A search of the 1880 census for entries in Colusa County, California, indicated that there were 195 people born in a place called “Cald.” It may be tempting to think that the transcriber is entirely at fault and blame Ancestry.com for the error.
Not really certain where “Cald” was, I looked at some of the enumerations. In some cases, it certainly did look like “Cald.” The likely intention here by the enumeration is California–I think. However on the image used as an illustration, he does use “Cal” once and the last letter of “Va” (for Virginia) and the last letter of “Cald” do not look the same.
A look at the entire census page suggests that only people who tend to be younger are born in the mysterious “Cald.” Given that the enumeration is for 1880 in California, it seems reasonable that if the reference is to California, more younger people would tend to have been born there than older ones. A more significant reason is that there are very few people in this enumeration born in California, but quite a few born in Cald.
Of course a search of other records for the people of interest who were born in Cald should indicate whether the interpretation of the location as California is correct.
It is easy to see how this was interpreted as Cald. One needs to remember the prime directive of the transcriber–read it as it is, not as you think it should be. That’s the researcher’s job. This does not excuse transcribers from careless errors.
These enumerations also remind the researcher that not using places of birth when searching records is a good idea, even if there is no doubt in your mind where the person was born and the person never left that state.
Becomes sometimes enumerators throw cold water on our research plans. Or scalding water.
Note: Those interested in the complete census page can view it here.