By Carol Stiffler
Genealogists and historians are delighted to plow through the enumeration data from the 1950 Census, records which were kept private by law for the past 72 years. While numbers and population figures were always available, the new information, written by hand in careful script, reveals exactly who was living where, and what jobs they held, in 1950. Famous Newberry last names like Rahilly, Fretz, Kalnbach, Nantell, Dwyer, Hummelgard, and more, pepper the rolls. Entire households are identified, with each person named, titled, and given an age, at every house on every street.
“I have been waiting for it for years,” said Jim Dwyer, historian and former Newberry resident. “I do a lot of stuff on ancestry. Mostly out of curiosity, to look at who was living where, and how many people lived there. And that (census) will be the first one that I’ll appear in.”
Under what is called the “72-year rule”, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) was given care and custody of the census data and ordered to keep it private for 72 years. It was required to be released at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, April 2, 2022.
“Damn that 72 years,” Dwyer said. The 1950 Census, he said, will be the last one he’ll take interest in. “After the next one, 1960, which I’ll never see, I don’t have a lot of curiosity about that.”
According to the 1950 census results, Luce County had 8,105 residents (a 9.2% increase from the up from 7,423 residents in 1940), and Newberry had 2,770 (up slightly from 2,732 in 1940).
The 1950 census rolls are available at www.1950census.archives.gov.
Luce County’s 1950 Census results include a detailed roster of all patients who were “inmates” at the Newberry State Hospital on April 1, 1950.
In Pentland Township, last names of Lehto, Carpenter, Bennett, Maki, and Pentland are logged – surnames that are still in play today. Quite a few entries show a birth country of Finland.
In Lakefield Township, it is apparent that family history is still carrying on strong: last names like Bowler, Bryers, Brow, and Zellar were prevalent in 1950 and still are now.
Interesting details from the Lakefield forms include a handwritten note that says “In units 13, 14, 15, and 18, it is not possible to tell the number of rooms since the windows are covered. In no.14, it is impossible to tell whether or not there is a kitchen sink in the unit.” Most of these units were marked “vacant”.