What a surprise it was when I found my great, great aunt, Mary Louisa Carder Garver Moore on the 1920 census. Mary Louisa, or Lula as she was known, had only gotten a year older between 1910 and 1920. Pretty amazing!
Even more shocking was that she became ten years younger during the decade between 1920 ad 1930. In 1920, the census shows her as age 61 but the 1930 census lists her as age 51!
I think the mix-up in her age was caused by who the census taker got the information from. By 1910, Lula was sharing a home with her unmarried son and a granddaughter. Her granddaughter, Violet’s parents had divorced and Violet went to live with her grandmother and uncle.
On the 1920 census, the ages for the son, Willis and Lula’s granddaughter, Violet were correct. Only Lula’s was wrong. She was shown as age 60 on the 1910 census and 61 on the 1920 census.
In 1930, Lula had gone from age 61 on the 1920 census to age 51 on the 1930 census. The only occupants of the household were Lula and her granddaughter, Violet.
I have over a dozen records, including birth and death and her statements in Civil War pension applications for her father, step-mother, and herself showing her age or birth date. Her age is consistent on most of them. It is only the 1920 and 1930 censuses that are way off.
Finding inconsistencies requires some thought to resolve the problem. I think that Lula’s granddaughter, Violet was probably the informant for these two censuses. My thought is that Violet had come to lived with Lula during these years and she probably didn’t know her grandmother’s age. She would have only been 13 in 1920. Her uncle, Willis was probably at work when the census taker came and he probably questioned her. In 1930, Violet was the only other member of Lula’s household. Lula would probably known her own age so Violet was probably the informant when the census taker visited that year, also.
I made a chart of all of the records I have with Lula’s birth date or age and put them in chronological order by year, along with a list of citations for the records. This is one of those situations that using the genealogical proof standard to compare those records is helpful, but the GPS is another story.