Hi Alice, How thoughtful of you to comment on this wonderful moment in my cousins ancestry! I know exactly how she felt and exactly how you feel - I have been searching for my G-grandpa in 1870 and 1880 for almost 20 years.
There's no question his last name has been mangled by some index typist because he was a very well educated man and he taught the history of their surname "Nunnelee" to each of his 11 children who could recite it like they were all reading from the same book.
Just this morning I decided I had searched long enough and to hire a team of expert census researchers who work from the original records.
Give me an email and tell me about your 1880 missing ancestor - it only takes a few minutes to search for someone else in any record I go to. Kathye email at email@example.com