Tonight I did a program for the Lancaster Genealogical Society on ancestry.com. In getting ready for the program, I recreated some searches to make sure that they illustrated the techniques I was going to demonstrate.
I could not find my grandmother (Gladys Mamie Sample) on the 1920 census. She told me that she moved to Comanche County, OK when she was one year old and she lived there until she married my grandfather. I had even searched the census microfilm for Comanche County page by page looking for her at one point.
But things have changed. You can do searches with ancestry that cannot be done otherwise. The search box on the 1920 census (and all of the other census years) allows you to search by first names without the last names. This was important in this case because my great grandmother had been married at least 4 times and I wasn't sure that I had all of her married names. My grandmother was about 5 years old in 1920, so I put her first name and age 5 with a +/- 2 years and her mother's first name, Sarah in the appropriate search boxes, then I limited it to Oklahoma. The search did not bring me anyone that seemed right. Sarah's name was Sarah Violet and a few records had her name as Violet so I tried the same search with Violet as the mother's name.
EUREKA! That search brought back Gladys M Ivey, age 5 with a mother, Violet Ivey, and father, James W. Ivey. I knew that my Grandmother considered James Ivey, her only father, even though he and her mother divorced. Why didn't I find them before? I didn't know when I first did this search when Sarah Violet was married to Ivey and they were not in Comanche County. They were in Cotton County, OK. My Grandmother didn't know that when she was 5 years old she was not living in Comanche County.
I miss her and wish I could share with her the amazing things I have found out about her family.