I spent quite a bit of time looking for the mother of a relative who had married again after his father died. Her first name was relatively uncommon, but not knowing the last name made finding her difficult. In reviewing pictures I had taken of the relative’s tombstone (before I knew his mother’s name), I noticed a stone near his with that same first name.

A little searching discovered the woman buried near him was his missing mother. The problem was that I did not have her name when I first located his tombstone–and her last name was not the one she had when she was his mother so it meant nothing to me. She ended up being a permanent neighbor of her son.

It can be similar tracing other females whose last names have changed. Look carefully at the first names of neighbors of your relative–could those nearby females be relatives?

Those neighbors can be physical ones listed in census, tax lists or other items organized by geographic location. They could be listed in sponsors on baptismal records, witnesses on legal documents, etc.–what I like to call “paper neighbors.”

Look at those first names of those neighbors: paper, geographic, or permanent.



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