October is National Family History Month, and one of the ways to search for your family is through census records. If you watch any of the TV genealogy shows, you will notice that the census records are almost always checked very early on in the search.
It used to be in the USA that you would go to one of the National Archives and search through microfilm, if you at least knew the state, county, and town or township your family lived in. Now there are many online sources, both free and paid subscription sites.
Searching for our Mirota family was one of the more difficult surnames in our family tree. We knew that Joseph and Sophia Mirota should be found starting in the 1910 Federal Census. My sister and I had found them early on in the 1930 Federal Census by looking at microfilm at the National Archives. We knew they should be in New Jersey, in the county of Hunterdon, and the township of Readington. We also knew the names of many of their neighbors. We found the family living on Cushetunk Road which is now called Mountain Road. They were listed as Joseph and Sophia Miratos, with their four children: Genevieve, Stephen, Mary, and Joseph. Joseph Mirota was listed as working with a section gang on the railroad. This record can now be found on sites such as ancestry.com.
By using neighbors names, my sister and I found the Mirota family in the 1920 Federal Census, also living in Readington Township, Hunterdon County, NJ. They were living in the same house and listed as Joe and Sophia Mesrato, with their children: Jennie, Staffy, Mary, and Joseph. Joseph Mirota, Senior was listed as a farmer.
When the 1940 Federal Census was released, we were excited when we found the Mirota family again. We knew they were still living in Readington Township. They were enumerated as Joseph and Sophia Mirada, with their son, Joseph Mirada, Junior, listed as farmers.
The 1910 Federal Census for Joseph and Sophia Mirota was a mystery for quite some time. We knew they lived in Washington County, Pennsylvania from the time they immigrated from Poland between the 1900 and 1910 censuses. Finally by using the name variations from the other census records, I was lucky to find them living in Smith Township, Washington County, PA. They were listed as Joe and Sophia Murata, with their first child, Genevieve, but she was listed as Jenove Murata. Joseph Mirota was listed as a coal miner.
The Mirota surname can be found around the small Polish village that Joseph Mirota came from in 1906, dating back to the early 1700s in Roman Catholic church records. It also is found in other sections of Poland, but it isn’t a common surname.
Between the 1910 and 1940 censuses, our Mirota surname was enumerated as Murata, Mesrato, Miratos, and Mirada. That surname isn’t as difficult as many more! So you can see why you have to be persistent when searching for your family history. Interestingly the Mirota surname can be commonly found in places like Japan, Indonesia, Italy, and Hawaii.
There are census records in the USA from 1790 – 1940, with only fragments of the 1890. A few sources for these records that I use are:
http://home.ancestry.com/(paid subscription site).
http://www.proquest.com/products-services/HeritageQuest-Online.html (found often at your local library with free online access from home).
For searching the 1940 Census for free: https://www.archives.gov/research/census
Good luck searching for your family!
Copyright 2016 by Maryann Barnes and Genealogy Sisters.