Santa Clause, Chris Kringle, Jack Frost, Frosty Snowman
and Rudolph Render Discovered in U.S. Census Records
As we once again head into the holiday season, it seems only fitting that we focus our celebrity census on the names that we so often associate with December, the winter season or the Christmas holiday. Did you ever stop and think about what these people did in the off season? OK, so some may not really be people — but they must have done something during the summer months! And then there's the problem of what they should tell the census enumerator.
The following are among the more interesting seasonal celebrities you can find in the U.S. Federal Census. For those of you who are regular speakers, these make great examples and always get the crowd laughing. We would, of course, appreciate honorable mention for our research.
As is always the case in genealogy, there are several variations of the spelling for this familiar man. You can find a few different entries with Santa Clause living as a member of the household. In the example below, the 1900 Census shows 13-year old son Santa on line 8, living with parents William and Henrietta in Liberty (Saline) Missouri. His siblings were listed as Emma, William, Earler, Nellie, and Elarl. We were hoping to find an interesting occupation, but at age 13 were not surprised to see that Santa was still "at school". Perhaps we'll learn how he got into the toy business when the 1940 census is released in 2012. And in case you were wondering, there were nearly 100 Elf's listed in the 1920 Census (meaning Surname = Elf). Half that many appear in the 1900 Census and we even found 14 in the 1901 England Census. Proof we needed that more than 100 years ago, Santa was a pioneer in outsourcing and was a firm believer in a global economy.
Those of you researching a John Smith, Edward Wells, Mary Brown or other common name will really appreciate this one. We're willing to admit, it's not too much of a stretch to find a Jack Frost in the census or other genealogical records. In fact, the 1930 Census has 168 records that are an exact match for Jack Frost and the earliest exact match appears with a single entry in 1850. The trick for us, however, is evaluating all the clues in the census — record by record — to find out just which of these Jack Frost entries is our man.
Well, we can't say with 100% certainty, but we're willing to bet the legendary Jack Frost is the one we found in the 1930 Census for the Alaskan Territory. In the town of Noatak Kobuk, Second Judicial District, Alaska was a 22-year old son Jack living with parents Frank and Susie, as well as siblings Jim and Joe. His brothers were both listed as Trapper and while difficult to read, it appears Jack was a Trader of Reindeer.
There were a number of different entries for Chris Kringle and also Christopher Kringle, but as we all know, it's about evaluating all the facts available and using information from other sources to determine which one is likely to be the person we're searching for. In this case, we settled on the 1900 Census entry from Atlantic (Cass) Iowa for 32-year old Chris Kringle. He was born in May 1868 in Denmark and was enumerated along with wife Maggie B, son Glendon, son Carl, and daughter Lillie. He is shown as a Salesman Dry Goods.
We must admit that we were just a little surprised to find a few entries for Rudolph Render.
Sure, we know we're stretching the pronounciation just a bit, but it's all in the spirit of the holidays. Our favorite was the 3-year old son Rudolph, living in Kiowa (Scotts Bluff) Nebraska with parents Bernard and Lester when the 1930 census was taken. It is entirely possible that Rudolph is still with us and, despite a subtle differece in the spelling of his surname, we're sure this name has made more than a few people smile over the years.
The closest we could come to actually finding someone named Frosty Snowman was an entry in the 1930 Census for an
We mean no disrespect to the clergyman or his extended family or descendants, but we'd just like to think for a moment that the 'F' abbreviation for his given name stood for Frosty instead of Fred.
OK, so now we're pushing our luck. We didn't really find any Ba Humbug or Bah Humbug's, but we did find a few with the surname Humbug, including this 1880 entry for Peggy Humbug in South Carolina. We did have a laugh while searching this one because there was a "B A Hampson" (same Soundex as Humbug). Had that been B A Humbug, we'd still be laughing as we typed this.
Ebenezer Scrooge Still Among the Missing
While we were able to find several distant cousins of Ebenezer Scrooge, it appears that old Ebenezer managed to either hide from the enumerators or that transcription errors are still hiding his whereabouts in one or more census records. If anyone has luck in finding The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, please contact us and we'll update this page.
Happy Holidays to All!
Update 07 Dec 2006 — We've received so many submissions since this posting was published several days ago, but the best group of entries came from our new friend Randy Seaver in California. His blog has a wonderful list of additional holiday characters and Randy even suggests some historical (or hysterical) weddings that could have resulted in even more entries for our genealogical enjoyment. If you enjoyed this page, then check out Randy's Blog, you'll love it! Thanks to all others for their entries, I'll figure out a way to post them with credits in the near future. -- Dan
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