Thursday, April 21, 2022

Where are Wm Green Cook & wife Jane at the time of the 1920 US Federal Census?

Many people are in search of their ancestors in the newly released 1950 US Federal Census. I've been fortunate to find the vast majority of my close relatives in it and will wait until there is an index to search for those more distant relatives. It seems like a good time to take inventory of my direct ancestors and their census records. There are several paternal and a few maternal  ancestors that I have been unable to find in the US Federal Censuses that were recorded between 1850 and 1940.  One of my most recent MIA census records is the entry for my paternal great grandparents, William Green Cook and Jane B King Cook.  My study of the tax records of Wm Green Cook for the years 1912-1944 leads me to believe that they should be in Civil District 10 of  Rutherford Co TN . I've included the study below along with the snippet of the census page where they should have been enumerated.  Jane died a year after the census from pulmonary tuberculosis but appeared to have been sick with it since the fall of 1920 according to the information given on her death certificate.  At least that was the time she was treated by the physician who signed off on her death certificate.

Close-up of the portion of the Tax Study that covers the years
surrounding the 1920 Census

Above screenshot of 1920 US Federal Census--Rutherford Co TN--District 10 ED 123 Sheet 9A(image 17 of 20 at

Displacement of some sort was going on at the time of the census which may or may not have had to do with the TB and flu outbreaks happening in the area during that timeframe.  In the document granting the adoption, it mentions that Eliza is living in Chapel Hill with her Father & Mother but that her parents home is in Rutherford Co TN.  This letter is dated Dec 31, 1918 so that would have been a year and a day before the 1920 Census date of January 1st.  Were the missing people all together or at an infirmary or TB sanatorium?  Was the census taker aware that they were sick and skipped their home?  The daughters could be there taking care of their Mom.  A number of people from this family worked at the pencil mill but those folks were living in Marshall Co TN and the missing members are not with either of these families.  In my efforts to find my great grandparents, I've discovered a lot more questions than answers.   

Further Research Opportunities

Newspapers 1918-1930s
Marshall Co TN paper (at
Murfreesboro paper(at via my subscription) 

Where are Tennessee Orphan's Home records(Columbia, TN) archived?  What additional correspondence(if any) might they have?

How were hospitals and sick houses treated for enumeration purposes during the 1920 Census?  
[These are just the ones I can think of right now I'll probably add to the list before I'm able to find the answers.]


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