Census Sunday – Finding Grandpa and Grandma

ImageWhen the 1940 census was made available to the public last year, naturally I began scouring its records to find relatives and bridge the gap since 1930’s enumerations. My parents are too young to appear in this census, so my first line of attack was looking for both sets of grandparents.

Finding my paternal grandparents’ record was fairly straightforward because I already knew where they were.  They were enumerated in Scottsbluff, Nebraska on April 18, living at 1710 Avenue F. They were paying $8 a month in rent, and the household consisted of Lawrence C., age 38, a common laborer doing farm work and earning $650 the previous year for 45 weeks’ work. The census taker indicated he had attended school until the 10th grade. “Blanch A.,” age 31, had gone through the 8th grade. Both had been born in Nebraska.  The following children were also enumerated: Florence M., age 12; Irene D., age 10; Myrtle C., age 7; Morris W., age 6; Marvin L., age 4; William C., age 2; and “DeAnna E.,” age 10 months. Deanna was listed as born in Nebraska; the other children’s birthplace was listed as South Dakota. Real estate records indicate the house at 1710 Avenue F is 868 square feet in size, has two bedrooms, and was built in 1915. On our cross-country trek last summer, Mom and I visited Scottsbluff and looked up the little house.

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My maternal grandparents provided a bit more of a mystery. Married in 1938, they had not yet had my mom, their eldest child. I knew Grandma had worked for the Rock Island Arsenal from May 1938-September 1940 and had assumed she and Grandpa were actually living in Rock Island, Illinois. In the early days after the census release before the records were fully indexed, I scoured the Rock Island records to no avail. I even searched records for Boise, Idaho, since I knew Grandpa and Grandma moved there in 1940. Luckily it didn’t take long for indexing to be complete and for me to be able to search for Grandpa and Grandma by name – and there they were, not in Rock Island itself, but in Moline, about four miles east along the Mississippi River.

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Apparently one of four couples living in an apartment complex at 1212 7th Avenue, they were paying $30 a month in rent. Joseph Hoffmann, age 32, having completed the 8th grade, is listed as an electric welder at a sheet metal factory. He had earned $820 the previous year but had only worked 24 weeks. Grandma, on the other hand, had worked 52 weeks and earned $1287 as a clerk/typist at the Rock Island Arsenal. She was 23 years old and had completed four years of high school. Grandpa was listed as born in Illinois, Grandma in Indiana.

You know, I don’t think I’ve ever been to Moline…yet.

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