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26 November 2011

There Might Have Been No Divorce

Just because a 19th century ancestor was married twice, do not assume that the first spouse either died or divorced your ancestor. It is very possible that your ancestral couple went separate ways and one of them married again.

This was easier to do if the ancestor in question moved several counties away and "started over." Civil War pension files are full of stories of deceased veterans who had more than one surviving widow.


  1. Thanks for this tip, I thought my husbands great grandfather was the only scoundrel.

  2. HA! Scoundrels seem to be in abundance in the 19th Century. My g-grandfather John's first wife died young. He was a single parent (with his mother helping) for a while. Then, he married again. His second wife only stayed around for 3 or 4 years, having 2 children with him. He then had children with my g-grandmother, without benefit of matrimony. Here's the kicker: when John died, his obituary said he was a widower. When his second wife died a few years later, her obituary said she was John's widow, and even included a mention of where they were married & who performed the ceremony.