1890 census… Aargh! – Barnard McCleary

Don’t you just hate it when your ancestor comes to the USA in 1860 at age 32 and the only records you can find are the Federal census for 1870, 1880 and 1900 census. We can also find a death index; an INDEX that gives so little information for his death that it is almost useless other than giving his age at age 68!


Well, I am working on a family tree with such a situation;

Barnard McCleary came to the USA at age 32 in 1860.

I know he landed in the USA because of the 1900 census record where they ask the question. “Year of Immigration to the United States.”

1900 - US census - Imig box- Barnard

1900 - US census - Imig box- Barnard cont.

In the above 1900 Federal census you can see his address, birth month and year, Year of immigration plus other bits of information. You can also see that he lived in Buffalo, Erie, New York.

Luckily he ended up in New York!

Why is this luck?

It is lucky because New York was one of the states that took a state census of its citizens.

Years of New York State Census:

1790, 1825, 1835, 1845, 1855, 1865, 1875, 1892, 1905, 1915, 1925.

Here is a history of state census: History of State Censuses

Since Barnard McCleary landed in the USA in 1860, he should show up in the NY state census of 18651875, 1892.

We do find an 1892 census and he is listed along with his family.

1892 - NY census1892 - NY census - for Barnard family

Barnard McCleary landed in the USA in 1860 and lived in Buffalo, New York all his life and show up in the NY state census of 1892 but that is still very little information about him.

Well, there is good news, we have records for Barnard in Buffalo, NY,

because of the City Directories.

He arrived in 1860 but we don’t know where he landed and where he set up house on arrival. Sind we know he was in Buffalo at some time, he could show up in the Buffalo, New York city directories and in my research I first found him in the 1871 city directory and I continued finding him all the way until his death in 1903.

UPDATE: 02 Jul 2020 – While working on the Blog Post and refining the files for Barnard, I realized that I should be looking for him in earlier City Directories  and should not be starting in 1871; I should start in 1861.  I went back to Ancestry dot com and their city direction collection. I was able to find him in the first Buffalo, New York, City Directory that is in the collection and that was 1861.  I was able to update the PDF and will be updating other screen prints to reflect the new date of 1861. For now we will see reference to 1871 but will have the PDF that stars at 1861. 

Buffalo NY - City Dir 1870 to 1905

So we might be able to find another forty-three (43) more records for Barnard. (updated to reflect 1861)

As you  can see above, a list of all the available city directories will show up when one clicks on the year in the top banner panel.

I went to the 1871 City Directory to see if I could find Barnard McCleary and this is what I found:

1871 - City Dir - McClary Bernard

As you can see above, I found a McClary, Bernard, lab. h. 370 Carroll.

That means he was a laborer and his house address is 370 Carroll.

The name maybe spelled differently but I know it is him because I’ve found many City Directory with him listed as Bernard and Barnard also as McClary and McCleary but the address is the same. The confirmation is the address. I find him with the different names at the same address.

I find him in 1871.

1871 - City Dir - McClary Bernard

I find him in 1872.

1872 - City Dir - McClary Bernard


Notice the address is the same. Also notice the various items you should include when you take a screen print of the city directory: the image number at the bottom is important so that others can find it if they want to look at the line themselves. Be sure to include the header that tells the viewer what they are looking at. You’d think this was a given but I have seen many screen shots of records where no title is shown and no other information given of where the item came from.

Also note the arrows (one is shown on right); there is one on left and one on right that allows you to scroll through the city directory. Also notice the far right tool that allows you to zoom in and out of the page. When you are on the page you can save a copy of it by using the top right button. You can save it to a person on your tree or save a copy to your computer which is a great way of showing someone where the information came from; e-mail them the image of the page.

Okay, lesson over. Let’s get back to the City Directory listings.

As I mentioned above, I am doing research on the McCleary/McClary family name to see if I can find out, from what part of Ireland, Barnard McCleary came from. In doing my research I looked at the various city directories and wrote down the names and info of the people I found with the McCleary/McClary family name.

Here is a snap shot of what you will see on the PDF of the research table below.

snap shot of 1871 city dir table

PDF – City Dir table of the text file complete – 02 Jul 2020

Notice above that Barnard is found in 1871, 1872, 1873 etc living at the same address even though his name is spelled differently over the years. (Update: the PDF starts at 1861)

A city directory was compiled similar to how a census was compiled; a person went door to door and asked questions about the name and about the working members at he residence. As you know, the people who did that work may not get the information right, may not know how to spell or may not get the information from the actual person, so errors occur.

 What to do if you can not find your person in the city directory.

If your person does not appear in the city directory you might be able to find him/her in a section of the directory where they provide reasons for the name/business not showing up on the directory. Here is one such section I looked at for 1901 because I did not find Barnard in the McCleary/McClary listing.

1901 - City Dir - McClary Bernard not shown bu not in additions

The Additions, Corrections and Removals section is usually found a page or so ahead of the the person listing, as you can see above.

Notice again that I include a title with information. I also included the # box to help a viewer find the page if the viewer wanted to go into the 1901 City Directory to look at it.

Also I included the various tools one can use while working with the city directory; left and right arrows to scroll through the book, a far right tool to allow one to zoom in and out of the page with other tools options in the box. Also on the top right there is the SAVE button that allows one to save the page to a person or to a computer.

So to recap: we poo pooed the fact that we no longer have a 1890 census.

We lamented the few records available to us when our ancestor land in the USA in the time period of 1881 to 1900; Federal census records, State census records, death index record and perhaps a marriage record or a military record.

And finally we found that there are other records available, records that show us that our ancestors existed, in a certain place, during those “few record” years. We now know that the other mentioned is the City Directories.

We noticed that the city directory gives us some valuable information; in that it tells us where the ancestor lived (city and address), what their occupation was and even when they died; when we see their widow listed. As is the case of Bernard McCleary.

1904 - Mary is widow

Having learned all this good information we now can look at the slide show to see all the years available to us for Buffalo, New York City Directory and we can see below that a history of the US census.

The following slide show will give you all the dates for the Buffalo, New York city directories.

On the genealogy web site of Ancestry dot com one can find many Buffalo City directories. I created screen prints of years that are available to us.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.


The United States census is taken every ten years starting 1790.

Click to access timeline_census_history.pdf

I hope the above information will help you with your genealogy research.

Thank You

Jose from Clarkston, Michigan, USA


3 thoughts on “1890 census… Aargh! – Barnard McCleary

Add yours

    1. Yes, me too Luanne, it would be so helpful.
      I hope you and your family are doing well during this crisis. Your state seems to be going through a more difficult time then most but every time I tune into the news it is some other state that has numbers going through the roof.
      Please be safe.
      Jose from Clarkston, Michigan, USA

      1. Now my husband says that 41 states are climbing. Every day he gives me the number. Today I said, “it’ll be 50 soon.” It seems inevitable. I think they must be working on ways to have some of society “open” and yet keep people safer–plexiglas partitions and stuff like that. I hope you are staying home!

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