The McLeods of Schenectady

When I set out to research the family history of some Schenectady County residents, I began by (somewhat arbitrarily) selecting the neighboring Alexander McLeod and Donald McLeod households of Niskayuna.1

So far, just by looking at U.S. and New York Census records, I’ve figured out a bit of their story, and it’s left me very interested to learn more.

Alexander and Donald McLeod (both Scottish immigrants) were, in fact, brothers – two of seven children (all sons) in a family that immigrated from Scotland in the early 1880s and established themselves in Schenectady County, New York.

The family first appeared in the 1892 New York State Census. Though households were not delineated and relationships were not indicated in that census, based on the grouping and ages of individuals, it appears that the family consisted of:2

  • Parents Donald and Gienet McLeod, both born in Scotland
  • Sons Donald, Alexander, and Henry born in Scotland
  • Sons Robert, Andrew, John, and William, born in U.S.

Not only does this census appear to list the full family, but it also suggests that the family immigrated from Scotland to the U.S. sometime between when Henry (age 10) was born and when Robert (age 9) was born – so approximately 1882-3.

1892_CensusExtract
McLeod family in the 1892 census in Schenectady County, New York.2

While the 1892 census seems to spell out the family reasonably cleanly, that’s not the end of the story, of course. Later censuses to appear to mostly confirm the theory that these nine McLeods in 1892 are one nuclear family who immigrated from Scotland to New York in the early 1880s, but the censuses also present some head-scratching information and raise some questions to answer.

Here’s a diagram showing how the members of the McLeod family appeared within various households within Schenectady County between 1892 and 1940.3

CensusDiagramExtract
Members of the McLeod family throughout censuses in Schenectady County, NY. Individuals with names in bold type appear to be members of one nuclear family (father, mother, and seven sons). Head of household is marked as noted in the census; blocks of the same color indicate members of one household for a given census.

 

Donald or George?

Looking across these censuses, a few inconsistencies appear. One glaring item is that Donald McLeod, the apparent father of the seven McLeod boys in the 1892 census, was not listed in any of the later censuses. In the 1900, 1905, 1915, 1920, and 1930 censuses, Gienet, aka Jeanette (or Juanet or Jennette or Janet) McLeod was listed as head of household living with three or more of her children in each. In 1900, 1920, and 1930 she was listed as widowed, seemingly consistent with her husband and the father of her children (perhaps Donald) having died before 1900.

In the 1910 census, however, the head of household was George McLeod, married to Jeannette McLeod – and both had supposedly married to each other for 35 years. George was born about the same time as Donald (per the 1892 census). The McLeod children listed in the household were all listed as son or daughter of George. So… what’s going on here? Are Donald and George the same person? If so, where was he between 1892 and 1910? If not, how is George suddenly the husband (of 35 years) of Jeanette, and father of the McLeod children? What happened to Donald/George after 1910?

 

What was up with the 1910 census?

There are other oddities in the 1910 census for this family, though. Other than Donald/George/whoever he is, the members of the family appear to have been remarkably consistent across censuses with ages and names – except in 1910. In the 1910 census, there was a daughter, Anna, born c1885-1886 – and there were no daughters nor other Anna McLeods in any of the other censuses. There was, however, a son named Andrew, born c1885-1886 that appeared in every census other than 1910 with other members of the family. It seems likely that the daughter Anna in 1910 was actually son Andrew. Furthermore, family members such as Jeanette had very consistent reports of birth places – she was listed as born in Scotland in every census other than the 1910 census, where she was listed as born in New York. Examining everything shown in the 1910 census and in the others, I am very skeptical of anything appearing only in the 1910 census for this family.

 

What happened to Henry McLeod?

One other piece of information for the family is that Henry McLeod being the son of Jeanette (and Donald/George?) can only be inferred from the census data. The only census where Henry appeared in the same household as any of his parents or siblings was the 1892 NY census that did not specify relationships. However, Henry McLeod did appear as head of household in Schenectady County in 1900 and 1905, and by 1905, he had a daughter named Albertina McLeod. Henry, his wife Esebel/Belle, and daughter Albertina did not appear together in censuses after 1905 – but there was an Albertina McLeod of the correct age who lived with Jeanette, listed as her granddaughter from 1915 through 1925. There was an Albert McCloud, the age that Albertina would have been, listed as a boarder with the family in 1910 when Albertina McLeod was not listed elsewhere in the County – I suspect this was actually the same child (but seriously – what was up with this 1910 census?).

Even if Albertina can be traced staying with her grandmother for some years after her parents vanished from the county, what happened to Henry and Esebel/Belle McLeod? Did one or both of them die? Did one or both of them move away, leaving Albertina with family?

 

Rebecca Hutton

Another interesting feature of the family is that from 1905 through 1940, a woman named Rebecca Hutton, born in Scotland, lived with the McLeod family, listed as either niece of Jeanette, boarder (in 1910), or cousin of Andrew (in 1940). If she was a niece of Jeannette, how was she related? Was Jeanette’s maiden name Hutton?

Before she lived with the McLeods, a Rebecca Hutton lived in Schenectady with her father, Andrew (also Scotland-born), in censuses from 1880-1900.4 If the Huttons arrived in Schenectady County from Scotland before the McLeods did, were the Huttons (part of) the reason the McLeods ended up here?

 

Other questions arise from these censuses, such as:

  • Did Jeannette McLeod die between the 1930 census when she was last household and the 1940 census where her son, Andrew, was head of household – in the same house?
  • Did William McLeod and family move away after they all vanished from Schenectady County after the 1930 census?

Time to dig in a little more to see what I can uncover about this family, how they came to be here in Schenectady County, and how they spent their time here. After just starting with the censuses, I clearly have a lot of questions still to answer…I’m looking forward to seeing what I can find out.


[1]Erin M. Hill-Burns, “Schenectady Stories,” Genes & History, posted 5 February 2018 (https://genesandhistory.wordpress.com/: accessed 28 March 2018).

[2]1892 New York state census, Schenectady County, population schedule, Schenectady City Ward 4, p 20 (penned), Donald McLeod (age 40) through William McLeod (age 1); accessed in “New York State Census, 1892” database with images,Ancestry(http://search.ancestry.com: 14 February 2018).

[3]1892 NY state census, Schenectady Co., pop. sch., Schenectady City Ward 4, p 20 (penned), Donald McLeod (age 40) through William McLeod (age 1). 1900 U.S. Census, Schenectady County, New York, pop. sch., Schenectady City Ward 4, enumeration district (ED) 133, sheet 24B (penned), dwelling 335, family 536, Juanet McLeod household; accessed in “1900 United States Federal Census,” database with images, Ancestry(http://search.ancestry.com: 13 February 2018); citing NARA microfilm publication T623. 1900 U.S. Census, Schenectady Co., NY, pop. sch., Schenectady City Ward 4, ED 133, sheet 25B (penned), dwelling 347, family 556, Henry McLeod household. 1905 New York state census, Schenectady County, pop. sch., Schenectady City Ward 6, p 51 (penned), house number 116, Jenette McLeod household; accessed in “New York State Census, 1905” database with images, Ancestry(http://search.ancestry.com: 14 February 2018). 1905 NY state census, Schenectady Co., pop. sch., Schenectady City Ward 6, p 51 (penned), house number 120, Alex Mc Leod household. 1905 NY state census, Schenectady Co., pop. sch., Schenectady City Ward 6, p 52 (penned), house number 108, Henry McLeod household. 1910 U.S. Census, Schenectady County, New York, pop. sch., Schenectady City Ward 6, ED 193, sheet 15A (penned), dwelling 179, family 289, George McLeod household; accessed in “1910 United States Federal Census,” database with images, Ancestry(http://search.ancestry.com: 13 February 2018); citing NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 1078. 1910 U.S. Census, Schenectady Co., NY, pop. sch., Schenectady City Ward 6, ED 193, sheet 15A (penned), dwelling 179, family 291, Donel McCloud [Donald McLeod] household. 1910 U.S. Census, Schenectady Co., NY, pop. sch., Schenectady City Ward 6, ED 183, sheet 6B (penned), dwelling 67, family 119, Alexandre McLoad [Alexander McLeod] household. 1915 New York state census, Schenectady County, pop. sch., Schenectady City Ward 6, p 41 (penned), house number 116, Jeanette Mrs. McCleod household; accessed in “New York State Census, 1915” database with images, Ancestry(http://search.ancestry.com: 15 February 2018). 1915 NY state census, Schenectady Co., pop. sch., Town of Niskayuna, p 37 (penned), house number 30, Daniel [Donald] McLeod household, indexed in Ancestryas Daniel Mc Leval. 1915 NY state census, Schenectady Co., pop. sch., Schenectady, p 13 (penned), house number 41, Alexander McLeod household. 1915 NY state census, Schenectady Co., pop. sch., Schenectady City Ward 6, p 20 (penned), house number 764 ½, William McLeod household. 1920 U.S. Census, Schenectady County, New York, pop. sch., Schenectady City Ward 6, ED 147, sheet 6A (penned), dwelling 66, family 110, Jeanette McLeod household; accessed in “1920 United States Federal Census,” database with images, Ancestry(http://search.ancestry.com: 14 February 2018); citing NARA microfilm publication T625, roll 1262. 1920 U.S. Census, Schenectady Co., NY, pop. sch., Town of Niskayuna, ED 118, sheet 3B (penned), dwelling 58, family 64, Donald McLeod household. 1920 U.S. Census, Schenectady Co., NY, pop. sch., Town of Niskayuna, ED 118, sheet 3B (penned), dwelling 57, family 63, Alexander McLeod household. 1920 U.S. Census, Schenectady Co., NY, pop. sch., Niskayuna 3rdDistrict, ED 119, sheet 11A (penned), dwelling 261, family 273, William McLeod household. 1925 New York state census, Schenectady County, pop. sch., Schenectady City Ward 6, p 11 (penned), house number 827, Janet McLeod household; accessed in “New York State Census, 1925” database with images, Ancestry(http://search.ancestry.com: 15 February 2018). 1925 NY state census, Schenectady Co., pop. sch., Town of Niskayuna, p 6 (penned), house number 30, Donald McLeod household. 1925 NY state census, Schenectady Co., pop. sch., Town of Niskayuna, p 6 (penned), house number 28, Alexander McLeod household. 1925 NY state census, Schenectady Co., pop. sch., Niskayuna, p 11 (penned), no house number, William Y McLeod household. 1930 U.S. Census, Schenectady County, New York, pop. sch., Schenectady City Ward 6, ED 47-40, sheet 5B (penned), dwelling 15, family 23, Janet McLaid household; accessed in “1930 United States Federal Census,” database with images, Ancestry(http://search.ancestry.com: 14 February 2018); citing NARA microfilm publication T626, roll 1645. 1930 U.S. Census, Schenectady Co., NY, pop. sch., Niskayuna Town, ED 47-9, sheet 17B (penned), dwelling 444, family 456, Donald McLeod household. 1930 U.S. Census, Schenectady Co., NY, pop. sch., Niskayuna Town, ED 47-9, sheet 17A (penned), dwelling 427, family 439, Alexander McLeod household. 1930 U.S. Census, Schenectady Co., NY, pop. sch., Niskayuna Town, ED 47-9, sheet 30A (penned), dwelling 759, family 786, William McLeod household. 1940 U.S. Census, Schenectady County, New York, pop. sch., Niskayuna Town, ED 47-18, sheet 5A (penned), household 110, Donald McLeod household; accessed in “1940 United States Federal Census,” database with images, Ancestry(http://search.ancestry.com: 12 March 2018); citing NARA microfilm publication T627, roll 2774. 1940 U.S. Census, Schenectady Co., NY, pop. sch., Niskayuna Town, ED 47-18, sheet 5A (penned), household 109, Alexander McLeod household. 1940 U.S. Census, Schenectady Co., NY, pop. sch., Schenectady Ward 6, ED 47-47, sheet 4B (penned), household 157, Andrew H McLeod household (indexed in Ancestry as Andrew H McLend).

[4]1880 U.S. Census, Schenectady County, New York, pop. sch., Schenectady City Ward 3, ED 106, page 10 (penned), dwelling 74, family 103, Andrew Hutton household; accessed in “1880 United States Federal Census,” database with images, Ancestry(http://search.ancestry.com: 23 March 2018); citing NARA microfilm publication T9, roll 929. 1892 NY state census, Schenectady Co., pop. sch., Schenectady City Ward 4, p 13 (penned), Rebbeca Hutton (age 15). 1900 U.S. Census, Schenectady Co., NY, pop. sch., Schenectady City Ward 4, ED 133, sheet 15B (penned), dwelling 216, family 335, Antrue Hutton household (indexed in Ancestryas Antrno Hutton).

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