 1850 census at Ancestry.com. The enumerator’s rendition of his name was not the problem. Nazer Draulette is a pretty accurate interpretation. There were two problems. The transcriber read his last name as Dranlette and interpreted his place of birth as California.

In fact, quite a few places of birth for this census were interpreted as California.

The enumerator used “Ca” as the place of birth for several individuals on the page where Nazer and his wife Mary are listed. In fact, according to the 1850 census index at Ancestry.com, there are 412 residents of Clinton County, New York, who were born in California (when a search was conducted at 9:00 am. central time on 28 August 2015).
1850-drollette

There are a few quick lessons here, most of which readers should already know:

  • handwriting interpretations can be problematic–this one would stymie a Soundex-based search as the “u” was read as an “n.”
  • abbreviations for locations can change over time

After all, the chance that 412 natives of the State of California were living in New York is fairly slim.

Canada is the likely meaning there. Abbreviations, like anything else, must be interpreted in context.

And that $45 of real estate–we’ll have an update on that.

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