Will the Real Jack Frost Please Stand Up?by Amy Johnson Crow
Posted on December 23, 2013
It can be fun to look up famous people in the census. With so many holiday songs playing right now, it seems like a good time to look up that harbinger of winter: Jack Frost.
Jack Frost appears numerous times in pop culture in the United States in the late 1800s. That makes the 1860 census a good place to start. Here's what I found in the 1860 census:
- Jack Frost, born c1839 in Ohio, living in Kansas
- Jack Frost, born c1842 in Indiana, living in Kentucky
- Jack Frost, born 1860 born and living in Texas
- Jackson Frost, born c1820, born and living in Alabama
- Jackson Frost, born c1834 in New York, living in California
- Jackson Frost, born c1841, born and living in Maryland
- Jackson B. Frost, born c1859, born and living in Ohio
The 6-month-old Jack Frost living in Texas might actually be Jack Frost Martin. (If so, what an interesting name!)
Nicknames are something you need to keep in mind when you're researching. Although many parents today name their son "Jack," it has historically been a nickname for John. There are almost 400 John/Johnny/Johann Frosts in the 1860 census -- any of whom might have been called "Jack" by his friends.
How do we sort so many people of the same name? It's just like researching our own ancestors -- take every clue you can about the person you know is the right one. It could be his birth date, birthplace, information about his occupation, military service, family members, residences, etc.
What do we know about Jack Frost? Not a whole lot, except that he becomes popular in the U.S. in the late 19th century. His birth date is unknown and he doesn't have any known family members. He seems to live mostly in the northern part of the country, though he has been known to visit the South on occasion.
Unfortunately, we don't really have enough to go on to firmly identify the real Jack Frost in the census. (Though judging from the weather in my area lately, I'm leaning toward one born in Ohio!)
No matter who you are looking for, gather all of the clues you can so you can be sure when you've found the right person.
Stay warm and happy researching!
Amy Johnson Crow is a Genealogical Content Manager for Archives.com. She is a Certified Genealogist and blogs regularly for Roots & Branches, the official Archives.com blog. Amy has deep roots in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic states and she has rarely been to a cemetery that she didn't like.
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