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Filling in the blanks

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Anyone involved in African-American genealogy knows that 1870 is a bit of a roadblock. I grant that it will take me years to solve my family mysteries in the antebellum South.

Meanwhile, I remember that there are more recent mysteries to solve — some of less than a century ago.

The 1940 U.S. census was released this week, and I found my family — grandparents, uncle, aunts and, for the first time, my mother in short order.

The 1940 census, just the basic form, offers a wealth of information. One tantalizing tidbit is education. That my grandmother bore the code H4 — completed four years of high school — was no surprise; I have her high school diploma. My grandfather bore the code C2, for two years of college.

That’s when the questions formed.

I knew he’d studied, to some extent, to be a doctor. His chilly manner put a premature end to that. But: Where did he study? What? How did he get from pre-med to tailoring? Where did he learn that skill? And how did he get from a barrier island on the gulf in 1914 to Austin in 1918 to Houston in 1919?

I don’t know much more about his primary and secondary education. I know he was homeschooled up through about age 7, until he’d had an operation to correct a severe case of strabismus (cross-eyed). I know nothing about high school. Further complicating matters: His father was a teacher (and his mother was dad’s former student).

At what point will I have more answers than questions?


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