So I'm getting a bit confused trying to parse this census record:

[Charles] Graham is the grandfather I care about. My mother doesn't know much about him since he died when she was young, but the one thing she was sure of were aunts Katie (or katy) and Johanna. Since the year is right from Graham, this looks like a hit.

Graham' marriage is interesting, but certainly within the realm of possibility as he never married my grandmother (who was also married to someone else).

But I'm curious about his relationship to Catherine, Johanna, and Anna. It's possible that Graham's (unknown) wife is a Cripps, but why wouldn't she live there (which is what I believe the 7 means). If instead Catherine Cripps used to be Catherine Graham that would match up with my story (catherine matching katie).

But if that's the case Why is Anna named Anna Meier? If she was Charles and Catherine's mother, I would expect her name to be Graham, same with Johanna. Anna is listed as married but maybe Charles father died and she remarried, having Johanna with the new husband?

I feel like I'm missing something and I'm hopeful that someone here can provide an alternate thought process which might help, or some tips to find more details.

  • 1
    @bgwiehle has given you several good ideas -- for a fuller example of the process of evidence analysis see Elizabeth Shown Mills, QuickLesson 16: Speculation, Hypothesis, Interpretation & Proof. Her census example is from 1820 but the same principles apply.
    – Jan Murphy
    Commented Sep 9, 2014 at 22:01
  • Looks like your link is missing a "/" before content. Figured it out though. Thanks!
    – Mason11987
    Commented Sep 10, 2014 at 17:13
  • I think I've fixed the link now (cut the old one out and re-pasted a new copy).
    – Jan Murphy
    Commented Sep 10, 2014 at 17:26
  • Since your family is in New York, don't neglect the resources at the New York Public Library. Even far-away researchers can get good tips from their Research Guides.
    – Jan Murphy
    Commented Sep 13, 2014 at 4:32

3 Answers 3


You've got several theories to test:

  1. Charles Graham is brother-in-law of Charles Cripps AND son of Anna AND full-brother of Catherine, or
  2. Charles Graham is brother-in-law of Charles Cripps AND son of Anna BUT half-brother of Catherine (and Johanna), or
  3. Charles Graham is brother-in-law of Charles Cripps BUT NOT son of Anna and NOT brother or half-brother of Catherine or Johanna

All are possible with respect to the information from the census entry.

Records that might corroborate one option over the others:

  • marriage records for (? Graham and Anna ?) and (? Meier and Anna ?)
  • marriage record of Charles Cripps and Catherine ? (possibly Graham or Meier)
  • mother's maiden name on birth records for Cripps children and Johanna Meier (if available)
  • federal & state censuses, to determine family units at intervals
  • WW1 draft for Anna's husband(s), if still living in 1917-1918
  • death records, if spouse/parents included
  • city directories


  • All the individuals on the (1940) census excerpt, above, were born in New York, except Charles Cripps (b. Connecticut)
  • Relative ages - Anna would have been 26yr at Charles' birth and 40 at Johanna's
  • 1920 & 1930 census searches unsuccessful, so far
  • A search at http://www.italiangen.org/records-search/marriages.php for Meier marrying Anna results in 1 hit in 1913, Suffolk Co NY, William Meier & Anna Melzer (ie. between Charles Graham's birth abt 1909 and Catherine Cripps' birth abt 1916) [note age data not indexed & unclear if Melzer is maiden name or a current married name]

    • IF the bride in the 1913 marriage record is the same as Anna Meier in 1940 census (needs additional records for proof), then Catherine Cripp's maiden name is probably Meier.
  • Cripps marriage found at http://www.italiangen.org/records-search/brides.php Meier Cath & Kripps Charles A, marr Dec 31'35 [1936-199-Bronx-K612-2535925] (NB 1st child b. abt 1937)

    • Catherine Cripp's maiden name is Meier (unless other records show otherwise, example adoption) and the 1st theory is disproved.
  • 1
    So regarding your last line, if Catherine Cripps's maiden name is Meier that would mean that Charles Graham can only be brother in law by marrying a Cripps right? This is a fantastic post, and I'll be re-reading it a few times over to get it all. Thanks for the tips!
    – Mason11987
    Commented Sep 9, 2014 at 20:55
  • 2
    Last line means that Catherine Meier Cripps is not Charles Graham's full sister (same mother & same father). She still might be half-sister (same mother, different fathers) or they may be unrelated. I did try to find Charles Cripps/Kripps in earlier censuses to test whether he even had a sister, but did not find any good matches. Also did not find Anna with Catherine and Johanna in 1930.
    – bgwiehle
    Commented Sep 9, 2014 at 21:18
  • 1
    Excellent answer! One important clue not yet mentioned is that Catherine is the informant (indicated by the * on the census record).
    – Jan Murphy
    Commented Sep 9, 2014 at 21:57

It looks to me that Charles Cripps married Catherine Meier and that Charles Graham married a Cripps. The relationships should all be relative to the head of the household.

  • 1
    Hi, sorry for the belated welcome, but -- welcome to G&FH.SE! The relationships are supposed to be the relationship to the head of household, but we also have to keep in mind that Catherine is the informant. She might have answered relative to herself if she misunderstood the enumerator's question. We've got tons of ambiguity possible here, since "brother-in-law" could mean the spouse of a sibling of Charles Cripps or the sibling of a spouse, plus, as bgwiehle says, blended families could be involved.
    – Jan Murphy
    Commented Sep 10, 2014 at 3:16

Catherine Cripps is Catherine Meier and Johanna is her sister. Catherine married Charles. The correct spelling of last name is Meier. FYI also known as Muir. ANNA is Catherine & Johanna's mother. Charles Graham is also a bit of a mystery to me. I have to check my records on him again. He use to chauffer. I have his license and picture. I think my mother would find it interesting to hear he had children.

  • Welcome to G&FH SE! As a new user be sure to take our Tour because the site works differently (I think much better) than discussion forums, bulletin boards and other Q&A sites. If you do wish to include any contact details the place to do that is your user card which signs every answer, question and comment you post here.
    – PolyGeo
    Commented Apr 5, 2015 at 0:08

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.