Is there a way to know what address is dwelling #1847 in the St-Lawrence 1870 census ? ref question : How to find death record from late 19th century New York (State)?

  • 1
    Edited to add the link to the census household at FamilySearch.org. Oswegatchie, Saint Lawrence, New York; Post Office is Ogdensburg.
    – Jan Murphy
    Commented Mar 24, 2014 at 16:17
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    Ancestry.com reports that the 1875 New York State Census is missing several counties, including St. Lawrence. :( The earliest City Directory on Ancestry.com for Ogdensburg is 1882.
    – Jan Murphy
    Commented Mar 24, 2014 at 16:22
  • Edited to change the word 'house' to 'dwelling' and 'building' because three families are enumerated there. It might not be a single-family house; it could be a duplex or four-unit apartment building.
    – Jan Murphy
    Commented Mar 24, 2014 at 16:32
  • Fron the instructions "Property.-Column 8 will contain the value of all real estate owned by the person enumerated, without any deduction on account of mortgage or other incumbrance, whether within or without the census subdivision or the country. The value meant is the full market value, known or estimated." usa.ipums.org/usa/voliii/inst1870.shtml Nothing is recorded for this question so the family shown are probably renters and not owners. No help cross-checking the head of household in property tax records.
    – Jan Murphy
    Commented Mar 24, 2014 at 17:06

2 Answers 2


The Bean household may have been living on Gates Street in Ogdensburg.

Although the Bean family seem to be renters (per Jan Murphy's analysis), I checked adjacent census pages in case one of the near neighbours had real estate values marked and could be used to pin-point an address. (I looked only one page either side because of the likelihood that the enumerator's sequence could turn street corners and jump and backtrack).

Not many to chose from: But Dwelling 1850, household 1898 on Page 261 (following sheet), head Timothy McCormic, has value 6000 marked.

He is still in Ogdensburg, on Gates Street, Ogdensburg Ward 2

Timothy is also found in earlier federal censuses (no street addresses, though) but the earlier state censuses for St Lawrence County are missing. It may be possible to determine his address in 1870 by means of property records, in case he did move between 1870 and 1880.

And the Beans would have been almost next door.


Since the 1870 Census did not record house numbers or street addresses, the address needs to be found by other means. From the instructions:

Property.-Column 8 will contain the value of all real estate owned by the person enumerated, without any deduction on account of mortgage or other incumbrance, whether within or without the census subdivision or the country. The value meant is the full market value, known or estimated.

Nothing is recorded for this question so the family shown are probably renters and not owners. It will probably be no help cross-checking the head of household in property tax records, but I would undertake the search anyway as part of making an exhaustive search.

As bgwiehle has shown, the next step is to look for people nearby in the census who own their homes. In the U.S. City Directories on Ancestry, the earliest directory that is named as being for Ogdensburg is 1882. Timothy McCormick, carpenter, is listed at "Gates n(ear) Ford Ave".

[Archibald Bean is not listed in that directory; Joseph Bean, commercial agent, is listed at "Congress n'r Jersey Ave" and there are a few other listings under the surname Bean, none on Gates Avenue. But this is a digression because this information doesn't answer the question of where the Bean family was in 1870.]

It might be possible, if enough other home owners and long-term renters are nearby, to repeat the process bgwiehle demonstrated and place other families on the map to get more clues. Be sure to look at the front pages of any city directory you can find. New England directories sometimes have a section called a Street Directory which lists all the streets and the house numbers where the cross streets intersect. If you can find a similar reference for Ogdensburg that might help you narrow things down to a small range of city blocks. The 1882 directory says that Gates runs from "Lake to Monroe Avenue" and Ford Avenue runs "from Main, southerly" (image 12 of 47 on Ancestry.com) but does not give street numbers.

The Ancestry Wiki article Census Indexes and Finding Aids says:

historian Keith Schlesinger devised a system to locate individuals overlooked by Soundex and other indexing processes. Schlesinger gleaned addresses from city directories, which he found both accurate and accessible, then plotted them on maps of census enumeration districts, which followed the boundaries of voting precincts in most cities. By narrowing the search for a non-indexed individual to one or two enumeration districts, this resource permits the researcher to escape the confinement of the Soundex. The technique is described in Keith Schlesinger’s and Peggy Tuck Sinko’s “Urban Finding Aid for Manuscript Census Searches.” National Genealogical Society Quarterly 69 (September 1981): 171–80.

When making this kind of study, I check the One-Step Webpages by Stephen P. Morse for possible Street Name Changes (in this case, no page exists for Ogdensburg, NY), and I look for historical maps like property ownership maps, insurance maps, and maps found in materials contemporary to the census like maps in the front of city directories. State Archives, State Libraries, and the libraries at the bigger universities and colleges within the state are a good place to look for historical maps -- some states have good online digital collections with maps that can be downloaded. The David Rumsey historical map collection is another good source for historical maps.

bgwhiele has already narrowed it down to a specific street, so you may not need to look at a wide area. For researchers who do need to start with a large area and narrow the search, there are several references that will help determine the outside boundary of a search area.

The standard reference for the US Federal Census is Map Guide to the U.S. Federal Censuses, 1790–1920 by William Thorndale and William Dollarhide. The publisher describes it as follows:

This work shows all U.S. county boundaries from 1790 to 1920. On each of the nearly 400 maps the old county lines are superimposed over the modern ones to highlight the boundary changes at ten-year intervals. Also included are (1) a history of census growth; (2) the technical facts about each census; (3) a discussion of census accuracy; (4) an essay on available sources for each state's old county lines; and (5) a statement with each map indicating which county census lines exist and which are lost. Then there is an index listing all present-day counties, plus nearly all defunct counties or counties later re-named.

With each map there is data on boundary changes, notes about the census, and locality finding keys. There also are inset maps that clarify territorial lines, a state-by-state bibliography of sources, and an appendix outlining pitfalls in mapping county boundaries.

A good overview of the modern system of numbering the census districts can be found in this article from Prologue Magazine: "Plans of Division": Describing the Enumeration Districts of the 1930 Census by Claire Prechtel-Kluskens. Unfortunately, the numbering of census districts began in the 1880 Census, which is too late for this question. The author says:

The numbering and arrangement of enumeration districts evolved over time. For the 1790 through 1870 censuses, the EDs were not numbered and consisted of large areas that included many MCDs.

The MCD is:

(a) minor civil division (MCD) or an incorporated place. The bureau used the term "minor civil division" to describe the political subdivision unit below the county level (such as cities, towns, villages, precincts, and townships), since the name for that unit varies widely throughout the United States.

The descriptions of the districts are found on NARA microfilm T1224 (1870 is on Roll 3). The section titled Table 2. ED Descriptions, 1830-90, in T1224 says:

The title of T1224 contains a misnomer because EDs, strictly defined, were not used until the 1880 census. The early censuses used the term subdivision to refer to part of a supervisor's or marshal's division or district. Subdivisions in the early censuses comprised towns, townships, or other units comparable to MCDs.

Researchers must determine the state or territory and try to identify the county. Descriptions found in T1224 may help narrow the search by specifying what county certain localities (including MCDs, neighborhoods, or post offices) were in during certain census years.

The descriptions note street names or ranges and specify the corresponding EDs. Most early ED descriptions, however, are general and largely served as documentation of the names of enumerators and rates of pay. They may simply state that a census taker had to enumerate an entire county or an unspecified part of a subdivision. Beginning with 1850, the ED descriptions became increasingly detailed.

To use ED descriptions in T1224, a researcher should try to determine the location of a family, person, or institution in a certain census year. Especially for the late 1800s, death and birth certificates, city directories, tax records, or other sources may provide this information.

WorldCat has holdings for T1224 roll 3 under Census descriptions of geographic subdivisions and enumeration districts, 1830-1950. 1870 volume. (For holdings near Ogdensburg, NY use Zip Code 13669 in the zip code finder.) The Family History Library catalog lists it as Descriptions of census geographic subdivisions, 1870 : NA T1224 and their film number is 1402859.

Added from comments: The part of this answer about finding the district boundaries for later censuses was included so I can find the references again when I need them. But I hope the information will be useful to others, too.

In some localities, the modern property tax records are a matter of public record, and are published online. For some cities, it would be possible to look up addresses and see the individual parcels for a street address, see the current owner, and get information about what buildings are on the parcel, including an estimate of when the buildings were constructed.

In my research, I was able to determine for one family of interest that there was no point looking for the family in an earlier census at the address shown in the 1930 Census, because the house was built in 1924. Further research showed that the entire neighborhood was a new development built around that time.

I don't know what information is available for this area of NY, but it might be worth pursuing. Another reason to investigate the landlord of families who rent is to rule out the possibility that the building was owned by a relative.

  • The address (10 gates) bgwiehle had found makes cense to me as Peter Gagnon, the in-law of Jos was a brakeman so I assume he opted for living near (191 Greene) his work site, the port. Jos was said to be a sailor but I'm pretty sure he was a dock worker. Both where working near the port facilities and that's how I presume Jos met Mary. <br> 1894 I think Archy Beans, Jos' father lived at 12 Lake and probably died there he would have been 83 as the time and in 1895 I see a Archibald Lefebvre dead in St-Mary's register.
    – Bill
    Commented Mar 28, 2014 at 19:09
  • Achiles Lefebvre and Archibald Beans is the same person as Joseph Lefebvre and Joseph Beans is. I was told by some other genealogy searchers who've found records at St-Mary's that the priest there who signs P.O. Chagnon LaRose had the bad habit to rebaptise people galicizing the names of the english-canadian born. Allegedly, to the question "why my name is Bean and my step-bro is Lefebvre ?" Jos would have answered "Father LaRose would say to me 'Bean is not a name do we baptise him Lefebvre?' and Jos would have answered never mind, baptize him, that's all.
    – Bill
    Commented Mar 28, 2014 at 19:24
  • @Bill -- I was trained to keep track of which name is used in which record so that's why I write what the record says, even when we know it is not the name that was used in everyday life.
    – Jan Murphy
    Commented Mar 29, 2014 at 3:25
  • That's the way to do. I understand your intervention. But in a not so obvious story like this one that can be anything else but legal since the proofs and the official paperwork is still missing to me, I add anything that can be relevant to finding any clue. The cold view of any case IS the only way to find the truth, you're right. It looks that in this case, infos tend to appear under two names depending on the event.
    – Bill
    Commented Mar 30, 2014 at 11:22

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