Sunday, October 21, 2012

Census Sunday: The Clifts

Sarah Catherine Jollett, Sallie Jollett, Sallie Clift
Sallie Clift
about 1942 or 1943
from Ancestry

In 1940, my great-grandmother’s sister Sarah Catherine “Sallie”Clift at age 68 was all alone on Third Street in Shenandoah, Virginia.   


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Valued at $2500, Sallie’s house where she raised two boys and a daughter after ridding herself of her philandering and abusive husband was no longer in need of boarders to make ends meet.   Since before her divorce in 1914, she had provided rooms and board, most often to single men working on the N&W Railroad.  She is listed as a widow, which might be enumerator error or Sallie’s deliberate attempt to spare herself the stigma.   


Sallie's house in Shenandoah, Virginia
as it looked in the 1990s
Obviously the picture window is not original.

Sallie had a sixth grade education.  She listed herself as “U,” meaning Unable to Work, but she claimed to have had income even though she did not work in 1939.

Her children were all married and living in Washington DC.  Leonard (40) and his wife Lena (40) owned their home valued at $5500 on 10th Street.  Leonard was a machinist for the railroad, earning $2000 in 1939, roughly $33,148 today. Their children Evelyn (18), Wendell (15), and Lucille (10) were in school while Lena was keeping house.

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Raymond Clift was difficult to find in 1940.  In FamilySearch he is indexed as Raymond CLEFT.  In Ancestry, he is listed as Raymond ALFT, his wife Jessie is JESSAN, their niece Beverly Landis is BRANLY FANDES, and the roomer Thomas McDonald is TROAST MCDONAGH.  What a disservice to genealogists and family historians.  Anyway …. The Clifts were renting a home on Elliott Street in Washington DC. Raymond (39) worked as a clerk for a transit company, earning $2160 in 1939 (about $35,800 today) and clocked 60 hours the last week of March 1940.  His wife Jessie (31) was keeping house for their 11-year old son Raymond Jr. (indexed as Raymond G.) and 18-year old niece Beverly. 


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Alda (age 34) had remarried shortly after 1930 to Wilson Suite.  They appeared in the city directory as early as 1932, but in 1940 they were renting a place for $35 a month on Emerson St NE.  Wilson (age 35) was a barber who worked 60 hours the last week of March, and earned $1625 for a full year of work in 1939 (roughly $26,933 today).  Alda’s daughters from her first marriage, Janice (18) and Gwendolyn (17) Monger, were attending school.

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Alda Suite (left) with her brother Raymond Clift
and his wife Jessie 1979

14 comments:

  1. Sounds like Sallie was a tough, independent lady. Good for her.

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  2. Sounds like she was one amazing woman, that just imagine what her life could be like in this day and age, if she were just heading out into the world....what a lady indeed!

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  3. Lovely photo of Sallie. She has a sweet face. And that's interesting that she was listed as a widow. I think I've come across that kind of thing in my own research when I knew the ex-husband was still alive. Hmmm.

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    1. It makes me wonder if her ex-husband George had indeed died. I can't find him in any census after 1920.

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  4. She looks like a person with some stories to tell. :)

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    1. I think you're right. Since I've been researching her, she's one relative I wish I had met.

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  5. Go Sallie! I love stories of strong women who didn't put up with B.S. wasy back when, when you kept that stuff in the closet!
    Happy Sunday!

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  6. Wendy, I totally feel for you in regards to searching for an ancestor who was incorrectly indexed for census collections. I've run across some absolutely insane ones, myself.

    However--and I'm sure you've discovered this, too--at least on Ancestry.com, there is a way for members to provide corrections for transcription errors. Sometimes it takes time for the alternate classification to show up online, but the system does provide a way for researchers who find errors to become trailblazers for those who follow their tracks.

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    1. Thanks for reminding me. I have submitted corrections for others but in my haste neglected to do so for the Clifts. I'm off to submit those corrections right now.

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  7. Maybe Violetta took lessons from Sallie.

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    1. Maybe. (And the similarity between Violetta and Sallie is amazing, don't you think?)

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