Finding Missing Parents

By Emily Anne Croom Premium

Q My grandfather, George Tolson Jones, was baptized Episcopalian by a traveling minister in Melville, La., on July 7, 1896. How would I go about getting records that show his parents?

A. In tracing your ancestry, gather documents that link you to your parents, them to their parents, and so forth, working back in time. Many families have records, such as birth and death certificates, that name parents and children. Federal census records also are essential tools. Since George was baptized in 1896, he might have been enumerated with his parents in the 1900 census. Census records are available on microfilm in many libraries and online from the subscription site ), or through a library that subscribes to HeritageQuest Online or Ancestry Library Edition (a libraries-only version of

I searched for your ancestor’s family in HeritageQuest Online, which includes an index to heads of household in the 1900 census. Under Search Census, I selected Advanced Search to narrow the results by criteria such as the head of household’s name, age, sex, race and birthplace. Without more knowledge of the head of the Jones family, I added only the surname and race to my search of St. Landry Parish, La., where Melville is located. (I didn’t use a period after St in my query—the search doesn’t work with the period.) The results listed seven white Joneses. Of these, the family of Richard and Elizabeth Jones includes a 4-year-old son, Tolson.

You also can borrow the 1900 census microfilm from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Family History Library (FHL) in Salt Lake City. Request the roll (film number 1240581) through an FHL branch Family History Center near you. The Jones family’s 1900 entry is on National Archives microfilm T623, roll 581, St. Landry Parish, La., enumeration district 57, sheet 17, family number 342.

Don’t stop there. Other censuses can help you trace the family’s movements and will likely provide additional information since enumerators asked different questions in each census.