Willshire Village-A 1950 Census Test Area

The 1950 U.S. Census was released for public view on 1 April 2022. I was excited to look at some local areas such as Blackcreek, Liberty, and Willshire Townships, as well as the village of Willshire. I couldn’t wait to see the names and the information about their inhabitants who were enumerated in the census 72 years ago. My parents were not married yet, but I found their names. As I read the names I see some who have passed away in the last 72 years and I know others who are still around to see their names in the census. For many, this is the first time to see their names in a census.

As I looked through the 1950 census it didn’t take me long to see that the census pages for the village of Willshire were a lot different than the pages of the other communities. I learned why after reading a FAQ on 1950census.archives.gov, the website where I have been viewing the 1950 census and where I got these census images.

The 1950 census was the last census in which most people were visited by an enumerator using the large multi-family form, Form P1. This form was used by the vast majority of areas in the United States in 1950 and is the type of census form I am most familiar with. This type of census form was used for every census since 1850. Each page usually had 50 lines (40 in the earlier censuses) and each page listed a number of families, which included the names of all the individuals in a family. One name per line.

However, in 1950 different forms were tested in a very few selected Enumeration Districts (ED) in selected counties in Ohio and Michigan. One of those selected Ohio counties was Van Wert County and, in Van Wert County, the village of Willshire (ED 81-38) was selected to use the new form. These new forms were called “household” forms, meaning that one form was used for each household. Each family was enumerated on its own page. (Sometimes 2 pages if it was a large family.) The forms were still filled out by the enumerator in 1950, not by a family member. That eventually changed and today each family completes its own census form.

In 1950 Willshire village was an ED specifically selected to test a new census form! Willshire Township and Mercer County used the old multi-family forms which listed several families on one page.

1950 U.S. Census, blank “household” form used for Willshire village.

How interesting is that! Willshire was special!

The Ohio counties selected to have EDs which would try out the new forms in 1950 were Coshocton, Defiance, Delaware, Fulton, Henry, Knox, Licking, Lucas, Ottawa, Paulding, Putnam, Richland, Van Wert, and Williams. The new forms were used primarily in Ohio. Only areas in two Michigan counties tested the forms.

Right now there is not what I consider to be a good index of the 1950 census. 1950census.archives.gov has an index of sorts, an OCR (optical character recognition) index, based on artificial intelligence/machine learning. Their website states that it is not 100% accurate and I will attest to that. I could not locate any of several people I searched for using their OCR method. I assume research websites like Ancestry.com will eventually create their own indexes, which should be much more accurate.

But for now, looking through an ED, page by page is sufficient for me. I find the state and county and then I look for a specific ED within that county. Willshire’s ED is 81-38. The first number (81) is the number of the county and the second number (38) is a specific geographic area within that county.

The 1950 census of the village of Willshire (ED 81-38) is 201 pages. The population of Willshire in 1950 was 565 and there were 194 dwellings. Mrs. Dorothea Brubaker, from Ohio City, was the enumerator.

1950 U.S. Census, Willshire village, image/p.1

Some instructions from the 1950 census: List every person who usually lives in your household and every person staying in your household on April 1, 1950 (except temporary visitors)…

Some of my observations and take-aways from Willshire in the 1950 census: The 1950 census does not give as much information as some previous censuses, but the information is still interesting. The 1950 census does not give the address of the households, at least not in Willshire, using this form. There were a number of self-employed/local businesses in the village. I noticed that a number of women worked outside the home. Quite a few individuals worked in electric motor manufacturing and I wonder if they worked in Decatur or Fort Wayne. A number of older people, some widowed, lived in the village and were not employed. I imagine they were retired.

A portion of my transcription of the village of Willshire in the 1950 Census is below and I have included: name (head of household in bold), age, occupation (if given). For the others in household: name, age, relationship to the head of household, and occupation (if given). Occasionally I include marital status or where a person was born. There was a box where one of four items could be checked: What was this person doing most of last week: (1) Working; (2) Keeping house; (3) Unable to work (long-term disability, not short illness); (4) Something else (ill, retired, on vacation, looking for work). No. 2 was often checked for a woman; no. 4 often checked for older, retired persons. I did not include answers to this question in my transcription, but I instead included the more-detailed occupation that was written below that.  

1950 U.S. Census, Willshire village, Glenn Goodwin family, image/p.2, dwelling 134, sheet 354.

The village of Willshire (ED 81-38), 1950 U.S. Census, p.2-64 (about 1/3 of the village):

Glenn G Goodwin, 41, self-employed/garage; L Lucile, 35 wife; John O, 11, son; Phyllis A, 10, daughter; Mary E, 8, daughter; Janet M, 7, daughter; Martha J, 5, daughter; Gary G, 2, son; John, 88, father, widowed.
Mrs. CJC Davis, 35
Lulu B. Scott, 61, widow, self-employed/filling station; (Lodgers): Lowell L Rhuland Sr, 45, married, self-employed/hardware store; Margery S Rhuland, 42, married, saleslady/hardware; Lowell L Rhuland Jr, 22, never married.
Georgia E Huffman, 47, divorced.
George R Devore, 42, foreman/tile mill; Fern A, 50, wife; Michael T Scarry, 86, England, widowed, father-in-law.
Charley Martin, 55, widowed; Glen L, 18, son; Wilbur E, 16, son; James L, 15, son.
Katherine Straubinger, 74, never married; Benjamin F Straubinger, 68, brother, never married; Lucia Straubinger, 71, sister, never married; Claude B Kilmer, 76 (Missouri), never married, cousin, hatchery; Lowell A Thatcher, 22, never married, assembler/truck manufacturing.
Laura B Geary, 71, widowed.
Wallace Parks, 80; Edythe, 80, wife.
Charles H Samples, 75; Minnie M, 70, wife; (2 lodgers): John Miller, 76, widowed; Charles Debolt, 42, laborer/electric manufacturing.
Jesse C Spitler, 49, self-employed/grocery store; Margaret E, 46, wife; Linda L, 8, daughter.
Walter Avery, 63, widowed, blacksmith.
Wilbur J Miller, 35, truck repair/manufacture; Clista A, 28 wife; Wilbur J Jr, 8, son; Bonnie J, 6, daughter; Diana L, 3, daughter.
Berniece C Acheson, 55, widow, beauty shop operator.
Jesse R Hamrick, 46, stamping machine/electric motors; Iola K, 44, wife, connect leads/electric motors; Ray L, 21, son, never married, bookkeeper/truck manufacturing; Phyllis K, 18, daughter, never married, sub grade teacher/public school; Eunice E Reppert, 16, daughter, married; Robert L Reppert, 24, son-in-law, truck driver/coal & oil supply.
Martin Snyder, 63, never married, watchman/casting foundry.
Merl R Olson, 32, self-employed/filling station; Betty K, 28, wife.
Robert D Miller, 21, unloads cars/truck manufacturing; Phyllis G, 29, wife; Lynn Ann, 1, daughter.
Roman E Huffman, 48, truck driver/sawmill; Lois J, 35, wife; Mary K, 13, daughter.
Chalmer J Edwards, 47, high school teacher; Leah, 54, wife; Wanda E, 16, daughter.
Cloyde Dellinger, 52, never married, labor/electric motor manufacturing.
Laurence E Buechner, 46, self-employed/grocery store; Myrtle C, 47, wife, self-employed/grocery store.
Cleo R Painter, 34, self-employed/restaurant; Virginia M, 34, wife; Rex C, 8, son.
Angina Morrison, 80, widow.
J Todd Morrison, 48, shipping clerk/electric motor manufacturing; Daisy P, 48, wife.
Samuel H Dellinger Jr, 56, plumber/plumbing shop; Nellie M, 54, wife; Samuel H Dellinger Jr, 24, never married, junk dealer/junkyard.
Lewis F Schumm, 58, carpenter; Cora E, 65, wife; Mary E, 25, daughter, never married, general office/Farm Bureau Office; Herbert J, 21, son, never married, preacher/Church of God.
Max E Dellinger, 26, auto mechanic/garage; I Eileen, 27, wife; Dennis G, 1, son.
Jeff Moser, 80, widowed; Minnie M Keser, 66, widowed.
Ored G Dudgeon, 60, divorced, rural mail carrier; Dale Dudgeon, 29, cousin, never married, farmer.
J Clarence Geisler, 59, labor/electric motor manufacturing; Bessie M, 59, wife, connector/elector motor manufacturing; Kent C, 26, son, married, packing motors/electric motor manufacturing; Mildred L Dudgeon, 27, daughter-in-law; Jacqueline S, under 1 year, granddaughter.
Clara L Winkler, 72, widowed.
Frank, C Chronister, 60, superintendent/casting foundry; Edna C, 63, wife.
Carl W Hunziker, 30, lather/construction co; Dorothy E, 22, wife; Billy L, under 1 year, son.
Ethel A Place, 62, never married, telephone operator.
Kenneth Bienz, 39, farmer; Fawn, 37, wife, sewing/mop factory; Boyd, 17, son.
Vernon Hoblet, 47, insurance salesman; Wilma C, 45, wife.
Edward Anderson, 40, auto mechanic/garage; Bertha W, 37, wife; James W, 6, son; Robert E, 3, son; Sam R Robinson, 46, brother-in-law; Edithe M Robinson, 48, sister-in-law. [last 2 names crossed out]
Lee R Painter, 59, labor/state highway; Mary A, 53, wife; Garland E, 18, son; Martha L, 16, daughter; Janet D, 12, daughter.
Imel K Tice, 52, widowed; William E Snyder, 56, brother, never married, auto mechanic/garage.
Ivan G Allen, 55, warehouse employee/hardware co; G Elizabeth, 58, wife; Jack V, 23, son, never married, runs press/rubber plant; Tommy M, 19, son, never married, lineman/telephone co; Donna R, 16, daughter.
Preston B Thatcher, 25, assembly line/truck manufacturing; Doris M, 25, wife; Delbert L, 2, son.
Herbert H Byer, 48, farmer; Margaret M, 45, wife; Ned S, 19, son, never married.
CH Bowen, 58, farmer; Leola L, 45, wife.
Donald L Hoblet, 25 [name crossed out; school written]; Harriet I, 26, head [wife crossed out]; Vaughn A, 3 son; Kathy A, under 1 year, daughter.
J Fred Jewell, 55, barber/barber shop; Bess G, 52, wife.
Herbert Avery, 55, blacksmith machinist/soy bean plant; Fern, 53, wife; Mary A, 30, daughter, never married.
Audie F Passwater, 65; Flo, 64, wife.
Leone Spitler, 73, widowed.
Glenn I Spitler, 50, self-employed retail grocery clerk/grocery store; Rose B, 48, wife, retail grocery clerk/grocery store.
Elesaam A Spitler, 82, widowed.
James L Angel, 23, preacher/UB church; Dorothy V, 18 wife; Judith L, under 1 year, daughter.
Harry H Shell, 44, truck driver/wholesale sugar; Devona L, 35, wife; Arley E Buckmaster, 15, son; Margo J Shell, 7, daughter; Vickie J Shell, 1, daughter.
Marks D Riker, 62; Adoline, 62, wife.
Merl F Hoverman, 35, elevator/grain co; L Irene, 30, wife; Sharon R, 10, daughter; Karen A, 8, daughter.
Robert G Lucas, 30, Jr High teacher/public school; Patricia J, 22, wife; Robert G, under 1 yr, son.
Richard M Foreman, 28, attendant/filling station; Gretchen P, 29, wife, coil winder/electric motor manufacturing; Shelia  A, 6, daughter.
Robert W Games Sr, 31, high school teacher & coach/public school; Alice H, 35, wife; Robert W Jr, 5, son; John C, 3, son; Larry M, 1, son.
Charles L Painter, 23, bar tender/restaurant, tavern; Janette R, 22, wife; Johnny J, 1, son; Linda A, 1, daughter.

I will continue with this 1950 Census transcription of the village of Willshire next week.

Willshire has another bicentennial event planned for this Saturday, 23 April: a baseball theme movie in the park for children and adults. Hot dogs and popcorn will be available at 7:30, with the movie at 8:00. Attendees should bring a lawn chair. This will also kick off the spring/summer ball season.


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  1. How interesting to see the different questionnaire used in test areas like Willshire!

    1. It sure is! I was fascinated by this! Who knew?

    • Sondra Samples on April 22, 2022 at 7:50 am
    • Reply

    Wow, so interesting! I would have been 11 years old in 1950, but I can remember every person listed and can visualize the house where they lived. Growing up in a small town where everyone knew everyone was awesome.

    1. I bet you do! You could probably make a map of where the people lived! 🙂 I find it so interesting to see names I recall, even though I only knew or heard of a portion of them. Thanks for writing!

    • Rosemary Charleston on April 22, 2022 at 8:10 am
    • Reply

    So interesting. I knew most of these people.

    1. I agree. It is very interesting to read through. And this is only about 1/3 of the households. I will finish up in the next couple weeks.

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