Female Witnesses A Clue?

When women witness events or documents, especially before the early twentieth century, I usually wonder why? Not because women were unreliable but because of societal norms. Women were usually witnesses when men were unable to testify to the events in question. In 1865, Elizabeth Belless testified that she had been at the birth of all of Catherine Belless’ six children and Sarah James was a near neighbor to Catherine and had seen her within hours of each birth. These women need to be researched to determine any relationship to Catherine.

WIth Elizabeth Belless the potential connection to Catherine Belless is suggested by the last name. A little more work needs to be done on Sarah, but her statement strongly hints that she’s more than a neighbor.

Statement of Sarah James and Elizabeth Belless in Civil War Widow’s Pension Application for Catherine Belless, widow of Peter Belless, Company I, 18th Illinois Regiment.


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