When a person “just appears” in an area, one can be tempted to think that they were dropped off by a UFO or some such.
1–The person’s family lived in the area a very short time (maybe just renting a house or a farm)–during which time the person of interest met someone and got married. Their family of origin moved further west and left no records of their own in that place where the person married. I don’t know this happened with one of my Kentucky ancestors who married around 1818, but it’s very plausible.
2–The person’s marriage record is the first where they actually gave their own last name. It’s possible that in earlier records (census most likely) they are listed with a step-father’s name which was provided by the adult in the household or assumed by the census taker. I have a guy in my ancestry who is listed with his step-father’s last name in the 1850 and 1860 census and only with his actual last name from his marriage in 1870 and on.
And of course, your ancestor may have moved to an area as a young single adult because they knew they could find work, had former friends who had moved there, or had relatives there of whom you are unaware.
Get more tips from my Genealogy Tip of the Day book!