09 July 2011

Surname Saturday - Zumstine Family

German names are quiet challenging to find in Census records. The last name Zumstine has been quite challenging. For one, no family member can agree on how the end of the name should be spelled... Zumstine, Zumstien, Zumstein?

Add to that the fact that many government document records are written in terrible hand writing and the search for this family name gets even more complicated. When I was searching in Canadian Census records for the last name, I found the last name spelled Zumptine. Okay, I can see where the last name might have a p in the name if you hear it spoken.



I couldn't find the family of Robert Walter Zumstein in the 1881 Census. He would have been in the family of his father Henry as he didn't marry Adeline Snyder until 1894. I found Heny Zumpzine, age 38, in the 1871 Canadian Census in the Gainsborough township of Lincoln, Ontario, Canada. Since the Library and Archives Canada database search, doesn't have a soundex search feature, I was stumped as to how to find the family in Ontario fr the year 1881. I tried a similar search on Ancestry.com but did not come up with anything close to the relatives I was searching for. What was going on?

I decided to do a genealogy trick that I've heard about but had not tried before. I looked at the 1871 Canadian Census for a neighbor with a common name that could be easily interpreted even if the handwriting was terrible. The neighbor I selected was George Snyder. I could have chose Jane Vaugh or Israel Snyder as well. I figured I'd try each of these names until I had exhausted them all.

George Snyder was the ticket! I entered George Snyder, b 1831, into the Ancestry.com website and found one listed in Gainsborough, Lincoln, Ontario in 1881. When I clicked to view the original record, I scrolled down two families and found one with a promising name... Paul Swinstine. I thought, perhaps the transcriber wasn't able to understand the handwriting. Perhaps the Census recorder couldn't understand the German name. I looked forward and determined that Paul was Henry's brother as his wife's name and the children I know of are listed as well.

I looked one family further and found a Henry Swinstine. After further inspection, I have determined that yes, this is my Henry Zumstine.


I can see where the transcriber saw Swinstine. They're not familiar with the last name. It also looks like Sumstine. So now, I have new name spellings to search for and have used a 'old standby' technique to find my missing family members.

Surname Saturday is a daily blogging prompt from GeneaBloggers, the genealogy community's resource for blogging. It is used by many genealogy bloggers to help them tell stories of their ancestors.

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