They Had Names: Identifying Children Represented by Tick Marks in Pre-1850 Censuses

Denise E. Cross, MSLIS, CG
Jun 15, 2021
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1m 04s
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About BCG
5m 10s
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Speaker's Introduction
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2m 10s
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Census Overview
7m 49s
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Inferred Birth Year Range
5m 24s
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Case Study - Samuel Fletcher
11m 55s
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Case Study - Josiah Cross
15m 03s
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Case Study - Ira Smith
13m 34s
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2m 06s
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Questions / answers
19m 44s

About this webinar

Early nineteenth century censuses represented children in a household with nameless tick marks in gender and age categories. Their identities can be discovered despite the absence of birth records by using the tick marks to determine an approximate birth year then build an exhaustively researched FAN for the head of household. Correlation tools, geographic proximity in land records and later censuses, and ruling out same named individuals, all provide the indirect evidence to give names to the tick marks.

About the speaker

About the speaker

Denise Cross, MSLIS, CG, is a community college librarian who enjoys research, especially digging deep for an elusive answer. Researching her family since the 1990s, she began formalized education in genealogy with the Boston University Certificat
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  1. Legacy Family Tree
    3 years ago

    Very interesting, always find new ways to use spreadsheets helpful.

    A great tool! I had been just ignoring them! now to work

    Brilliant webinar with lots of fantastic information to allow constructive research using the Census in different ways.


    clear research strategies. Very helpful as I have children listed in 1866/1870 with no first names.

    Clearly and concisely done.

    Denise did a great job in explaining how to figure out the names of people represented by tick marks in pre-1850 censuses. She gave lots of practical advice on how to track this information via tables and other tools.

    Denise E. Cross is a very thorough researcher, and I learned a lot from this webinar. Thank you!

    Denise was very concise and clear in her description of her method. It will come in handy when I get to that time period. My problem is finding data from prior to 1776 in Pennsylvania.

    Denise was very knowledgeable and easy to listen to.

    Denise was very thorough, easy to understand and have very helpful information. Loved the presentation.

    Denise your methodology and explanation were fantastic. This is another webinar I will be watching again and again.

    Denise, thank you! It is always good to learn a new methodology.

    Excellant, gives one pause to think about the ages and where the family was and how to seek out other docs that relate everything.


    EXCELLENT information. I learned a lot.

    Excellent presentastion. Excellent examples of tools that you can be created to aid your analysis.

    Excellent presentation!

    Excellent speaker! She was very organized and made her methodology clear to us by using terrific graphics and views of her spreadsheets.

    Excellent speaker. She needs to be invited to give more webinars.

    Excellent tonight with Denise Cross on They Had Names: Identifying Children Represented by Tick Marks!

    Excellent work and charts provided



    Fantastic information!

    First class. Thank you

    Gained a lot of knowledge from her

    Thank you

    Gave me new ideas on how to pinpoint those early relatives in the census.

    Good content

    Good ideas presented clearly by examples. Helpful illustrations. Good pace.

    Good topic but it is evident the presenter was reading

    Great explanation and useful tools for a very confusing endeavor!!

  2. Legacy Family Tree
    3 years ago

    Great explanation, examples and tools – to not only help in the discovery of the names behind those tick marks but in creating additional hypotheses to work toward proving relationships. Many thanks!

    great information!

    Great information!

    Great information! Loved the examples!

    Great presentation!

    Great presentation! I loved the overview of the censuses and the notations on certain ones. The case studies were a great help also and I hope to apply these methods to have better luck naming children.

    Great presentation! Very informative & helpful. Thank you!

    Great research techniques and tips.

    Great topic and presentation. I will watch again.

    Great webinar! Thank you so much for making this available free!

    Hard for a novice like me to follow, who is unlikely to delve this deeply into the research. I enjoyed the presenter’s clarity, organization and applaud her efforts.

    I appreciated the table examples and look forward to creating some to help me with some child issues of my own.

    I can’t wait to dig into my pre 1850s ancestors!

    I have done this kind of thing but got some hints that will help me do it more easily and efficiently. Hints on using Nara forms helpful. Might have to get that special form too. I did have some problems following places with only oral narrative- I need to see things develop (one of those people).

    I learned so much and will not be afraid in future to look for ancestors using the methodology demonstrated today.

    I liked the clear presentation style and that she included her methodology in 3 case studies. Very helpful!

    I loved the webinar! I learned a lot of new ways to use the pre-1850 censuses.

    I loved this webinar! One of my favorites because of the methodology & analysis she used. So helpful!

    I loved understanding what kind of inferences can be drawn from specific info or questions. Loved emphasis on the fluid nature of research, discovery, how information is organized. Also, thought the suggestion to visualize the same information in more than one format in order to see patterns or things that do not fit was creative. I would have loved it if your final chart with names, etc. was part of the handout, too. Thank you very much for helping me understand my Tic Mark Relatives!

    I prefer a speaker to a reader. I enjoyed the topic and thought it was good.

    I really enjoy webinars of this sort. Thanks so much!

    I thought the information provided was extremely useful and I look forward to researching some old census documents to identify family members.

    I very much appreciated the speed at which Denise spoke. She did not rush through the slides, paused between sentences and spoke at a slower pace than most presenters. This allowed me to actually focus on what was being said and how it related to the slide. The logic of her spreadsheet and calculating the ages of children was BRILLIANT. Thank you.

    Info good to have Thanks

    information, good ideas to further research

    Informative. Like her tables.

  3. Legacy Family Tree
    3 years ago

    Inspiring how she showed us how to simply begin creating a data sheet using simply what information we have and then build on it – kinda letting the information drive the creation by its availability!

    Interesting methodology

    Interesting methodology

    Interesting methodology

    Interesting work. Seems like a whole lot of work.

    It gave a lot of good ideas on how to track people from census year to census year which is very difficult prior to 1850. It also gave you ideas on other things to check which could give you more proof.

    It has been difficult analyzing marks on census returns. This webinar gave good tools to help identify members of a family. Thank you!

    It was a little complicated. Lots of good information but somewhat complicated

    It was a whole new way of looking at censuses! Like taking the whole thing and turning it on its side to see a different perspective. I think this will be helpful as I try to link people with families in tick-mark censuses.

    It was interesting and gave me a couple ideas on organization, but I am still left unsure how to proceed in identifying people in the 1790 census that are not in the 1800 census, which was my main reason for signing up for this.

    It was really excellent research, I just still want to know how to find the children that aren’t accounted for! Thank-you!

    It’s great for those with names of heads of households. I will go back and listen when I can take time to absorb the implications for enslaved people.

    I’ve been considering timelines in my research and it looks like I need to start using them – this really showed the value of timeline centered research!

    Learned much. Wish the info comparing census info was in handout to easily view. I am not advanced and needed a bit more basic about how these ages overlapped, some guidelines for when I try on my own.

    Learned so much about age categories.

    Lots of great information! Thank you!

    Lots of great resources

    lots to think about that I had not considered before

    love the charts to figure out family structure. helpful resources. did not know about the 16-18 yo overlap thank you so much!

    Love the examples – thank you

    Loved the spreadsheet ideas and how easy it was to understand the speaker.

    Much of this I’ve been doing though I prefer the charts and tables she has made or is using.

    New ways to find ages of people and who they are

    Nicely done and pleasant to listen to

    outstanding program

    Presenter had a wonderful voice that was paced perfectly. Her examples were amazing. I only hope I can find and fill out my brick walls as well as she did. Thank you.

    Presenter was good though talked a bit too fast.

    So much good information. Thanks.

    SO VERY HELPFUL for the genealogical work that I am starting this week! Great!

  4. Legacy Family Tree
    3 years ago


    Thank you for all of the great information!

    Thank you for the handout and recording it. There was a lot of info and will want to go back and listen again.

    Thank you!

    Thanks for the ingenious approach to utilizing the older censuses.

    The chart with the date ranges to determine ages and years of birth was so helpful. Also, the correlation charts.

    The Cross family interactions chart was hard to read — Josiah’s sisters got lost and confused things in my own little mind. Luckily, I would think about it for a while and figured out. Perhaps too much left to verbal explanation?

    The excellent presentation was explained clearly and is exactly what I need to solve my own mystery!

    The information was good but the case studies are what brought it all together to show how to use the techniques

    The methodology was very easy to understand and I believe I can replicate in my family research.

    This was extremely helpful… I’m actually actively researching in Washington Co. NY for the parents of my 3xGGs… and having to use those early census and other records to reconstruct the possible families my 3xGGs would’ve fit into… huge job. These tools and possible tracking plus info about Washington County Insolvency Records really really helped!

    This was so interesting because it gave me a new way to look at those difficult census records and suggested that reevaluating evidence from a more analytical path could lead to previously unknown names belonging to those impersonal tick marks.

    Three excellent examples of analysis.

    Timely topic for me as I’m doing this analysis on an early 1800 Maine family. Very well presented with the methodologies and tools as well as interesting case studies. Thank you!

    Very carefully laid out and well presented. Exactly the kind of methodology I need for working in that difficult early 1800s period. Thanks.

    very complete on the topic

    Very excellent presentation with excellent examples

    Very helpful and clearly presented. I learned things I didn’t realize I didn’t know. The pre-1850 Censuses have always been frustrating but now I feel I have a handle on how to use them better. Thanks for this webinar!

    Very helpful ideas to correlate research. Thank you!

    Very helpful strategies. Very clear presentation.

    Very helpful. I am excited to actually see how to use this on my brick wall family, and will do so right away. Thank you. Thank you.

    Very helpful. I liked seeing the forms she used to record the info from the censuses. I would have liked to seen case studies from other states where some censuses were missing but the ones she used were helpful in explaining her process. Her handout was great too in giving us links to the various forms and general census information.

    Very helpful. Nice to see forms to help organize my research.

    Very information.

    Very informative

    Very informative and extremely helpful information!

    Very informative but would have liked to have a step by step of the process she used.

    Very informative!

    Very informative. Appreciate the resources contained in the syllabus.

    Very informative. Clear examples, easy to follow.

    Very informative. Opened some new doors.

    Very interesting technique. Will be useful going forward.

    Very Interesting Webinar!

    very interesting. I would love more webinars based on upstate New York research. It is such a difficult area to research

    Very much appreciated seeing her methodology for narrowing down birth date ranges. As is always the case, much supplemental and correlating information, not typically found in online resources, is needed to reach satisfactory conclusions as to the names of children. In some cases, as she indicated, some children will always remain unnamed (died between censuses, etc.).

    Very practical method for working with the pre 1850 censuses. Definitely a method for personal research as it’s time consuming. Would be interested to hear how it could be applied for use with client projects.

    Very professional delivery. Artful slides. But, too many case studies and too many highly complex slides that are hard to digest.

    Very Thorough presentation learned a lot

    Very well presented. She spoke slowly and clearly wich always helps when learning new techniques.

    was very helpful, especially seeing the spreadsheets. I learned a lot! Thank you!

    Well done & very informative.

    Well organized, great detail

    What a great presentation over a very challenging problem! Denise Cross showed us step-by-step how to go about it. Many thanks!

    Will need to watch again and take better notes

    Wonderful presentation!

    Wonderful webinar!

    Wow! Now I have some new tools in my genealogy toolbox that should help break down some of those brick walls! Thanks Denise!

    WOW!! I would give this a 10 if I could. I’ve just ordered the Golden Channel Publishing Early Federal Census Worksheet you listed in the syllabus. Thank you for sharing the link. Just what I needed. Fantastic webinar!


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