A Missing Census Record and Fun With Maps
The 1910 U.S. Census is problematic. My great-grandfather's family is missing from the population schedule. Yes, missing. Poof! No William A. Dixon and Mary E. (Klein) Dixon, no offspring. They are simply not among the listed residents of Elizabeth, New Jersey. [See update, below.]
I've checked the 1910 Census index on Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org, and have looked at every Dixon listed in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Yes, every single one. Some day I'm going to write a paper about the Dixons of Elizabeth. All of them. Just so I can sort them all out and figure out who's who. But I digress.
After banging my head against the brick wall of the census for a while I thought of my old pal, the City Directory. William Dixon, carpenter, appears in both the 1909 and 1911 Elizabeth City Directory at 54 Marshall Street.(1, 2)
Back to the census to see who lived at 54 Marshall Street.
I will not lie, this was a laborious process. But by narrowing down my search criteria to the 4th Ward and Marshall Street, I found...
The Marchesi family. Adolph, his wife, Rose, and children Harry, Albert, Anita, Ellen, and Alice. The parents and two older children were born in Italy, the younger ones were born in New Jersey. Adolph worked at the sewing machine factory, Singer. (3)
The Marchesi clan was the only household listed at 54 Marshall. So, what gives?
On a completely different page, sandwiched in, out of order, I found a William Dixon who lived at 50 Marshall Street. (4) He was an oysterman, a widow, and appeared to be a boarder in a house full of other men. He was born in 1864, and his father was from Ireland and his mother was from England. Pretty sure this was not my William Dixon, as by this time he was working as a carpenter and his father was born in New Jersey and his mother in Ireland.
Of course, my great-grandmother might have kicked him out of the house and the person who answered the census questions was making things up. But then, where was the rest of the family? The city directories clearly show him at 54 Marshall in the years bookending the census.
[Update 3 February 2017. It looks like the Dixon family did live on Marshall Street, probably at some point in 1910.
The 1924 divorce records for William A. and Mary E. Dixon include an affidavit by Mary [the petitioner for the divorce] that states that in the two years before his desertion of the family in 1912 the family lived "on Livingston Street, between First and Second Street; Second Street, between Jersey Street and Fulton Street, from there to Marshall Street, between Second and Third Streets, and then to South Second Street, and from there to Elizabeth Avenue between Fifth and Sixth Streets." (8)
No wonder they are so hard to track down. That's five addresses in two years! But it does confirm that they did live on Marshall Street, at least briefly.]
Maps, Maps, Maps
When you're lost, look at a map. This is good advice for many situations. The insurance maps created by the Sanborn Company are my go-to for seeing what used to be in a neighborhood. Princeton University Library has a lovely collection of Sanborn Maps of Elizabeth digitized and available online.
I consulted the 1903 and 1918 maps that show Marshall Street. (5,6)
|1903 Sanborn map showing 54 Marshall Street. (5)|
|1918 Sanborn map showing 45 Marshall Street. (6)|
A little explanation is in order. The structure at 54 Marshall is a three story dwelling designated as "Flats." This means that a single family occupied each floor. The first floor is brick. Sometime between 1903 and 1918 it looks like the single story at the back was converted to three stories, possibly an open frame porch.(7)
Given the information in the City Directories, and the fact that the building was set up to hold three families, I'm willing to accept that the Dixon family lived there, but the census enumerator missed them completely. Scenarios abound as to why that might have happened.
That being said, if you happen to run across the family of William A. Dixon in the 1910 US Census, please let me know!
I'm going to tell you a little bit more about the neighborhood, and show you what 54 Marshall Street looks like today.
(1) Elizabeth Directory 1909, Volume III. Newark, New Jersey: Price and Lee Company, p. 193. Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line: accessed 14 May 2016]. Image 101 of 417. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Entry for William A. Dixon.
(2) Elizabeth Directory 1911, Volume IV. Newark, New Jersey: Price and Lee Company, p. 201. Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line: accessed 14 May 2016]. Image 102 of 418. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Entry for William A. Dixon.
(3) Adolph Marchesi. 1910 US Census; Census Place: Elizabeth Ward 4, Union, New Jersey; Roll: T624_909; Page: 12A; Enumeration District: 0062; FHL microfilm: 1374922. Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census [database on-line: accessed 14 May 2016]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2006. Original data: Thirteenth Census of the United States, 1910 (NARA microfilm publication T624, 1,178 rolls).
(4) William Dixon. 1910 US Census; Census Place: Elizabeth Ward 4, Union, New Jersey; Roll: T624_909; Page: 21A; Enumeration District: 0062; FHL microfilm: 1374922. Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census [database on-line: accessed 14 May 2016]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2006. Original data: Thirteenth Census of the United States, 1910 (NARA microfilm publication T624, 1,178 rolls).
(5) Elizabeth, Union County, New Jersey (Sheet 75). Sanborn Map Company. New York: Sanborn Map Company, 1903. Princeton University website: http://map.princeton.edu/mapviewer/#/w6634592x . Accessed 14 May 2016.
(6) Elizabeth, N.J. (Sheet 75). Sanborn Map Company. New York: Sanborn Map Company, 1918. Princeton University website http://map.princeton.edu/mapviewer/#/ng451k80x . Accessed 14 May 2016.
(7) Description and Utilization of the Sanborn Map 1942. Sanborn Map Company, New York, New York. p.12. http://www.dahp.wa.gov/sites/default/files/SanbornMapGuide_1942.pdf. Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation, www.dahp.wa.gov; accessed 14 May 2016.
(8) Dixon, Mary E. vs. Dixon, William A., 25 July 1923, Chancery Court Records; Superior Court Records Management Center, Trenton, New Jersey; NJSA microfilm 2-23, file number C64-517, New Jersey State Archives, Trenton, New Jersey. Page 30, deposition of Mary Elizabeth Dixon.