“Widowed” Doesn’t Always Mean the Spouse is Dead
Widowed does not always mean that the spouse is dead. When researching my ancestors and relatives from the 1870s through the 1920s, I have found on several occasions that my aunt, cousin, or great-grandmother was â€œwidowed.â€ In trying to find when the spouse died, I found out–to my surprise–that the spouse was not always dead, but living with other relatives or married again.
One example is: my great-aunt Josie was listed as widowed and living with her grown children in North Dakota in 1900. Well, I thought poor Karl had died just as the children were grown and he could enjoy his later years.
Then I accidentally saw his name in a Minnesota census. Yes, it was the right age. Yes, he was born in Germany. â€œWhat’s going on here?â€ I wondered.Â Karl was living with a daughter of a previous marriage and he listed himself as “D” (divorced) while Aunt Josie had listed herself as “Wd” (widowed).
Josie’s first husband did die young back in Kentucky, but she remarried. Should she have listed herself as widowed? I found several instances where the woman listed widowed, but the man listed divorced. This seemed to be a trend as divorce was frowned upon.
Keep looking until you are sure “Wd” means widowed.
Print Landscape Rather Than Portrait
I keep folders for births, marriages, etc., in folders for each major surname of interest to me. I put the information on pages set up as â€œLandscapeâ€ rather than â€œPortrait,â€ because it is quicker and easier to see the information than if the sheets were going in different directions. If a sheet happens to be Portrait and is not a full page, I cut the bottom off making it 8 1/2″ square so it has the top of the page up as do the others.
This has not made a significant positive change in my research; however, it does save me a minor annoyance.
Loretta O. DavisÂ Â Â Â Â
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Family Surnames as Middle Names
Reading Paula Stuart-Warren’s A Variety of Resources for Finding Maiden NamesÂ made me remember the oddity my husband’s great-aunt Rebecca Allen (nee Henderson) Crawford. Having a male name as the middle name seemed odd to me until we found her maternal grandmother’s burial location. Rebecca had been named for her mother’s younger sister Rebecca who had married Alfred Allen.Â She was given her aunt’s married name. What is even stranger is that the younger Rebecca resembled her Aunt Rebecca in appearance (stature and facial looks) more so than either of her own parents. Since then I have found numerous females with a family married name or a family maiden name as their middle name regardless of society’s class.
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