Saturday, April 19, 2014

SNGF: Random Research

This week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge from Randy Seaver at the Geneamusings blog asks us to:
1. Go to the Random Name Generator website and generate a name (first and last);
2. Enter that name in the SEARCH box at;
3. Research the person by that name who appears in the first census result listed;
4. Learn whatever you can about that "random" person;
5. Share your findings.

Since it's a rainy, crappy day in Seattle and I'm climbing the walls from being laid up for over a week, I'll try this one.

1. The first name generated for me, Allyson Bentley, had NO census results at using the "exact match" requirement on the name. The second name, Charles Shelton, had 4087.

2. The first Charles Shelton who shows up in the census results is for the 1940 US Census:

1940 United States Federal Census
about Charles Murphy 

Name:Charles Murphy
[Charles Shelton
Estimated birth year:abt 1918
Marital Status:Single
Relation to Head of House:Daughter
Home in 1940:Washington, Marshall, Iowa
Map of Home in 1940:View Map
Inferred Residence in 1935:Rural, Marshall, Iowa
Residence in 1935:Rural, Marshall, Iowa
Resident on farm in 1935:Yes
Sheet Number:5A
Occupation:Hired Man
Attended School or College:No
Highest Grade Completed:Elementary school, 8th grade
Hours Worked Week Prior to Census:80
Class of Worker:Wage or salary worker in private work
Weeks Worked in 1939:52
Income Other Sources:No
Neighbors: View others on page
Household Members:
Note that the census listing is actually for a Charles Murphy, NOT Charles Shelton. It's not clear why Ancestry gave the alternative name. I'm a bit suspicious that this is an error, given that they didn't record the guy's gender and relationship correctly (clearly an "M" and "hired hand" on the census page).

3. I attempted to find more records for this "Charles Shelton", born about 1918 (+/- 1 year), born in Minnesota and came up with zero results at I think this person is Charles W. Murphy, for whom I found an "Iowa World War II Bonus Case Files" record indicating that he was born in Spring Valley, Minnesota, on 25 Feb 1919. In May of 1949, when this application was processed, he was living at 116 No 11th Ave., Marshalltown, Marshall Co., Iowa. Mr. Murphy served from 16 June 1943 until 2 Sep 1944 and was credited with three months of foreign service, from 14 Dec 1943 until 24 Mar 1944. He served in the 762nd Tank Battalion, 6th Army.

4. Curiously, I couldn't find any other records for this Charles W. Murphy born Feb 1919 in Fillmore Co., Minnesota on I've done some Minnesota research in the past, so know that birth certificates from 1900 to 1934 are indexed on the Minnesota Historical Society website. There I found that Charles Wilson Murphy was born on 25 Feb 1919 in Fillmore County; mother's maiden name was Lindamond. I returned to and entered "Charles Wilson Murphy" as the name, relaxing the "exact match" a bit, and his mother's maiden name and found him in a submitted tree titled "Elliott Family History." It lists his parents as Harry Guy Murphy and Ruby Ila Lindamond and says he died in Jan 1976 in Phoenix, Arizona. No records or sources are attached; 5 sons are shown as living. I found an apparently matching record on FindAGrave (name, birth year, death year) showing that he was buried in Riverside Cemetery, Marshalltown, Marshall Co., Iowa, along with his wife, Doris V. Murphy, who died in 1999.

5. See above. An interesting exercise, but a bit frustrating that it's based on an erroneous census listing on As a side note, I was hoping that Charles Ira Shelton, a first cousin of my mother's, would show up as the first census record.  ;->

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