Tuesday, May 22, 2007

You Say Regetha, I Say Rozetta

Over the last few days, I've been examining the family of my great-grandfather James William Long (1866-1945). When I first described his parents and siblings from the 1870 census of Shawnee, Kansas, I identified his then-two year old sister as "Regetha." I was reading the names from an image provided by a certain large Utah-based company. I then accessed the image from another company that provides service to one of my local libraries, but that I can reach from home. Again, I read "Regetha."

I went back to You-Know-Who dot com and tried to find a record searching for "Regetha." Nothing turned up.

I've lately spent some time transcribing for FamilySearch Indexing and this has honed my skills at reading census enumerators' handwriting. So I enlarged the image and studied it carefully. Aha! It actually says "Rozetta." And this makes sense because James William Long named one of his daughters "Rosetta."

How does Biggest Company dot com index this name? Eventually, I found that they have it as "Rosetha." The Johnson County GenWeb Project transcribed it as "Rogetha."

Now here's a little test of your handwriting decoding skills. If you have online access to the 1870 census for Johnson County, Kansas, go there by searching on James Long. Then look at his father, Richard Long. How old was Richard Long in 1870?

There are several ways to improve your handwriting reading skills, but one that I recommend is FamilySearch Indexing, because you'll be contributing at the same time.


Randy Seaver said...


It sure looks like a 57 for Richard Long's age. However, the "5" doesn't look like other "5"'s on the page, but it looks even less like a "3". How old should he be?

As for "Rozetta," it looks like "Rozettia" to me - it is definitely a "z", the two letters look like crossed "t"'s, and there is a little "i" letter (no dot though) between the second "t" and the "a."

Is "Palinay" Richard's second wife? Is that her actual name? A different one.

I love these kinds of puzzles - like you, I've become fairly ept at reading the handwriting in the census records. The challenge is usually finding the record itself!

Cheers -- Randy

Craig Manson said...

Ancestry.com has him as 57, as does HeritageQuest. Johnson County GenWeb transcribed it as 37. Unfortunately, as of yet, no independent records to say for sure. [See comment below].