Many divorced women in the 19th and early 20th century found it easier to say they were widowed instead of saying they were divorced. This individual’s 1900 census enumeration indicated she was a widow when in fact she was divorced and her ex-husband was very much alive. Sometimes divorcees would refer to themselves as “grass widows,” but that term was not approved by the census department.
If your ancestor was a local businessman, an advertisement in a newspaper or other publication can confirm where the business was located, dates on which the business was operated, business partners, etc.
Advertisements may even include biographical information on the business owners (check out the comments on this Rootdig post to see a reference to an advertisement in Kansas that generated quite a bit of information).
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I recently posted this image from an 1889 estate settlement that mentions cash received from the return of a “beer box.” I shared it with a few of my second cousins on Facebook who got a kick out of it. We even had a brief discussion about the purchase/storage of beer in the late 19th century. Sometimes sharing something “non-genealogical” can help to either generate interest in the past or spur a discussion of it.
Is there something outside of the births, marriages, deaths, and “begats” that you could share?
After something of a hiatus, my how-to newsletter, Casefile Clues, is back. I’ve moved the blog to a new domain (our old site is having server issues). There’s not much there yet, but there are details about the newsletter, how to get free sample issues, a list of past issues, our philosophy and more. Check it out.
Whenever I locate a record, I look at adjacent records to see if there are other records that may be on the same family or may mention ancestral associates. It’s not just one type of record where this may help as:
- families may record several deeds at the courthouse on the same day causing the records to appear page after page;
- the census may include other relatives on the same pages or on pages in close proximity to the desired entry;
- tax records may include other family members living nearby on an adjacent page;
- siblings may marry on the same day and appear consecutively in the marriage records;
- family members may die a few days apart (either due to illness or a mother and child who do not survive) and appear adjacent to each other in the death records.
And so it goes. An incomplete index may only direct you to one of these entries. Sometimes It’s up to us to find the other one. Remember:
If you are lucky enough to find a mushroom in the woods in the springtime, there may be more nearby. Don’t stop at just one.
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If a man dies leaving behind a wife and children, don’t assume that there won’t be a guardianship because one parent is still living. While a mother typically has physical custody of the children if the father dies, for much of US history someone would have been appointed guardian to oversee their interest in their father’s estate. That guardian may not have been the mother. This “financial” guardian would not typically have gotten custody of the child–that would remain with the mother.
These guardianship records can provide more details about the father and the children, depending upon the time period. In the United States guardianship records are typically local court records.
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Some genealogical software packages and some online tree sites encourage users to enter relationships between individuals as soon as possible.
That can be a mistake.
Unless you’ve got a fairly good idea that the relationship is solid, refrain from immediately entering it in your database. Not every child in the census is the child of both parents. The widow listed in the will may not be the mother of all the children
Ask yourself how certain you are of each relationship before you put it in your database. You can “always change it later,” but many times later never comes.