Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Tip: Use Occupations to Help Locate Census Records

In the U.S., most of my ancestors were farmers. But, my newly found German ancestors had a variety of occupations. As I tried to locate the birth family of my 3rd great grandfather, Joachim Peters, using his father's occupation as a "keyword" helped me find the correct family.

Mecklenburg-Schwerin, where the Peters family lived, did not take many censuses. In fact, the only ones I'm aware of are for the years 1704, 1751, 1819, 1867, 1890, and 1900. Since the family emigrated in 1859 and Joachim was born about 1815, the only useful census would be 1819. However, the 1867 census might be useful for finding other family members.

To search the 1819 census, I went to Ancestry.com and went to "search" and then "card catalog." For "title" I used the words "1819" and "census." There were only two results, and one of those records was the Mecklenburg-Schwerin 1819 census.

From the couple's 1843 marriage record, I know that Joachim's father was named Jacob or Jakob. Since Joachim was born about 1815, I approximated Jacob's birth year as 1790..

In the search fields, I typed "Jacob" and "Peters" marking the surname as "exact & similar." I added a birth year of 1790 and clicked search. This search resulted in 566 results.

At this point is when I remembered Jacob was a cheese dairy owner which is "holländer" in German. So, I edited my search and added "holländer" to the keyword field and marked it "exact." Now, I had only 4 results. Of those, one of them had a son, Joachim, who was born in 1815 and was living in the correct area. Perfect!

Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Germany, Census, 1819 (Provo, Utah: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2007), Groß Bützin Township, Ritteramt Güstrow District, page 34, line 86, Jacob Peters household, digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 30 October 2016). 
Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Germany, Census, 1819 (Provo, Utah: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2007), Groß Bützin Township, Ritteramt Güstrow District, page 35, line 90, Carolina Peters of the Jacob Peters household, digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 30 October 2016). 

I still need some of the words translated, but I was able to discover Joachim's mother's name, Hedwig Borgward, and two of his younger sister's names, Anna and Carolina, from this record. It also gives the year and place of birth for each member of the family. For the parents, it even gives the exact date of birth! 

Germany, Lutheran Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials, 1519-1969 (Lehi: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016), Evangelische Kirche Belitz, Belitz city, Belitz parish, baptismal record of Joachim Carl Otto Peters, born 27 Juni 1815, baptized 30 Juni 1815, digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 31 October 2016).
After finding Joachim's mother's name, I was also able to locate Joachim's baptismal record! Unfortunately, it is quite smeared. I might order the microfilm and see if I can get a better copy. One item of interest is the list of sponsors! Two of them share the Borgward surname: Joachim Gustro Borgward and Jacob Otto Borgward. 

Do we share common ancestors? I'd love to talk! Please leave a comment or email me at drleeds@sbcglobal.net


  1. Very good tip. I could have used that before and have to remember it for the future.

    1. Thanks, Anna. I'm glad I thought of it! And, I'm thankful he was still working at the same profession in 1819 as he was in 1843! :)

  2. That is a GREAT tip - thanks!!! Can't wait to try it out.

    1. You're welcome! It does help if they have an occupation that isn't real common - like my farmers! :)


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