Did They Distinguish and Did It Matter?

Early in my research, I discovered an estate settlement for a relative who died with no living descendants. Her estate went to her heirs–the descendants of her brothers and sisters.

What the estate record did not indicate (because it was not necessary) was that some of her siblings were full siblings and some of her siblings were half siblings. In the eyes of the law at the time, it made no difference in terms of the inheritance (in other time periods and locations it might have). But the full or half-sibling relationship makes a difference to the genealogist. Fortunately all the siblings shared a mother or it would have been more confusing than it was.

Contemporary state statute would indicate if full siblings inherit differently than half-siblings.

Sometimes what doesn’t matter to the law matters to the genealogist. And legal records are concerned about the law–not the genealogist.

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