14 July 2020

How to Use Directories to Find a Missing Census

Last week I wrote about my 2nd great uncle's daughter, Jennie. When she died in a tragic accident at the age of 27, she left behind a young son and her husband Vincent. I wanted to know more about Vincent, who came from the same Italian hometown as all my Iamarino ancestors.

I found Vincent and his son Serafino in the 1930 and 1940 censuses. They were living with Vincent's sister Concetta and her family. I had no luck finding Vincent or Concetta in the New York census in 1925.

Vincent's World War I draft registration card tells me where he lived right before he married Jennie. But I don't pick up his home address again until 1930.

How else can I find out where Vincent lived between 1918 and 1930?

This is when city directories become so valuable. Ancestry.com has directories for countless cities and organizations around the world. I went to the 1925 NYC directory and found Vincent Piteo listed with 3 of his brothers and a possible cousin.

City directories can be a great way to find your relative during those missing years.
City directories can be a great way to find your relative during those missing years.

I knew from censuses that Vincent worked as a roofer. The 1925 city directory says:
  • He worked for the Standard Roofing Company.
  • He lived at 430 East 144th Street in the Bronx.
This adds a bit more to the story of Jennie. She died in a kitchen fire in 1923. By 1930, her husband and son moved in with his sister Concetta. But in 1925, 2 years after the tragedy, Vincent lived at 430 East 144th Street. A 1924 voter registration list also shows Vincent at that address. He must have moved there right after his wife died.

Now that I have his exact street address, I should be able to find him in the 1925 census. Looking at a map, I see that 430 East 144th Street is between Willis Avenue and Brook Avenue.

You need to see the adjacent streets before taking this next step.

I went to the Steve Morse website and chose New York State Censuses. (This website has lots of powerful search tools for genealogists.) I chose East 144th Street and the cross-streets of Willis Avenue and Brook Avenue. The Morse website gave me two enumeration districts to search. I picked district 20 and found Vincent in 3 clicks!

To my surprise, Vincent is a lodger in the home of a George Smith. I know it's him because his occupation is roofer, and this is his address from the city directory. I couldn't find him in a search because:
  • They wrote his last name as Petro instead of Piteo.
  • His son Serafino is not with him. I was trying to find father and son together.
Was Serafino with his Aunt Concetta? Back in the city directory, I found Concetta's husband at 252 East 148th Street. Google Maps shows me this address is on the corner of Morris Avenue. On the Steve Morse site, I found 3 different enumeration districts for this address.

I found Concetta in the 1st of the 3 enumeration districts. No wonder she hadn't turned up in a search. They listed her as Catherine. She has 7 children in this census ranging in age from 13 to 23.

Sadly, Vincent and Jennie's son Serafino is not with his Aunt Concetta in 1925. Where is the boy?

Was he placed in an orphanage when his mother died? Was he with one of his uncles or his maternal grandfather? That would be my 2nd great uncle Giuseppantonio Iamarino. I don't have a 1925 census for any of these men.

The 1925 New York City Directory has addresses for Serafino's uncles. I used the Steve Morse website to pinpoint their addresses in the 1925 census. I found only 1 of the 3 uncles. His Uncle Michael (with his last name misspelled) had a wife and 6 children. No room for little Serafino.

Combine tools to find your relative at an address, then page through the census.
Combine tools to find your relative at an address, then page through the census.

I knew my 2nd great Uncle Giuseppantonio Iamarino's address in 1920 and 1930. But he was not there in the 1925 census. He wasn't in the 1925 city directory, either.

This was around the time Giuseppantonio's first wife died, and he seemed to disappear for a while. If his 1st wife had died recently, the census taker may have overlooked him in the 1925 census.

The New York City directory, combined with the Steve Morse website, helped fill in a lot more facts about this extended family. I didn't answer the burning question of "where was 3-year-old Serafino?" But I did find a lot more family members.

Make sure you're familiar with all the tools available to you in your family tree searches. Combining tools will always get you further.

1 comment:

  1. Great example of the usefulness of directories. I too have found them useful for finding relatives who don't appear to be in the census, and just to trace them between censuses.