Tips from the Pros: Check out Every Spouse, by Michael John Neill

Most of us have a few ancestors who had more than once spouse. Sometimes it can be tempting to ignore those “other” spouses of our ancestors– the ones from who we do not descend. However, this may only serve to hinder our research. Many times a subsequent spouse will be a sibling of the first spouse, or perhaps a former neighbor from the old country or the old neighborhood. I even have an uncle by marriage who after the death of his first wife married her niece, thus making his children half-siblings as well as first cousins once removed.

Also remember that records of your ancestor’s “other marriages” may provide more details on your ancestor than did his marriage to your ancestor, particularly if those other marriages took place much later than the first marriage, or in a location that kept better records.

I even have one ancestor where I descend from both their spouses. But that’s another quick tip!

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3 thoughts on “Tips from the Pros: Check out Every Spouse, by Michael John Neill

  1. I have been doing some research on my maternal great grandfather’s family. His last name was Bonoyer and he married a woman whose last name was Bard. While I was looking at my great grandfather’s family I came across a great great uncle who married a woman whose last name was Drapeau. The name seemed very familiar to me so I looked at the Bard side of the family and sure enough I found that this same woman had married my great great grandfather! She is both My great great aunt and my step great great grandmother! It was very interesting trying to put that mess into my Family Tree Maker program but I did it. It is one of the most interesting stories I’ve found in my research so far!So, it really does pay to check out the other spouses!

  2. Score another point for Collateral Research. Sometimes you can’t get the entire story from a given source, can you? This technique and Cluster Research will open other informational sources like a carpet knife on a flour sack.

    Check out my presentation on Cluster/Collateral Research in the Presentations -> Methodologies area of my website at — it’s all FREE.

    Happy Dae.

  3. So true to check out other sides of the family. I do it all the time and am finding a great wealth of information on all my families. You can not go one direct line ; in the case of my families they all seemed to travel and to live near each other so it was spontaneous to marry your neighbors. Many of my families did this making double, triple cousins and making the puzzle more complete.

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