I have noticed several times, as I am sure you may have as well, that the images for the 1860 U.S. Federal Census on Ancestry and Fold3 sometimes have very poor quality. It is amazing to me that information can even be extracted from these images because they are so faded or just terrible. I came across this yesterday while doing some research on one of my ancestors.
One of my fourth great-grandfathers, Shadrack Chitwood, was living in Sugar Creek Township, Randolph County, Missouri, in 1860. This was actually just one year before he died. He and his wife, Jane, were living next door to their son, Francis M. Chitwood, and his family.
I first found the census on Ancestry because of a shaky leaf hint from other records I had found for him. However, when I looked at the image to see what other information was on the census, I couldn't read a single entry on the page, except for maybe their last name.
Sometimes when I find a poor quality image on one of the genealogy websites I will go to another website to see if they have a better image. FamilySearch has index entries for the 1860 census, but the website links over to Fold3 for the actual image. When I went to Fold3 for the image, the quality wasn't that much better.
One trick I have found is if images on both of these websites for the 1860 census (or other census years) are poor quality, look for them on Heritage Quest. Unfortunately this website is not like Ancestry or Fold3 where you can purchase a subscription. Heritage Quest is usually available through your local or county libraries. I don't know why, but Heritage Quest has so much better quality images for the 1860 census than the other websites. Why is that?
I find that the images may be more "grainy" and have other particles of dust or something on the images, but at least you can read the names on their records compared to the other two sites. I would be really interested in knowing why Ancestry and Fold3 have such poor quality images and what Heritage Quest did to make their images so much more readable. I would really like to see both Ancestry and Fold3 obtain new images of the 1860 census for those areas like Randolph County, Missouri, that are not legible. I know that is a lot of work and would cost the companies money, but I find it would be a valuable effort for their customers.
The other day when I was doing some research and making sure my family tree was updated with all of the documents pertaining to some of my Ivory family members. As I was reviewing my research journal and tree I decided that I would try again to find Mathew Ivory and his children in the 1870 census.
Mathew's wife, Mary Elizabeth, died in January of 1870. Family "story" has been that she got sick and left her home in Beaver, Beaver County, Utah, and went to go stay with her parents in Moroni, Sanpete County, Utah. I have always been told that she died in Moroni while staying at her parent's house.
The other night I found the 1870 Mortality Schedule where Mary was recorded. Although I had always been told she died in Moroni, I actually found her in the Mortality Schedule in Beaver, Beaver County, Utah.
1870 U.S. Federal Census (Mortality Schedule), Beaver County, Utah Territory, Page 1, Family 115 on Schedule 1 (actually 107), Mary E. Ivory, .jpeg image (Online: Ancestry.com, 2013) [Digital scan of original records in the National Archives, Washington, D.C.], subscription database, (http://www.ancestry.com), accessed December 2013.
After I found Mary in the 1870 Mortality Schedule, I decided I would search again for Mathew and his children in the 1870 census. Since I couldn't find them searching the index on both Ancestry.com or FamilySearch.org I figured I would manually search the census page-by-page.
I eventually found Mathew and his children, living in Beaver, Beaver County, Utah. It is understandable why they could not be found on either website's census databases using the index. Both of the images are horrible quality and you can barely read the names.
1870 U.S. Federal Census (Population Schedule), Beaver, Beaver County, Utah Territory, Page 13 (11 stamped), Dwelling 107, Family 97, Matthew Ivory household, .jpeg image (Online: Intellectual Reserve, Inc., 2013) [Digital scan of original records in the National Archives, Washington, D.C.], subscription database, (http://www.familysearch.org), accessed December 2013.
Mathew and his children were recorded at Dwelling 107, Family 97. Below is an abstract of the family on the census:
A.C. Ivory is a professional genealogist, blogger, computer geek and traveler.