Did Grandma Estimate Her Place of Birth?

If your ancestor was born in a small, out-of-the-way place, it may have been easier for them to give a nearby larger town as their place of birth instead of where they were actually born. If you can’t find them in the “town where they are supposed to be,” try the smaller outlying towns instead.


7 thoughts on “Did Grandma Estimate Her Place of Birth?

  1. E A

    I have thought for some time that where an ancestor has moved to a distant part of the country, they have often said the nearest place that their interlocutor may have heard of. I live in a small village, and often have to say “near ….”. And sometimes if the ancestor moved as a small child to a larger town, they may actually believe that that is where they were born.

  2. Emily

    The grandchildren of my gg grandmother must have thought she was born in Nashville, TN, because that’s the mother’s place of birth on several death records for my gg grandmother’s children. However, I can find no evidence of her family in Nashville; instead they were in Fentress County, in eastern TN.

  3. Kat

    This happens quite often today. While travelling through west Texas, the motel owner mentioned that he was in the military with a man from the town where I now live (which happens to be the state capitol). When he told me the name, I knew the man, his family, etc. because he actually lived in the county where I grew up which was 40 miles away!

    1. michaeljohnneill Post author

      I usually just mention the county where I currently live. No one ever knows the name of the town 😉

  4. Patricia Regan

    I have found that it is important to look at a Map of the Area your Ancestor was supposedly in to help locate that smaller Town, Village or Hamlet. Over the years you find many of them have changed their names and also some that are no longer in existence and now might be known as a Ghost Town. Even the County could be different as County lines changed over the years, So it pays to broaden your search.

  5. Kathy P.

    So true! My grandmother was born in Goshen, Washington. Goshen, you say? That’s right – no one else has heard of it either! Her birth may have been registered in Bellingham (the nearest large town) or Lynden (another small town but it still exists – Goshen doesn’t), or somewhere we haven’t thought of. After a decade of looking, we’re no closer to finding her birth certificate. The state of Washington doesn’t have a copy . . . Who knows? She was probably born at home and maybe they never registered her birth! (And complicating it all, she put down – at various times – two dates in October and two different years.) Sigh. Why couldn’t our beloved ancestors consider us researchers!


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