Treasure Chest Thursday: A Military Census Record

A few weeks ago while working on SSDI mining, a 1920 census record for one of my cousins caught my eye (thank you Ancestry shaky leaves!).  I was trying really hard to stay on task and not get distracted by all the shiny new records I encountered, but this one was unusual.  The location was Guantanamo, Cuba.

The first thing I did was double check the name and birth date in the hint.  Fortunately, this was for Heartwell Hemphill, not a common name, and the birth year was in the right vicinity.  So I clicked on the record and it was immediately clear that I had the right person.

I don’t think I’ve had occasion to look at a military census record before, so this was kind of exciting.  The schedule is different from the regular 1920 census schedule.

At the top left, it asks for the Military or Naval station or Vessel, the Country, and the Seaport.  This schedule was for a U. S. Naval Station in Cuba, Guantanamo Bay.  On the top right, it asks for the Company or Troop, Regiment, and Arm of Service.  That section is blank in this case.

Click to enlarge

The questions asked of those enumerated included:

  • Name
  • Rank or Relation
  • Residence in the United States:  State, City or town, and Street and Number
  • Personal Description, Citizenship, Education, Nativity, Ability to speak English (all the same as the regular 1920 schedule)
  • Occupation (only one question, as opposed to three on the regular schedule)


Click to enlarge

Heartwell’s responses were:

Name:  Heartwell Y. Hemphill

Rank: Bosun’s mate

Residence in the US:  Montezuma, GA.

Personal Description:  male, white, 21, single

Citizenship:  blank

Education:  did not attend school during the year, could read and write

Nativity and Mother Tongue:  He and both parents were born in Ga.

English Speaker:  yes

Occupation:  Sailor

Click to enlarge

The US residence is what confirmed that Heartwell was who I thought he was.  Montezuma is in Macon County, Georgia and I went there last December to photograph Heartwell’s parents’ graves.  He was the son of Walter P. Hemphill and Henrietta Littlefield.  Walter P. Hemphill was my great-grandfather’s brother making Heartwell my first cousin twice removed.

Source:  1920 U. S. census, military and naval population abroad schedule, “Seaport”: Guantanamo Bay, Cuba [no ED shown], sheet 3-B (penned), Heartwell Y. Hemphill; digital image, ( : accessed 21 February 2012); citing NARA microfilm publication T625, roll 2041.

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  1. Karen Hemphill Landers says

    Hartwell Young Hemphill was my father. It is interesting that he was listed on the 1920 census thru the Navy as he was discharged from the Navy in 1918.

    • Tonia Kendrick says

      Hi Karen! That certainly is interesting. I wonder how it happened? How long did he serve?

      By the way, I visited your grandparents’ graves last December. My great-grandfather was James Alexander Hemphill, Walter Patton Hemphill’s brother.

  2. Carol Guerin says

    Can you please tell me how and where I can locate a blank 1920 Population Schedule for Military and Naval Population ETC., Abroad??? I have checked Ancestry, Family Search, The US Census website, and several others, including just doing a Google search for it. I really appreciate your help.

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