During a recent research jaunt the truth of the title phrase was apparent. Using a large and well known program that included an index to the census I was tracking down some family lines. I was frustrated enough due to the problems associated with the spelling variations for the name from decade to decade and from family line to family line. I kept finding the family with another family apparently living with them and that made no sense, especially since some of that family appeared to match the family I was hunting.
Then I decided to re-examine the actual census record and see what clues might be missing.
Imagine my chagrin when on looking at the census it became clear there had been a glaring transcription error! The family name, although spelled differently than other census records was consistent throughout the census record. The mysterious "other family", called Napier in the index, disappeared!
The 1860 entry from Venango Co., PA for the family of Henry and Margaret Niner revealed (spelled here as Nyner) -
Henry Niner, 43, Bavaria ? Germany (Hesse-Kessel according to other records/lore)
Margaret, 43, b. Maryland (other census will state Germany)
George Crothel, 18 b Maryland (named for an elderly neighbor who may be related)
Fred L, 12