Friday, June 8, 2012

Finding the Williams/Sullivan family in the 1940 Census

   My Grandmother Azile Daughrity Roberts Sullivan ( 1921-2009) was widowed in 1944 and in 1952 married Francis Emerson Sullivan, Jr. ( 1923-2004). Frank was a wonderful, kind, loving man. He didn't know much about his family as both of his parents died when he was a young boy. He was raised by his Grandfather James "Jim" Williams (1873-1937)  and  Step Grandmother Sallie Griggs Williams (1885-1942)  in Camden, SC. I have always had a strong desire to discover Frank's people and have recently been in contact with some of his Williams family members.

 So when the 1940 Census came out in April the first family I searched for was the Sallie Williams family of Camden, Kershaw, South Carolina. Because I had an address, not only from the 1930 census but also from personal knowledge, I used the tools on to find the crossroads and then the ED and started my search. Of course as we all know our ancestors seem to always end up on or near the last page of the Enumeration District! Mine were on page 24 A about halfway down the page. I was so excited to see the familiar names. Here's what I found:
1940 Census

    Just as I had thought, Sallie Williams was living in her home at 712 Mill Street. Sallie was a widow and is listed as owner of the home and was living with her step-grandchildren James Williams and Frank Sullivan. I was surprised to find that also living in the home as renters were Maud Williams and several of her children. Maude had been married to Ed Williams, Sallie's Stepson.

Williams Family with Frank Sullivan in 1940 Census

 An interesting note is that James Williams, 21, is recorded as living with Sallie even though he was Maud's son. He is also living with Sallie and Grandfather Jim in the 1930 census. I asked James' daughter about why her father lived with his grandparents and not his parents. She told me that at one point her grandparents Ed and Maud Williams and their children moved to their own home just around the corner after several years of living in the home on Mill St.with the Jim and Sallie Williams . Her father James did not like the move and kept running away back to his grandparents! Eventually they gave up and just let him live with them. Could it have had something to do with the fact that his cousin Frank Sullivan, who was only 3 years younger than James, was living with Sallie and Jim?. Family stories say that Frank and James were great friends and that they even looked alike, often being mistaken for each other.
  In 1930 Maud's family lived in a home of their own but by 1940 they were living with Sallie .The information about Maud in the 1940 Census is a great example of census records not always being correct. Maud's marital status says widowed ,however her grandchildren report that Ed actually left the family and remarried. Maud probably had no choice but to move in with Sallie in order to care for her children. Who gave this information? Unfortunately the Census Taker did not mark who the informant for this family was.
 Is Ed Williams found with his new family in the 1940 Census? Time will tell as the indexing continues and the census of South Carolina becomes searchable.
   I loved seeing Frank Sullivan's name listed in the census. It's always a wonderful moment when you find who you are looking for in a record but even more special when you find someone you knew personally. The story that he told of living with his Step Grandmother Sallie Griggs Williams and his cousin James was confirmed. What I didn't know was that his Aunt Maud and her children had lived with them at one time as well. 
 Frank was 17 when the census was taken and had completed 3 years of  High School at Camden High.  It was fun to get a snapshot of his life as a Jr. in High School.  In a little over a year tragedy would strike Frank's family again as Sallie would die suddenly from a cerebral hemorrhage. After Sallie's death Frank would become a fireman for the city of Camden and then along with his cousins serve the United States during World War II.

Frank Sullivan -High School 1941


Camden High School, Camden, SC  1941

1941 Camden High School Yearbook

   I am grateful to have been able to find the Williams family and Frank Sullivan in the 1940 Census so quickly and easily. I hope that I can continue to find more information on this family and be able to see where Frank's Williams family comes from and how and when they came to Camden, SC.

Happy1940 Census searching and indexing!