I was looking for a man named John Donovan, born about 1853 in Illinois and married in 1879 in Waukon, Iowa. From the 1880 census, I knew he had a younger brother Cornelius, who lived in John’s household. I also knew a Margaret Donovan was a sponsor for the baptism of John’s son; she may have been a sister. I turned to the 1870 censuses for Iowa and Illinois, and found three Donovan families with children named John and Cornelius:
Family 1: Cedar Township, Johnson County, Iowa, p. 5
Family 2: Pekin, Tazewell County, Ill., p. 62
There was no Margaret in this family, either, and the Cornelius was too young. This Cornelius would’ve been about 13 in 1880, and I knew John’s brother Cornelius was 20 in 1880.
Family 3: Rock Island, Rock Island County, Ill., p. 59
This family looked promising, but again, the ages weren’t much help. Still, there was a daughter Maggie (short for Margaret), and the name Daniel was used in my Donovan family (one of John Donovan’s sons had the middle name Daniel, and a grandson went by Danny).
Although Cornelius still lived in this household in 1880, he may be the same Cornelius enumerated with John and his wife in 1880. He might’ve been doing seasonal or temporary work on the railroad and on the family farm, which would explain his double enumeration.
1860 US census, Makee Township, Allamakee County, Iowa