Schenectady Stories

I live in Schenectady County, New York, but as far as I know, I’m the first in my family to do so. This means that in searching for information about my own ancestors, I don’t typically get to use local resources. To focus more on the history around me now, I’m researching and writing about people and families that lived here long ago.

To start, I dove into the 1940 census for Schenectady County.

I used the enumeration district maps for 1900-1940 available at FamilySearch to orient myself and find the enumeration districts in different parts of Schenectady County.1 This narrowed down the census pages I looked through. I wanted to pick an area that I know (not exactly the neighborhood where I live, but still one where I can picture the streets – as they are today, at least), and I was looking for a household with at least two generations living there, but not with anyone especially young in the 1940 census (I’m not intending to investigate or write about any living people).

With those somewhat arbitrary criteria in mind, I stumbled upon two families, likely living next-door to each other, headed by Alexander McLeod and Donald McLeod, respectively.2 Alexander (age 61) and Donald (age 63) were both naturalized Scottish immigrants, each married (Alexander to Annie, a native New Yorker, and Donald to Marie, a German immigrant). They both owned their homes, and they both had New York-born sons in their twenties.

McLeod_1940_extractimage
Extract from the 1940 census from Niskayuna Town, Schenectady County, New York.2

Seeing these families in the census made me curious to know more. Were these two McLeod men brothers who both immigrated to Schenectady and bought neighboring homes? Were there more McLeods in the area? And as a side note – both Alexander and his wife Annie were marked as having provided the information to the census enumerator.3 Was this a mistake on the form, or were they actually both answering the questions together? Not that we’ll ever know the answer, but I love the image of an older married couple sitting there with the enumerator going through all of the census questions.

I know some of the places I’ll look next to learn more about the McLeod family or families of Schenectady, but I don’t where they’ll lead me. I’ll keep you posted.


  1. Enumeration district map for Schenectady County in 1940; “United States Enumeration District Maps for the Twelfth through the Sixteenth US Censuses, 1900-1940,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org : 5 February 2018), Roll 43, New York, St Lawrence-Yates 1900-1940 > image 545 of 683; citing NARA microfilm publication A3378.
  2. 1940 U.S. Census, Schenectady County, New York, population schedule, Niskayuna Town, enumeration district (ED) 47-18, sheet 5A (penned), households 109 and 110, Alexander McLeod and Donald McLeod households; accessed in “United States Census, 1940,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org : 5 February 2018), New York > Schenectady > Niskayuna Town > 47-18 Niskayuna Town bounded by (N) Town Line; (E) State Road 146; (S) Troy Rd; (W) Town Line; also Aqueduct (part) > image 9 of 86; citing Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940, NARA digital publication T627.
  3. 1940 Census: Instructions to the Marshals, IPUMS USA (https://usa.ipums.org/usa/voliii/inst1940.shtml : accessed 5 February 2018), citing “Identification of Persons Furnishing Information.”

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