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25 August 2011

Maintaining Themselves Separately?

Your great-great-grandparents may have decided to live separately without ever divorcing because "we don't believe in divorce, but can't live together either."

In cases like this, there won't be divorce records, but it is possible that a court action for "separate maintenance" might have been filed. This would have kept the couple "married," but contain information similar to a divorce.

Couples might also have lived separately without any type of court record or agreement. I had an uncle who lived on the farm while his wife lived in town and an aunt who lived across the street in a separate home from her husband. Her home did not have indoor plumbing--his did. When he would go to a nearby larger town to run errands, she'd go across the street to his home just to use the indoor restroom.

Census records and city directories may hint at these separate living arrangements without providing specifics.

4 comments:

  1. Thank you for posting - I have such a set! She lived with her daughters in town, he lived with their son on a farm the next town over...and the census shows her as married, him being divorced. (Or maybe vice versa) Either way, I was always a little unsettled by this.

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  2. I'm somewhat unsettled by my paternal grandparents listed at two separate addresses on the 1930 Census...she living with my father at her parents' house, he living with his mother and a daughter from a previous marriage. The 1940 Census won't help...grandpa died in 1938. I haven't found any city directories from that era yet.

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  3. We have a similar situation in our family. My husband's GGG-grandparents were living separately in the 1900 census. He was with a son and daughter-in-law from his first marriage. She was living about 20 miles away, with their sixth child together. They *both* were enumerated as widowed. He died three years later in 1903 and she died in 1923.

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  4. When I was indexing insolvency files from the late 19th and early 20th century, I noticed many files for women who were 'living apart under a Protection Order'. This order protected a woman's earnings. In some cases I also found more personal information in Court of Petty Sessions deposition books, etc.

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