For twenty years, it seemed as if my ancestor Ira Sargent was dropped off by a UFO in Hancock County, Illinois, in 1880.
Turns out he wasn’t.
He was in the 1850 and 1860 United States Census listed under the last name of his step-father–whom his mother had married in 1849. Until I discovered the last name of the step-father, I was unable to find Ira.
Is it possible that your UFO ancestor wasn’t dropped off by aliens but was instead listed in records as a child under his (or her) stepfather’s last name? And that the first time they used their “birth name” in a record was when they married?
Among the items that newspapers may include are accounts of accidents or injuries.
An accident could have been significant for your family. If the breadwinner of the household was seriously or permanently injured, it could have put the family’s life in disarray and could have been the cause of unavoidable family separation.
Make a chart with all your variant spellings for a surname and their corresponding Soundex codes. You don’t need the Soundex code to search, but the chart can be sorted by Soundex when preforming Soundex based searches so that you will know which searches locate what names so that you don’t needlessly perform the same search.
After all, Trantvetter and Trontvetter have the same Soundex code. A Soundex search for Trantvetter will find Trontvetter.
If a relative appears to have gotten married for the first time at a slightly older than normal age, look again. That first marriage might not have been the actual first marriage.