Not All Relationships Generate Records

Your ancestor had relationships that did not generate records. It’s obvious when one thinks about it, but often something that we forget.

A relative of mine had a short-term boyfriend in the state of Iowa in the late 1870s that resulted in a pregnancy. She never married the father of the child. I only know his name because her subsequent marriage to  Civil War veteran resulted in her applying for a widow’s pension where she mentioned the previous relationship.

Another relative was “married” in the 1850s for less than a few months to a man who was temporarily guardian for her minor children. I suspect she was married to him (or acted like she was) because she signs his last name to some documents involving her first husband’s estate.

I just got lucky I was able to locate information on these relationships and it makes me wonder how many relationships leave no record at all.


5 thoughts on “Not All Relationships Generate Records

  1. Gloria

    Yes, I’m wondering. Looks like my Dad had a short term relationship that resulted in a pregnancy that produced twin boys. The mother married a man who claimed them as his own. DNA found my father was the father! How do I find that short relationship? No records that I can find.

    1. Jeanne Rollberg

      DNA records often result in telling matches in others’ family trees even when we have little or no other information. Good luck, Gloria!

    2. michaeljohnneill Post author

      That may be difficult to establish. Did they have jobs or life experiences that would have brought them in contact with each other?

    1. michaeljohnneill Post author

      You could create a “relationship” that wasn’t a marriage. The key would be to have some evidence of the relationship–maybe a letter, the birth of a child without the couple being married, family stories, etc. Keep in mind that not all of these sources would be as accurate as the others.

      In one case I have a statement in a pension file that documents the relationship that resulted in the birth of a child. There was no birth certificate since it was too early and the parents never married.


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