I have Naturalization papers of my Grandfather & it states he became Naturalized 20th of April 1896. We can find him in the 1920 & 1930 census...but nothing for the 1900 & 1910 census. Why can't I find him?

Grandfather's name was William Yensule, also spelled Yencule, also spelled Yensull.

These are the papers I have:

  • Certificate Of Naturalization, State of Illinois, County of Christian, city of Taylorville, 20th of April 1896
  • marriage certificate: he married 27 Oct 1914 in St. Louis, Missouri, but lived in Johnston City, Illinois
  • State Miners' Examining Board Certificate dated 1st of October 1915, Johnston City, Williamson County, Illinois
  • newspaper clipping from The Steubenville Herald Star in Steubenville, Ohio, published 8 Jan. 1933, where William Yensull committed suicide the 7th of Jan. 1933 in the Jefferson County Home, Steubenville, Ohio.

I also acquired his certified death certificate in Jan. 2012.

How come if you try to seek these papers out there is a total stand still. There is NO RECORD OF ANY OF THESE PAPERS. I have copies of the original papers. These are legal papers & they should be kept in some state records or archives or some place. It's like he never was born except the papers that I have.

  • 1
    Hi FJR, welcome. If you would like some help finding your grandfather then you might add his name to your question (you can use the edit button to add information). It might also be helpful to know the state/city/town you are searching in.
    – Harry V.
    Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 23:08
  • Hi, welcome to G&FH.SE! If you need help debugging your specific search techniques, please use the edit button to add some information to your question. We don't need your grandfather's name if you don't want to post it, but it would help to know the locality. Also, what I would like to know is, where did you search the 1900 and 1910 census, and how did you search? What search terms did you use? Did you only search for indexed records, or did you browse? See similar question: genealogy.stackexchange.com/questions/3922/…
    – Jan Murphy
    Commented Jun 23, 2016 at 21:02
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    Just a reminder: William Yensule was the subject of another G&FH question (by a different member) genealogy.stackexchange.com/questions/3378/…
    – bgwiehle
    Commented Jun 30, 2016 at 16:26
  • 1
    Though both questions have William Yensull as the person of focus, they are clearly different questions about finding different information. Commented Jul 1, 2016 at 3:07
  • 3
    @Xavier - agreed that the 2 questions are different, but there is overlap in the records referenced and it might be helpful to review that inquiry before answering this question.
    – bgwiehle
    Commented Jul 1, 2016 at 18:29

4 Answers 4


To find other documentation about your grandfather, make a research plan. You have a good start already -- you have a set of documents.

Start with a timeline and a genealogy source checklist, entering all the documents you have, and listing all the information you know, and how you know it. Then mine all the documents for clues to where you might find other information.

Start a research log and record what you plan to search for, where you plan to search, and how you plan to search -- and then record what your results were.

For example: starting with your grandfather's Petition for Naturalization, make notes about the other people listed in his petition who attested to his character. Can you find them in the 1900 Census or in City Directories in the area? Can you determine how they knew your grandfather? When you are having difficulty searching for someone by name, it helps to have the names of friends, associates, and neighbors that you can search for as well as for your family members. Your grandfather might also be listed on their records, but not be indexed in them.

Petition from bottom of page 192

llinois, County Naturalization Records, 1800-1962," images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1971-27517-12901-51?cc=1989159 : 20 May 2014), Christian > Petitions for naturalization, special naturalizations 1878-1900 vol B > image 122 of 223; county courthouses, Illinois.

It helps immensely to get a map of the area. During this period, immigrants could naturalize in any county court, and did not have to submit the declaration and petitions to the same court. People were likely to go to whatever courthouse was closest -- and the most convenient courthouse might be across a county border from their place of residence. It is easy to miss someone's census enumeration if they are just over the county border, and you've restricted your search to a geographical area which is too small. Mapping out all the street addresses you might have from family papers can give you a good idea of how much people might have moved.

Steve Morse's One-Step Web Pages can also help in searching the census, and the help/faq pages have much useful information.

I also would not assume that a miner would stay in the same place over many decades. If you can identify others who worked for the same company, see if they go to other mines -- your grandfather may have followed them.

Also check the FamilySearch Research Wiki for the 1900 and 1910 Census for the areas you are looking in. Look for a notice about known issues -- those are the articles where the Wiki describes record loss or other difficulty with the records.

Keep in mind that you may not be able to find your grandfather in any collection if you only search by name. Sometimes browsing the digital images page by page is the only way to find someone.

  • 1
    I really like your answer, it really makes use of the additional information the questioner added. Add has added a new document for her (and me) to add in our search of William Yensull. Commented Jun 30, 2016 at 19:53
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    @XavierCasto I found the Petition by browsing. Each volume has an index for the volume at the beginning of the book -- I used those indexes, which are at the start of each (virtual) microfilm roll, to determine which book I needed, then browsed until I found the right file. As you look for the Declaration, keep in mind that it could be in an entirely different court -- there was no requirement that Petitions needed to be submitted at the same place, which makes them tricky to find.
    – Jan Murphy
    Commented Jul 2, 2016 at 6:15

1910 Census

A search of Williamson County, Illinois 1900-1910 for all men named William born in Russia between 1860-1876 gave six results. This one appears to match your grandfather. Index spelled as Janaul, but the actual document clearly says Jansul:

William Jansul born in Little Russia (Lithuania) and working as a miner in Herrin, Williamson County, Illinois


enter image description here enter image description here enter image description here

In records from other family members

He is also listed as Arn Yensule on his son's death index in 1922. Misreading of "Wm Yensule"?


I don't believe Yensule/Yensull is the original spelling, as he and his descendants seem the only bearers of that name.

  • 1
    Good find, I believe this is a match. Date of birth agrees with the other two census records, as does the 1888 arrival date. The 'Arn' listing, I believe, is just "Wm" in cursive, misinterpreted. There is also a listing for a child Joe who died young as well. You might explain your search a little to help others. Commented Jul 3, 2016 at 2:28
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    Added snips from the 1910 Census page and tinkered with the formatting (added headers) to make it a smidgen clearer about what records you found.
    – Jan Murphy
    Commented Jul 3, 2016 at 16:54

To rule out the possibility he was just missed during those Censuses, try focusing on other supporting documents that help pin-point where he lived during those times.

If there are other names connected to the supporting documents, try finding those other names. Good example of what I'm saying is a marriage certificate has names of the bride & groom plus names of witness and person performing the marriage. Death certificate would contain names of coroner and person giving information.

Finally, it is possible they were lost to fire or some other disastrous event. Feel free to check out Archive.gov, where it mentions one such event that happened and destroyed records including some 1900 and 1910 census documents.

For other places to read about this disaster:

  1. Ancestry.com - "The schedules of the censuses of 1830, 1840, 1880,1900 and 1910 have been damaged by water, and it is estimated that ten percent of these schedules will have to be opened and dried and some of them recopied."
  2. GenealogyWise.com
  3. CensusFinder.com
  • The linked article is primarily about the loss of the 1890 census, which was not part of this question. If there is a passing reference about losses of census schedules for 1900 or 1910, could you add a pull quote to your answer? Otherwise, I don't see why the link to the article is relevant.
    – Jan Murphy
    Commented Jul 18, 2016 at 0:53

Since we don't have specifics, I'll offer some general suggestions. Not finding an individual in a census usually comes down to two problems. Wrong name, or Wrong place.

  • Name.

Several issues arise, with names being spelled differently from census to census, or with the web site index struggling to decipher that handwritten census page. I had an ancestor Obediah, and the name was listed and indexed differently every census, from different spellings, to shortened as Obe, to listed as O. So sometimes you have to get creative in how you search for a particular name. One trick is to look for someone else in the family, who's name is more distinct. Another, if you are confident in the location, would be to look for neighbors or in-laws who are found nearby consistently in later censuses, and try to find them in the earlier entries, looking on pages near them. And finally of course, you can just scroll through the entire listing for the location.

  • Location

This may be the issue if your ancestor isn't showing up where you look; it may be because they aren't there yet. Widen the scope of your search. I have found missing locations by, for instance, looking where the spouse grew up, or where a marriage took place, or even where a spouses family or siblings migrated to.

Another possibility in this case, depending on the age at the time, would be to look for WWI draft registrations either for the individual, or perhaps a son, which may give you a different address to work from.

Hope this helps, good luck, and if you can post more information here, hopefully someone will be able to offer more direct assistance in finding your missing information.

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    Though you encouraged useful suggestions in finding more information, you failed to answer the Question of "Why can't they be found". Commented Jul 15, 2016 at 18:05
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    @Xavier Casto Actually I would say my answer was accurate(before we had any specifics on the subject). The new information that was found(see Rusty Erpenbecks 1910 census answer above) using wildcard searches that located the information because it was both spelled differently, and indexed differently from what the searcher expected. Exactly as the first part of my answer suggested might be the case. Commented Jul 15, 2016 at 19:50

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