Research Using the Census

As I was researching my great grandfather, I found him in the 1850 census and then again in the 1860 census. But he had disappeared by the 1870 census. I checked the 1880 census and couldn't find him there either. I knew he had married his wife in 1852 because I had checked the Cameron County marriage records. I then searched Ancestry and FamilySearch using a wide search thinking maybe that they had moved from the area. I finally thought to use the mortality schedule. Sure enough he had died in 1869. But why couldn't I find his family? It was because I had forgotten one essential part in doing Hispanic research. Women retained their last name during their marriage. I found his widow using her own surname with their children. Since it was the census taker's custom to use ditto marks for the surname of the children, it could be assumed that the children had the same surname when in reality, they had the surname of the father. It was a relief to find this information.