Researchers claim a relative formally and legally adopted his step-children. Following the money is the best way to find out. The relative’s estate was settled in Illinois in 1904. He had a relatively significant amount of real and personal property at the time. The step-children were alive in 1904. The relative does not name the adopted children in his will–even to give them a token amount so they cannot say they were forgotten. They are not listed in the “Order of heirship” where his biological children were listed. A reference to contemporary state statute indicated that legally adopted children could inherit from their adopted parents. That seems to suggest that the step-children were not legally adopted by their step-father. Reading state statutes can be tedious, but it can […]
“Adoption” is one of those words that has meanings both inside and outside the law. It’s also one of those words that gets thrown around in genealogical writing, genealogical software, and any time families and relationships are written about. It is also a relationship that genealogy researchers sometimes assume took place during a time period when legal practices were different than they were today. My great-great-grandmother was born in 1851 in Illinois. Her father died less than five years later and her mother was married to another long-term husband by 1859. My great-great-grandmother was listed with that step-father’s last name in the 1860 census and in her 1868 marriage record. Was she adopted by him? Do those references prove that she was? A census taker may have simply […]
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