This was posted to our Facebook page, but I decided to share it with readers here as well.

There’s not right or wrong here, just something to think about.

A female relative of mine had a short-term marriage in the mid-20th century. It ended, so I’ve been told because “he was mean to her and the relative’s mother told her to get a divorce (suggesting that his behavior was likely not to improve).” The marriage resulted in no children.

This is not about the facts of what happened. This is about how much time and money I should spend trying to find his name and the date/place of marriage. The story about the marriage tells something about the family–even though there is no name. There are no statewide marriage records in three of the four states where this marriage is most likely to have taken place. Of course it was the mid-20th century and a couple could have gone anywhere to elope. I don’t have the groom’s name and that makes looking for a divorce hard–the female went back to her maiden name.

So I have decided to put the story in my notes on this person–citing the individuals who passed the story along to me….and I have moved on. I may find the name and date at some point. But at the end of the day, there is only so much time and money to be had in the search. And I have other people whose stories I want to find out and whose stories can be discovered a little easier.

I’m not hiding the story or keeping others from knowing it. It’s in my notes and I’ve mentioned it to relatives. This is not about “hiding the story.”

I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer here…just a decision about where to place your time and resources. I keep my eyes open for new databases that may help, but I’m putting an active search for this to rest for the time being.



5 Responses

  1. I’ve run into similar dilemmas. Putting them aside -so far- has found more information years later. Sometimes those answers just fall in your lap. And sometimes not!

  2. Very similar situation here, involving my grandmother and her first (brief) marriage. I stumbled across the husband’s name in a two-sentence newspaper article mentioning recent divorces, also noting grandmother went back to her maiden name. Now that I had the husband’s name, I was able to find records of the marriage. It was a brief event in Grandma’s overall life story – noted but not dwelt upon.

  3. Have had a similar situation. Marriage had no children but searched for wife’s ancestors. Now found out she was adopted so those are not ancestors. Guess I’ll just note that and delete the „adopted „ grandparents as they are not biological. Sad. It was a lot of interesting work, now wasted. Adoptive parents had no other biological children either

    • If you are inclined, you could put some of that information in the tree at FamilySearch so it is not lost. Someone else down the road may be interested in it.

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