Thursday, June 22, 2006

Deciphering Handwriting - Part 1

While struggling to decipher handwriting in the 1850 Lawrence County, MS census I have repeatedly came across the same first name, which I cannot accurately decipher. Ancestry's index lists the given name as Linsey and Lenicy. Here's how they view on the census itself:

The image above clearly shows the i as the second letter. MyFamily's transcribers have interpreted this as Linsey... but the letter before the y has consistently been written as a c through out the census. So "Linsey" is cleary incorrect. The image above is the mother of the name written below, one would think the child is carrying on the mothers name:

Note in this image though that the i is clearly the 4th letter, and there is no dot above the second letter. For "precise" record keeping I have recorded mom as "Linecy" and daughter as "Lenicy" but would personally like to solve this puzzle.
My initial assumption is that BOTH of these names are Lucy. The enumerator is notorious for appearing to add letters where no letter should be... a slight of the hand, shall we say? But I have nothing to buttress my belief. A look into One World Tree and Ancestry's World Tree only reminds me of why you should never use the data there for anything but speculation. The same interpretations for the above images by online users genealogy research shows as "Tracey" "Timsey" and even "Jincy." The image below should put to rest those theories... this is the script for "Lucretia." The L is as clear as can be in all three of these images. So rest assured the name starts with an L.

This brings us back to the two ladies in the Robbins family. By the 1860 census, either mom or the daughter is residing with Jethro and the other children. Mom "Linecy" must have died during this time, while the child "Lenicy" married. A search of marriage records proves fruitless. I do know that the Robbins family moved during the 1850's from Lawrence County, MS to Marion County, MS. They end up on the 1860 census living next door to Pleasant Bryant and his family, who also moved from Lawrence County to Marion County. What's up with that???

Until records come to light that can prove these are Lucy and a slip of the hand by the enumerator, they will remain Linecy and Lenicy in my official transcription.

UPDATE: With help from the MSCHAT mailing list, I believe we were able to correctly identify the name of the ladies as Levicy. There were more then 100 people in the 1850 census with that name.

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