by June P. Zintz and Glenn R.P. Atwell

For a long time local researchers have had the use of the W.P.A. indices of the 1850 census of Buffalo and the 1855 census of the Erie County Townships, and be­lieved that these indices provided complete coverage of the city and county. Unfortunately, this was not the case since a township existed in 1850 which did not exist in 1855: Black Rock.

In 1853 the limits of the city of Buffalo were extended to totally absorb the surrounding township of Black Rock, which was eight times larger in area than the original city. The residents of this township, over 1400 families, were not included in the 1850 city index, when they were living in a township, or in the 1855 county index when they were part of the city!

The large number of individuals included in the census made the indexing of the lost town a daunting task. In the winter of 1991/92 June Partridge Zintz undertook the long and tedious process of entering each individual into a computer database program (dBase IV) with family no., name, age, sex, occupation and birth­place; and cross-referenced all individuals living with another family as well as the variant spellings, so that every single individual in the census could be located. The unalphabetized printout was proof read by Glenn R.P. Atwell who also compared the names to several city directories, the 1854 city map, the 1866 Atlas, and his thousands of Catholic marriage and baptism records in an effort to provide more accurate spellings especially of the badly mangled German surnames. Often the place of residence helped confirm an identification. Sometimes a hunch based on knowledge of many pioneer surnames was confirmed by a match-up of the children's names and ages in the census with the baptismal records. At other times only an educated guess at the correct surname could be attempted.

These corrected surnames were cross referenced to the original spellings and entered into the database by Mrs. Zintz and the following index was the result. No such undertaking can ever be complete, but it is hoped that this work will take its place with the earlier indices and finally complete the coverage of Buffalo and Erie County.

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Last updated: Thursday, May 6, 2004