Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Did the Entire Family Disappear?

Genealogy Research Puzzles
I'm sure we've all searched census records and had the experience where we couldn't find the person or family anywhere. I've browsed entire neighborhoods page by page, looking for someone and never finding them. Did they move? Were they away from home, or not want to share their information with the census taker? In some cases, there could be other reasons.

If you were looking for William McClease and his wife Isabelle in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, you would find them living in Upper St. Clair Township in 1870:

        William McClease, 37, Laborer, born in PA
        Isabelle, McClease, 34, born in PA
        John McClease, 12, born in PA
        William McClease, 6, born in PA

In the 1880 census, they would be missing.

The McClease family isn't part of my family tree, but I found them mentioned in a publication listed on the Library of Congress website when I searched for items related to Pittsburgh. Their story made me realize that anyone looking for them today would wonder why they couldn't find them. And then maybe they would give up and move on.

The publication is the Report of the Citizens' Executive Relief Committee of the Cities of Pittsburgh and Allegheny, for the Relief of the Sufferers by the Flood of July 26th, 1874. Beginning on page 18, it lists the names of more than 100 people who drowned. Multiple names from the same families can be seen on the list, including the McClease family:

        William McClease, aged 45 years; McLaughlin's Run; body found
        Mrs. Isabella McClease, aged 42 years; McLaughlin's Run; body found
        John G. McClease, aged 16 years; McLaughlin's Run; body found
        William McClease, aged 12 years; McLaughlin's Run; body found
        Rettie McClease, aged 4 years; McLaughlin's Run; body not found

Searching the message boards would lead you to a post that states the family perished in the 1874 flood. But there are many more names in the publication that may not be found by doing an online surname search. By reading some of the historical books related to the town or city where your ancestors lived, you may find a mention that helps with your genealogy research.


  1. What a cool resource! Since grandmother's parents were living in Pittsburgh in 1874, this is very interesting to me. I'm so glad I found your blog!! :)

    1. Thanks for reading it and taking the time to comment!


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