Some things may not be what they appear to be.  For instance, take the Wenzel Mueller family in the 1880 U.S. census for Cincinnati,  Ohio:

Name Relation Age Birthplace Father’s birthpl Mother’s birthpl
Wenzel Mueller 38 Bremen Bremen Bremen
Pauline Mueller wife 34 Baden Baden Baden
Anna Mueller daughter 10 Ohio Bremen Baden
Elizabeth Mueller daughter 9 Gy Bremen Baden
Joseph Mueller son 7 Gy Bremen Baden
Mary daughter 5 Ohio Bremen Baden


It looks like one happy family.  Right?  Does anything look strange to you? …

I’m giving you time to think about it…..

Time’s up.  How come the two middle children were born in “Gy” [Germany], while the first and the last were born in Ohio?  Were the parents living in Ohio when Anna was born, then go to Germany for a few years where the middle children were born, then back to Ohio in time for Mary’s birth?  I don’t think so.  THAT would have been highly uncommon.

So, what’s up?  Obviously, this one record is not going to give you the answer.

Would it help if I told you I found an immigration record for “Wenzel Muller” age 32, who arrived in 1874 at Baltimore, Maryland, with his wife, Marie, and children, Elisabeth, age 3, and Joseph, age 2?  Wenzel is listed as a “tailor,” the same occupation as in the 1880 U.S. census.  His country of birth is Bohmen, not Bremen, and last residence was Wischlofka (which is now in the Czech Republic).   I quizzed the specialist at the Family History Library and asked her to pronounce “Bohmen” for me. It sounded a lot like “Bremen.”  So, the enumerator may have written what he heard, not how it was spelled.

So now do you have an answer?  If you said that Paulina is not the mother of Elizabeth and Joseph, you are right.  Also, Wenzel is not the father of Anna and Mary, but Pauline IS their mother.  This is a blended family.  (Wenzel’s probate record proved this point for me).

Since it is a blended family, I was troubled by the entries for the place of birth for the children’s parents, Bremen and Baden, because if Elizabeth and Joseph had a different mother, she may not have been born in Baden, and Anna and Mary’s father may not have been born in Bremen.   Either the informant didn’t know, or the enumerator just assumed the children were all from the same set of parents.

This story has a happy ending.  I was able to sort out the two families.

Have you come across a census entry where all was not as it appeared to be?


1880 U.S. census, Hamilton County, Ohio, population schedule, Cincinnati, Enumeration District (ED) 141, sheet 344-A, p. 17 (penned),, dwelling 73, family 154, Wenzel Mueller; digital image, ( : accessed 9 June 2011), citing National Archives microfilm publication T9, roll 1026.

“Baltimore Passenger Lists, 1820-1948,” digital image, ( : accessed 9 June 2011), entry for Wenzel Muller, manifest S.S. Berlin, Bremen, Germany, to Baltimore, Maryland, arriving  11 April 1874, entry 110, Wenzel Muller; citing National Archives microfilm publication M255, roll 22.

Wayne County, Michigan, Probate packet 13395, Wenzel Mueller (Miller); Probate Court, Detroit; FHL microfilm 955,225.