Reference: Greenwood, Val, The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy, 4th ed. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 2017.
It seems like every census year I have at least one family that I can't locate where I think they should be. Every now and then the family has moved, but sometimes the census enumerator or modern-day indexer have badly mangled the names. Searching for other family members, especially if one has an unusual first name, has helped me find more than one "missing" family.
My direct ancestor, William Beem, died in 1850. I easily found his widow and children living with her parents in the 1850 census, but could not find them anywhere in 1860. The child I descend from has an unsual first name, Elbridge, so I decided to search for him. From prior research, I knew Elbridge was born in Ohio about 1840, so those are the parameters I entered into the search form. I did not include a last name. I also knew Elbridge had enlisted in an Ohio unit at the start of the Civil War, so I expected to find him in Ohio.
Once I narrowed the search results down to the 1860 Federal Census, one possibility jumped out at me: Elbridge Ball of Jersey, Licking County, Ohio.
This is exactly where the Beems lived. Clicking on the link, the head of household is Samuel Ball and his (presumed) wife, Christina Ball.
|Listing of Samuel Ball Household in the 1860 U.S. Census, Licking County, Ohio, Jersey Township.|
Bingo! Elbridge's mother was Christiana, and included in this blended family are his brothers, Lewis and William. Evidently Christiana had remarried, and the enumerator listed all of the Beem children with the Ball surname.