It has been a couple of weeks since the United States Census for 1950 was made available to the public after a 72-year wait. Although it is freely available on several family history websites such as ancestry.com and familysearch.org, there is still a lack of indexes that makes it very difficult to find particular individuals without knowing their address and being able to reference that to a specific enumeration district.
Nevertheless, I was curious about the progress made in building the indexes, so I went to look again at random images from the U.S. Census. As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I think I have a pretty good idea of where my folks lived in the spring of 1950. Yet, narrowing it down to a specific enumeration district is not easy.
Take, for example, Temple, Texas, where I believe my maternal grandfather and his mother were living in 1950; here, there are roughly two dozen sets of approximately 25 images each in this locale. This means that I might have to scroll through over 600 images with 30 individuals listed per image before possibly finding the household I was looking for. I was at Ancestry.com, and after a few failed attempts at finding either set of grandparents using the search form, I elected to browse images and decided to start at Temple, Texas, a city in Bell County in the heart of Texas Hill Country. This is where my maternal grandfather James Monroe Dobbs, Jr., lived with his second wife and my great-grandmother Helen Spiegel Dobbs.
The census was taken in Bell County in April 1950, and my great-grandmother passed away on April 17, 1950. Looking at the listing of image sets for Temple Texas, I randomly picked one midway down the list. It was enumeration district 14-34. The description reads, “Temple city – That part Bounded by City limits, French Ave.; Main; Calhoun Ave., 9th, Barton Ave.; Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway.” I scanned through the images looking at names and occasionally reading the notes at the bottom of the page. When I came upon the 21st of 25 images, I went down the list and did not recognize the names I was looking for.
Then I came across a note at the bottom of the page that said, “Lines 2 through 20 – Information unattainable. Patients are too sick or unable to give additional information. This is a rest home.“
I thought, “That’s interesting! Let me go back and look at the list again.”
Going back through the list, I found my great-grandmother Helen S Dobbs listed as a lodger in a convalescent home located at 212 N. 9th St. in Temple, Texas. She was counted in the census less than two weeks before she passed away.