Ole T. Westby Family ~ Birth Information Not Listed

Recently I have been communicating with a new Westby cousin from Washington state. Today, I was looking at some of the information I already had on some of these relatives. One page, a copy of 12th Federal Census for the Westby's intrigued me. I have had a copy of this for some time now and was aware of some things on this paperwork, but not of others.

I was aware this particular 1900 census page lists three different Westby families. I haven't worked much with the Washington Westby's, so I hadn't really looked closer at this record until now. One of the Westby families listed is Ole T. Westby with his wife and children. Ole T. was my great grand uncle. I am aware there was an Ole T. and an Ole A. Westby which lived on the same road in Washington. Both of their families are listed on this census, along with an Erling Westby.

For now though, I am just looking at the Ole T. Westby family. His wife was Helena. There are seven children, two sons and five daughters, Torval, Olaf, Inger, Hilda, Olga, Eda, and Otina. Ole T., Helena, and Torval were all born in Norway. They immigrated to the United States in 1887. The rest of the children were born in the United States. Olaf was born in Minnesota while the other children were born in Washington, where this family finally settled. Ole T. was a farmer and owned his farm. He, Helena and Torval could read and write in English. Except for Helena, they could also speak English. This brings me to the interesting area of this census record.

Each person in the family has their age listed ~

Ole T. ~ 39
Helena ~ 38
Torval ~ 12
Olaf ~ 11
Inger ~ 9
Hilda ~ 7
Olga ~ 5
Eda ~ 2
Otina ~ I believe is 2 months

The strange part is that the only one listed with their full birth date is Ole T. The whole page has birth dates listed for everyone, except the rest of this family. Of course, I can roughly figure out the year each was born from this, but I find it odd that the months and years weren't listed for anyone else. Many of the others on the page were from Norway, Sweden, Finland and Germany. All months and dates for them were listed.

Although it is difficult to see here, below Ole T.'s birth information of, Mar 1861, the boxes for every other person has a check mark in it. In tiny writing length wise across the column is a message which reads:

"Could not secure ? ? "  The last word almost looks like "date" without an "e" but the second to last word surely doesn't say birth. I will have to try to look this record up again, maybe in another data base, where it could possibly be read.

I wonder who gave the information to the census taker for Ole T. and his family? It certainly wasn't Helena, as she couldn't speak English. I am thinking she wasn't even home when the census taker came to pay a visit. Otherwise, wouldn't the informant to the census worker ask her the information of birth months and years if they didn't know it?

I don't think Torval was old enough to supply the census information, so it was more than likely Ole T. who was the supplier. Why wouldn't/couldn't Ole T. give the actual dates of birth for these children? Could Torval possibly have been an interpreter for his mother? Maybe he didn't know how to pronounce the months? Could this information have been forgotten? I can't hardly believe this wasn't known. I am starting to grasp at straws here. Do you have any ideas? I would love to hear them if you do!  

Oh and by the way, I am so glad the big black mark at the bottom of the census page wasn't blocking my families information!

Thanks for stopping by!

Wishing you success in all of your genealogical treasure hunts!

Copyright © 2011 Cheryl Palmer


  1. My guess would be that the information was given by Erling Westby. If he was Ole's brother he'd know his birth date but maybe not his sister-in-law's nor nieces and nephews.

  2. Hello my friend. I too think that Ole T provided the info. Makes sense to me that he'd know his own b-day but not that of his kids. Kinda sad, but it's true that parents sometimes forget these things. I'm sure my dad doesn't know my birthday, even though it's on the same day every year- ha! My dad-in-law hasn't a clue which day his son was born.

  3. I too wonder if Ole T provided the info and knew how old the kids were but not their birthdays? Jo

  4. go to www.claytondeerparkhistoricalsociety.com and they have information on the westby family. I got in contact with the webmaster for information on the westbys. a lot of relatives are still in the area. They also have photos of the family on there.

  5. Hi Meranda,

    You are related to the Westby's? I am aware and have contact with someone in the family that handles the Westby page you are referring to. If you see this please email me at geneaminded@gmail.com! Thank you!

  6. Hi! My last name is Westby, and I'm from Norway:)

  7. Awesome! Please message me at geneaminded@gmail.com! I would love to hear more from you and see how we may be related, if indeed we are! Thank you for leaving a message, I look forward to seeing another message through the email contact! I have just met more cousins this past week who are Westby's, here in California also!


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