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You might want to run some searches on those neighbors that show up above or below the ancestor whom you are searching for a given census yeR. This has often worked for me. I get my ancestor in the 1870 federal census. I run searches on that ancestor's neighbors for the 1860 and 1870 censuses ... and voila! My ancestor shows up in both of these places with unusual, hard to read spellings. Never worry about the variant spellings of your ancestor's surnames because you can always find them in a census by running searches on their neighbors for other census years.
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