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1940 Census brings Joy & Sadness

It was such a great feeling when I was able to locate myself enumerated for the first time with the release of the 1940 census. To say I was thrilled would be a great understatement. After that initial thrill and also that of locating other family members, childhood friends and their families I felt a twinge of sadness I couldn't explain. Well, Angela Walton-Raji, a wonderful genealogist, a friend and one of our strongest AfriGeneas contributors captured that feeling of sadness with her posting All Slaves are Gone, Some Reflections on the 1940 Census on her Blog "My Ancestor's Name" at

It was a feeling of melancholy from not seeing the names of my maternal great-grandparents on the 1940 census. They had been with me in census records for my entire genealogical journey. And they all died during the decade of the 1930's.

Isaac Adams, my grandfather's father first appears in the 1860 census as a 6 y/o with his mother, Lydia (Edwards) Adams and his siblings Margaret, William, Jr. & Almeda. Also on this page are Isaac's grandparents, Lewis & Susan Adams and other family members. The Adams family is an FPOC family that had been in Champaign Co., Ohio since 1813.

I don't find Emma (Bridges) Adams, Isaac's wife and my great-grandmother on census records until 1880. Emma Bridges was born 11 Jun 1853 an enslaved daughter of slaves Anderson Bridges & Minerva Brooks in Crittenden, Grant Co. KY. Emma and Isaac are married 25 April 1876 in Urbana, Champaign Co., OH. Among their 10 children is my grandfather, Harold M. Adams, their youngest child born 30 Jan 1894 in Urbana, Champaign Co., OH.

Emma Adams died 3 Mar 1931 in Portsmouth, Scioto Co., OH and Isaac Adams died 3 Aug 1936 in Urbana, Champaign Co., OH. I never saw or knew either of these great-grandparents.

William Henry Lee, known as Henry Lee was my grandmother, Josephine Lee's father. He was born 27 Mar 1863 in Lima, Allen Co., OH. He was the son of Henry Andrew & Martha (Scott) Lee. Henry Lee died in Piqua, Miami Co.,OH 23 Dec 1937.

Edna "Etna" (Adams) Lee. Josephine's mother was born 19 Apr 1877 in Rumley, Shelby Co., Ohio and she died 23 Jun 1936 in PIqua, Miami Co., OH.

The parents of William & Edna start appearing with the 1840 & 1850 census records for Ohio while I begin to see William & Edna regularly beginning with the 1880 census records for Shelby Co., OH.

So, my joy is now accompanied with a feeling of sadness that the 1940 census presents with the absence of these great-grandparents.

Art Thomas

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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