Greetings, marhaba & welcome!. Searching Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.org or other genealogy site databases for ancestors is a skill. Many believe that if they don’t find what they are looking for, it doesn’t exist, however, they couldn’t be more wrong.
Recently I came across a census record that was indexed very differently on two genealogy research sites – Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org. These two sites are my initial go-to research sites, but I must always remember that the indexes are created by humans who have difficulty reading the unclear handwriting of census enumerators. Since this document was indexed quite different on each site, I thought it a good example to share.
The 1850 US Federal Census from Van Zandt County, Texas shows 246 households living in the county in 1850. No town is listed on this census. The county itself was created 2 years earlier in 1848. Looking at Households 191-193 for this review, we see the two different indexes:
The bolded names differ when comparing the two indexes. The Ancestry.com index lists the Freeman and Fitzark families and the FamilySearch.org index lists the Truman and Fitzpark families. The importance of looking at the actual document and not trusting the transcription or the index is clear here. My search was for Nancy, wife of Samuel Fitzgerald. Samuel died in Van Zandt County, Texas in 1849. Nancy was also referred to as “Nicey” in other documentation. She was the presumed mother of Elizabeth and Ambrose Fitzgerald who came to Texas in about 1846. Elizabeth was presumed to be married to Andrew Jackson Freeman and Ambrose was married to Mary Ann O’Kelley. Ambrose and Mary had 2 children by 1850 William and Sarah.
I first went to my tree on FamilySearch.org to see if anyone had provided documentation for Nancy. I do not want to reinvent the wheel as they say. It is important not to blindly accept FamilySearch.org evidence, but it is a great place to start. Unfortunately, this family had people added and removed several times and there are no sources attached to Nancy on this site. On Ancestry.com, several last names are attributed to Nancy and no 1850 census was attached to her person.
My initial search in the Ancestry.com 1850 Census began as follows: “Nancy Fitzgerald”, “Nicey Fitzgerald”, “Ambrose Fitzgerald”, and “Andrew Freeman” were all negative. I continued with wildcard searches and ended up searching for “N* Fitz*” in Van Zandt County, Texas which led me to “Nicy Fitzark”. To see if there were any other options in the county, I decided to read page by page (32 pages) of the Van Zandt County, Texas 1850 census. I decided to double check the 1850 census on FamilySearch.org. When I did, I came up the conflicting indexing above.
This is one example of how indexing can vary on different genealogy sites and how important it is to check if the information you seek is hiding in plain sight.
 1850 U.S. census, Van Zandt County, Texas, population schedule, page 32 (penned), dwelling 246, family 246, line 1, Milner Pace; digital image, Ancestry (www.ancestry.com : accessed 15 April 2021); citing NARA microfilm publication M432.
 FamilySearch Research Wiki, FamilySearch (www.familysearch.org : accessed 15 April 2021), “Van Zandt County, Texas Genealogy,” last edited on 15 April 2021.
 1850 U.S. census, Van Zandt County, Texas, population schedule, page 25 (penned), sheet 227 (stamped), dwellings 191-193, family 191-193, lines 14-29, Freeman and Fitzark Families; digital image, Ancestry (www.ancestry.com : accessed 15 April 2021); citing NARA microfilm publication M432.
 1850 U.S. census, Van Zandt County, Texas, population schedule, page 25 (penned), sheet 227 (stamped), dwellings 191-193, family 191-193, lines 14-29, Freeman and Fitzark Families; digital image, Family Search (www.familysearch.org : accessed 15 April 2021); citing NARA microfilm publication M432.