Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Try Evie, Not Ernie

I'm not much of a numbers geek, but it seems reasonable to think that, knowing a set of six given names belonging to the same Tucker family, we'd be able to narrow the field and perhaps even target the right bunch. But that's me—not a numbers geek, remember?

It didn't take too much number-crunching insight to realize that, for the 1900 census, the sole Tucker family in the whole of Saunders County—the place in Nebraska where our Tucker family had posed for their portrait over one hundred years ago—was not a family with five children. Even considering that one important missing piece to this puzzle—the patriarch of this Tucker family is simply called "Grand Dad"—I'm fairly certain the household of Albert C. Tucker does not fit the description from the label on the back of the photograph I found.

An Iowa native, now a settler in Oak Creek Township, halfway across the county from Wahoo, Albert Tucker lived with his wife Mary and only living child, their twenty-two year old daughter Nettie. No Jim, no Ernie, no Maud, no Annie—in fact, not a one of those names from our abandoned photograph matched up with this Tucker family in Saunders County.

That's when I thought trying to locate a household with a matching set of those names would overcome the impossibility of finding the right Tucker family. Tucker, after all, is a rather common surname. But that search approach wasn't yielding any satisfactory results, either, so it was back to the drawing board: take a second look at those names on the photo's label.

That's when I spotted my first mistake. Did you notice it? Despite the baby on the lap of "Grand Dad" looking more like a daughter than a son—at least, in today's way of looking at such things—there was one more boy's name than sons in the photograph. It turns out that what I thought was "Ernie" was actually written as Evie.

Still, looking for a Tucker family with a Ralph and an Evie didn't yield me much—until I spotted another Tucker family with almost all the right names. If we switch Jim for James, Evie for Eva, and allow that "Baby" might have been Ralph (if he was born in July, 1899), we might have found the right Tucker family. All but the two oldest children were born in Nebraska.

Only problem was...this family was living about twelve hundred miles away from Wahoo, Nebraska. And this Tucker family included another son—named Karl—who wasn't even mentioned in the photograph. Maybe this choice isn't working out so well, after all.

Above: Map of Saunders County, Nebraska, from a railway map of Nebraska, issued by the State Board of Transportation in 1889; courtesy United States Library of Congress Geography and Map Division; in the public domain.


  1. You might want to check out what name the infant gets ten years later in the 1910 census


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