My Problems with Search Engines, Part 3

There is one more issue of which users should be aware, again related to search engine results.

Although I have come across this issue twice, the first time was a while ago and I don’t remember which record collection I was using. It may well have been a different census.

After all the work I had to go through to find Spears, Talbott and Grimes in 1860 Bourbon County, Kentucky, I had my strategies for future searches well refined.

My next quest was to find James R. Critchlow, born about 1805 in Kentucky. He had lived in Indiana for several years ande married there in 1831, but I had traced him back to Kentucky through Personal Property Tax Lists, beginning in 1834. I followed him year by year up to 1844, all in Oldham County, Kentucky. I was unable to find him anywhere in any 1850 census collection and determined that he had died about 1845.

I did want to see the family composition in 1840, so began my search. I was not surprised to have zero results in that search, so I headed to the browsing tab in

I entered Oldham County, Kentucky and quickly found a new problem.

This manual search wouldn’t take long. First, the county only had 62 images. Second, the number of questions asked in 1840 filled columns on two full pages so names are only listed on 31 of those images.

I viewed Image 1 and then Image 2 and both were blank pages:

Image 3 had writing, but NOT people in Oldham County:

It contained a population tally for Ohio County, which alphabetically comes just before Oldham County.

I continued onward and got to Image 15. What had previously occurred in the filmstrip numbering is that after Image 15, there was a notice that OWEN County Kentucky was beginning.  Now here is an interesting tidbit. Ancestry appears to have partially fixed this problem. 

There were supposed to be 62 images for Oldham County? Where were they? The county census pages continued on but in the grouping for Owen County, Kentucky!

Today, as I am writing this post, the county marker showing the start of Owen County, Kentucky is correctly placed. However, the first six images of Oldham County continue to display the last six pages of Ohio County. At least there are no household names on the pages, but if someone was interested in the county statistics, they would still have to continue into the Oldham County images to find them for Ohio County.

I eventually did find Mr. Critchlow, right in Oldham County where he should have been , but his name still doesn’t come up in the 1840 search engine.

I want to make you aware of this potential problem because I have encountered it before on Ancestry.

My recommendation is that when you are browsing a town or county using the BROWSE THIS COLLECTION option, the first thing you should do is check the number of images in that particular group and look at the beginning and ending images to make sure they do belong to the place where you are searching and that the number of images corresponds to the number indicated in the filmstrip.

Given the fact that someone I spoke to at the Ancestry booth must have corrected the end of the Oldham County filmstrip (I highly doubt that this correction is a coincidence), maybe they are actually taking a look at their non-functioning search engine.

Time will tell, but in the meantime, search carefully and use more than one website.

One thought on “My Problems with Search Engines, Part 3”

  1. Thank you for your review of the browse structure of the images of this county for this census year. I will pass that information along to our content team.

    As for your James Critchlow, I entered Oldham County in the LIVED IN field (selected from the type ahead and marked exact). Then I entered Ja*s as the given name (since we know it could have been written as James or Jas, I wanted to catch both variations in one search – and I marked that exact to activate the wild card). In the surname field I entered C*low (though, I was prepared to also try C*lon since we know that a word ending in w sometimes looks like a n – and marked that exact). Your James came right up on the first search.

    (Though, you do have to click through to actually view the index page to see the “alternate” name corrections that have been provided as the search results list only shows the original indexing.)*s_C*low&count=50&name_x=1_1&residence=_oldham-kentucky-usa_2226&residence_x=0-0-0_1-0

    I use wildcards OFTEN in my searching because so many of the older records (and looking at the image this one is no exception) are such poor handwriting with over marks and fading that is is easy to see how they could be misinterpreted when the transcribers were indexing the records.

    I hope that helps!

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