Assuming There was Always Paperwork

In certain locations and in certain time periods, your ancestor can do things without having generated any paperwork.

Do not assume that there will always be a birth record, a death record, an obituary, a probate, etc. There were times where people of certain social standing, economic classes, ethnic groups, distance from the records office, etc. were not recorded in certain records. Not everyone has an obituary.

Document your search for these items. If you cannot find one, try and see if you can determine the reason.

But–not everyone always generates a record for every vital event in their life.


4 thoughts on “Assuming There was Always Paperwork

  1. GalacticGal

    Yes, I have two such ancestors. One, has all but fallen off the genealogical map, so to speak, making it extremely hard to track him. And the other one doesn’t have a verifiable year of birth or even a place of birth. Too many share the same name with BOTH of these individuals. All I can do is extrapolate my tree in a sideways manner and hope to find the truth of the situation. With the second individual, I have two different trees, showing at least two different possibilities. I’d have a third tree, but the third possibility didn’t really pan out. Gr. Don’t they know how vexing it is to their descendants? 😉

  2. Mary Ann Malecki

    My great grandparents had their first child in 1879. I cannot find a marriage record. Not in the county she was in – in 1870. Not in the county they were in 1880. Since they lived near the corner of the county, we checked the neighboring counties. When Robert died, again no record. At one of the libraries, I found a 1911 death index. He died in late December. I sent $$ to the state and got a death certificate. My mom tried to give the certified copy to the county for other genealogists. They refused it. We sent $$$ to the state, guessing they were married in 1888 – no luck for the marriage license. I did learn Robert’s father’s first name was John on the death certificate. Of course mother’s name was unknown. I’ved looked for Robert as a boy with his father John for nearly 10 yrs. No luck. Records were started in 1860’s for our state. My mom and I traveled to a lot of county offices and libraries. Small libraries would try to send us to large genealogical libraries. Yet we found some wonderful answers and clues in smaller libraries and two offices. Mom’s great grandfather’s burial was accidentally found when we attended a friend’s 100 yr old mother’s burial. As we walked to the graveside, we looked down and there was a stone with her great grandfather’s name. We were so excited, but waited to come back and check out his stone. The cemetery sexton confirmed it was him, yet no record at the county level.

  3. Meredith

    Ditto! I have a gg-grandmother who died in 1911 in Dallas, TX. I have found a two-sentence obituary in a newspaper saying that Mrs. AJ Hawkins died of influenza and that other family members are still ill. Other than that and a crudely carved tombstone there is no record of her death. Further research turned up a flu epidemic in Dallas that year so it’s likely that the coroners couldn’t keep up with the deaths and there isn’t a DC for her. Frustrating because her parentage is a huge brick wall.


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