Finding the Ladies in Your Family Part II


Last month I began a discussion on finding the ladies in you family. This month I will continue the discussion with a look at the many records that the ladies may appear in that relate to others, such as their husbands or children. I will also talk a bit about the FAN Club……more later in the article.

Some of the records for a woman’s husband are land records, tax records, wills, and probates, Pensions, Military records and finally death records. Land records appear very early in our history and often contain a wife’s name in addition to other family members such as siblings and children. These can be found in local courthouses and on Family Search. Tax records contain the name of the Taxpayer and if you locate the records for the man, you may find his wife’s name as the taxpayer after his death if she inherited the property.

Military Pensions and records can be a goldmine of information, especially those from the Revolutionary War, War of 1812 and the Civil War. They often contain letters regarding the family’s composition, the marriage date and name of wife and children’s names. This is especially true if the wife applied for her husband’s pension after he died. These letters came from other family members, local clergy and others that served with them during the war. Look on Ancestry, Fold 3 and Family Search.

Death records would include death certificates, obituaries, and church records. Church records go way back. The availability of death certificates varies from state to state. Obituaries have been available since the 19th century but were often quite brief especially for ordinary folks. The best source for these is one of the on-line newspaper sites.

Look at records for her children and siblings such as their birth, marriage, and death records as these may give you additional details about her. Look at all the children and or siblings as the information may vary from child to child and sibling and sibling

Try looking at Town Histories. These were often printed at significant anniversaries in the history of the town and family profiles were submitted by family members in some cases.

You might try submitting an inquiry using just the parent’s names leaving out the child’s name. Or enter just her surname (using maiden and any married names she may have had) leaving out her first name. No matter what record you are looking at try to view the original as it may often contain additional information from the transcription.

I mentioned the FAN research technique. FAN stands for Family, Associates and Neighbors. We’ve already looked at a few family related records. Now let’s look at associates and neighbors. An associate could be a business partner, a witness on a document, a pastor, or a lawyer. To create a list of associates, you might start gathering all witnesses to vital events, such as baptismal or christening records, marriage records, probate, land, and affidavits. Looking for neighbors is as easy as looking at the census records. Some may share the same surnames as your ancestor. You will also want to look at the others on the pages before and after the page with your ancestors as they may have intermarried or moved to the same area that your family moved to. Some of the neighbors may belong to your female ancestor’s birth family, thus revealing a maiden name. These are only a few ways that the FAN system can be used to locate family members. Perhaps this will make a good topic for a future column.