Step by Step #1: Roy and Hattie Teague in 1930

Here is the record that begins our odyssey. Be sure to read the footnotes, as they contain additional and important information.

This is an abbreviated version, of course, but let’s see what an initial read gives us. The first thing we should note is the particulars of the record; we may need these later on to construct a citation.1 Bear with me here; doing this might seem a little boring and tedious, but it’s absolutely necessary for a number of reasons, which we will discuss at various times during the entire case study.

Roy and Hattie were enumerated in Rabun County, Georgia, on page 2B in “Pt. of” Clayton Militia District 587.2 From 1880 through 1930 (and presumably beyond), federal censuses were organized by Enumeration Districts (ED) and Supervisor’s Districts (SD); the ED and SD within which this family fell were respectively 121-10 and 3. The dwelling was 27 and the family number was 28. No street or road name was written down the left-hand side of the page.

The official census date for 1930 was 1 April; this means that all information gathered on the family by the enumerator was supposed to be as of that date, regardless of what date the enumerator (for this area, it was M. C. Carver) actually entered the data onto his or her worksheet. Enumerators didn’t always follow directions well, so it’s also important to note the date he or she visited this household (or, at least, recorded information on it), in this case 17 April 1930.

Now, let’s look at the actual household data, summarized below:

Roy S. Teague was the head of this household. All relationships stated for members of this household are based on their relationship to him, and not to any other person. This means that the children in the household labeled as sons and daughters were his children, but there’s no way to tell from this record whether they were also Hattie’s; establishing Hattie as the mother must be done by verifying the information through other records, such as birth and death certificates.

Roy was a white male aged 29 as of the official census date (assuming the enumerator followed directions); that makes his approximate year of birth about 19013. He was first married at the age of 23, just 6 years before. Hattie was a white female aged 24 (born about 1906); she was 18 at the time of her first marriage, also 6 years earlier. It is reasonable to conclude that Roy and Hattie were married to each other 6 years earlier, but that conclusion must be verified against actual documentation. *Here, we should make a note on our to-do list to look for a marriage record.*

All members of the household were born in Georgia, as were their parents.

This family owned their home. It was valued at $300 and was not located on a farm. *Here we would make a note to check Rabun County’s land records to see where this home was located, the idea being that Roy probably owned the land the house was built on. We may also wish to check tax records, which could provide important information about this family’s socio-economic status.*

In the part of this record that was edited out to make the image readable, one would find that Roy was a mechanic in an auto repair shop (*What auto shops were in business at that time?*), while Hattie had no formal occupation. Neither Roy nor Hattie attended school between 1 September 1929 and the date of the census, but both could read and write. *Here we make a note on our to-do list to check for school records once we verify where Roy and Hattie grew up.*

The three other members of this household were Susie J. Teague, aged 4 5/12 (born about December 1925), Clifford G. Teague, aged 2 10/12 (born about June 1927), and Claud R. Teague, aged 1 3/12 (born about January 1929). All were identified as Roy’s children. None had attended school since 1 September 1929, not unusual given the stated ages.

Georgia began requiring the registration of vital records in 1919; all three of these children were born after that date and so, theoretically, all three should have birth certificates on file. Georgia, like many states, rigorously protects official birth records, and so there’s very little possibility that we could gain copies. *Instead, we should make a note to check Rabun County’s Vital Statistics register, held at the Probate Court in Clayton.* It took a while for all Georgia counties to come into compliance with the above-mentioned regulation (some counties did not begin registering all deaths until the 1950s, for example), but the register should be checked beginning in about 1924 and moving through at least the early 1940s. If Roy and Hattie’s children were born within Rabun County, chances are good that at least some of their births were entered into the official record.

The final item to note at the moment about Roy and Hattie’s 1930 US census entry is their next door neighbor, Ms[?]. Lina S. Teague.4 Lina was a white female, aged 55 (born about 1875), born in Georgia, and a widow, enumerated with four of her children: Faye C. Teague (born about 1903), Lucy Teague (born about 1916), Louie Teague (born about 1898), and Reba Teague (born about 1911). She was 21 years old upon her first marriage, which would’ve taken place in about 1896, several years before Roy’s birth. *Could Lina have been Roy’s mother? We make a note to revisit this record once more is known about Roy.*

We can see by looking at our to do list how one record can lead to several other records. Have we learned everything we can from this entry on the 1930 census? Probably not, and so we should make a mental note to revisit this record later on in our research. In the meantime, we have several leads to follow based on the to-do list we made as we examined this record:

  • Find a marriage record for Roy and Hattie. Since they were living in Rabun County so shortly after their presumed marriage in about 1924, we’ll try records made in that locality first.
  • Look for property transactions, beginning in about the early 1920s when Roy would’ve come of age.
  • Look for tax records. These may be at the tax assessor’s office, but we should also check the Georgia Department of Archives and History (they have many tax digests on microfilm, if not the original volumes, from about 1872 through the 1960s) and the Rabun County Historical Society (which may hold the original or personal copies made by the tax collector).
  • Search for anything that might lead to the names of auto shops in the Clayton area to see if we can figure out where exactly Roy might have worked.
  • Check to see what, if any, school records might be extant and/or available during the 1910s and 1920s. We may have to wait to do this until we have some notion of where Roy and Hattie grew up.
  • Check the Vital Statistics register for Rabun County to see if Roy and Hattie had any additional children. While we’re looking through those volumes, we should also look for any mention of those children’s deaths, or for the deaths of Roy and Hattie.
  • Follow up on the possibility that Lina S. Teague was Roy’s mother. We should probably wait to do this until we know more about Roy.

While we’re looking through these records, we should bear in mind that Roy and Hattie might have moved into Rabun County rather than having grown up, married, and settled there; we should keep an eye out for any evidence pointing to either possibility. What we will not do is jump back any further in time until we know more about these family members as individuals. By more fully researching Roy, Hattie, and their children, we greatly increase our ability to construct a correct lineage.

That’s it for Roy and Hattie in 1930. Until next time, happy hunting!

* * * * *

1. Yes, we must place citations on every source we use. There are several reasons for this, but for now the most important one to remember is that you need to know exactly where you found information so that you can revisit a source down the road, if necessary. There are several excellent books about crafting citations out there; the one I recommend to new genealogists is Evidence! Citation and Analysis for the Family Historian by Elizabeth Shown Mills. For more advanced genealogists, I recommend Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace, also by Mills. The latter can be a bit overwhelming for the uninitiated, so start with Evidence! if you’re uncomfortable with sourcing your work. See “Recommended Books” for ordering information. The citation for the 1930 US census record we’re using is: Roy S. Teague household, 1930 U. S. census, Rabun County, Georgia, population schedule, Clayton Militia District 587, ED 121-10, SD 3, sheet 2B, dwelling 27, family 28; National Archives micropublication T626, roll 381.

2. The militia district system arose out of the old Captain’s District system. At one time, men regularly drilled with their communities as part of the local militia. These militiamen were responsible for the defense of the entire community, and they were generally led by a man of their own choosing who was given the title of Captain (hence, Captain’s District). It was common to use the militia district as a legal district as well, so that when taxes or censuses were taken, the jurisdiction was canvassed within the separate boundaries of the various militia districts it contained. These divisions are still in place today in Georgia, although I believe they’re now called voting districts.

3. There are many genealogists who will calculate the exact range of possible birth dates based on the age given, the instructions made to the enumerator, and the official census date. It’s a complicated and confusing process, and should be used only in specific cases, such as when there are two or more people of the same name and of a similar age living in one area, or when there are various conflicting dates given for one person’s birth.

4. When transcribing unclear information, a question mark is generally placed in brackets immediately after the questionable word. If desired, one may also underline the questionable or illegible portions so that readers know exactly which portion was hard to read. In this case, the word could be either “Mr.” or “Ms.” Since the enumerator marked Lina as a female, I decided to go with “Ms.” and added the question mark and underline to let readers know that I made a judgment call. The citation for Lina’s household is: Lina S. Teague household, 1930 U. S. census, Rabun County, Georgia, population schedule, Clayton Militia District 587, ED 121-10, SD 3, sheet 2B, dwelling 28, family 29; National Archives micropublication T626, roll 381.

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