While divorce has not always been as common as it has been in the last forty or fifty years, it was not as rare in the time period before that either.

Is it possible that your relative had a short term marriage that did not last? It could be that the oldest child was born to a previous spouse and adopted by the next one? It could be that a female relative was married for a year or so, was divorced and took back her maiden name. A man could have easily moved to the big city to look for work, found love, found that it didn’t go so well, and returned home a single man.

That deceased relative may have had a marriage before their “first” one at the age of twenty-six. Or…it could very well have been their first. Just remain open to the possibility that there may be some details that you have not yet discovered.



3 Responses

  1. I have one of those. My dad’s uncle died having never married—or so I was always told. And I think my dad believed it. But a few years ago, I came across an obituary for a woman, and it mentioned she had formerly been married to my great-uncle. I found a newspaper notice of the marriage license dated a few years earlier, in 1931. The obit was from 1936, so they would not have appeared as a couple in any census. My dad would have been only 6 at the time of the marriage,so it’s very possible he was unaware of it and only knew his uncle as an unmarried man. Now I need to request the marriage license to verify that the man is indeed my uncle, though the name is uncommon enough that I’ll be very surprised if there is another in the area!

  2. I also came across an unknown early marriage of my paternal grandfather when hunting for my grandmother’s and grandfather’s marriage license. The last name is also uncommon enough that there weren’t many “hits” looking for it in the appropriate places so the heretofore unknown one was easy to spot. The great thing about that discovery was it led me to one of his sister’s adult households and more family information. Those “new” married names can throw a wrench in the search process.
    His sister had married the brother of the first wife of the short lived marriage… One can never predict where new information may lead!

  3. I found two divorces in my direct lines in the early 1800’s. One was a Rev War vet whose wife had died; he married a woman about the age of his oldest child, and then wondered why it didn’t last! The second was a woman divorcing her husband after many years of marriage and 12 children, he had taken up with a woman named Prudence (!) and was not supporting her. She got her divorce; the farm was sold at auction by the sheriff, purchased by a neighbor and re-titled in her name, with the proviso that the ex-husband had no right to nor part of it.

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