Saturday, December 29, 2012

With a Little Help From My Friends...

Headed in the right direction with a little help from my friends!
graphic - courtesy "The Graphics Fairy"
For well over a year I have tried to locate Charles Frank Wakefield (my great-grandfather) and family in the 1880 United States Federal Census. No matter how many ways I searched, he remained stubbornly lost.

Family legend states that Henry Wakefield (father to Charles) died at sea sometime around 1871. When Charles was five years of age his mother, Elizabeth married a gentleman named Henry Horn.

I was able to locate Henry and Elizabeth Horn in the 1900 United States Federal Census records. By that time Charles had married and was living with his own family. Also, I located Henry Horn in the 1880 Baltimore City Directory residing at 11 Walker Street.

Recently I began attending the Ancestry "Tweetchat" held by Crista Cowan. During these Twitter chats Crista answers questions about family history and research.

Keeping my fingers crossed I tossed out my situation to the group. Right away Crista began asking questions. Next thing I knew posts with links and tactics started appearing in the feed. One in particular from Crista led to this ancestor in a matter of minutes.

With a link to Steven Morse website I found a EDs (enumeration district) for the address used in the Baltimore City Directory. The search results gave three possible numbers. Working through the pages I jumped for joy locating Walker Street!

click on image for better viewing

No wonder this family was such a mystery! First problem being the surname transcribed as Homm instead of Horn. Then I discover my great-grandfather was using his step-father's name during this period. What a surprise! I wonder if it was a common practice during this time period to use the step-father's name?

With lots of help from my friends we have another piece of the Charles F. Wakefield puzzle. Thank you, Crista! Looking forward to the next chat.


  1. Fantastic! Congrats on your new puzzle piece.

    1. Thank you, Jana! I do love using social networking.

  2. What a wonderful outcome! And what a great resource.

    In addition to the Tweetchat itself, Steve Morse's resource is a definite go-to website, in my opinion. Glad it pointed you in the right direction.

    I have heard of people taking the surname of a step-dad before. Sometimes, this is done informally (I've also heard of adults then reverting back to their own dad's surname, once discovering the reason behind the name change in their early childhood). But sometimes, Deb, that change was due to a formal adoption procedure. I wonder if you could find any court records verifying that?

  3. Ahhhhh the power of The Twitter in action!! :) Love it.